Order of Business.
Courts (No. 2) Bill, 1991: Second Stage (Resumed).
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Common Fisheries Policy.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fire on MV Norrona.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Task Force on Unemployment.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fishery Harbours Development.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Job Creation in Marine Area.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Land Reclamation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Common Fisheries Policy.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Salmon Review Group Report.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Overhaul of Synchrolift.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Spanish Boat Incident.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Kowloon Bridge Damage.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dumping of Fish.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Fishing Vessels Safety Procedures.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Coastal Protection.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Salmon Farming.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Departmental Appointments.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Sea Fishery Regulations.
Adjournment Debate Matters.
Adjournment Debate. - Importation of Dangerous Dogs.
Adjournment Debate. - North Dublin Crime.
Adjournment Debate. - Loughlinstown (Dublin) Hospital.
Written Answers. - Eel Fishing and Processing.
Written Answers. - Irish Ferries Survey.
Written Answers. - Fisheries Research Centre, Dublin.
Written Answers. - Sea Trout Research Programme.
Written Answers. - Protection of Fish Stocks.
Written Answers. - Salmon Fishing.
Written Answers. - Drift Net Licences.
Written Answers. - Snap-Net Fishing.
Written Answers. - Fishery Board Employees.
Written Answers. - Monofilament Nets Use.
Written Answers. - Tropical Forests Destruction.
Written Answers. - Ministerial Foreign Visits.
Written Answers. - C2 Certificate Issue.
Written Answers. - Dismantling of Border Posts.
Written Answers. - Economic and Monetary Union.
Written Answers. - EC Summit.
Written Answers. - EC Island Regions Study.
Written Answers. - Road Transport Fiscal Harmonisation.
Written Answers. - EC Services Sector.
Written Answers. - Unemployment Level.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Affairs of Company.
Written Answers. - Intellectual Property Initiatives.
Written Answers. - Manpower Authorities Liaison.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Written Answers. - Crime Statistics.
Written Answers. - House Grant Application.
Written Answers. - Register of Electors.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Nenagh (Tipperary) Water Supply Scheme.
Written Answers. - Road Tax Revenue.
Written Answers. - Rates Support Grant.
Written Answers. - Galway Sewerage Scheme.
Written Answers. - Dublin EC Summit.
Written Answers. - Global Climatic Change.
Written Answers. - Cardiac Operations Delay.
Written Answers. - Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association Funding.
Written Answers. - Classification of Motor Neurone Disease.
Written Answers. - Conference on Drugs Problem/Crime.
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants Scheme.
Written Answers. - CAO Leaving Certificate Requirements.
Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) School Places.
Written Answers. - Newtown (Kildare) School.
Written Answers. - Ballinora (Cork) School.
Written Answers. - Cork Army Hospital.
Written Answers. - Sallins (Kildare) Railway Station.
 Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take No. 9. It is also proposed that at its rising today the Dáil shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July 1991.
An Ceann Comhairle: May I ask if the proposal for the rising of the Dáil until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July is agreed?
Mr. J. Bruton: On that proposal, we would like to have some information before we agree to it. For how long do the Government intend the Dáil shall sit during July? Do the Government intend to complete the legislative programme they published for this session, only half of which has been seriously debated in this House and the other half has not been debated here? Do the Government  intend to complete that programme before the summer recess? Further, may I ask the Tánaiste if it is the intention of the Government to allow the House an opportunity to discuss the results of the renegotiations between the two Government parties on the continued existence of this Government and whether other Members of the House will have an opportunity to comment on this very important and momentous discussion that is reputed to start as soon as the local elections are over?
An Ceann Comhairle: Matters pertaining to the Order of Business and the sittings are quite in order; the latter matter is out of order.
The Tánaiste: The date for the summer  recess will be announced by the Taoiseach in due course.
Mr. J. Bruton: We would like to know if the Government intend to complete their legislative programme before the summer recess?
An Ceann Comhairle: Clearly we are having repetition.
Mr. J. Bruton: That is a question, even by your own exacting standards, that is entirely in order.
An Ceann Comhairle: In order to display proper order I am calling Deputy Spring.
Mr. Spring: Always guaranteed to bring order to everything, a Cheann Comhairle. On the same point raised by Deputy Bruton may I ask the Tánaiste if he could at least give an indication to the House this morning of the legislative programme for the remainder of this session? As has been stated — I wish to stay in order — the Government produced a programme at the start of this session, about half of that legislation has been introduced to the House, and it would be in order for the Tánaiste to outline to the House the legislative programme for the remainder of this session.
Mr. J. Bruton: Hear, hear.
The Tánaiste: The legislative programme is the one that was already outlined to the House. The Government are fully committed to push ahead as fast as they possibly can with that programme during this session.
Proinsias De Rossa: May I ask a question about a different kind of planning? May I ask the Tánaiste at what stage is the Family Planning (Amendment) Bill? The Taoiseach indicated some weeks ago that the proposed changes were on course. As I understand it, the changes proposed are minimal. I do not understand the reason for the delay in view  of the urgency to make condoms more freely available to try to tackle the AIDS epidemic that is raging through this country. Can the Tánaiste please indicate at what stage is the drafting of the new legislation on family planning and when we can expect to have it on the floor of the House for approval?
The Tánaiste: I can assure the Deputy that my distinguished colleague from my own constituency has brought this Bill to a very advanced stage indeed and it is imminent.
Mr. R. Bruton: May I ask the Tánaiste whether it is the Government's intention to introduce a Supplementary Health Estimate to deal with the very critical problem facing haemophiliacs and also the many caring organisations that have to run up overdrafts because payments due to them are not being made by the health boards?
An Ceann Comhairle: Is this legislation promised?
Mr. R. Bruton: A Supplementary Estimate was indicated by the Minister in this House.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are other ways of raising that matter.
Mr. R. Bruton: Surely it is Government business whether they will order such an Estimate before the summer recess. We need to prepare to consider such an Estimate.
A Deputy: It is a serious matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is legislation promised?
The Tánaiste: Legislation is not promised but it is intended to take Estimates before the recess.
Mr. J. Mitchell: May I ask the Tánaiste if in ordering sittings of the House after the local elections he will take account of the needs of certain Members of the  House and ensure that the House does not sit at a time that clashes with the annual general meeting of the Tralee Urban District Council?
The Tánaiste: Due to the importance the Government attach to local government they will take into account the serious problems that certain parties will have because of the huge numbers elected at the local government election.
Mr. Spring: May I seek an assurance from the Tánaiste — in the absence of the Taoiseach — in relation to serious matters occurring in Northern Ireland and in regard to the proposed meeting of the intergovernmental conference? I seek an assurance from the Tánaiste that no further delays will occur in relation to this matter and that the meeting which is scheduled for next month will take place.
An Ceann Comhairle: Clearly this matter is not relevant to the Order of Business.
Mr. Spring: In view of the latitude you have given to some other matters this morning——
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry, Deputy, that matter cannot be raised now.
Mr. Spring: With respect, may I say that it is extremely important that the Government make their position very clear? I would have thought, Sir,——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to find another way of raising that matter at an appropriate time.
Mr. Spring: The talks in Northern Ireland and the Government's attitude to those talks is probably the most pressing matter at this time. Is is extremely important that the Tánaiste clarify the situation that the Irish Government will not pull back from the stance they have taken in relation to the proposed meeting.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Spring,  I have to rule that that is not in order now.
Mr. Currie: There should not be any need for them to pull back.
Mrs. Fennell: I seek your indulgence, a Cheann Comhairle, in regard to an issue I wish to raise. Exactly one month ago the Minister for Health in this House promised a report from the inspector of mental hospitals in regard to the very serious matter of the commital of a Dublin woman. Although it is well over a month since it happened, I have not had a report. I have telephoned the office and I am accusing the Minister of creating a smokescreen.
An Ceann Comhairle: I thought the Deputy was raising something relevant on the Order Paper.
Mrs. Fennell: I should like your guidance——
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling Deputy Jim Higgins. I am going on to the Order of Business proper.
Proinsias De Rossa: On a point of order, I am not sure how we dealt with the second item on the Order of Business. Was it agreed? I understood that Deputy Bruton objected to it.
An Ceann Comhairle: You are absolutely correct, Deputy. I put the matter to the House and asked if it was agreed. Deputy Bruton intervened and I cannot recollect having put it finally to the House. Is Deputy Bruton in agreement with the proposal——
Mr. J. Bruton: I do not wish to press the matter but I expressed the view yesterday that time should have been provided this week to allow us to discuss, in advance of the EC Summit, the threat to the existence of the Common Agricultural Policy. My party, as advised by the Taoiseach, requested time be provided for that, through the Whips, and  the request was declined. Therefore, I do not agree with the Order of Business.
Question “That at its rising today An Dáil shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July 1991” put and declared carried.
Mr. J. Higgins: In view of the fact that a long awaited OECD report on the Irish educational system will be published today, will time be made available to the House to debate its contents which are farreaching and obviously a precursor——
An Ceann Comhairle: This is in relation to a report and not to legislation.
Mr. J. Higgins: This is a precursor to the promised Education Bill.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am anxious to facilitate the Deputy but he must not get around the ruling in respect of legislation promised in the House.
Mr. J. Higgins: Will the matter be considered?
The Tánaiste: As it is an important report and as my colleague, the Minister for Education, Deputy O'Rourke, is more than sensitive in relation to anything which assists in putting together a sound educational policy, I am quite sure it will get serious consideration.
Mr. Ferris: The Tánaiste suggested that Supplementary Estimates would be submitted before the summer recess. In doing so, will the Minister for Finance comment on the OECD report which said that, out of 23 nations investigated, Ireland's interest rates are the highest?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is bringing in extraneous matter.
Mr. J. Bruton: Over the last three or four years — or indeed longer — legislation to ratify the European Patent Convention has been promised by successive Ministers for Industry and Commerce  and the Taoiseach. In view of the fact that the Summit is taking place next week, at which the Community will agree on a deadline to complete the Internal Market in regard to such matters as intellectual property, including patents, will the Tánaiste give an indication whether Ireland will be able to fulfil those requirements by ratifying this convention before the end of the year in view of the fact that all these directives must be in place by 1 January 1993 in accordance with the programme?
The Tánaiste: I can positively state that it is hoped to take that step in the next session.
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Mr. M. Ahern: As I said on Tuesday evening, this Bill is very welcome and long overdue. Its aim is to bring legislation up-to-date.
I sincerely welcome the increase in the monetary limits of the civil jurisdiction of the Circuit and District Courts. This provision will make access to the courts in civil matters cheaper and more convenient for litigants and witnesses. There is now a claim-seeking mentality and, as a result, insurance premiums have increased enormously. Under the Bill and as a result of the proposal to increase monetary jurisdiction limits, legal and other costs, such as witnesses' and litigants' expenses, should be reduced as many more actions can be initiated in the District and Circuit Courts. As a result the cost of public liability insurance, employers' liability and motor insurance should fall as, in theory, other costs should also fall. It will be important to monitor these costs and changes in public liability, employers' liability and motor insurance when the new provisions are law.
Sections 11 and 12 of the Bill are very important as they relate to increases in monetary jurisdictions, specifically to  family law. I have come across many harrowing cases — as I am sure every Deputy has — where deserted spouses and their children have not been adequately catered for by their partner. I welcome the increase in the maximum amount allowed under section 11, where the District Court can increase the maximum maintenance order from £100 to £200 per week for a spouse and from £30 to £60 per week for a child. I am sure that this provision will be welcomed with open arms by all interested parties throughtout the country.
Section 16 contains another welcome change where the monetary terms can be varied, by order, by the Minister of the day and it will not be necessary to bring in a Bill to change the order. The limits should be automatically increased each year by reference to the consumer price index or another suitable index because it would be ridiculous to have to introduce a Bill every time a change is necessary.
Another bugbear is the length of time it takes for many cases to come to court. There has been, especially in Cork, a shortage of High Court and District Court judges, which has been a matter of great concern. I am glad that the Government have acted to reverse the position by increasing the number of judges at all levels. There has been an increase in the number of High Court judges from 14 to 16, in the Circuit Court there has been an increase from 15 to 17 and in the District Court the number has been increased from 39 to 45. This is a significant and welcome step forward and will, it is hoped, bring the backlog of cases up to date. Of course, law does not necessarily equate with justice but cases should be disposed of within a reasonable period. I am confident, as a result of the step taken by the Minister and the Government, that the backlog will be quickly reduced.
We have highly trained, efficient gardaí equal to any force in the world, but some of the tasks they are required to carry out could be undertaken by others. For example, the summary summons could be served through the postal system. I am glad the Minister has taken  this matter in hand. Section 21 authorises summary summons to be served by registered post, and that is wise. It brings this work into the 21st century. The Garda have been undertaking duties which were designed for another age, and I am glad that where practicable changes are to be effected.
The Minister said that this provision will free at least 60 gardaí in the Dublin area and 70 around the country to perform operational duties for which they have been trained. It goes without saying that when there are more gardaí on the beat the crime rate falls and people feel more secure. With more gardaí on the beat and operating in country areas citizens will feel more secure and will be happier with their lot. The fact that summonses may be posted will mean that people will receive them quicker and revenue should come in faster. With tongue in cheek, one could say that people will not be very happy with that provision but, from the point of view of the State, it is an efficient way of doing business. The main objective of this Bill is to make litigation cheaper and speedier and to give people better access to the law. It meets these objectives and is to be commended.
Mrs. Fennell: I welcome this Bill and I commend the Minister for introducing it. Many people will be pleased with the new procedure for dealing with small claims in the District Court. This has been sought very often, not least in debates in this House, and it represents a positive change. I am interested in the role of the small claims registrar outlined in the Minister's speech, and the fact that he or she will attempt to settle claims between disputing parties and may, indeed, interview them in order to reach a settlement. Only if a settlement is not reached will the matter be referred to the courts, and the registrar will then present facts to the district justice. This is a very interesting development. Any development that tries to keep people out of court must be encouraged.
I would like to know a little more about the profile of the registrar. What training  will the registrar receive, considering that he or she will have a mediation or reconciliation role to play? This scheme is to be introduced initially as a pilot scheme and, like all pilot schemes, we hope it will succeed and that all the resources possible will be provided to ensure it succeeds. However, the degree of success of the scheme will depend very largely on the personality of the registrar and the special training given to the person chosen. I trust that some thought has been given to this matter and I would like the Minister to give some detail as to what he envisages in this regard.
I wish to concentrate mainly on sections dealing with increased maintenance in family law cases, the increase in the number of judges and district justices and the serving of summonses by post. I regret that the Bill did not see the light of day a month ago before I completed work on a booklet I co-authored with Paula Donlon and Mary Mulcahy called Marriage and Family Law—A Pocket Guide. This Book was published to update an existing small, basic legal guide for people experiencing family law problems. I now find that this Bill effectively updates that book. I suspected we would be updating the law on maintenance because I realised that the present amounts have been in existence for six or seven years. However, this is something we can correct in the next edition. I am glad that these changes are being introduced. I welcome the fact that the amounts have been doubled from £100 to £200 for a spouse and from £30 to £60 for a child.
As long ago as 1985 in the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown these increases were recommended because it was regarded that the amounts were insufficient. I can say categorically that none of the needy spouses I know will be jumping up and down with delight about this increase because they cannot afford to go to court to press their maintenance claims under the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act, 1976. They do not have the money to go to solicitors and, therefore,  they are dependent on the free legal aid centres, but there is a delay of four months for first consultations in all these centres. This is a great procedure for those who can afford it but for the vast majority of people, mostly women, it will not apply.
The free legal aid scheme is almost totally taken up with family law cases at present. Some people say it should be renamed as a legal aid scheme for wives because in 85 per cent of family law cases dealt with the wife is the petitioner. There is a sad and desperate army of women waiting for justice. They are suffering due to the crisis in the legal aid centres. I thought a year ago that the position could not get any worse but these centres are now dealing with what they define as emergencies. One would have thought an emergency would have to be dealt with immediately but these centres have to define emergencies. As far as these people are concerned the provisions in this Bill are an empty gesture. The Minister of State at the Department of Justice is in the House and I ask him to please do something to make the legal aid scheme responsive to families who need it so badly. The scheme is not working. It was not properly structured in the first place. It needs to be totally reviewed to make it an effective system which will meet present day needs.
I suggest, as I have done a number of times, that there is a need to set up a panel of solicitors in local areas who could give even a basic legal service to people in family law cases. Every day I receive calls from women all over the country seeking help and they usually ask for the name of a “cheap” solicitor. It is very sad that the people who need legal aid cannot get it. They ask if they can go to court without legal representation, and in some instances they can do so, but that is putting them at a dreadful disadvantage in that they go to court to face their husband on the other side, and he will very likely be accompanied by a solicitor or barrister and legal expertise that he can afford by virtue of the fact, I have to concede, that he is earning a wage. The use of private  practitioners would help to get over the present problem and perhaps that should be incorporated in the legal aid scheme on a permanent basis. The proposal was recommended in the 1977 Pringle report. Page 81 of that report states:
One advantage of the panel system is that it carries with it an obligation on the part of panel members to make their services available to those eligible for legal aid or advice. Also members of the public immediately know what solicitors are available to do legal aid work. We recommend that no solicitor or barrister who places his name on a panel should be free to refuse his services unless he can satisfy the Board that he has good reason for so doing.
That proposal seems to be eminently sensible. The Pringle Commission made a definitive report on civil legal aid, and I suggest that the Minister consider that again.
Another suggestion made in the report that might again be worth looking into, because we are in a desperate position, was the operation of a law phone-in service such as that in operation in Canada. Page 105 of the Pringle report deals with that matter.
In Manitoba the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, and the Department of Justice sponsor a “law phone-in service”. This is an arrangement under which legal advice is offered free of charge, by phone, on a wide variety of civil matters. The advantage of the service is that it can be made use of in confidence and with the minimum of effort on the part of a client who is unwilling or, in certain circumstances, perhaps afraid to be seen at either a solicitor's office or a law centre. It is interesting to note that the vast majority of those who use the service in Manitoba actually reside in the city of Winnipeg although there are community law centres in Winnipeg.
I am not suggesting that the Department of Justice, UCD or Trinity should provide a law phone-in service here in Dublin, but that is a concept that should be examined.  Perhaps it could help the vast army of people who need basic direction and guidance on the options available, on the possibilities open to them and on where they can go for help. At the moment they are left stranded.
Good and worthy though the provisions of the Bill may be, there will be a hollow laugh from another group of spouses, those whose husbands are self-employed. The measures contained in the Bill will only aid the deviousness of many husbands who can afford to pay maintenance but will not do so. They use every tactic and every ploy to manoeuvre their way out of their responsibilities. They can and do doctor their financial accounts for a court hearing. Unlike the spouse of a person in regular paid employment, the spouse of the self-employed cannot get an attachment order on salaries or wages. The group of spouses of the self-employed includes the wives of farmers, shopkeepers, doctors, builders and many others. Other measures should be proposed to cover that group. There could be provision to make a lump sum payment under the Maintenance Act. At the moment that is not possible. However, it is possible under the most recent Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, brought in by Deputy Shatter, to make lump sum payments. That measure should be considered in order to relieve the position of the spouses of the self-employed.
The 1985 report of the Joint Committee on Marriage Breakdown made a recommendation. Page 57 of that report states:
The Committee considered situations where the courts might be empowered to make once-off lump sum payments in the light of circumstances where dependent spouses are effectively denied the right of maintenance. This can occur where the person against whom maintenance is awarded can defeat the effect of the order by disposing of his assets, leaving the jurisdiction or, if self-employed, by simply refusing to obey the order of the court and requiring the dependent  spouse to have endless recourse to the courts with little hope of success.
The Committee also considered situations when both spouses consent to the making of lump sum payments or where the dependent spouse and/or children are in need of a capital sum for, say, school fees or the provision of alternative living accommodation as a matter of urgency.
The committee heard submissions from a range of groups that expressed that issue as a problem — as we all know it to be — and came forward with recommendations. Unfortunately, like so many other recommendations, they have just fallen into the background and have not been taken up. That issue is definitely a problem and should be considered in the context of payments and maintenance orders.
Sections 17, 18 and 19 deal with increases in the numbers of district justices and judges of the High Court and Circuit Court. Of course no one will quibble with the increases, given the extra legislation that has come on to the books in recent years, most notably the new Rape Act, the Judicial Separation Act and, it is to be hoped, the coming onstream later this year of the Child Care Bill.
What I and many others will question, and have questioned before, is how well equipped those appointed will be to rule on matters of a sensitive and intimate nature. No flash of inspiration and wisdom will go with the Government appointment. The State should not take the matter of the training of judges lightly. That issue comes up again and again, and with good reason. I want to know what process of training or familiarisation will be undertaken by the six proposed new district justices, for instance. Will they have to undergo any form of training before taking up their new work? In other countries judges attend special training courses; they have to undergo training. In virtually every other part of the workforce training of some kind is required. As I said, the issue  comes up constantly and at this stage those of us who keep bringing it up must be beginning to sound like a broken record.
This Bill will, in one fell swoop, give the Cabinet a golden opportunity to appoint women to the Judiciary. I remind the Minister of the content of the first statement of the Commission on the Status of Women, which was accepted entirely by the Taoiseach. Recommendation 3 of the commission dealt with Government nomination to State-sponsored bodies. It recommended that women be appointed to casual vacancies. I suppose judicial appointments could be called casual vacancies. It would be very nice to think that ten women would now be appointed to the District Court, the High Court and the Circuit Court. That would be wonderful. I am sure, though, that that is rather a fantasy. Judicial appointments would qualify as casual vacancies.
Mr. N. Treacy: Due consideration will prevail.
Mrs. Fennell: That same recommendation proposed the establishment or restructuring of boards, with a minimum of 40 per cent of appointments being for men or women. There would be a 4/6 membership on the boards. If that is the favoured rule then of course we would like to have six women and four men. The Government must take a lead from that recommendation. As far as I know — and I checked the statement this morning — appointments to the Judiciary were not specifically mentioned. I am not sure whether that was because of the modesty of the chairperson, Ms. Carroll. Indeed, there is no doubt that she is a woman who should be in the Supreme Court.
I suspect that it was intended that appointments of any kind and any nominations made by the Cabinet should follow those guidelines, which are very clear. The way in which the Government perform on this first clear opportunity to begin redressing the general imbalance of the Judiciary will tell a very interesting  story. We will all be watching the progress. There are ten new appointments to be made, so I should expect no fewer than five of those appointments to go to women. Although I say that now, I suspect some of the appointments have already been made. The message goes anyway.
In conclusion, I welcome the provision under section 16 that the Government may in the future make orders to vary amounts in the Bill as the need arises. We will not have to wait for years and years. The amount of maintenance, for instance, is so unrealistic because it has shrunk in real terms over the years compared to the cost of living. The fact that we will not have to come through here with legislation to remedy that and that it can be done by order is a very welcome change.
I had some reservations about section 21 which deals with the serving of summonses by post. In the explanatory memorandum it says that this would be in addition to and not replacing existing modes of serving. Could the Minister give us some idea which summonses will still be served by a garda in person and how exactly will postal serving work? I suspect that in some instances there is postal serving at the moment. I am concerned about the serving of summonses for a barring order hearing. This is a difficult area involving disputes between husbands and wives at a very difficult time. In my experience wives can know in advance when the Garda will come to serve the summons. Will those summonses still be served by a Garda, and what others will still be served by a Garda?
It is wonderful that this provision will relieve up to 60 gardaí to go back on police work. They are badly needed and I would suggest that they should be used for community policing rather than being merged back into the general force. We should develop the concept of community policing which is so badly needed to deal with break-ins, vandalism, etc. There is a terrible division at the moment between people living in their communities in the type of urban areas that I represent, with  huge housing estates and linear developments, and their Garda station which is so often up to three miles away. The concept of community policing would give these people a feeling that they have contact with the Garda station. A move in that direction to release gardaí to do the kind of work they have been so highly trained for and which they are so good at would be a good thing. I suggest, therefore, that the 60 gardaí that are being relieved should be used for community policing.
I welcome the provisions in the Bill. I would love to think that this £200 extra that is being given in family law cases will go to families who need it badly. I wish we did not have the problem we have with the free legal aid centres. However, I have made my proposals and I would like a response. I trust the Bill will have a speedy passage through the House. When we look at the House today I suspect it will have a very speedy passage.
Mr. Dennehy: I welcome this Bill unreservedly and the whole programme of reform the Minister is introducing. He has been most innovative and has worked to implement the Law Reform Commission recommendations in many areas. He promised this Bill earlier in the year, which included the appointment of extra judges, and I am glad to see him delivering on that promise.
What I welcome most is that we will get a chance to bring in other issues, to discuss the courts in general and the legal framework. There is a need for more of us who are not involved in the legal profession to make a contribution here. The public perception is that this whole area is a nice cosy arrangement with the courts system and the people working in the legal profession on one side and on the other side professional crooks. When the general public get involved in the legal area they are at a distinct disadvantage trying to get their case dealt with or even understood. For that reason we need to look at the overall situation including personnel, judges, barristers, solicitors and so on. We need to examine the workings of the system, cost  efficiency and, most of all, the availability of justice to the public. At the moment it appears to them that there is quite a lot of law but very little justice.
Many changes need to be made, and made fairly rapidly. I welcome the fact that the Minister is moving in a few of these areas. Very often the public point out what they see as a logical change that needs to be made and we try to explain to them why it cannot be done immediately. However, the ingredient that is missing in the argument is common sense. We explain to them that it can take up to ten years to train a draftsperson on the legal side, people who can write legislation that will not have holes picked in it every time it is dealt with in the courts, legislation which will not lead to obvious law breakers being able to get away on a purely technical point.
As a lay person this is one of my greatest worries about the system. Day after day we see cases of people who are obviously guilty being set free on the slightest technicality. It worries me that this can happen. It is so rare for common sense to be applied that if a judge makes a decision based on the facts before him and ignores the technical arguments it makes banner headlines in the media. We need a bit more comon sense in the courts.
The courts system is clogged up. The availability of the courts to the general public is a factor to worry about. We have asked why the system is clogged up, and who is gaining and who is losing as a result. We must look at the cost effectiveness of the whole system and introduce legislation to deal with that. I take the point made by my colleague, Deputy Ahern, a few minutes ago that there should be an automatic yearly increase in the level of fines, payouts and the maximum level for cases in the various courts. This would be a logical approach and could be based on the consumer price index. It should not be necessary to waste the time of this House, of the Minister and the people drafting the legislation to do that. It should be automatic.
On the question of personnel I am glad  the Minister is moving to get changes made in regard to barristers, solicitors and the law area in general. I am glad he now seems to be getting the Bar Council to go along with that. They seem to be proposing changes on a voluntary basis. The Minister has initiated the dialogue and he must follow through on that and make changes.
This area is clouded as far as the general public are concerned. There are 111 senior counsel and 588 junior counsel, but the public do not know that. They do not even know the difference between a senior and junior counsel or between barristers, solicitors and so on. This whole area must be opened up to the public and discussed here, and if necessary changes should be made. I accept that the legal system has become a very tough area in which to work, as well as a very lucrative one. Because of changing legislation and decisions handed down from higher courts, it can be difficult to keep up with all that is happening.
As legislators we need to take the initiative. I am glad that the Minister for Justice is doing that. Logical changes have to be made. It is archaic that summonses have to be delivered by highly trained gardaí. A system of sending summonses by registered post should have been implemented years ago. Another system which needs to be changed is where gardaí from all parts of the country have to come to Dublin to attend court for cases which are adjourned time and again. Gardaí have complained that they sometimes spend 50 per cent of their time pursuing the legal side of law breaking. Because of having to be present as witnesses, having to write up reports and follow through, they are actually missing out on the policing of their own areas. I welcome without reservation the Minister's proposal to deliver summonses through the registered post.
As the Minister develops his radical programme for change, I will suggest other areas that might need change. Why cases are adjourned should be examined. I have been led to believe that all the professional people involved get paid  each time a case is called and many cases are adjourned for frivolous reasons.
This Bill attempts to keep some cases out of the higher courts. I appreciate that the Minister is trying to stop some cases going to a higher court by allocating costs appropriate to the court in which a case should be heard. Many of the people who opt for the higher court are known criminals with substantial criminal records who will not pay anything, and the State pay the higher cost. It is frustrating for the gardaí and the legal profession on the State side when some cases go unnecessarily to a higher court.
The cost of legal representation is a major source of worry to the public. Due to media reporting of cases the public can see that many cases cost five, six, seven or ten times more than the money involved in the case. This whole area will have to be examined. The implementation of the Minister's suggestion vis-á-vis a small claims court at District Court level will be a major step forward. People are restricted in that they cannot pursue a grievance against the State or another Member of the public due to legal costs, and therefore a small claims court is a very positive step in the right direction. I hope there will not be any complaint about this from the legal profession.
If a person can get a grievance resolved for a fee of £5 it will be a good thing. From the television, many people are observing how the American system works and how things could change. One of the major changes that will have to come following this innovative Bill will be a change to introduce a system to deal with minor offences under the traffic acts for instance. At the moment it is ludicrous to waste the time of gardaí and others pursuing a case, for instance, relating to a person not having a tail light on a car. We will have to extend the on the spot fine for minor offences, in the interests of the public, the gardaí and the person being charged.
In one of the Cork local papers an editor outlined how he had witnessed an offence being committed and offered to go forward as a witness to give evidence. After five sessions at court he carefully  outlined the cost, the frustration and the time lost because the case had been put back because of minor technical matters. I am worried about the willingness of the public to co-operate because of frustration and cost. Because of minor technical points the co-operating public almost end up the victims, instead of helping the State. This is related to cases being put back for frivolous reasons.
The courts are clogged up partly due to the level of crime and crime is rising because to some extent law enforcement officers are not on the beat but are dealing with crime in the court. The working hours of the courts and the judges, and their programme of work, are a mystery to the public. They do not understand the quarterly sessions, especially when Latin terms are used to describe them.
The work programme of our courts needs to be examined by a person who is not a member of the legal profession, for example, a person with an expertise in management and cost-effectiveness. Such an examination should have nothing to do with an independent judiciary or forcing judges to give judgments more quickly. It should simply look at the workings and efficiency of our courts, the number of hours worked, the reasons cases are referred back, the calling of witnesses and so on. The decision to opt to have cases heard in higher courts has led to the clogging up of these courts. Hopefully the steps the Minister has taken to rectify this problem will be successful.
The number of judges available to hear cases is another factor which should be looked at. One of my constituents is waiting six years to have her case heard. This woman is frantic at this stage and has lost confidence in our legal system. She believes she is being victimised because she is trying to bring a case against another person. Ordinary decent citizens who are not law-breakers should not be victimised in this way. The number of staff in our courts is another issue which needs to be looked at. When we made representations for extra staff, they were supplied in many cases. Obviously, judges are the key people in our courts  and the appointment of extra judges will eliminate many of the bottlenecks in this area.
I wish to refer again to the drafting of legislation. I was shocked to hear the Secretary of a Department say how long it can take to train a person and the level of expertise they need. It is frightening to think that if one or two people leave the Department the programme of legislation in the legal area can be held up. When they are drafting legislation they have to take into account the ability of the professionals to find loopholes in it and the decision of judges to throw out cases for the flimsiest reasons. This is another area which needs to be looked at. When people ask me why the Minister does not bring in legislation on such issues as stolen property, statute of limitations, rape and debt collection I tell them the Bill is being drafted. They cannot understand why it takes so long to prepare a Bill; they believe a Bill can be drafted in days.
Even though civics classes deal with our legal system, the Department of Justice should initiate a public awareness programme on it. This has been done in regard to crime and I congratulate those involved in the project. The only time people hear about the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions is when people complain about a case not being pursued or an offender not being charged. There is a huge hue and cry at such decisions and Members lambaste the Director of Public Prosecutions for not stating why he did not pursue a case. The public should be made more aware of the workings of the offices of the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions. The difference between senior counsel, junior counsel, barristers, solicitors or, to use the American phrase, lawyers, needs to be explained to people. They also need to be educated on our courts system. Why one goes to a District Court. Circuit Court or the High Court and how they work.
 I welcome the proposal to allow arbitrators deal with small cases. The Minister has also suggested changes in regard to the Bar Council. Deputy Ahern referred to the difficulties people have in getting a solicitor to act in a case against another solicitor. While some progress has been made in this area, some monitoring system should be put in place for the public. I also support the proposal for an automatic increase in the level of fines linked to the consumer price index rather than requiring the Minister to come back to this House time and again to deal with this issue by way of legislation. This should also apply to fines under other legislation. We need to legislate for many different issues we would not have thought of ten years ago. We need to take logical steps in this regard such as linking the level of fines to the consumer price index.
I commend the Minister on bringing this Bill before the House. He was described a few years ago as a part-time Minister but if we examine his record since he became Minister for Justice we can see that it stands up to scrutiny. He has dealt with issues raised both inside and outside this House, introduced legislation which was pending for many years, tried to catch up, so to speak, with the recommendations of the Law Reform Commission, worked very hard to meet the wishes of this House, and more important, tried to deal with the frustrations experienced by the general public. I wish him well in his legislative programme and commend the Bill to the House.
Mrs. Barnes: To take up a point raised by Deputy Dennehy, all of us welcome the opportunity to participate in debates on law reform in this House. It is one of our major tasks. In this context, I welcome the Minister's statement that this Bill represents the first instalment of a major programme of reforming legislation which will be introduced in the near future. I should like to think that we will complete the entire programme and not just the first few volumes during the next few sessions. We have a responsibility to introduce reform, respond to the  changing needs in the area of justice and match up justice and the law as closely as possible. I welcome the attempts being made to simplify the procedures and to make it easier for people to gain access to our courts. All the sections in the Bill should be welcomed. What I would like to do is go through the Bill quickly, section by section, and highlight the points on which we might need to be reassured.
I welcome the introduction of the small claims procedure. Many people are of the view that if their claim is small their case is not serious enough to be taken to court and as a result they feel frustrated. Under this procedure they will find it easier to gain access to the courts. In addition, it will only cost £5 to have a claim examined and this should be of help. I would ask the Minister of State to outline the special training registrars will receive. Even though the claims may be small at times one will need the wisdom of Solomon in examining applications.
It is of the utmost importance in providing a new service for the public that we make sure the necessary staff and resources are made available so that we do not add to people's frustration. In this regard the Ombudsman's Office which has proved to be successful and competent, could be used as a model. I would like to think that the registrars will gain the trust of the public in the same way the Ombudsman did.
It would be of tremendous help to the legal profession, to us as legislators and to the staff of the Department of Justice, if an annual report was produced indicating the number of cases dealt with. Such a report would be of help in drawing-up legislation in the future as we would be aware of the issues which were considered to be contentious and the areas not covered adequately by legislation.
May I take it that registrars will be available throughout the country? We should be anxious to ensure, when introducing a new procedure for the public, that people living in isolated areas or rural areas find it just as easy as people living in urban areas to gain access to the  courts. Indeed, the Minister of State is well aware of how far flung services can be in rural areas. We must always bear in mind the need to ensure that people living in isolated areas will be able to avail of any new service being provided for the public.
I welcome the attempt being made to improve court procedures to reduce the cost to the public. The Minister stated:
I have decided to establish the procedure initially on a pilot scheme in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court, in Cork and two other District Court venues. My intention is to extend the procedure to all District Court venues as soon as the pilot scheme has been fully tested.
While I accept it would be almost impossible to establish a network without first establishing a pilot scheme to discover where the loopholes are and see what difficulties may be encountered, I stress the urgent need to monitor the implementation of the pilot schemes and complete the network as quickly as possible. The Minister went on to state:
My general approach is to create a structure in which the Supreme Court would deal only with appeals in the more important cases involving the issues of law including, of course, all appeals in constitutional cases. All other appeals from the High Court would be heard by the new Court of Civil Appeal.
Given that long delays can occur in the courts we should be acutely aware of the need to make sure that judgments of the Supreme Court are not delayed having regard to the fact that legislation cannot be introduced until the Supreme Court has handed down its decision that a matter is in keeping with or contrary to the Constitution, and to the fact that that judgment can affect many people.
As the staff at the Department of Justice are aware, many attempts have been made to draw up what is loosely called a married property Bill which would acknowledge the contribution made by women in the home and would allow this to be taken into account in deciding on  the level of maintenance to be paid. Work was carried out on this Bill during the terms of office of various Ministers for Justice. The vast majority of women took a keen interest in that work. As the House is aware in this country there are more women working in the home that anywhere else and we must make sure that these women are duly protected. That is what the married property Bill is about.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Chair knows Deputy Barnes' capacity in this area but it is not appropriate to relate all this to the legislation before the House.
Mrs Barnes: It is important to put this on the record of the House; the punch line is coming. After all the years of high expectation I hope the issues raised in family law cases will be heard. Some years ago when an action was taken to the High Court there was an immediate demand that it be referred to the Supreme Court on a constitutional question. It is still not resolved. We are all hindered by the delay in the introduction of this very important and serious legislation. I would like to think that with the establishment of the new court of civil appeal the constitutional issue I referred to will be taken quickly and that we will not have a long delay.
I will not go into the technical reasons for the long delay in the production of the Book of Evidence but I hope the Minister, and his staff, will look at this when dealing with the reform of the legal profession. It can take an incredible length of time to prepare a case, especially when an issue may be referred from one court to a superior court. This, in fact, represents a denial of justice.
The Minister proposes to introduce a solicitors amendment Bill very shortly and I welcome that. I hope it will be introduced at the beginning of the next session and will be a part of the legislative programme he has promised. The Minister is right to link this with the reform of the Bar Council. I join with other  Deputies who welcome the fact that when the Minister met members of the Bar Council they informed him that they intended to make certain changes voluntarily. We all welcome the positive changes and reforms the Bar Council propose to voluntarily introduce rather than having them imposed by legislation. I hope all the reforms the Minister would like initiated will be carried out on a voluntary basis. Indeed, if reform is introduced voluntarily it cuts out a great deal of delay due to the length of time it takes to prepare legislation.
I will now deal with a point many of us have concentrated on because it affects many people daily at a fundamental level, that is family law and the obstacles to its administration. The Bill proposes substantial changes in the monetary limits in family law cases in the District Court. The present limit of the District Court's jurisdiction is an incredible disincentive to women and spouses who wish to appeal an order for maintenance payments. Their level of income prevents them from appealing to a higher court, which has a higher ceiling on payments. They have to go through the District Court where they can only get a sum which we all recognise is totally inadequate for their needs and keeps them in dire poverty. Indeed, the Combat Poverty Agency report, and the other reports on poverty, show that women and children caught in this situation suffer from poverty. We have now the whole new concept of the feminisation of poverty. Sadly, this phenomenon is backed up by a great deal of data.
This Bill will have the effect of increasing the maintenance payments to women and children in the home who find themseves in this situation. Deputy Fennell drew our attention to a loophole — the Minister and his officials are aware of it — in how we legally address the question of maintenance for the families of the self-employed. We have a very high number of self-employed here and, therefore, a great number of spouses and children are caught.
Another matter needing urgent attention is the question of violence against women. We welcome the fact that under  the Family Home Protection Act the court may make a barring order preventing a violent spouse from battering his wife and children and prevent him approaching and intimidating them. The most basic security we can give to anybody is to guarantee their physical, mental and emotional security. I do not know of a more basic human right. It is appalling, therefore, that women who find themselves in relationships that are not recognised as marriages by the State, for example, common law wives and women in second relationships, do not have the protection of that Act. I have been informed by those in the courts who see these people coming in day after day that they make up one-third of the family law cases coming before the courts. Women in this category do not automatically get a barring order as a spouse and have to take a civil action against their partner. There is a delay of at least three weeks in bringing such a case and many people do not have sufficient money to take a case against their partner. These women are caught in very dangerous and violent situations and the Family Home Protection Act should be extended to encompass all women in the home. We need to make provision for the security of people within their own home.
We promise and try to guarantee the security of citizens on the streets and there is a great backlash, and rightly so, when people feel their security and personal safety on the streets is threatened. However, a great number of vulnerable and dependent members of society are trapped in domestic violence and this does not rate the same degree of importance. I appeal to the Minister to examine this urgently. I will not labour the point because I know other Members wish to speak, but we cannot emphasise enough the denial of free civil legal aid to women and spouses caught up in family law cases. The network of offices is insufficient to give them support. We could spend hours quoting the most harrowing cases. In the event of a marriage breakdown a woman is in a very vulnerable position and it has  a very debilitating effect on her psychological wellbeing. Not alone does she not have access to justice but she takes much bad treatment, from violence to mental intimidation, because she is worn out. She does not feel she has control over her life or that there is an outside resource that will provide the type of support she needs. It is absolutely essential that free civil legal aid be extended to include people involved in marriage breakdown. The majority of people who find themselves in financial difficulty in such cases are women.
Deputy Fennell suggested demystifying the legal aid system. People are scared stiff of the law and of the jargon that goes with it. Sometimes it is not until they are at their most desperate that they seek to have it explained to them. The Minister might consider setting up a legal helpline of the type which Deputy Fennell mentioned is available in certain states in Canada. I would hurriedly add, before the legal profession descend en masse upon me, that I am not advocating giving serious legal advice over the telephone. I am suggesting that a helpline should be available where people could get a preliminary examination of their case to see if it is covered by legislation and whether it would be worthwhile following it up. It would be of great assistance if people could be informed as to the procedure to be followed in setting up a case. Other helplines are available in very serious areas ranging from cancer advice to the Samaritans and can offer a clear, direct and private service. All of us are attempting to make legal information and judicial procedures more accessible, understandable, friendly and far less intimidating.
Concern for the speedy processing of cases must underlie reform. The Minister might tell the House if the workload of the courts is being monitored and reported upon. We must know where resources are most needed and if any of the courts are unable to fulfil their duties properly.
We must ensure that there is proper training and retraining for judges as for everybody else. Masses of legislation at  European and national level come tumbling in every day and it is very difficult to keep up with it. In a fast moving society it is necessary for everybody to keep up to date with complex developments and new technology. It would be foolish not to accept that this is required of judges as people who administer and interpret very complex legislation affecting the lives of people at a fundamental level. That is no way reflects on the professionalism of judges. It is essential for all of us.
A system of night courts might be considered to deal with the backlog of cases which beleagures all our courts. The idea has been mooted for some time. The processing of cases in this way would prevent their clogging the day process.
I welcome the release of gardaí from the onerous and time-consuming job of delivering summonses. I would add the caveat that in sensitive areas such as the delivery of a summons in respect of a barring order it should be done in person and not by post. Discretion will be used in that area.
I wish this legislation a speedy passage through both Houses and a speedy implementation.
Dr. Hillery: I too welcome the Minister's decision to increase the jurisdiction limits of the District and Circuit Courts which play a vital role in the administration of justice. There is a very valuable network of lower courts well located throughout the country which are relatively easy of access. This means that local differences can be resolved at local level through these lower courts.
It is timely to review the jurisdiction levels of the courts. It is ten years since changes have been made and the increases provided for in the Bill will mean that the value of money will be restored to these jurisdictions to make good the erosion during the past decade. I am convinced that the new jurisdiction limits will result in a greater number of cases being brought to the lower courts. Increasing the Circuit Court's jurisdiction to £30,000 will mean that many  cases which until now had to be handled by the High Court will transfer to the Circuit Court. It is certainly a welcome development, particularly for persons outside Dublin who, because of the present jurisdiction limit of the Circuit Court, often find that they have to travel long distances to the High Court in Dublin when their actions are for more than £15,000.
It will also mean that legal costs, which are a primary concern for us as Members of the Oireachtas, will be reduced because the costs of taking an action in the District and Circuit Courts are lower than in the High Court. Allowing more actions to be heard locally at District and Circuit Court level should also reduce travelling costs of the parties to an action and their witnesses, including the actual time spent in travelling and absences from work. When these costs are added to the legal costs it can become a very expensive business. The general impression is that taking action in court is very expensive and these proposals to increase the jurisdiction of the lower courts, combined with the establishment of a small claims procedure, are very helpful in that they should make litigation cheaper and more readily available to ordinary citizens.
Previous speakers have referred to the very sensitive and at times very sad area of family law. The increase in the jurisdiction of the District Court in relation to deserted spouses and their children is to be welcomed. There is more scope for improvement but this is an important step in the right direction. It means that the award of £100 for the maintenance of a spouse can be increased to £200 by the District Court where it is considered appropriate and the sum of £30 for each dependent child can be increased to £60. Spouses who find themselves deserted, often with children, should be able to seek maintenance in the least formal and most expeditious way. In this context the District Court has proved both expeditious and less formal than higher courts and is generally perceived to be doing a good job. In fact, approximately four out of five family law business cases  are now dealt with in the District Court and the general impression is that the procedures offered are seen to be working well. Turning to the increased jurisdiction, the Fair Trade Commission report on restrictive practices in the legal profession — I will say a little more about the Bar Council later — last year recommended that the jurisdiction limits for the District Court and the Circuit Court be increased up to £5,000 and £25,000 respectively. This Bill goes further, and I would not quibble with that. The increase to a £30,000 jurisdiction limit in the case of the Circuit Court reflects more adequately the changes in the cost of living and is appropriate in current circumstances. The commission also suggested that, depending on the level of inflation, the jurisdiction of these courts should be amended every five years. I welcome that. I think more frequent intervals are necessary.
This House has a very important responsibility in relation to the powers, functions and jurisdictions of these courts. As we know, the District and Circuit Courts were established by statute, whereas the High Court and superior courts owe their origin to the Constitution. The only way up until now to alter the jurisdiction of the lower courts was to introduce amending legislation. There is now provision in section 16 of the Bill to make these adjustments in future by draft order. This is welcome. It is obviously a simpler procedure than bringing an amending Bill before the House and should facilitate the Government in responding readily and more rapidly to any changes in jurisdiction levels justified by changes in the cost of living. However, the important fact is that this House continues to have an important role in relation to the lower courts. There will be an opportunity to debate motions for any such changes in jurisdiction limits in the House and to approve them. However, I am confident that the relevant section in this regard, section 16, will prove most useful. It combines an arrangement which will allow the Government to respond rapidly to any changes in the jurisdiction of the lower  courts called for as a consequence of changes in the cost of living while at the same time preserving the important role of this House in relation to the jurisdiction of the lower courts.
I want to make a few points of current interest. Clearly, there will be an increased volume of work for the lower courts and in particular for the Circuit Court. Therefore, I welcome warmly the increase in the number of judges. However, it is important that the situation be monitored to ensure this increase is sufficient and that a backlog does not build up despite the positive steps now being taken. As the old legal maxim goes, justice delayed is justice denied, so I draw to the Minister's attention that, welcome as the changes in jurisdiction limits are, the Circuit Court volume of work in particular will need to be monitored to ensure that an adequate number of judges at that level will be available, taking into account the actual increase in the Circuit Court as well as Circuit Court numbers in the Bill.
A further area of concern and of general interest is in relation to personal injury cases which now are typically handled in the High Court. The new Bill will help to alleviate the common situation at present of relatively small personal injury cases taking up valuable space in the High Court when they should have been brought to the Circuit Court. It is important that people be encouraged to take their cases to the appropriate court. To this end paragraph 15(5) of the explanatory memorandum refers to a new disincentive for litigants who have chosen to pursue their case in a higher court than was necessary. The court will now have the option of ordering such a litigant, even though successful in his action, to reimburse the defendant, for this increased cost in defending the action in the higher court.
The Government obviously share the concern of many people that the cost of liability insurance is too high. Personal injury cases at present handled in the High Court are a source of general concern and the method of determination is, as the Minister pointed out, a source of  concern to the Government. It seems that the transfer of many personal injury cases which should more properly, before this in any case, be at Circuit Court level will now actually be transferred down because of the new £30,000 limit. My hope would be that motor public liability insurance will decrease as a result.
Turning to the question of the service of summonses this is a timely and enlightened step. The provision in the Bill for service of summonses by post is undoubtedly to be welcomed. Certainly it is a more practical way of handling the delivery of such summonses. In the modern age it makes no sense for us to waste valuable Garda resources in the personal service of summonses in relatively minor matters. I am delighted at the news in the Minister's speech that this will allow 60 gardaí in the Dublin area, which includes my constituency of Dún Laoghaire, time to devote an on the job, on the street, so to speak, operational focus on the crime problems that face us in that constituency as well as the Dublin area generally. It is much more valuable use of highly trained gardaí to have them on the spot working in the community rather than merely delivering summonses, work for which they are over-qualified. I welcome this measure. I might add that 70 gardaí outside the Dublin area will also be able to devote their time to operational Garda matters as opposed to delivering summonses.
I want to make a general point about the Government's policy in the area of legal reform. The Bill fits in with the Government's general policy of making our legal system more receptive to the needs of people. That is really what we are about here and we have to facilitate that process. Our legal system has served us well in the history of the state, but that is not to say improvements are not necessary and that they cannot be made.
The Minister has referred to the various Bills he has on his agenda for reform in this area, the Solicitors (Amendment) Bill and the Court and Court Officers Bill, and to his discussions with the Bar Council. This is a very timely and relevant  point at which to refer to the Bar Council. I understand the Bar Council have a meeting scheduled for this coming Saturday to discuss their internal procedures and affairs in the context of Government ideas and proposals. For my part, I wholly support a policy of consultation with the professions in regard to reform. By that I mean I will support a policy of consultation as opposed to confrontation. Self-regulation by the profession itself is clearly preferable to imposing legal strictures, provided the reforms which I hope will be voluntarily proposed by the Bar Council will match and be in line with the public interest. Reforms must maintain as their principal object the provision of legal services at a reasonable cost of the public. That is our primary concern here.
I regard this Bill as a further important step in the programme of legislation and legislative reform. I congratulate the Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, and his Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, for the energy they have brought to bear on their task and I look forward to contributing to further measures as they introduce them in the period ahead.
Mr. T. Kitt: Broadly speaking, this is a very welcome Bill. Many of the measures contained in it are overdue. Anything I have to say will be constructive and I ask the Minister to consider the points I make. Before I begin, I would like to join with other Deputies in the House who have paid tribute to the Minister for the many reforming measures he has introduced during his term as Minister.
The Bill will provide for an increase in the number of judges at the High Court and the Circuit Court. The President of the High Court has indicated that there are not enough judges. Sadly, we have seen a dramatic increase recently in the number of rape prosecutions which has put additional pressure on the High Court. For this reason the decision to increase the maximum number of High Court judges from 14 to 16, in addition to the President of the High Court, is welcome as the additional personnel is required. The increased in the jurisdiction of the Circuit Civil Court to £30,000 also  helps alleviate the burden on the High Court and reduces the cost of litigation.
The setting up of a small claims procedure in the District Court, which does not require legislation, is also a progressive step. However, I would have a number of reservations about how this procedure will operate. As I said earlier, I hope these comments will be taken as constructive. The type of claims to be dealt with by this process would not exceed £500 in value, for example, faulty dishwashers, microwaves, carpets, etc. Every effort should be made to resolve these claims by mutual agreement. Rather than having the registrar referring the matter for hearing in the District Court — a matter that was referred to by the Minister — having failed to effect a settlement between the parties, would it not be advisable to short circuit the process by insisting that the parties contractually agree to abide by the decision between them? Effectively, this would be an arbitration system. If they were not willing to agree, the case would go to the High Court. This would prevent a lot of time wasting and make for a more efficient system.
I would have some doubt about the advisability of having a £5 fee with each application. After all, people should be encouraged to use the small claims procedure and not penalised for doing so. Apart from the disincentive to the public I question the cost effectiveness involved in the administration of the collection of the £5 fee. Perhaps the Minister would have another look at this aspect also.
Section 27 of the Bill deals with a very important proposal providing for the service of summonses by registered post in summary cases. While on the whole this is a progressive measure and will release approximately 60 gardaí who are engaged full-time on summons service duties in the Dublin area for duties for which they have been trained, I would, nevertheless, question whether the vast number of these summonses are necessary. We seem to be accepting that we must live with all the paperwork, etc. that surrounds the issuing of summonses and the number of summonses involved.
 The danger is that if this is a measure to deal with serving summonses, it reflects a failure to deal with parking fines. There is clearly a distinction between minor fines and major penalties. At a time when major reforms of local government are under way, I firmly believe that the whole area of parking law and penalties should be looked at. We treat as equals the inoffensive and non-obstructionist parking offender and the motorist who double parks his or her car backing up traffic for hundreds of yards. Surely a system that does this is not a fair system. The motorist who causes a massive obstruction should be heavily penalised, not because we want to use parking offences as a means of gaining revenue but because we want to ensure free flowing traffic.
Our motives must be pure and not for monetary gain. The degree of penalty should reflect the degree of traffic violation. I would ask the Minister to ensure that the law reflect the distinction between the serious and the minor parking offender. I am not, by any means, making a case for the minor parking offender. I am simply saying there is a very clear distinction and that parking fines should be imposed for the right reasons, which are to ensure free flowing traffic.
With regard to the changes in the monetary limits of the civil jurisdiction of the District Court from £2,500 to £5,000, I would make the following observation. While on the whole I can accept the fact that the District Court should be able to deal with cases, the vast increase in jurisdiction should necessitate a review of the court procedures. The District Court procedures do not provide for one side telling the other side what the claim is about. A sum of £5,000 is a lot of money and because of the amount of litigation involved, there should be corresponding provisions for changes in procedures. The District Court Rules Committee should be urgently asked to look at the District Court procedures having regard to the changes.
The Minister referred to the proposed  Solicitors (Amendment) Bill and the subject of change in the barristers profession. In welcoming many of the changes which are on the way I would utter some words of caution in regard to deregulation. Comprehensive deregulation could well result in a free-for-all. The wealthy solicitors could gain and the poorer litigants and more socially concerned solicitors could lose out. If you break down the system, the big commercial interest will get the top solicitors, the top barristers. At present the smaller rural solicitor is equal to the large Dublin practice in that he or she can get the best top barristers. Barristers are like taxis: first come, first served. One side effect of deregulation could mean that taxis would convert to company cars and the larger the company the larger the company car. I am simply issuing a word of warning in regard to deregulation in that the smaller solicitor and the poorer litigant could lose out.
I would ask the Minister to be aware and wary of this aspect of the change. Commercial free-for-alls may work in some areas but may not turn out to be fair and satisfactory in this instance. The Minister for Justice should be encouraged to introduce dialogue with the Bar Council on the subject of change in the profession. I would be concerned that the intervention of the Minister for Industry and Commerce would hamper seriously and damage these delicate but successful negotiations.
I am aware that the Bar Council have moved to introduce reforms. It would be prudent to hold fire while these proposals are pending and while we are awaiting the outcome of the two-way communications between the Bar Council and the Minister for Justice. I am confident that progress will be made on this basis.
I would like to refer briefly to the role of the insurance industry. Naturally, they will feature strongly in any debate on courts legislation. Five years ago the insurance industry started a compaign saying premiums were too high and that the Government should get rid of juries. The Government got rid of juries but  premiums increased. The insurance industry than said that the problem was that there were two senior counsel on each side in every High Court action and if that number were reduced to one senior counsel, premiums would be reduced. Under Government pressure there was a change to one senior counsel and premiums increased. Now the insurance industry are suggesting that if the Circuit Court jurisdiction was increased to £30,000 — £5,000 more than that recommended by the Fair Trade Commission — and if the Government implemented the changes being put forward by the Minister, premiums would be reduced. All I can say is that we have heard it before and on this occasion premiums must be reduced.
Incompetence in the industry can no longer be concealed by lashing out at everyone except those ultimately who control premiums. For at least the third time in five years, the Government are responding to proposals made by the insurance industry and on this occasion the House expects premiums to be reduced.
The insurance industry have complained about monopolies and restrictive practices elsewhere, yet as Europe opens up to this country and 1992 looms nearly, this industry had to get the Government to protect them from Europe. Those who call most for domestic deregulation and free trade are those who have lobbied heavily and, indeed, have coerced successive Government, including the present Government, regretfully, into ensuring protectionism and cushioning from the effects of our European membership. If the insurance industry looked more positively and outwardly towards Europe, I am convinced the consumer and the insurance industry would also gain.
On closer examination we see that English companies primarily have traditionally and successfully traded here over the years. These companies are protected and are lobbying to prevent foreign companies from joining the competition. I am not convinced that  English companies should have a selfassumed right to exclusive trading in this country.
It says little for a free, open market that many young drivers are now paying motor insurance premiums of over £2,000 per year. Like other Deputies, I know many such young people. In my own constituency I spoke to one young man who started his own business but whose van has been lying idle outside his house for three months because he cannot get insurance he can afford. Insurance companies blame everybody except themselves but they should look closely at their position, particularly at their fear of competition from Europe, or merging with European companies and joint ventures. The cost of motor insurance in this country, particularly for young people, is a national scandal and if 1992 and the Single Market are to mean anything to the Irish insurance industry they should think again about their cocoon-like strategy and attitude and confidently adopt a different and more enlightened approach towards Europe. I am convinced that a common European insurance regime is inevitable; Ireland should recognise that and be ready and prepared for it. Our motorists, especially young people, will thank us if we wake up to this reality.
I wish to pay tribute to the Minister for bringing before the Dáil very significant reforming and progressive legislation. The Bill will make litigation in the courts cheaper and speedier and will also mean easier access to local courts. Further changes can be effective by Government order so that an Act would no longer be required. The numbers of the Judiciary will be increased and modern arrangements will be made for serving summonses. I strongly commend this Bill to the House and I welcome the fact that it has received widespread support from all parties in the House.
Mr. Enright: I agree with the unanimous view of the House in relation to this Bill. The Law Reform Commission made many proposals and, in some instances, the Government have gone  further than the commission. Most litigants will be broadly in favour of the Bill and I am sure the same applies in relation to district justices, Circuit Court judges and the High and Supreme Court judges. There may be a viewpoint that members of the legal profession may not be totally in favour of the Bill because higher costs are paid in the Circuit Court than in the District Court. The same applies to the High Court in relation to the Circuit Court. However, I am sure the vast majority of solicitors and barristers will be in favour of this Bill.
In extending the jurisdiction a number of points should be looked at. Up to now District Court cases have had a jurisdiction of £2,500 which is now being extended to £5,000. In a District Court, if there is a running down action, some justices require you to have an engineer to prove your case and a doctor to confirm your medical report. However, in some instances district justices are reluctant to authorise the payment of fees to an engineer for attending court. If the plaintiff is successful in his action and succeeds in getting an award, the engineer who gave evidence gets a very reduced fee for attending court, preparing maps and all the other work involved. The fee is deducted from the award or, alternatively, the solicitor pays it from his costs. It is an unsatisfactory situation. Everybody wants to have goodwill at the conclusion of a case and it is in everybody's interests that a proper schedule of fees is laid down for doctors producing medical reports, court attendance and so on. There should also be a proper scale of fees in relation to engineers for the preparation of maps, photographs and attendance in court to give a professional opinion. There should also be a reasonable level of remuneration for a solicitor for looking after cases, which should apply at all levels of the District Court.
Similarly, in the Circuit Court there are difficulties in obtaining fees for professional witnesses coming from different parts of the country. There should be a review in relation to the level of fees paid to professionals required to attend court.  Sooner rather than later overall agreement will have to be reached whereby written medical reports will be accepted in the courts. One cannot direct a judge how to run and administer a case but the Law Reform Commission should examine this matter closely to see if medical reports could be accepted without doctors attending personally. Doctors are very careful in relation to what they write in medical reports and their professional opinions are often backed up by their practices. A medical report should be accepted and if there is a counter argument by a doctor on the other side both reports should be furnished to the judge for examination. It is an area in which there could be quite a saving on costs for insurance companies and people involved in court cases.
The increases in jurisdiction are necessary. With the drop in monetary values — to which Deputy Hillery referred — such changes and extensions make sense. It is proposed to increase the number of judges, which is important.
I should like to make suggestions in regard to the small claims court. I am very much in favour of the small claims courts whose jurisdiction is less than £500. Those courts deal with cases relating to household equipment, electrical equipment and items of that nature. When the Minister's colleague, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, was Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce many years ago I was spokesman on consumer affairs and I recommended the setting up of small claims courts. Their establishment was a welcome development.
I would ask the Minister to consider bringing minor offences, which are nevertheless important, under the jurisdiction of the small claims courts — for example, failure to pay a television licence. I attend court occasionally and see long lists of people being brought before the court for failure to pay television licences. In 90 per cent of the cases these people are on low incomes and simply cannot afford the licence, but television is educational and is essential for  their children. It can take up to an hour to hear these cases in the District Court. An effort should be made to see if it is possible to have them heard in the small claims court.
As regards road traffic offences, such as failure to hold a driving licence, failure to pay parking tickets and so on, consideration should be given to whether it is possible to move these cases from the District Court to the small claims court. My understanding is that the small claims court deals with civil cases. Offences relating to television licences, driving licences and motor tax come under the criminal law because a jail sentence can be imposed on people who commit these offences. Overall the matter should be examined to see if these cases can be heard in the small claims court.
At present there are inordinate delays in hearing cases at all levels — in the District Court, Circuit Court and High Court. I will give some facts about the present court delays. In the High Court, from the date of setting the case to the date of hearing, delays were reduced from two years to ten or 12 months but of late the time span has increased again to about 18 months. That is a long time for somebody to have to wait to have their case heard. As bad as the position is in Dublin, Galway and Kilkenny, it is much the worse in Cork. In Cork cases set down in 1988 are still awaiting trial and are not likely to be heard this year and a delay of more than three years between the setting down of cases and the hearing of those cases in the High Court.
For example, a man with a wife and family to support who has been seriously injured suffers the trauma of having a High Court case hanging over his head for up to four years. During that time medical bills run high, the person may be let go from work and may be receiving payment from a health board or social welfare. It is grossly unfair that, in our administration of justice, people have to wait up to four years to have their cases heard. That is intolerable and something must be done about it. It has a most serious impact on the less well off people,  people on low incomes, people with families and young people living alone in flats. It is very important that this matter be examined.
The Circuit Court is functioning reasonably well. Most judges make every effort to complete the list of cases each day, and that is important. Judges, barristers, solicitors and professional witnesses do not worry about going to court but for an ordinary person it is probably the first and only time they will be in a court and it is a very worrying time for them. Some people may disagree but in many instances it causes as much concern to these people as if they were going for an operation. I have talked to people who have told me about their concern and worry in this regard. Many judges appreciate the concerns of these people and try to complete the list of cases each day. The Circuit Courts down the country who set out a list of cases for the week try to complete that list but, nevertheless, there is a backlog of cases in many Circuit Courts.
Overall these courts deal with their business in a reasonably expeditious manner, but expedition is not all that counts in the administration of justice. Our courts must be seen to be fair. People must feel there is a sense of fair play and that justice is administered in an equitable, reasonable and courteous manner.
The District Court could be called the engine room of our courts. I will give some figures on the level of cases heard in the District Court. There are 46 district justices around the country. In 1987, 721,701 cases were heard in the District Courts; in 1988, 729,239 cases and in 1989, 710,084 cases. It is incredible that such a high number of cases are heard in these courts. Some changes have been made as regards the issuing of revenue licences for pubs, and that will reduce the level of work for District Courts.
On occasion people are critical of decisions arrived at by district justices. It is incumbent on people in this House to go and see the working of the District Courts. In the past, journalists attended these courts and became well known for their work there. Indeed, some district  justices became equally famous. The reporting of these cases brought home to people the problems of the workings of the District Court. The publicity generated at that time did a lot of good for the administration of justice. Some District Court justices realised the importance of what they were doing. Overall the publicity that was generated was of benefit to everybody.
The number of cases demonstrates the stresses and strains on the District Court. It may be necessary to determine ways in which that workload may be further expanded to accommodate people and try to ensure that cases are given more time. The district courts should not be regarded as conveyor belts on which justice is administered in a rubberstamp fashion. That is not what the district justices or any of the Judiciary want. In general, they are conscientious people and, in common with everyone else, at times they suffer from blood pressure, concern and exhaustion. They try to act in a reasonable, fair and diligent manner but they operate under a great deal of pressure.
The pressure is particularly heavy in the large urban centres where the major crime occurs, where the major problems are experienced and where the major social deprivation exists. The increased jurisdiction to the District Court will increase the workload of that court.
I shall outline the way in which ordinary district courts in rural towns and larger provincial towns operate. All cases are called for 10.30 a.m. or 11 a.m., whichever time is preferred in a particular sitting area. On any one sitting day the court might have to deal with such diverse matters as family law, civil law, television licence cases, cases involving indictable offences, applications for auctioneers' licences, for gaming licences, for lottery licences and for salmon and trout dealers' licences. Such cases would be called along with criminal cases. There would be indictable cases in regard to criminal business and in regard to civil business there would be eviction procedures and so on. The list of the various kinds of business dealt with by a  district court is so long that it would take quite some time to go through.
I am concerned that all cases to be heard on any day are called for the starting time. We have heard much about the Government's anxiety to cut expenditure. One simple way to cut expenditure in the courts would be to separate the hearing of civil cases and family law cases on one day and the hearing of criminal business cases on another day. At present all cases are called for the one time, and some district justices hear family law cases first while other district justices hear them last.
When a family law case is heard before other cases it is particularly hard on the husband and wife — indeed, on everyone involved — that when they go to court on a particular morning the place is full and everyone in the locality has confirmation that the couple have a problem. The lack of privacy is unsatisfactory. It is also difficult for families when such cases are heard after all other business. The husband, the wife and perhaps the children and other family members are all at the court from the beginning of the day, and they are seen at the court. In provincial towns many people attend court sessions. These may include people who are out of work, elderly people who want something to do and so on. In a small town it becomes well known that a couple have a problem. Family law cases are supposed to be private, that is why they are held in camera. Therefore, they should not be heard on the same day as ordinary cases. There could even be a special time fixed for family law cases to be heard. That would not be a simple procedure to implement, but it is important.
I have been in courts and seen gardaí waiting for one, two or three hours to give evidence. There is often in attendance a superintendent or two, perhaps a garda inspector, four or five Garda sergeants and 40 or 50 gardaí, some of them being paid overtime. They all sit in court through the hearing of civil cases. People could be arguing about a car crash, about the price of an animal, about an alleged trespass offence or some other matter.  All those members of the Garda Síochána have to sit and wait until their case comes up. That issue needs to be examined. The expenditure involved in having so many members of the Garda Síochána waiting for cases to be heard is extravagant. It is a waste of scarce public money. A solution to that problem needs to be found at the earliest possible opportunity.
That problem applies mainly to the District Court but it applies also to the Circuit Court. A comprehensive review should be carried out by the Department in co-operation with District Court clerks, county registrars, members of the legal profession and the Garda Síochána. The setting up of a small committee to review the system would be beneficial to everybody and would make for a vast saving of funds. I cannot see any difficulty in that regard, and the Judiciary of the District Court, the Circuit Court and the High Court would be very much in favour of such a proposal.
The provision in the Bill for the serving of summonses by post is one I completely accept. However, that service would have to be by registered post, otherwise it would not be wise or safe to introduce it. For instance, a problem that could arise would be people denying receiving the correspondence. Deputy Barnes said it would be essential to make summons service by post by way of registered mail so that no one could deny receiving the correspondence. I go along with that.
I note that a new Bill is being prepared in relation to the legal profession. It is important to have new legislation in that regard. I am confident that the Bill will be welcomed by the legal profession. I trust that whatever reform the Government put forward will be the subject of consultation and agreement. Ongoing consultation would be required in that respect.
We should move slowly in relation to changes concerning the Bar and proposals of the Restrictive Trade Practices Commission. The Bar Council are well able to make their own case so I shall not make it for them. Deputy Kitt made  several points in that regard this morning and described the issue reasonably well. However, the matter is not quite as simple as the Deputy put it — engaging the services of a barrister is not quite as easy as hailing a taxi. Most solicitors' practices have at their disposal a number of barristers who brief them on a regular basis. Goodwill builds up between both parties. In celebrated cases in the past members of the Bar have acted for people without receiving fees or payment of any kind. In every profession there is a large percentage of people who are involved for monetary gain. However, there are excellent people in the legal profession who are prepared to act for litigants they feel have a genuine case. I am not aware of anybody in Ireland to date that had a case they wanted heard in court who has been deprived of access to the court for want of finance.
We have civil legal aid and I am not trying to score a political point when I say that it is badly funded, because no Government in this State has funded civil legal aid sufficiently. Funding is inadequate and there are major problems. To make changes in the Law Library and in the solicitors profession without having some type of civil legal aid in place would be very unwise and could do a lot of damage. I would, therefore, ask the Minister to be very careful about moving along those lines. That is all I have to say on that; it will be debated again.
I am happy with the proposal to increase the weekly amount for maintenance from £100 to £200. The child allowance increase from £30 to £60 is also welcome.
I have spoken about our courts in general. One of the main problems at present is overwork in the District Court and that must be looked at. While looking at the courts we cannot ignore the situation in regard to crime. A number of people have dealt with this. People working for the papers in general have no particular political leanings. They are doing a job on behalf of society. The same is true of people working on radio and television. They too are carrying out a function on behalf of society.
 However, it is not too often that two of our national leading newspapers are in total agreement on any subject. The headline in yesterday's Evening Herald referred to our “revolving door” jails while the heading on the Evening Press was “Jail My Son Widow Pleads”. On “Radio 2” this morning Gerry Ryan spoke about crime in Ireland. The Star newspaper is also carrying out a review of crime. I am not politically motivated in making this point. I am putting this forward in the interests of everybody in Ireland.
We cannot be complacent about what is happening. Crime is one of the most important issues affecting us all. In a case before District Justice James McDonnell the mother of a boy said that the courts had given him “a licence to steal” by not putting him away in an appropriate detention centre. She said bag snatchers like her son “always seem to pick on defenceless women as the easiest prey”. He will be charged with 60 handbag snatches from women motorists in the Summerhill area and 65 gardaí will have to attend to give evidence. It is serious that any boy would be involved in that level of crime. What is more serious is that he was released on bail yesterday. To go a stage further, District Justice James McDonnell said he had no option but to release him on bail as Trinity House was full. That is serious.
This morning on “Morning Ireland” I heard the Prison Officers' Association spokesperson, Mr. Dennis McGrath, speaking about the “revolving door” jails. There are 300 people signing on each week at our prisons. That is a serious matter because people do not get sent to jail for simple offences. In general people sent to jail have committed the most serious crimes. There are roughly 300 people signing on at our jails on a weekly basis. That should concern everybody because these people whose crimes range from road traffic offences to burglary, joy-riding and assault, are the very people who are holding communities to ransom and who terrorise estates on a nightly basis. That is not something that  can be ignored. It is very serious and we have to take cognisance of it.
It was reported in yesterday's Evening Press also that 150 people had fled a besieged Limerick housing estate. Can you imagine in Ireland today people having to flee their homes because they are being terrorised? This is Ireland 1991. This is no time for complacency. It is a time for urgent attention to this matter. When one councillor was asked for a solution he said that the Army should be brought in to take control. That is dangerous talk. I would be concerned about that. The Army is an aid to civil power; it is a last resort. If this situation is not tackled there is a potential danger which I do not need to spell out. The facts speak for themselves.
Up to 1983 there was an increase in crime. Between 1983 and 1988 there was a decline. In 1988 and again in 1989 there was an increase and the provisional figures for 1990 will show a further increase. There were 257 house break-ins in Shankill last year and 135 house break-ins have taken place in Shankill in the first three months of this year. I hope the Garda will be able to take action in that specific case.
On the “Gerry Ryan Show” this morning a number of honest people rang up. One was Mary, a widow whose house was broken into. Since that time when she goes into a room in the house she locks the door of the room behind her. This woman felt that the trauma of the break-in would affect her for life. The next woman who rang up had been in bed when a man opened the door and walked in with a pal who did considerable damage downstairs. They loaded her electrical equipment and her jewellery into their car and they stole her car from outside of the front door. This woman believed she would have been able to identify the youth but she said that a garda told her that if she went ahead with the case, the robbers would be back again. Another lady said that when her house had been robbed and damaged, she not alone moved house but moved out of the city.
These trends are very worrying  especially when one considers that 150 people have fled from a besieged Limerick housing estate according to yesterday evening's paper. A woman from Carlow described how a man with a hammer walked into her house and robbed her. This man was caught and convicted and got a three month custodial sentence, but he was the only one who was caught and sentenced. In all of the other cases outlined the people were not caught and punished.
I do not advocate heavy sentencing, or locking people up and throwing away the key, but something must be done to tackle this worrying problem. The situation is particularly bad in Limerick and in Dublin.
When talking to a taxi-man of about 60 years of age I was told that the man's house was like Fort Knox and that he is afraid to walk the streets or open his hall door at night. This man has been a taxi driver in Dublin for 36 years and he is not given to exaggeration. He said that in all his years he has never seen anything like the situation in Dublin at present.
It is important to examine policy with regard to custody and sentencing. District Justice Hubert Wine has been on the bench for a long time. He has experience and is not given to exaggeration either. He is a level headed man. District justices, in general, do not like to make pronouncements from the bench. They prefer a quite life. When District Justice Wine was dealing with a 13 year old youth now appearing on 36 charges, the youth tried to escape but was recaptured by a garda, having narrowly escaped injuries, having run into the path of a passing car when trying to escape. The boy was being charged with stealing two ladies' handbags at a break-in at Loughlinstown Health Centre and at a house in Ballybrack. According to the Irish Independent of 31 May:
It was as District Justice Hubert Wine was remanding the accused and urging the Government to get down to providing a place of detention for juvenile delinquents, that the youth bolted from the court.
 Justice Wine went on to say:
Last week in this court I made an appeal to the Ministers involved, which I thought was constructive because of my belief that the authorities have absolutely no idea of the magnitude of what is involved in this shocking problem of juvenile delinquency.
The justice then went on to say that he had not received one word in reply, that all he had asked was simply that the Minister should draft a letter to every court to ascertain the magnitude of what is involved. Has there been a communication with District Justice Wine in this matter since then?
If this “revolving door” policy exists it has to stop. The real danger is that the situation will get totally out of hand. I welcome the setting up of the crime committee yesterday, but on its own it is not sufficient. We must provide the requisite number of Garda Síochána to tackle the spate of crime. We must provide the necessary detention centres and the backup facilities in our District Courts. There is a small fire burning at the moment but the fire is getting worse. It is a very dangerous fire that will get out of hand unless it is tackled.
The courts have to be equitable and use common sense. The elderly people living alone must be protected, families must be protected and people walking the streets must be protected. It is up to the Government to make sure that the necessary resources are provided to resolve the problem.
Prior to 1986, assaults on gardaí were regarded as serious crimes and were indictable offences. The Director of Public Prosecutions at the time decided that assaults on gardaí which did not result in actual harm should be treated as ordinary common assault. Any assault on a garda should be treated as serious and should be indictable as distinct from common law assault. This matter should be re-examined. I trust the Minister will consider the points I have made as they relate to matters of the utmost importance.
 Will the Minister give the House information about the money being spent on the present system? I understand that there has been a decline in expenditure on our prisons. I am not certain about this and I should like the Minister to clarify the position in this regard. Members of the Garda Síochána, justices and people in general are demanding that criminals who continue to commit crimes on a regular basis should be placed in detention centres. It is essential that this is done and I ask the Minister to give this matter his full attention. I welcome the Bill.
Mr. Jacob: I welcome the Bill and I compliment the Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, and his Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, on its introduction. This Bill is another chapter in their ongoing programme of law reform and updating legislation.
I welcome the changes proposed in the Bill in relation to the courts. I want to refer to the beneficial impact some of the proposed changes should have for litigants. The increase in the monetary limits of civil jurisdiction of the Circuit and District Courts will enable more litigants to have their cases heard at local venues and at lower costs. It will also mean that most ordinary actions can be brought in one or other of these courts. The previous limit of £15,000 for the Circuit Court meant that almost all claims for personal injuries, including moderate injuries, were heard in the High Court. Plaintiffs were often forced to take cases of relatively minor injuries and serious damage to their cars to the High Court. Taking the cost of replacing a car at £13,000 and the cost of car hire at £1,000 the previous limit of £15,000 meant that a person was left with a maximum of £1,000 to cover injuries, medical fees and loss of earnings. In future many cases of this nature will be adequately covered by the new upper limit of £30,000 for the Circuit Court.
The increase in the monetary limit of the District Court from £2,500 to £5,000 will enable all cases relating to relatively  minor accidents to fall within its jurisdiction. Even a minor collision can cause damages of £2,500 to a car. Previously plaintiffs had to take such cases to the Circuit Court. In addition, it will be cheaper for plaintiffs to take cases to court as no barristers will be involved in cases in the District Court and only one junior counsel will be involved in cases in the Circuit Court. Prior to this, both a junior and senior counsel were involved in cases in the £15,000-£30,000 bracket.
I want to refer to the other aspects of access to justice, for example, the practical problems for a person from the country who has to leave his family and take time off work in order to travel to Dublin for a High Court hearing. At times this made it impossible for a plaintiff to pursue his case and he was put at a disadvantage if his key witnesses could not travel to Dublin or arrived too late. The Minister's proposals will be of substantial and practical benefit to all people using our courts. The proposal to increase the monetary limits of the civil jurisdiction of the lower courts will enable a greater number of cases to be heard in such courts. These courts are more conveniently located throughout the country and litigants and witnesses will not have to travel long distances. It will also lead to a speeding up in the hearing of court cases and a consequential reduction in delays in disposing of cases.
These proposals will also lead to a reduction in formalities in District and Circuit Courts which will make it easier for the parties involved in a case to understand the proceedings. In addition, most cases will be heard in the locality in which the parties reside. This will make the courts more convenient and accessible to people and reduce the cost and inconvenience to witnesses who have to travel long distances. These proposals will bring justice to the people rather than the other way around.
Cases are heard and disposed of in the Circuit and District Courts much more quickly than in the High Court where the proceedings are more elaborate and involve more stages. The High Court and  Circuit Courts are scheduled to sit for approximately nine months during 1991. They will sit from 11 January-22 March, 8 April-16 May, 29 May-31 July and 7 October-21 December. District Courts sit virtually 364 days of the year to deal with criminal cases, and for 11 months to deal with civil matters. They only break for the month of August. The increase in the number of judges will speed up the legal process considerably.
The increase in the monetary limits of the civil jurisdiction of the lower courts will be of limited benefit if litigants — I am thinking in particular of plaintiffs — do not make use of it. It seems to be a tradition for some litigants to litigate only in the High Court. Under our Constitution the High Court is invested with full original jurisdiction to determine all matters and questions whether of law or fact, civil or criminal. Plaintiffs are entitled to initiate any action in the High Court. However, a defendant is given no choice in the matter and the costs he will have to pay if he loses the case are largely determined by the decision of the plaintiff to initiate his action in a particular court. That decision could cost a defendant thousands of pounds.
As the Minister said, there has been a long-standing policy to discourage plaintiffs from initiating actions in a higher court than is necessary by limiting the costs they may be awarded to the costs appropriate to the lowest court having jurisdiction to grant the relief given. I understand that the present law allows a wide discretion to the courts to certify payment of higher court costs, even when the award made is appropriate to the jurisdiction of a lower court. I have heard it said that lawyers will often advise their clients to proceed with a personal injuries case in the High Court if they value the case at more than half the jurisdiction limit of the Circuit Court on the basis that the High Court costs will be granted. This general practice can serve only to frustrate the objectives of legislation, such as this Bill which proposes to increase the civil jurisdiction of the lower courts.
I am not surprised to note the Minister  is taking steps in this Bill to enact more restrictive provisions governing the granting of higher court costs. He is leaving a margin in cases where more than £250,000 is awarded in the High Court for the granting of higher costs. This is probably justified because it may not be possible to estimate the value of some cases with complete accuracy.
I am pleased the Minister is introducing a new disincentive to discourage plaintiffs from lititigating in a higher court than necesary. I am referring to the proposals in section 14 which will empower the court to penalise a successful plaintiff who takes an action in a court other than the court with lowest jurisdiction by requiring the plaintiff to pay the defendant the equivalent of the additional costs incurred by the defendant in having to defend the case. This is relevant to the point I made earlier concerning the additional costs imposed on the defendant by reason of the plaintiff's decision to proceed in a particular court.
There are some celebrated cases where judges awarded derisory damages to plaintiffs in High Court cases. They told them, in effect, that they had no business proceeding in the High Court. One such case heard in the High Court in Cork received widespread publicity earlier this year. In that case the defendant's lawyers asked the judge to penalise the plaintiff by awarding the additional costs of taking the action in the High Court. The judge was unable to do so. I am glad the Minister is giving the power to the courts to make such an award of costs against the plaintiff.
This matter does not concern the plaintiffs in personal injury actions only. In the vast majority of personal injury cases the defendants are insurance companies. The insurance industry, and their spokespersons, have consistently maintained that high legal costs is one of the main reasons the cost of car insurance is so high. This is a matter about which the Government are concerned. Indeed, we are all concerned. It is clear that this problem was in the forefront of the Minister's mind when he set about drafting the Bill. The new limits proposed for the  lower courts should result in many more personal injury cases being initiated in the Circuit Court and, possibly, the District Court. I feel confident that the more restrictive new provisions which will limit the costs plaintiffs can be awarded if they proceed in a higher court than necessary will ensure that the increased jurisdiction of the lower courts will be used in practice by litigants. These measures will go a long way towards reducing the legal costs of defendants with a consequential benefit for the public at large through much needed reductions in the level of liability insurance premiums.
The proposal that summonses be served by post is warmly welcomed. It will release gardaí from the unproductive job of serving summonses and allow them to engage in their real vocation, crime prevention and detection. I am sure that was the Minister's aim in introducing that proposal. Gardaí are required on the streets, and not just in urban areas and in our cities given that there has been a swing from urban crime to rural crime with the counties nearest to Dublin most at risk. I live in County Wicklow where there has been a dramatic upsurge in crime.
In a county where great efforts are being made, in conjunction with the Government, to develop the tourism industry there is the serious problem of “tourism bashing”. In resorts such as Glendalough and Brittas Bay, particularly at long weekends during the summer, thugs interfere with visitors and local people. The crime graph is heading in the wrong direction. Any measures the Minister takes to ensure a greater Garda presence in these areas will be welcomed.
I have some reservations about a provision in the Bill. I have in mind the case of a person who claims he has not received a summons but I can voice these reservations on Committee Stage. In relation to summonses, I ask the Minister to consider allowing Garda superintendents and/or inspectors to issue summonses, in addition to District Court clerks, in an attempt to streamline the procedures further. This would avoid the necessity for members of the Garda  Síochána to go to District Court offices to have summonses signed. I welcome the reforms in the Bill and I fully support the Minister's proposals.
Mr. S. Barrett: I congratulate Deputy Jacob for admitting that crime in County Wicklow is on the increase and being honest about this matter.
Mr. Jacob: I hope the Deputy is not happy about that.
Mr. S. Barrett: I have been trying for months to convince the Minister that this is the case all over the country. We had a series of speeches about crime being on the decrease, that we had more gardaí than ever before and that there was no problem. Each time the Minister opened his mouth he listed the Bills he had put through since he was appointed but suddenly the message seems to have got through. Yesterday the Minister admitted that crime is on the increase and that new measures will be taken. Why? The answer is that the people told him that this was the case on the doorsteps. Suddenly, the public relations exercises have been dispensed with. Now that we are facing up to reality it is time we did something about this problem.
At last the Minister has agreed to appoint the Select Committee on Crime. It has taken him four years to make up his mind despite the fact that we had a similar committee on crime between 1982-87 who did much good work. Had they been allowed to continue in existence many of the changes sought and needed would have been made. They would not have been contrary to Government policy because Members on all sides of the House want to have the crime problem resolved. They are not looking for political kudos or taking any pleasure in continuously harping on the fact that people are afraid to leave their homes, walk the streets or park their cars. No one wants to live in such a society and no one, be he politician, journalist, civil servant or member of the public, is excluded from the effects of this wave of  crime. It is in all our interest, therefore, to attempt to resolve this difficult problem so that people can feel free to go out, lock their doors or park their cars and expect to find their property intact or that their cars are still in the same place on their return. This is not a party political issue.
Newspaper reports accuse us of discovering only now that there is a crime problem because of the local elections. I wish to answer that charge. Those who have been Members since 1987 when I became spokesperson on Justice who say that I did not open my mouth until an election was in the offing obviously did not read the Dáil Official Report. I know that our friends in the press who report on the proceedings do their job and send in their reports to their newspapers but people are not interested in many matters discussed in the House. Of course, at election time issues are raised because that is what elections are about. People want to know the proposals of those standing for election so that they can consider whether they will vote for a candidate.
We live in a democracy and if people are concerned about an issue such as crime they certainly want to know what we propose doing about it. I do not think anybody should make any apology for the fact that we have successfully brought home to the Government the urgent need to take radical steps to deal with the horrendous problem of crime sweeping the country. The sad fact is that according to this morning's newspapers', the Minister will make a speech in Templemore this afternoon outlining how he is going to involve parents in dealing with juvenile crime. I have been making the point of parental responsibility for years but the Minister chose to go outside this House to make a statement as to how he proposes to deal with the problem. It is no wonder the public are concerned about the activities of this House because Ministers are choosing to make major statements outside the House so that there can be no debate or discussion on the subject. The proceedings of this House are being turned into nothing more than  a PR exercise to try to convince people there are no problems.
If we had had a committee on crime in place for the past four years issues such as parental responsibility could have been discussed and the views of all Members could have been taken on board. The role of parents and guardians could have been examined. Now we are being told what the Minister proposes to do without us getting an oportunity to discuss or debate the matter with him. We have a take-it-or-leave it style of Government. Announcements are made at openings. The Minister will tell the world in Templemore what he is going to do in relation to parental responsibility but when Members table questions about proposed legislation, the reply will state the Minister has no intention of announcing his proposals in regard to legislation. Yet, the Minister can make speeches on issues outside this House without thinking twice about it.
The question of parental responsibility is very serious and Deputy Enright brought to our attention what the media have been saying about various incidents of juvenile crime. The media have commented also on the prison service. There was a headline in the Evening Herald yesterday about “revolving prisons.” It is obvious to everybody that the present policy is not working. The Minister may provide an additional 200 places in juvenile detention centres but this will not resolve the problem unless that is done in conjunction with other measures. It is obvious that detention is no longer a deterrent for people involved in crime. It is also obvious that some parents have abdicated their responsibility for their children. We cannot go on building more and more prisons at enormous cost simply to take people off the street for a very short period and send them out again to do exactly the same thing. That policy will not work.
It is quite obvious that problems resulting from the high level of crime arises directly from a lack of educational opportunities, no jobs for young people and a lack of recreational facilities. These issues are part and parcel of the process  of trying to find a solution to the problem of crime. We are only fooling ourselves if we think that putting an additional 1,000 Garda on the street will resolve the problem. It will certainly help to alleviate the problem but it will not resolve it. To say that the provision of an additional 40 detention places will solve the problem, when it will not is only fooling ourselves and the sooner we are seen to be coming forward with proposals to deal with the world we live in today the better for everybody.
I had not intended to speak on this Bill but I did so because this morning a Private Members' Bill in my name dealing with the whole question of bail was circulated. An amendment to the Constitution would be required. We are aware that some people hold genuine views on the issue of bail, the right of the individual to bail, and that we could be going too far to deal with the problem. That is a legitimate fear. I would like to answer some of the fears expressed.
First, the Bill does not propose that bail be refused in all cases but that the court have discretion to admit or refuse to admit any person to bail pending trial. What the Bill proposes is to give the courts discretion to deal with the problems that come before them on a daily basis. A quid pro quo for this is that where bail is refused in accordance with the provision in my Bill, the person who has been refused bail should have an automatic right to an early trial. This is vitally important. That is why the proposal in this Courts Bill to increase the number of judges is welcome.
We should also address the question of providing more courthouses to deal with the problems coming before the courts. If we can find a building overnight to house the 470 staff from the Central Statistics Office — because the Minister decided to make an announcement in Cork that he was going to move that office from Dublin to Cork — I cannot understand why it seems difficult to find a relatively small building to be used as a courthouse. I maintain that problem can be overcome. It is only right if we are to refuse bail to people that they  should have an automatic right to an early trial.
Refusing bail is not new. We have preventive detention in two instances, if a person is unlikely to turn up for trial, or if the person is likely to interfere with witnesses. We have already established that there are certain circumstances where bail can be refused. Refusal to grant bail is not totally contrary to the principle that a person is innocent until proved guilty, because at the end of the day it is left to the court's discretion under the existing law to decide whether the person is likely to turn up for trial or, if granted bail, would interfere with witnesses.
As a society we already give discretion to our judges to make a judgement depending on the circumstances. That discretion should be extended. It cannot be suggested that if such discretion were given, every judge would suddenly refuse bail to persons who would normally be given it. They would, however, have discretion. Deputy Enright cited the case of a person before a court with 60 charges against him whose mother asked that he be taken away and something done with him.
I read a very interesting article in today's edition of The Irish Times in which the issue of bail was analysed by a journalist. People are entitled to their views and to criticise if they see fit. All I ask is that there be balance in this argument. Let us not ignore the reality of today's world. A district justice may have before him a person who has 40 charges against him for house breaking and a record of being in and out of prison and detention centres, with no intention of mending his ways. The district justice knows that if bail is granted the individual before him will go out and continue breaking into houses. What about the rights of the individual whose house has been broken into or who has been mugged on the street? We must take into account all the circumstances.
In the interests of society it may be the right thing to refuse bail pending a hearing of the charges against that  person. On the other hand, the judge might decide that bail should be granted. All we are saying is that the court should be given discretion. We are not asking judges to depart from any principles that have been established. We are seeking a constitutional referendum to give discretion to the courts. I do not believe the courts would suddenly stop granting bail altogether. Members of the Garda Siochána frequently have the experience of apprehending a person who has caused havoc in an area; when brought to court he is released on bail and the gardaí have to pursue him again because he continues his wrong doing, on the principle that one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.
We have always upheld the principle that a person is innocent until proved guilty and we have bent over backwards to give people charged with offences every opportunity to prove their innocence and to have a fair trial. We spend considerable sums of money on a free legal aid system and we endeavour to frame our laws in such a way that there is a heavy onus on the prosecution to prove that the accused is guilty. We have much to be proud of.
I am proud that the party of which I am a member has been to the forefront in ensuring that justice is done and is seen to be done. My party have a proud record of law reform in the family law, civil law and criminal law areas. We are a group of people who face up to reality. If we do not deal with the problems that exist, democracy will take second place because the public will lose confidence in the democratic system we are trying to protect. If society sees that our structures are incapable of protecting them, it leaves room for those who use other tactics to impose their will. That is already happening. If we want to discuss the whole issue as set out in the Private Members' Bill circulated today by me on behalf of my party, let us have an open and honest discussion about the principle.
We are supposed to lead the people who elect us to represent them. We should not engage in half truths but  should place all the facts and arguments before the people who can then decide whether they want to provide discretion to the courts to deal with the bail issue. If the people so decide, the Minister has the power under this Bill to increase the number of judges and to increase the jurisdiction of various courts. If I had my way, I would give the Minister power to increase the number of judges by way of regulation.
I fail to see why we should have such a hullabaloo about appointing another two, four or seven district justices as if they were something extremely precious when a recruitment campaign in the pulic services can take in 1,000 gardaí or 500 civil servants. It is not necessary to come to the Dáil every time it is required to recruit staff. The Minister should be able to bring a regulation before the House for approval rather than be forced to bring in legislation to provide for another High Court judge. I have no objections to the Government of the day having the power by way of regulation to increase the number of judges.
I am concerned that we should have a system of justice capable of tackling the problems of society in a balanced way. It is time that the victim had someone to speak for him. If a person speaks out about what is happening, there is a danger of being regarded as a right wing conservative who believes in law and order and belongs to the flogging and hanging brigade. It has become unfashionable to say what should be said, but people on the doorstep will say what they feel. If I believe something should be said, I will say it. It is easier to be regarded as a wet liberal who errs on the side of the popular, it is more trendy to be that way at times.
We have forgotten about the victims of crime. I have no difficulty in making suggestions that will protect society at large and at the same time preserve certain principles and rights of individuals who should have a fair trial and proper representation. The State should have an obligation to prove a person guilty. I uphold all those principles. I have no difficulty about them. All I want to say is  it is time we started tipping the balance a little towards the victims of crime, the sort of people Deputy Enright spoke about. No matter which side of the House one is on, we all knock on doors and we all hear the same stories. What was said on the “Gerry Ryan Show”, as quoted by Deputy Enright, is not new and neither is what is written in the evening papers.
Those of us who represent Dublin constituencies and I am sure those who represent rural constituencies all know that people are living in fear, especially old people or widows. They are afraid to open the door at night. They are afraid to leave their homes. As I have asked before now, what use is it to them if our current budget deficit is eliminated or our balance of payments is in order if they cannot live a decent life and are afraid even to communicate with the rest of society? Of course we are going to have to use part of our finances to fund certain things to restore those rights to those people. Those people are entitled to their freedom and their rights, for instance, their right to walk the street without fear, and they should be defended.
Is society going to tolerate this situation where women in particular are afraid to visit their daughters or, if they are visiting their daughters, sons or friends they have to leave early to get home before dark because they are afraid to get off the bus and walk to their homes? When they get to their homes they put three bolts and four locks on the door so that nobody can break in during the night. Everybody here, no matter to which party he or she belongs, knows that is the truth. Society cannot continue to tolerate that. I do not care if I am charged with being a right winger on this issue because that is the truth of the matter and we must do something about it. We will not do something about it until we resolve the basic problems that are obvious to everybody. It is grand to be passing this legislation here, which is to be welcomed, but courts are there to deal with problems and we would not need these courts if we did not have these problems. We will need more and more of this legislation as  long as the present situation is allowed to continue. I welcome the Bill. The intentions in it are good. Perhaps there are a few questions to be asked on Committee Stage but that can be done. It is a move in the right direction, a positive, progressive move. I believe in supporting things that are good, but I believe also in speaking out. It is time the Minister for Justice recognised that the sort of problems we have will not be resolved by one or two steps but only by a series of steps. All sides of the House should be encouraged to participate in trying to find a solution to the problems which face society.
I was disappointed when I read in my paper that despite all the attempts made here at Question Time and on various occasions on Bills when I and others raised the problem of parental responsibility, the Minister is now choosing to go outside this House to Templemore today to announce regulations to deal with this matter without this House ever getting a chance to discuss the content of those regulations. It is a dangerous thing to do. The Government of the day have responsibility to introduce regulations but we should use the facilities available to us here — Question Time, committees or special debates — to discuss these issues.
I do not say I am right in everything I say. I have ideas which I think represent the vast majority of people out there, and I know people are asking where the parents are. That was borne out in a survey carried out by my colleague, Deputy Jim Mitchell, in the Cabra electoral area on the whole issue of crime, by way of a questionnaire distributed to households. From memory, I say over 70 per cent of the people were concerned about the lack of parental responsibility, particularly in relation to juvenile crime. It was the single biggest issue in the survey. If anybody tells me a 13 year old child can have 50 or 60 charges against him and that his parents are in no way responsible, I will eat my hat. If any child of 13 or 14 years of age is out on the streets at 1 a.m., 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. where are the parents? Who is responsible?  What good is it taking that child and locking him up for six months in Lusk, or anywhere else, and then sending him back out to do precisely the same thing? He is going back into a home environment where responsibility is lacking. It is sad to see a young life destroyed like that and those who are responsible not being called to answer. It is time we faced up to this issue and dealt with it. However, it is a pity we did not have the opportunity to discuss the matter here.
Mr. Cullimore: I welcome this Bill and I compliment the Minister for Justice, Deputy Burke, and the Minister of State, Deputy Treacy, for bringing it before the House. The Bill is part of the declared commitment to bring about a reformed court system that is effective and efficient and accessible to all persons. The Bill proposes changes in the monetary limits of the civil jurisdiction of the Circuit Court and the District Court. In the case of the Circuit Court the limit is being increased from £15,000 to £30,000 and in the District Court from £2,500 to £5,000. I know this goes beyond what the Fair Trade Commission recommended in their report on restrictive practices but, as the Minister indicated on Tuesday, the Government decided to increase the Circuit Court jurisdiction from the recommended £25,000 to the £30,000 now proposed.
I welcome this, not only as an end in itself in relation to this Bill but because it also indicates that not only are the Government willing to consider and accept recommendations of thoughtful critics but are willing to go beyond these recommendations and propose them into law. Therefore, the raising of the Circuit Court and District Court jurisdiction limits is to be welcomed for reasons specific to the reforms proposals and as an indication of the Government's willingness to reform the court system.
The raising of the jurisdiction limits will be neutral as regards the amounts of compensation to plaintiffs. However, it could and should help to contain legal costs and speed up claims settlements. As Deputies we all have had cases at our  constituency clinics of people suffering great anxiety and depression because of the length of time it takes to deal with cases in awarding compensation. I welcome this move as I believe it will speed up claims settlements. We all know the case lists of some Circuit Court judges are quite long, so I welcome the Minister's commitment to streamlining the system by giving due attention to both the number of judges and the resources that are needed to carry out these functions.
I welcome also section 21 which provides for the issuing of summonses by registered letter in summary cases. The majority of these relate to parking and other road traffic offences. We have one of the finest Garda forces in the world. They are competent, effective and of the highest integrity. We have spent much time and money training the force and we are all proud of them. Some members of the Garda are not flattered to be involved in issuing summonses in summary cases and I am glad the Minister is rectifying this problem in the proposed legislation.
The major part of the Bill concerns jurisdiction limits of the Circuit and District Courts and the extension of existing limits. The net result of these sections, especially sections 2 and 10, will be to transfer a number of cases particularly in the area of personal accident from the higher to the lower courts. This will result in significant savings both in legal and travelling expenses for both the litigants and the witnesses.
I would like to make one brief reference to the affect this legislation will have on insurance premia. I hope it will result in the stabilisation of premia and allow young drivers to obtain cover at a reasonable rate. On a note of caution, I would remind this House that we received a commitment from the insurance industry that if we abolished juries we would see a stabilisation in insurance premia. I would ask the Minister to monitor the position as regards legal fees in the Circuit and District Courts. It is important that we ensure there is no substantial increase in these fees following the enactment of this legislation.  There may be a tendency on the part of the legal profession to increase fees and I would ask the Minister to set up some type of monitoring system to ensure this does not happen. I commend this Bill to the House.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Mr. N. Treacy): At the outset I thank many Deputies for their sincere and genuine contributions. I wish to deal with as many points as possible. Deputy Cotter raised the question of the adequacy of court accommodation in the context of the increases in the jurisdiction of the lower courts. I do not anticipate that any particular difficulties will arise, consequent on the enactment of this Bill, in so far as court accommodation is concerned. Should there be any additional accommodation requirements at some time in the future, our Department will assess the matter then and will take whatever action may be necessary.
Deputies Bell and McCartan were critical of the existing standard of accommodation in the District Court. I accept fully that many of our courthouses are not up to the standards we all desire and I can assure the House we have taken steps to improve the situation.
The Cork duo, Deputies Ahern and Dennehy, raised the question of having an annual review of jurisdiction limits of the lower courts. As the Minister for Justice explained in his speech, the proposal in section 16 of the Bill will enable the Government to revise these limits by order in the future. This will certainly reduce delays in effecting the revisions but I do not think it would be appropriate to make firm predictions in advance as to the timing of such increases. This will depend on how quickly the proposed new limits are eroded by future inflation trends. As Deputies will be aware, our inflation rate has been reduced to among the lowest in Europe. This is another clear achievement of Government policy. Annual reviews of the jurisdiction limits would not be appropriate while we have an inflation rate of around 2 per cent  to 3 per cent, but we can certainly look forward to more immediate adjustments of these limits as circumstances warrant.
As I said earlier, I accept fully that many of our courthouses are not up to the standards to which we all aspire and desire. The provision and maintenance of most courthouse accommodation is the responsibility of local authorities. This arrangement has not worked satisfactorily over the years because of the reluctance of local authorities to spend money on such buildings. It was for this reason, and also because it was considered that courthouses ought to be a central rather than a local responsibility, that the Government agreed in March 1990 to transfer this financial responsibility to the Exchequer. An allocation of funds in this regard has been provided for the Courts Vote for 1991. A number of major improvement works are already under way. Our Department are reviewing the whole question of courthouse accommodation with the intention of drawing up a list of priorities and a programme of refurbishment. A sum of £1.25 million has been proposed for repairs and refurbishment to Galway city courthouse. Due to the time required to bring major building schemes to the tender state, it is expected that we will spend about £100,000 on this project this year. There is a proposal also to provide new court accommodation for Killorglin by refurbishing the former Carnegie library premises which would then be shared with Kerry County Council. The cost of the courts element is circa £100,000 in 1991.
The revised arrangements as set out do not affect the existing arrangements for the provision and maintenance of courthouses in Dublin city. This responsibility has been assumed by our Department and provision for an expenditure of £2 million on capital works and £2.269 million on maintenance works — £1.115 million of which it required for the upkeep of the Dublin courts for which we have had responsibility for several years now — is included in the Courts Vote for 1991. The sum provided for maintenance will  enable only partial recoupment to be made to local authorities as they spent £2.13 million in 1990. The capital provision, however, is expected to be sufficient to meet the cost of approved schemes which will fall to be paid in 1991.
The arrangement for capital works is that, subject to the prior approval of our Department and having consulted the Office of Public Works on technical matters as appropriate, local authorities will carry out projects on a recoupment basis. In operating the new arrangements this Department will ensure that courthouses in greatest need receive priority. We will also be able to dictate what facilities are to be provided in any project location.
There are a number of capital projects which require immediate attention. Examples of these are the ongoing project at Clonmel courthouse, on which £750,000 of the local loans fund finance was expended in 1990, with proposals for expenditure of £1.05 million in 1991. An extension and refurbishment scheme for Letterkenny courthouse has reached the contract stage and will require funding of about £750,000. At least £500,000 of that amount will be required this year.
Over the years, and particularly in recent years, difficulty has been experienced in getting local authorities to carry out their statutory obligations in relation to the provision and maintenance of courthouses under the Courthouses (Provisions and Maintenance) Act, 1935. Projects which did proceed include the restoration of Cavan courthouse which commenced in April 1987 and was completed early in 1989. The court offices returned to the premises towards the end of April and court sittings resumed there in July 1989. The cost of the courts element of the project was about £1.4 million. Other large scale improvements were carried out in recent years at Waterford, Tralee, Carlow, Ennis, Kilrush, Portlaoise, Roscommon, Wicklow and Monaghan. Each of these projects was financed from the local loans funds.
The Minister for Finance took a decision to write off outstanding local loans fund charges with effect from 1 January 1991. This means that any local  authority which in the past, and up to the end of 1990, borrowed money from the local loans fund to pay for the renovation of a courthouse now have nothing more to pay back. This is part of our commitment in Government to streamlining and simplifying our whole financial system, more particularly our local authority funding. We are eliminating circular transfer funding and credit for this must go to our Government colleague, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Albert Reynolds.
The provision of courthouse accommodation in Dublin City is, with the exception of Green Street, Kilmainham, Dundrum and Rathfarnham courthouses, the responsibility of the State. This responsibility devolves on the Office of Public Works. Funds are provided as required in the Office of Public Works Vote to meet their commitment. In regard to the exceptions mentioned above, Green Street courthouse is the responsibility of Dublin Corporation and Kilmainham, Rathfarnham and Dundrum are the responsibility of Dublin County Council.
The District Courthouse, Chancery Street, houses Courts 4, 5 and 6 of the Dublin Metropolitan District Court. These courts handle all criminal custody cases for the Dublin region. The courthouse was in a deplorable condition and was the subject of continuous complaints from district justices, legal practitioners, courts staff and the staff unions. It was lacking in even basic facilities for staff and justices and was also a serious fire hazard. The sheer pressure of numbers — defendants, relations, hangers-on and others — often led to general mayhem in the operation of the courts.
The Office of Public Works were asked in 1987 to draw and cost a scheme of remedial works for the Chancery Street building. However, because of cost constraints it was not possible to proceed with the work before 1990. The work commenced in August 1990 and was completed in November 1990. Court sittings resumed in the refurbished premises on 16 November 1990. There has been universal approval of the improved facilities,  the high standard of finish and the generally brighter appearance of the courthouse. The view has been expressed that the atmosphere is now less confrontational and it is to be hoped that this will result in the more efficient and satisfactory dispatch of the business of the courts.
The total cost of these works is circa £1 million of which the Department of Justice will expend about £650,000 and the balance will be paid by the Office of Public Works. The reason for the sharing of expenditure between the Office of Public Works and the Department of Justice is that while structural and fire precaution works remain the responsibility of the Office of Public Works, the upgrading of accommodation, redecoration and the provision of furniture and fittings is the responsibility of individual Departments.
Mr. McCartan: Will the Minister agree it is time they were streamlined?
Mr. N. Treacy: The Office of Public Works are the agency of State carrying out improvements to all public properties. They have the expertise and we must ensure that their expertise is coordinated. The various Departments for whom they operate provide the funding but, in certain cases, the Office of Public Works, which have a specialist furniture division, are responsible for the provision or furniture in the normal Office of Public Works Vote.
Various Deputies queried the capacity of the lower courts to cope with the increased workload arising from the jurisdiction changes. I am satisfied that, given the anticipated case load under the new jurisdiction of the District and Circuit Courts, the number of judges provided for will adequately meet the demand. I might add, in this connection, that there has been a decline in the civil and criminal case load in the District and Circuit Courts in recent years and that the enactment of this Bill should go some way towards restoring the level of business in those courts.
There has been an appreciable drop in  the number of cases dealt with by the District Court in recent years. Overall business was down from 942,000 cases in 1985 to 740,000 in 1990, a 21 per cent drop. In the last three years, civil business alone has dropped from 147,000 cases in 1987 to 101,000 in 1990. In the Circuit Court civil business has gone down from 31,000 in 1981 to 25,000 in 1990.
So far as civil cases are concerned, the decline is attributable to the erosion of inflation of the real limit of jurisdiction of the courts. This will be remedied, to some extent, by the enactment of this Bill. It is estimated, for example, that the number of new cases which would fall within the increased jurisdiction of the District Court is approximately 3,000 defended actions and 4,400 judgments by default. This figure is based on the approximate number of cases currently being dealt with by the Circuit Court, up to the limit of £5,000.
As regards the staffing implications, until the Act has been in operation for some time, it will not be possible to say definitively what effect it will have on the business of the courts and whether it will, in time, have any staffing implications. I can assure the House that the position will be kept under review by the Department and the possible need for any additional resources will be fully considered should it arise.
Deputy Cotter referred to the delay in hearing cases, particularly those relating to personal injury. In Dublin the period between application for a summons and the date of hearing is now approximately four months; at the beginning of 1989 the delay was of the order of ten months. A problem arose in the Dublin Children's Court in 1988 where unwarranted delays in hearing cases built up. Steps were taken by us in January 1990 to have a second court sit for three weeks to help to clear up arrears. Since then this second Children's Court has sat almost continuously.
The Courts Act, 1985, increased the number of Circuit Court judges from 12 to 15. Following a further review of the workload in the various circuits, the  Government appointed two temporary Circuit Court judges in February 1987. The President of the Circuit Court assigns spare judges, as required, to various circuits to keep arrears in check. Two judges now sit permanently in Cork and a third judge has been sitting there in recent months to help to clear the arrears.
The time taken to dispose of High Court civil actions is about 12 months, with the exception of Cork, where the delay has been as long as 30 months. The President of the High Court has arranged extra sittings in Cork to reduce the arrears. Furthermore, he recently decided to make special arrangements for cases in Cork which are more than two years on the list there. He is prepared to consider requests from plaintiffs in such cases to have their cases transferred to Dublin for hearing.
Delays in hearing civil actions are not all related to court sittings. In many instances cases are not pressed by legal advisers in the interests of their clients, for example, while awaiting final medical assessment of the likely long term effects of accident injuries. The availability of particular counsel is a limiting factor in Cork. It is understood that a substantial amount of business in Cork is taken by a relatively small number of counsel and that this inevitably means delays.
The Courts Act, 1988, which provides for the abolition of juries in civil cases, was expected to have the effect of reducing the backlog in the High Court but, to date, no discernible improvement has emerged in the throughput of cases.
Under the Constitution — Deputy McCartan referred to this — the Judiciary are independent in the exercise of their functions. This excludes any action by the Executive which could be interpreted as direct interference in the exercise of those functions, including imposing a training or briefing programme on them. However, a number of important points relevant to this issue can be made.
It must be emphasised that our system of recruitment to all levels of the Judiciary is based on the concept of bringing in people who are experienced and  trained practitioners. This contrasts with the systems of other States — particularly in the civil law countries — where recruitment is of new legal graduates who are subsequently trained in their judicial functions. The formal qualification required for appointment as a district justice is not less than ten years' practise as a barrister or solicitor; for appointment to the Circuit Court it is ten years' practise as a barrister and for appointment to the Supreme and High Courts 12 years' practise as a barrister is required. To become a barrister or solicitor in the first place requires successful completion of a course of study laid down by the qualifying authorities. On appointment, therefore, justices and judges can generally be expected to have a fairly wide knowledge of the law and its application, particularly of court procedures, from their training and practice.
Mr. McCartan: They need to know more than the law.
Mr. N. Treacy: The human dimension must come into everything. On appointment, justices and judges are supplied with copies of the Acts of the Oireachtas. Copies of Acts originating from this Department are sent to them as a matter of course. They are also supplied with any law reports they require and have access to any legal text books they may need to assist them.
The President of the District Court has the power under section 36 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961, to convene meetings of the district justices for the purpose of discussing matters relating to the discharge of the business of that court. The Act mentions the specific purpose of avoiding undue divergences in the exercise by the justice of the jurisdiction of the court and the general level of fines and penalties. The Act allows for two meetings a year and these meetings take place. Every justice is expected to attend these meetings and, while there is no similar statutory provisions for the higher courts, there is no bar on the judges of these courts meeting for the same purpose. Available information  indicates that these judges also have meetings.
Members of the Judiciary frequently attend international meetings and conferences abroad and this keeps them in touch with developments in other countries. Deputies Cotter, Barnes and others were critical of the existing services under the civil legal aid scheme. The Minister for Justice stated on several occasions that he would like to be able to open new law centres all over the country but he must have regard to prevailing Government policy on the need to curtail public expenditure. It is very easy to complain about the lack of law centres but it is substantially more difficult to identify precisely how extra law centres are to be funded.
Since coming to the Department of Justice, the Minister, Deputy Burke, has been responsible for an increase in public expenditure on the civil legal aid scheme from £1.568 million in 1989 to £2.483 million this year, an increase of almost £1 million which is substantial by any standards. It is unprecedented in the history of Exchequer funding for the civil legal aid scheme. In addition, four law centres at Athlone, Tralee, Cork and Tallaght, previously funded from non-Exchequer sources under the Funds of Suitors Act, 1984, in the period 1985 to 1989, were placed on a permanent basis of funding by the Minister for Justice and their continued operation was thus assured. In less than two years the Minister for Justice has allowed the board to fill all their solicitor vacancies and the vast majority of their administrative vacancies. This year the service will be significantly expanded by the opening of three additional law centres at Letterkenny, Dundalk and Castlebar. This, with the rationalisation of the service in Dublin city, will bring the total number of full-time law centres to 16 with 25 part-time law centres. As an ordinary citizen, I regard this as progress.
Mr. Enright: How many additional solicitors will be appointed?
Mr. N. Treacy: Solicitors may be  recruited as required. If the Deputy wants to put down a question I will give detailed facts. The Minister's approach is totally in keeping with the policy on the scheme as enunciated at the start, which means that it will be expanded on a phased basis in line with what we can afford to pay. The Minister for Justice is delivering on that commitment on behalf of the Government.
Deputy Cotter asked if the Minister would introduce a legal aid Bill to confer a right of access to justice for all citizens. The Minister for Justice has already stated that it is his intention to have legislation to place the present administrative scheme of civil legal aid and advice on a statutory basis this year. Deputy McCartan advocated that the District Court should have jurisdiction in relation to the provisions of the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989. I do not accept that the balance of advantage would lie with such an approach.
While it is the case that the District Court is already involved extensively in the area of family law, it has to be borne in mind that the main reason for going to court under the Act will often be to resolve disputes, not about whether separation should take place but about very substantial issues in relation to the terms of separation, including issues in relation to the distribution of property. I do not believe it would be appropriate that the District Court would have jurisdiction over the division of property in such cases, including the family home. By the same token I would not consider it appropriate that the District Court would have jurisdiction to extinguish the succession rights of spouses.
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Minister of State move that the debate be adjourned?
Mr. N. Treacy: I would like to sincerely thank all those who have participated in the debate. I regret that I have not the time to deal with all the points that have been raised, but I will certainly deal with them on Committee Stage.
 Question put and agreed to.
An Ceann Comhairle: When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?
Mr. N. Treacy: Tuesday week, subject to agreement with the Whips.
Mr. S. Barrett: Perhaps the Minister would conclude his Second Stage speech then.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 2 July 1991.
1. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for the Marine if the Government advisory group set up to address Irish issues for the review of the EC's Common Fisheries Policy will report this month as promised; and if the report will be widely available.
Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan: Limerick West): I understand from the chairman that the advisory group are coming close to the end of this work and plan to report to me before the summer. It is my intention that the report should be published and made widely available.
Mrs. Barnes: May I ask the Minister if there have been any interim reports or recommendations from the group in light of the fact that there are on-going talks at European level on the whole question of the Common Fisheries Policy and there are many difficulties which need to be addressed in those talks?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): As I have already indicated to the House, it is expected that the committee will report very shortly and the report will be widely available. The committee were set up on 10 February 1991 and the group have met on six occasions in the period up to 6 June. The report of the group is currently being prepared and the final meeting of  the group is scheduled for 28 June. There is little point in publishing an interim report because the final report will be published within weeks.
Mrs. Barnes: I was referring to briefing in relation to the procedures. I am delighted, as we all are, that this prestigious group will complete their report by 28 June. Why will there be a three month delay before the report is available? Surely we should have discussion, dialogue and feed-back from all the interested groups during the summer. We are losing vital time which we cannot afford to lose. Is there any possibility that the report will be made available by July for discussion before September?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I expect that the report will be made available in July and will be published immediately. I welcome any recommendations with regard to the report. I have asked the committee to speed up their report and, as I have indicated, that is being done.
2. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Marine if he was represented at the inquest into the death of a passenger on the MV Norrona on 9 April 1990 which was recently held in Haverford West, Wales and at which the jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing; if he has carried out any inquiry into the fire on the MV Norrona on 9 April 1990 or if he has received a report of any investigation into the fire which has been carried out by B & I or by police authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The passenger vessel Norrona is registered under the Danish flag and the casualty to which the Deputy refers occurred in British waters. This Administration, therefore, has no competence in the case as responsibility for the holding of investigations into the incident was a matter for the British and Danish authorities. Notwithstanding this and in view of the fact that the vessel was on charter to  B & I Line and manned by a mainly Irish crew, after the incident the Minister appointed Captain Christopher Davies, a surveyor of the Department of the Marine, to investigate the incident from the point of view of maritime safety and to report to him on the outcome. Captain Davies' report was prepared with the co-operation of the B & I Line.
The Department of the Marine are working on an ongoing basis, both with B & I and other ferry operators, to ensure that the highest standards of safety are achieved on all ferries using Irish ports. Following the fire on board the M.V. Norrona the master and crew of the vessel were awarded a certificate of Commendation by the chief fire officer of Dyfed County Fire Brigade in recognition of the manner in which they controlled the fire, effected rescues and ensured the safety of passengers.
Investigations into the cause of the incident are a matter for the Dyfed-Powys police in Wales. I understand that the matter is still sub judice there and I have not seen any police report. The casualty occurred in British waters and resulted in the death of a UK citizen, and official Irish representation at the inquest was not considered necessary. I understand, however, that the B & I Line were represented at the inquest. The official report of the coroner has not yet been prepared in the UK but when it becomes available it will be studied for any lesson which might be learnt from the maritime safety viewpoint. When this and any other report on the case come to hand, it is proposed to meet B & I management so as to review safety procedures in the light of the Norrona incident.
Mr. Gilmore: I am surprised that the Minister appears to be adopting a hand washing attitude to this incident in view of the fact that the vessel was chartered by an Irish company at the time. May I ask the Minister if the Davies report to which he referred was conducted before or after the inquest which returned a verdict of unlawful killing and if he will agree to have the findings of the report made known? Perhaps he can inform the  House now of the principal findings in the report.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Davies report deals with the matter purely from the point of view of maritime safety. The fire was extinguished by the crew of the vessel before the rescue services arrived, and the crew have been commended for this. Failings which are noted in the report are being pursued by the National Ferry Safety Committee and the marine fire response groups. I want to assure the Deputy that we are not taking a casual approach to this matter.
Irish registered passenger vessels are required to be equipped, maintained and operated to the highest international standards and in particular to those laid down in the International Maritime Organisation's Safety of Life at Sea Convention, 1974, known as SOLAS, which contains provisions concerning life saving appliances, stability, navigational facilities, fire protection, construction, surveys, radio installations and the carriage of dangerous goods. As the Deputy knows, the SOLAS Convention has given legal effect to this matter by a set of 33 statutory instruments. Passenger vessels registered in the State and foreign registered vessels within our territorial waters are required to comply with requirements laid down in these instruments.
Marine surveyors of the Department have powers under the Merchant Shipping Act to detain vessels which do not comply with these requirements. Therefore, far from washing our hands of the matter we are very much involved.
Mr. Gilmore: I join with the Minister in praising the crew for the manner in which they dealt with the fire. I ask the Minister to give some indication of the failings identified in the Davies report. As the Minister considered the issue sufficiently serious to warrant the appointment of Captain Davies to carry out an inquiry, why were his Department not represented at the inquest? Surely it was a grave omission on the part of the Minister to have no representative from his  Department at the inquest? Could the Minister give the House an explanation for that?
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): It was found to be not necessary for the Department to be represented at the inquest for the reasons I have outlined to the Deputy. I understand that the B & I Line were represented at the inquest and the question of attendance was therefore examined very closely by my Department. As I said to the Deputy, the Department are very concerned to ensure that the standards of safety on all vessels are upheld. Safety standards are reviewed constantly by the National Ferry Safety Committee. That committee meet at least six times each year, their work is ongoing and they are involved in all inquiries.
Mr. Gilmore: Could I ask a further question?
An Ceann Comhairle: It would have to be a brief question. There are remaining questions to be dealt with and I want to dispose of them if at all possible.
Mr. Gilmore: Will the Minister publish the Davies report?
Mr. Wilson: That matter is being examined. I cannot say now whether the report will be published, but there is no implication whatsoever of lack of monitoring by my Department and my officials to ensure the safety of all vessels and the safety of passengers on all vessels.
3. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for the Marine if the Government will respond positively to the suggestion made at the opening of the recent aquaculture conference that the fish farming sector should be represented on the task force to tackle unemployment in view of the fact that it is now a major employer in rural coastal communities.
Mr. Wilson: The special task force on employment, which was inaugurated by  the Taoiseach on 17 June 1991, is a high powered entity which draws on the most senior and experienced personnel across the spectrum of the Government, employers, trade unions, the semi-State sector and many others. The establishment of the task force is a demonstration of the Government's commitment to bring the same energy and expertise to bear on the employment issue as it has already paid such dividends for the economy as a whole and for individuals in the areas of inflation and economic growth, where our performance has been outstanding in recent years.
While I do not envisage the direct participation of the aquaculture sector in the proceedings of the task force, I am glad of this opportunity to acknowledge, as the Deputy herself has, the major role which aquaculture has had to play, and which we hope to build on, in the development of the natural resources of our rural coastal communities.
I will be co-operating fully with the task force, as will my Department, and in this I would emphasise a number of the ideas which the Taoiseach identified for the task force as ones which could fruitfully be pursued. These include the need to look at the employment content of development proposals on hand with a view to having early decisions made and the need to look at administrative structures in place. These and others, such as the need to consolidate and expand on the market opportunities which exist for our output, will inform my thinking over the coming months. I would make one other important point, and this has also been raised by the Taoiseach. Planning procedures, including those operated by my Department in relation to assessing fish farming projects are open, democratic, consultative processes which allow substantial scope for comment. I urge all parties to bring objectivity to bear in this area. I have repeated again and again that I will not allow projects which damage the environment to proceed. In the interests of jobs and community welfare generally I appeal for a fair hearing for projects in this area.
Mrs. Barnes: That was a very convoluted answer to a very direct question. I express my total disappointment that the Minister evaded the bottom line. The president of the European Aquaculture Society, who also happens to head the Irish aquaculture industry, asked specifically whether the Minister knew that more than 600 delegates from Canada to Australia to the USSR converged on Dublin for the Aquaculture Europe '91 exhibition, at which this request was publicly made, and that his Government had named fishing and aquaculture as areas for potential job creation expansion. Does the Minister recognise that if we are to achieve job creation in such an expanding industry the least that he should do is respond to the request that that sector be represented?
Mr. Wilson: I assure the Deputy that the sector is being considered very carefully. In what I have outlined there is procedure that will allow for the input of that important sector into the opportunities of further job creation, both in part-time and full-time employment. I shall give figures and tell the House about progress to date in reply to Question No. 8. Again I assure the Deputy that the procedures that are being put in place within the committee will allow that important sector to demonstrate its commitment and play its role in further job creation.
Mrs. Barnes: If that is so, why does the leading authority here in Ireland have to make a special public plea, to which, I am sorry to say, the Minister, his Department and the Government have not responded? If the input is as guaranteed as the Minister says, I doubt whether someone at the level of Dr. John Joyce would have made such a specific request. The refusal of direct input and representation from an expanding potential job creator such as the aquaculture industry does not speak well for the future of the task force.
Mr. Wilson: As I have stated to the  Deputy time and time again, the procedures allow input from the sector into positive job creation in this important industry. I cannot comment on views expressed by others. Others are entitled to express their views, but I have given the facts of the situation and I will prove those facts when replying to Question No. 8 by giving statistics on job creation both in relation to part-time and full-time employment.
An Ceann Comhairle: We must now proceed to other questions, the time available to us for dealing with priority questions having been exhausted.
5. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline his specific proposals for the development of the five major designated fishery harbours over the next five years; and if he will make a statement of the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The five major fishery harbours under the management and control of my Department are Howth, County Dublin, Dunmore East, County Waterford, Castletownbere, County Cork, Rossaveal, County Galway and Killybegs, County Donegal. In October 1990, I announced a major development programme encompassing all harbour facilities covering the five year period 1989-1993.
Many of the projects specified in the development programme have commenced or are at an advanced stage. Commencement of projects not already under way is dependent on satisfactory results from preliminary surveys and site investigations.
Specific developments at each of the harbours are as follows:
At Killybegs, I recently inaugurated a new synchrolift which cost in the region of £2.6 million. The facility will assist fishermen by providing a speedy and efficient service for maintenance and repair of boats as well as increasing the  efficiency of fishing operations and safety.
In addition, during 1990 work commenced on upgrading the auction hall which will be completed shortly.
Preliminary studies have also commenced to examine the need for a new pier. Dredging will also be undertaken.
Howth has been developed as a major fishery harbour at a total cost in excess of £11 million. During 1990, my Department provided a gear storage compound at Howth Harbour and also surfaced an area which is being used by fishermen for the repair of their nets. The cost of these works amounted to almost £50,000. As I have recently informed the House, the provision of an auction hall is at the design stage.
The major developments at Rossaveal, County Galway announced in the harbour development programme have now commenced. This comprises work on a new pier as well as dredging the harbour. Ancillary works, including provision of a new auction hall, will also be undertaken. The total cost will be in the order of £5.125 million.
The programme envisages upgrading of auction halls and ancillary facilities at Castletownbere and Dunmore East. In 1990 a new “state of the art” computer controlled ice plant was opened by me at Dunmore East. This represents a total investment of £650,000 of which 50 per cent will be provided from EC funds.
Mr. Gilmore: Will the Minister state how much of the total investment will be provided for EC funds and how much will be provided directly by the State?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): That will vary from place to place but generally it is on a 50/50 basis. I do not have specific information concerning the ports and harbours outlined.
Mrs. Barnes: Will other fishery harbours suffer as a result of developing the five major designated fishery harbours over the next five years? There are so many smaller fishery harbours on which the livelihood of most of the people  depends which are crying out for development and refurbishment. Can the Minister give a commitment that smaller harbours such as Kilmore Quay where there is a loss to the processing industry because the harbour cannot afford to allow large trawlers to come in will not suffer. In the light of that type of disincentive to the fishing industry, can the Minister let us know what incentive will be given to the other harbours?
An Ceann Comhairle: The question refers to five major designated fishery harbours, and strictly speaking we should not allow an extension of that question. There are five main harbours only.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): If the Deputy wishes to put down a specific question on any harbour I will be very glad to answer it. A general reply is that the other harbours certainly will not suffer.
6. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline the areas in which it is expected that the 1,450 full-time and 1,400 part-time jobs promised in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress for the marine area will be created; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The programmes set out in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress to develop the fishing industry are expected to lead to the creation of an estimated 1,450 full-time jobs and 1,400 part-time jobs over the period 1991-1993.
These jobs will be created in fishing, aquaculture, fish processing and ancillary activities. A table setting out a breakdown of the figures is being circulated.
 Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
Breakdown of additional employment by activity.
Mr. Gilmore: Since it is not a very complicated list, could the Minister give us the figures for the breakdown for fishing, aquaculture, fish processing and ancillary activities?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I would be delighted to do that. In fishing there are 130 full-time jobs and 100 part-time jobs. In aquaculture there are 960 full-time jobs and 1,100 part-time jobs. In processing there are 300 full-time jobs and 160 part-time jobs. In ancillary activities there 60 full-time jobs and 40 part-time jobs.
Mr. Gilmore: Can the Minister now state how many of those jobs have been created since we are six months into the life of the programme?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I am sure the Deputy will agree that this information was not sought. If the Deputy would like to put down a question with regard to the number of jobs that have been created up to now I will be very happy to answer him. The question related to full-time and part-time jobs promised in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. If the Deputy wishes to put down a specific question I would be very happy to answer it.
Mr. Gilmore: I am surprised that the Minister does not have that information to hand.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy did not request it.
Mr. Gilmore: The question deals with job creation in the fishing industry and the programme goes on at great length about the alleged performance of the Government in this area over the previous three years. Is it not the case that very few of these proposed jobs have actually materialised, that the jobs projected in the fishing industry are no more than a promise and that the reason the Minister cannot give the information to the House is the shortfall in jobs created since the adoption of the programme?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The present programme will develop in the same way as the previous programme. I can assure the Deputy that there will be substantial jobs created. For instance, during the period of the previous programme——
Mr. Gilmore: Stick to this programme. I am not asking about the previous programme.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West):——the industry grew from 12,100 jobs in 1987 to 15,600 jobs in 1990, an increase of 3,500 jobs. The volume of fish landed in Ireland by Irish registered vessels remains steady over the period of the previous programme and the increase in value was in the region of £20 million.
Mr. Gilmore: It would appear that the Minister is prepared to give us figures on anything other than the number of jobs which have been created. Is it not the case that because of the restrictions in the way in which the EC policy is applying in relation to fishing that the projections in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress are far-fetched, that they have no basis in reality and that in fact none or very few of the jobs which were projected have actually materialised, and that within the lifetime of the programme we are likely to see a reduction in the number of people employed in the fishing industry?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): As I have indicated, the targets are well on  line. As I further indicated, I have no reason to believe but that the present programme will be as successful as the previous one. Indeed to prove that, in the aquaculture sector alone in 1990 there were 2,550 full and part-time jobs. The corresponding figure for 1987 was 1,370 so there was an increase of 1,180. The number of people employed in fish processing increased from 2,930 full-time and part-time jobs in 1987 to 3,620 jobs in 1990, an increase of 690. I want to assure the Deputy that our targets are well in line under this programme.
Mr. Gilmore: There are still no figures for 1991.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I will give the Deputy specific replies if he asks specific questions.
Mr. Gilmore: I asked the Minister three times.
7. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline his position on the application by Dublin Port and Docks Board to reclaim land at the North Wall to facilitate roll-on roll-off developments there and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I assume that the Deputy is referring to Dublin Port and Docks Board's application to reclaim an area of 21 hectares of foreshore, east of the former Sealink freight terminal and to construct a quay on the river side of the reclaimed area.
The board have asked me to defer making any decision on their application until after the board's officials have completed discussions with interest groups concerned at the proposed development.
8. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline his response to the views expressed at the recent international conference on the mid-term review of the Common Fisheries Policy that EC policy was hindering the Irish fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I am well aware of the proceedings of the international conference on the mid-term review of the Common Fisheries Policy, which was organised by Sherkin Island Marine Station and held in Cork on 11 and 12 May 1991. This conference was supported by my Department and BIM and a major paper was delivered by the Minister at the conference.
Many themes were raised at the conference and the benefits, costs, strengths and weaknesses of the Common Fisheries Policy as an instrument of management, both generally and from an Irish perspective, were discussed.
As regards the impact of the Common Fisheries Policy on the Irish fishing industry, while the benefits were noted, two important recurring views for Irish speakers were to the effect that existing policy was hindering the take-up of unused Irish quotas and that the basic allocations available to Ireland are inequitable.
These are issues which I am already pursuing with the Community in the context of the review and otherwise. In this regard, I look forward with interest to receiving the views of the top level advisory group, under the chairmanship of Dr. T. K. Whitaker, which I have established to advise me on the matter of the review generally. The report of this group is expected within the next month or so and I would not like to pre-empt their findings by making a more detailed statement at this point.
Mr. Gilmore: I am surprised at the Minister's reply, since the conclusion reached at the conference and subscribed to by senior officials in his Department, by senior executives of BIM and of the fishing industry, was that there is in effect no Common Fisheries Policy but that there is an arbitrary carve-up of fishing opportunities and that this country has  been robbed? The EC are putting in annually about £16 million into the Irish fishing industry, whereas catches to the value of £250 million are being taken out of Irish waters. This country has been systematically robbed of our fishing opportunities by the so-called Common Fisheries Policy and daily, Irish fishermen are being denied an opportunity to engage in the fishing industry. Has the Minister any proposals to put to his colleagues in the Council of Ministers to redress this inequitable situation and to give Irish fishermen a fair opportunity to fish in their own waters?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I hope to have the report of the committee chaired by Dr. Whitaker within the next six to eight weeks. The committee have been asked to come up with a solution to the problems which the Deputy has outlined and the Government are determined to use all the means available to secure a sustainable economic and social basis for maintaining and developing our peripheral regions. We see development of the fisheries sector as playing a key role in our economic development on the basis of the level of fishing opportunities adequate for our purposes. In the context of the mid-term review of the Common Fisheries Policy we are pressing strongly for our needs. We are seeking further tangible recognition of the special position of the Irish fishing industry so as to allow it continue to develop from the uniquely underdeveloped state in which it was in the seventies. The Whitaker committee have a very important role to play in advising on the formulation of policy. This will be a forum for the industry to express their views. The problem is being tackled to ensure that there will be a just return for our fishermen and for the industry.
Mrs. Barnes: Is the Minister not aware, without having to wait for a report, that the fishing industry is in crisis and that we cannot talk about its job creation potential. Licensing is a running sore in the industry as it is preventing qualified skippers from working because there are  not any vessels available for them. Is the Minister not also aware that there are not any licences available for vessels, for which fishery people have gone into hock, to exploit fish quotas that are still available to Irish people? The industry is in crisis and we do not need a report to know that. Up to now the quota system has been operated to the detriment of Irish fishermen.
An Ceann Comhairle: Licences would seem to be a separate matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy is being sensationalist in saying that the fishing industry is in crisis. That is far from the case.
Mrs. Barnes: The Minister should go around the coast of Ireland.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I am fully aware of the situation. The matter is being tackled. A committee was set up and we are in constant touch with officials, and the Commission in Brussels to ensure that our point of view is promoted and that we get a just return for our fishermen from the interim review of the Common Fisheries Policy. We are doing everything to ensure a just return.
Mrs. Barnes: The fishermen are not doing anything, because they are not allowed.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us try to expedite matters. Progress on questions is particularly slow today. A brief relevant question from Deputy Gilmore.
Mr. Gilmore: Is it any wonder that the fishing industry is in crisis when the Minister says there is not a crisis and when he needs to establish a committee to assess the extent of the crisis and what needs to be done? Can the Minister imagine his colleague, the Minister for Agriculture and Food setting up a committee to decide what has to be done in relation to the European Community, rather than going out and doing his job,  which is to represent Irish interests and get a fair deal for the Irish fishing industry, something we have not got from the European Community for 20 years?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy should have listened to what I said. The review group are only part of our programme. The Minister, the officials and I are in constant touch with the Commission in Brussels to ensure that we get a just return for our fishermen. It is incorrect for the Deputy to say that nothing is being done.
9. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Marine whether there are any plans to implement the recommendations of the Salmon Review Group report.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Salmon Review Group report was published in January 1988. The report covered all aspects of salmon fishing and made a number of major policy recommendations as well as putting forward a wide range of specific suggestions.
Submissions were invited from interested parties. In all 77 submissions were received. These revealed a lack of consensus on some of the central elements of the report's recommendations.
Examination of the report by the Department has also shown that implementation in many instances would require increased finance, other resources and, in respect of some of the main items, complex amending legislation. Nevertheless the report provides a useful framework for the development of policy on an ongoing basis.
While I have no plans to implement the report as a totality, important recommendatons contained in the report relating to pollution and protection have been and continue to be pursued. For example, significant progress has been made in tackling pollution issues. The introduction in July 1990 of the Water Pollution (Amendment) Act, 1990, by my  colleague the Minister for the Environment, followed deliberations of a ministerial group which considered the problem of water pollution.
Fishery boards together with bodies such as Teagasc and local authorities were involved in a task force designed to increase public awareness of and to prevent pollution where possible. I am glad to be able to say that the agencies concerned have been successful in this regard.
The naval authorities have had available since 1989 two vessels which are ideally suited to salmon protection duties. I am glad to say that thanks to the co-operation between the Navy, the Garda and the regional fisheries boards, salmon patrols have been considerably more effective in recent years and that co-operation is continuing during the current season.
Mr. Deasy: The Minister stated that the report was published in 1988. Probably the most important recommendation in the report was that salmon drift net fishermen should be allowed to use a limited amount of monofilament net. May I ask the Minister why that recommendation has not been implemented?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I think I gave the Deputy an answer to that question previously. Consensus has not yet been reached on the use of monofilament nets; there are as many for it as there are against it. The matter is being considered on an ongoing basis and I do not see any prospect of change in the immediate future.
Mr. Deasy: Is the Minister aware that the vast majority of that group were in favour of legalising the use of a limited amount of monofilament net? This week two salmon drift net fishermen from Youghal have been sentenced to long terms in prison for abiding by the recommendations of that group? Can he explain how this can be reconciled with the setting up of a Government group who  recommended that these people should be allowed to use these fishing nets?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): As I have already indicated to the Deputy both now and on a previous occasion, consensus has not been reached in regard to a change in the rules of the use of monofilament nets. This issue is being considered on an ongoing basis. Even the group did not reach a unanimous decision on this issue. As I have said, I do not see any prospect of change in the rules in the immediate future.
Mr. Deasy: There was only one dissenting voice. The vast majority of the group were in favour of changing the rules.
Mrs. Barnes: Is the Minister aware that the group said that, apart from the conservation implications, better control of catch would be to the advantage of smaller fishermen who are being progressively edged out in the evolving situation? The “evolving situation” refers to the total disregard by the larger trawlers for the ban on the use of monofilament nets. Is the Minister aware that each season fishermen do not know where they stand in regard to salmon catches and that those who do not abide by the law are reaping the reward in every sense?
Mr. Deasy: Hear, hear.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): While I understand what the Deputy is saying, I should point out that there is another side to the story. There are other interests involved and it is a question of having a consensus of all the interests involved. If I can gain such a consensus, I will have a fresh look at the issue.
Mr. Deasy: The problem is that there is no consensus.
Mrs. Barnes: It is three years——
An Ceann Comhairle: While I have allowed some discretion in the matter. I  would much prefer that separate questions were tabled in respect of the use of monofilament nets. Question No. 10, please.
Mr. Deasy: It is the main recommendation of the report.
An Ceann Comhairle: That may be, but it is a very distinct and separate matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): They made other recommendations also.
10. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Marine the reason the synchrolift for fishing boats at Dinish Island, Castletownbere, County Cork, has been left out of action for 12 months; and if he will take urgent steps to ensure that it is now put back into operation.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The four synchrolifts installed at the fishery harbour centres were designed by Pearlson Engineering, Florida, USA, and the patent is also owned by this firm.
A major mechanical and electrical overhaul of the synchrolift in Castletownbere Fishery Harbour Centre commenced in October 1990, and following discovery of major defects, the lift has been out of service since that date. Part of the service which the synchrolift required included replacement of parts, some of which had to be manufactured by the American company which designed the installation.
The up-to-date position is that the mechanical overhaul was successfully completed in March. During the course of inspection and testing of the electrical installation in May 1991, engineers from Pearlson discovered a defect in a vital part, and a replacement had to be ordered from the United States. It is now expected that the electrical overhaul will be completed and tested by the end of July and the synchrolift should be fully operational shortly after that. Every  effort will be made to meet or improve on these timescales.
Any defects in the installation, even minor ones, could result in serious injury to persons and or extensive damage to boats. While I accept that the lengthy out of service period of the synchrolift is disappointing, I wish to emphasise that the issue of safety of the installation is of paramount importance.
Mrs. Barnes: Castletownbere is one of our five major fishing harbours. Is it not an indication of the state of the fishing industry in this major port that 35 boats are waiting to go on the lift for cleaning, painting and general repairs? Is the Minister aware that boats urgently in need of refurbishment and repairs are being sent to Baltimore and as far north as Killybegs? This imposes extra costs on fishermen. I ask the Minister to take into consideration this loss to engineering and painting firms in the locality and the likely effect this has on jobs.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I agree with the Deputy and, as I said in my reply, every effort is being made to resolve the matter as quickly as possible so that the lift will be operational in July.
11. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline the action his Department is taking to apprehend and prosecute the skipper(s) of the Spanish boat(s) involved in the ramming of an Irish vessel, 80 miles off the Cork coast on 30-31 March 1991.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I have recently pointed out to this House that, at present, in cases of collisions involving an Irish and a foreign vessel outside territorial waters the appropriate form of redress is by way of a civil action. As I understand that this avenue is at present being pursued by the Irish vessel owner and insurers in the incident involving a Spanish trawler which occurred on 31 March last off the south-west coast, I do  not propose to prejudice the outcome by further comment at this stage.
Mr. Deasy: Is the Minister aware that this was not a collision but a ramming incident where a Spanish boat or boats — I think two boats were involved — deliberately tried to sink an Irish trawler? It was only by the power of God that no one was killed; it is possible that there might not have been any survivors. Has the Minister for the Marine or the Minister for Foreign Affairs taken up this case with the Spanish Ambassador or raised it at the Council of Ministers meeting in Brussels? These incidents are commonplace — this was a particularly serious incident — and they continue to occur. Have official approaches been made to the Spanish Government at ambassadorial level or at the Council of Fishery Ministers meeting in Brussels regarding this criminal act?
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us have regard to the sub judice aspect of this matter.
Mr. Deasy: Let us have regard to the facts of the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): All relevant inquiries and contacts are being made, as necessary.
Mr. Deasy: This matter is being poohpoohed again.
12. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to reports that an underwater video shows that the Kowloon Bridge may have had serious structural damage before it entered Irish waters in November 1986; if he intends to take any steps as a result of this information; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to make a statement regarding the vessel in question at this  stage as legal proceedings have been initiated for recovery of costs incurred by the State in dealing with the damage posed to the marine environment by the stricken vessel.
Mr. Gilmore: As the question is quite specific, I cannot understand the reason the Minister of State cannot give a straight answer since it relates to a video film the contents of which are public knowledge. The film shows that the Kowloon Bridge had a major crack across its mid-section before it entered Irish waters. May I ask the Minister of State if he is aware that this video film exists, if he has studied it and if it forms any part of the legal action he proposes to take?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): As I said, I am not prepared to comment further on the matter.
13. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for the Marine the total value and tonnage of fish dumped during 1989 and 1990; if he has considered any less wasteful way of disposing of this fish; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): One thousand nine hundred and ten tonnes of fish, with a value of approximately IR£267,165, were withdrawn from the market and disposed of by dumping during 1989 under the European Community's market support programme. This compares with 272 tonnes, valued at approximately IR£38,433, in 1990 and represents an 86 per cent decrease in terms of tonnage over 1989. Because of the complex nature of the financial compensation for fish withdrawn from the market, it is only possible to give approximate values.
Fishermen's producers organisations have been urged by my Department to avoid dumping where possible and to dispose of surplus fish through fishmeal or animal feed processing outlets. In 1990 dumped fish accounted for only 5.5 per cent of fish withdrawn from the market.  The vast bulk, 93.9 per cent, was used for fishmeal, while the remaining 0.6 per cent was used for animal feed.
Mr. Gilmore: I welcome the fact that the quantity of fish dumped has been reduced. Can the Minister of State say if this will continue to be the trend in 1991 and when can we expect to see this scandalous practice of dumping fish back into the sea being brought to an end?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I expect this trend to continue and I am constantly in touch with producers organisations to remind them of the need to dump the minimum amount of fish and take into account seasonal and temporary market fluctuations. Therefore, I am very concerned about this aspect from an environmental point of view.
Mr. Gilmore: Can the Minister of State give us any indication of the amount of fish which has been dumped so far this year, even if it is only an estimate?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I do not have that information but I will gladly let the Deputy have it if it is available.
Mr. Deasy: Can the Minister of State say where the fish is dumped, if pollution has been caused and if any objections have been received?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): It comes down to a question of whether pollution has been caused and if it has had an impact on the environment.
Mr. Deasy: That is pollution.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): We are not happy to see fish being dumped. We would much prefer to see it being used for fishmeal and for animal feed.
Mr. Gilmore: There is a desperate smell from dead fish.
Mr. Deasy: Where is the fish dumped?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I do not have that information.
Mr. Deasy: The Green Party ought to be interested in that aspect.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): We are interested in all aspects, Deputy.
14. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline, in respect of each of the past five years, the number of fishermen from (a) Irish vessels and (b) foreign vessels in Irish waters who were drowned at sea; if he has satisfied himself that safety procedures on fishing vessels are adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The precise information requested by the Deputy is not available from my Department's records. I propose, however, to circulate in the Official Report a statement compiled by the Central Statistics Office from their vital statistics returns which relates most closely to the information sought. The qualifications surrounding the data are set out in the footnotes to the statement.
Current legislation regarding safety of fishing vessels is contained in the Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894-1983, and in rules and regulations made thereunder. These cover safety equipment to be carried by a fishing boat, registration of fishing boats, manning and certification of crews, provision of radio installations and safety of navigation.
As Minister with overall responsibility for the safety of life at sea I am anxious to have legislation enacted which will enhance the regulation of the safety of fishing vessels. The Government have now approved the draft heads of the Merchant Shipping Bill which contains enabling provisions for a substantial amount of secondary legislation, including the regulation of fishing vessels. The text of the Bill is at present being finalised in conjunction with the parliamentary draftsman. I will shortly be seeking the  recommendations of the fishing industry and other water users on regulations to be made under the Bill when it is enacted.
Following is the statement:
Statement Compiled by Central Statistics Office.
Number of deaths caused by drowning in water transport accidents where occupation of deceased was registered as fisherman or farm labourer.
(1) The above deaths relate to accidents to watercraft causing drowning and to other accidental drowings in water transport accidents (Codes E830 and E832 of the International Classification of Diseases — ICD ninth revision);
(2) The socio-economic group fishermen and farm labourers, used in registering deaths, is the closest approximating that of fishermen.
Mr. Gilmore: I am shocked by the Minister of State's reply. Does it not display an appalling attitude to and neglect of the issue of safety of fishermen at sea that the Minister of State at the Department of the Marine is not in a position to tell us — he has told us that his Department do not have the information — how many fishermen were lost at sea during the past five years? Surely any Minister who is concerned about the safety of fishermen would have this information and be able to give it to the House. May I ask the Minister of State what measures are being taken to cover the safety of fishing vessels smaller than those covered by the existing Merchant Shipping Acts and to say if he intends to ratify the Torremolinos Convention in the legislation that he proposes to introduce in the House?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is introducing extraneous matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): Let me  say in reply to the first part of the Deputy's question that deaths are not notifiable to the Department.
Mr. Gilmore: If the Minister of State had any interest he would know the figure.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): My Department do not record the figures. Indeed, the figures that are available include deaths other than those of fishermen. Therefore, the specific information required by the Deputy is not readily available. It is wrong to say that we are not concerned about safety at sea. Indeed, the legislation which is now being prepared will cover the points made by the Deputy in his supplementary question.
Mrs. Barnes: Is the Minister of State satisfied that the safety standards are being adhered to at present and that resources are being made available to vessels of this State and independent fishing vessels? Are sufficient staff available to monitor the implementation of safety procedures?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): There are. The merchant shipping life saving appliances rules, 1983, make it a requirement that fishing vessels carry life saving appliances. These rules prescribe the number of lifeboats or life rafts, lifebuoys, lifejackets, line-throwing appliances and distress signals to be carried on fishing vessels, depending on the length of the vessel. They also lay down detailed technical specifications for the above-mentioned life-saving appliances, for the emergency equipment to be carried in lifeboats and in life rafts and for stowage of life-saving appliances. Provision is also made for the annual servicing of inflatable life rafts at approved servicing stations. The statutory requirements relating to the fire-fighting equipment to be carried by fishing vessels are set out in the Merchant Shipping (Fire Appliances) Rules, 1967 and 1983 and the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection) Rules, 1985. There are ample statutory  requirements and these are fully implemented and monitored by inspectors of my Department. We have sufficient personnel.
Mr. Gilmore: Will the Minister state the approximate number of occasions last year on which safety inspections of fishing vessels were carried out by his Department and give some indication as to the availability on fishing vessels of safety and rescue gear?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): Inspections are carried out on a constant basis.
Mr. Gilmore: How many last year?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I cannot give such detail now. If the Deputy puts down a specific question I will give a specific answer. The statutory requirement is that they be inspected on a regular basis. I will let the Deputy have the information.
15. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the fact that three new programmes on coastal protection and developments are under consideration by the European Community dealing with the areas of environmental protection, aid for capital investment other than infrastructure, and a strategy for coastal zones policy; if he has made any submissions regarding these programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
16. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine if any overall survey has been undertaken of the extent of coastal eroision of western coastal area caused by the storms during the winter; if so, if he will give details; the efforts which have been made to secure economic development funding for coastal protection measures in the European Community Support Framework for Ireland given that this is the only substantial means of obtaining EC assistance from the structural funds; the reason no specific provisions to this effect are included in the Community Support Framework for Ireland; and if he will make a stattement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I propose to answer Questions Nos. 15 and 16 together.
In relation to coastal erosion during this winter my Department have been in touch with the maritime local authorities. The resources available to me in 1991 are to be deployed to coast protection schemes in Rosslare, Maharees and Strandhill.
For future planning purposes, my Department have been in touch with the maritime local authorities to identify priorities for coast protection works towards which they would be prepared to make financial contributions.
The Community Support Framework for Ireland has been settled for the period 1989-93. While this programme does not include provisions for supporting coast protection works, I am fully aware of EC proposals for environmental programmes which could include such assistance. In conjunction with the Department of the Environment, my Department are supporting the inclusion of coast protection measures that could benefit Ireland in the NORSPA and LIFE proposals for Council regulations. In addition, both Departments are contributing to the consideration of Commission proposals in connection with a strategy for a comprehensive coastal zone policy.
Mr. Gilmore: Will the Minister confirm that EC money is available for coastal protection but that this country has not received any of that money and cannot get it because the Government did not include coastal protection in the Community Support Framework which they sent to Brussels? Can the Minister explain why there was such a serious omission, having regard to the serious damage caused to our coastline and the  cost to the taxpayer of repairing that damage?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Community Support Framework for Ireland has been settled for 1989-93. While the programme does not include provisions for supporting coastal protection works, I am fully aware of EC proposals for environmental programmes which could include such systems. Officials of my Department are having talks in Brussels with Commission officials to see if it is possible to secure funds for coastal protection.
Mrs. Barnes: If the officials get a positive response, will local interest groups be made aware? Will the fact that there are disparities in funding depending on the geographical area be taken into consideration? Coastal erosion along the east coast is more serious than elsewhere.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): There is a discrepancy with regard to grant allocations between the east coast and other areas. Local interests will of course be made aware of grants. These would mainly be local authorities since they are involved in coastal protection works within the area of their jurisdiction, in conjunction with my Department.
Mr. Gilmore: Since the Minister did not answer my earlier question directly, will he make an honest admission that this county is losing out on millions of pounds of EC money because of the Government's failure to include coastal protection in the Community Support Framework? Can he simply state that this country has got no money from EC funds for coastal protection?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I have already answered that question.
Mr. Gilmore: The answer is “no”.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I will not repeat myself. Any admissions I make are honest.
17. Mr. Harte asked the Minister for the Marine the reason salmon farming is permitted in Lough Swilly which is not a designated area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): There are a number of legal mechanisms available under the Fisheries Acts to allow the licensing of marine fish farming and it is at the discretion of the Minister for the Marine as to which is the most suitable for a particular situation. These mechanisms are, first, the issue of fish culture licences under the terms of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act, 1959; and second, the designation process under section 54 of the Fisheries Act, 1980 which provides for the designation of areas by order for fish farming followed by the licensing of individual projects through the mechanism of aquaculture licences within the designated area.
It was the former mechanism which was utilised in respect of salmon farming in Lough Swilly. I must emphasise that this mechanism is subject to the full rigours of the licence vetting procedure, which now include the furnishing of an environmental impact statement, and to the environmental monitoring requirements of my Department. In the case of salmon farming in Lough Swilly, the proposal was fully vetted by my Department's technical staff on the basis of regular environmental monitoring data and additional scientific data. I might add that there were no objections in response to the public notification of the proposal.
Finally, I should add that, in addition to the licence required for the cultivation of fish, marine structures such as fish cages must be licensed under the Foreshore Act, 1933.
Mrs. Barnes: Will the Minister confirm that designation will not be a criterion in future licensing and that licensing of areas not now designated will be open and free?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): It would be at the discretion of the Minister. A  decision to designate a particular area would be related to the level of fish farming activity or demand as assessed in conjunction with the development agencies. A technical assessment of the suitability of an area would take into account ground knowledge of the likely local reaction. The designation of areas is solely at the discretion of the Minister.
Mr. Garland: Is the Minister aware of the widespread disquiet among those in the shellfish industry at the way the Minister for the Marine deals with applications for salmon farming licences and that this is inhibiting the expansion of the shellfish industry because they are unable to plan properly for the future as they do not know whether a salmon farm will be located next door to them which they feel is very detrimental to the expansion of their industry? Will the Minister please put a stop to his vacillation and decide whether he will operate the 1959 Act or the 1980 Act?
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us not stray too far from Lough Swilly.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): We will stay within Lough Swilly. The Deputy's outburst is sensational. All applications are subject to the full rigours of the licensing procedures and permission is not given on an ad hoc basis to those  involved in salmon farming or anybody else. The issuing of licences is monitored very carefully on a continuous basis.
18. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for the Marine if, having regard to the replies by the Minister for Finance to Parliamentary Question No. 61 of 28 October 1987 and to Question No. 41 of 29 May 1991, regarding the Top Level Appointments Committee, he will outline in relation to the posts of secretary, deputy secretary, assistant secretary, and departmental, professional and general equivalents in his Department: (1) the name and date of appointment of all those currently serving whether under the TLAC system or otherwise, the number not appointed under the TLAC system, and the projected date of retirement on the basis of contract or age, (2) the number of those appointed at assistant secretary level who are remunerated on a performance basis and those not so remunerated, (3) the number so appointed in each year from 1987 to date and (4) the date the new administrative budget system was agreed for the period 1991-93 with the Minister for Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The information sought at (1), (2) and (3) of the Deputy's question is as follows:
|Name||Grade||Date of Appointment||Projected date of retirement|
|F. Ó Muircheartaigh||Secretary||16-06-87||04-06-2011|
|Patrick Howard||Assistant Secretary||10-03-86||01-11-2006|
|Thomas Carroll||Assistant Secretary||22-04-88||08-06-2013|
All of the appointments were made under the TLAC system. Both assistant secretaries are remunerated on a performance basis.
In relation to the final part of the Deputy's question, the administrative budget agreement setting out a three year budget for the cost of administration in my Department for the years 1991-93, inclusive, was signed on 3 May 1991.
19. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for the Marine whether he will consider the use of regional fishery board boats to enforce the law concerning the size of boat permitted to fish within the three mile limit.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy is presumably referring to the restrictions that currently apply under national legislation to Irish boats above the specified size fishing within a three mile zone from base lines. While there is no specific law prohibiting vessels of a certain size from fishing within the three mile limit, it is nevertheless the position that as a general guideline vessels of over 90 feet are precluded by the terms of their sea fishing boat licence from fishing within these limits.
These licence conditions are actively enforced although there have been no detentions or prosecutions for breaches of this specific licence condition in the past five years. There are, however, a small number of vessels of over 90 feet which are not precluded from fishing within the three miles. The question of further reducing the number and size of vessels permitted to fish within the three mile limit is kept under regular review by my Department. In general my Department favour encouraging or requiring the bigger and more powerful sector of the fleet, including all large vessels, particularly those over 90 feet, to move further offshore. As the Deputy is no doubt aware, only Irish registered fishing boats are legally entitled to fish within a six mile limit of the Irish coast.
Mr. Garland: Would the Minister agree that it is well known that the law is being flagrantly abused? The Minister said that not even one single prosecution has been brought in the past five years. That can only indicate one thing, and that is that the law is not being enforced. What steps will be taken to ensure that the law will be properly enforced?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): At present there is no law laying down the various limits outside which boats of various sizes must operate. Instead preclusions of one form or another are built into the general sea fishing boat licence  which issues to each vessel. Notwithstanding what the Deputy has said, there are conditions laid down. The conditions can and do vary from licence to licence at the discretion of the Minister but as a general rule vessels between 90 feet and 120 feet registered length are prohibited from fishing within the three mile limit for any species.
An Ceann Comhairle: That disposes of questions for today. As the business ordered for today has seemingly been disposed of I propose to proceed to the matters on the Adjournment, if the House is so agreeable.
An Ceann Comhairle: I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given to me under Standing Order 20 (3) (a) and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy J. Mitchell — The alleged licensing by the Department of Agriculture and Food of the importation of dogs which are a cross-breed between a German shepherd and a wolf, and the serious issues arising therefrom; (2) Deputy McCartan — The very worrying figures emerging which indicate that the Raheny district of Dublin had the highest increase in crime in the country in 1990,  and the need for the Minister for Justice to introduce an action plan to address this problem; and (3) Deputy Gilmore — The reason no orthopaedic operations have been performed in a newly opened operating theatre in Loughlinstown Hospital in the last two years.
The three matters raised are in order and have been selected: (1) I will, therefore, call in the first instance on Deputy J. Mitchell. The Deputy has five minutes, the Minister for Agriculture and Food has five minutes.
Mr. J. Mitchell: The House will be aware that the Minister for the Environment has recently issued regulations restricting the freedom of a number of breeds of dangerous dogs, or some would say a number of breeds which are alleged to be dangerous, in the aftermath of an incident in the United Kingdom which led to changes in the regulations there and proposed changes in law of the United Kingdom.
The House will agree with one voice that we cannot expose citizens to attack from dangerous dogs and that it is only proper that certain restrictions be imposed on the breeding, control and ownership of truly dangerous dogs. However, it is a pity that the Minister for the Environment and other relevant Ministers have not seen fit to agree to consult with the interests concerned, including the Irish Kennel Club and representatives of the campaign against muzzling, and consider the very valid points presented by a great many responsible dog owners who are genuinely concerned that all embracing ministerial regulations will, in fact, lead to cruelty to some harmless animals.
In the course of this debate we have seen advertisements in the newspapers for the sale of timber wolves as pets and guard dogs under the heading “Timber Wolves for Sale”. I would like the Minister to say how dangerous timber wolves are or indeed how dangerous are halfbred timber wolves. I understand that the dogs in question are a cross between the  timber wolves and the German shepherd. The House will already know that the German shepherd is among those listed as dangerous by the Minister for the Environment although some people think that is unfair to the German shepherd. How dangerous are timber wolves? What steps are open to the Minister to prevent the importation and breeding of timber wolves or even half breeds, and what steps have been taken to control the importation and breeding of these wolves. Have the Government any intention of adopting, extending or amending the regulations recently issued in this respect?
I know we have certain controls in relation to the importation of dogs from outside these islands, but what are the arrangements regarding dogs imported from the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands? Have any discussions taken place with the British authorities in relation to timber wolves or halfbreeds of the timber wolf?
While I am on my feet I would like to say that this issue highlights the fact that a great number of dogs, especially of the half-breed variety, can be added to the list of potentially dangerous dogs. I would like to put it to the Minister that the regulations he brought out in the last two weeks, while dealing speedily with the situation, may be in need of expansion and amendment. I ask the Minister if he will now agree to meeting a deputation from the interested parties, the Irish Kennel Club who are known as a responsible club, and the Campaign Against Muzzling, who are very concerned that the regulations by being too “catch-all” will be ineffective and will penalise only responsible owners and will be ignored by those irresponsible owners whose dogs are the greatest danger to the public?
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Mr. N. Treacy): The purpose of the licensing system operated by the Department of Agriculture and Food is to prevent the introduction of rabies and to this end all dogs and cats being imported from countries other than the UK must as part of the licensing arrangement undergo six months quarantine at the approved quarantine station near  Dublin Airport. While in quarantine the animals are inoculated against rabies and closely monitored before release to their owners. In this fashion, and with full co-operation from Customs and other agencies, we have kept Ireland free from rabies since 1903.
The issue raised by Deputy Mitchell relates to the possible dangers to the public from cross-breeding of German Shepherd dogs. While this matter does not fall within the ambit of the Department of Agriculture and Food's licensing system, I can nevertheless appreciate the concern. On that account the Department of Agriculture and Food maintain close contact with the Department of the Environment and the Garda Síochána about potential imports that might possibly pose a danger. Currently there are 26 dogs in quarantine of which only two are German Sheperds, both being purebred specimens of that breed. I might add that a licence has issued recently permitting the importation through quarantine of a Shepherd cross from the USA. While this dog has yet to arrive, the papers supporting the licence application, which include veterinary certification and a declaration authenticated by a notary public indicate that the dog is a family pet travelling with its owner who wishes to live in Ireland. Indeed, the vast majority of imports fall into this category.
It is appropriate to mention that dogs of specified breeds are subject to the recent controls introduced by our colleague, the Minister for the Environment, regardless as to whether they have been imported. As the House will be aware, the Minister for the Environment also intends to introduce further legislation in this area. I think this is the appropriate way to proceed, in so far as dogs are concerned, as the powers of the Department of Agriculture and Food relate only to the prevention of disease.
Finally, I should add that some Shepherd crosses were imported here in 1988 and 1989. Expert opinion is that crossing German Shepherds with wolves leads to a more docile dog. Subsequently media reports indicated that these may have been the progeny of dogs crossed  with wolves. The expert advice is that such practice does not increase a dog's ferocity but is rather designed to prevent problems that can arise due to in-breeding in German Shepherds.
I hope this information is of assistance to Deputy Mitchell in appraising the position appertaining to dogs and cross-bred dogs in this country. I am sure he will acknowledge the very strict controls the Department of Agriculture and Food operate and the great success rates they have in preventing rabies and other diseases. I am sure he will appreciate also the very positive attitude adopted by and the very expedient manner in which the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Flynn, brought in the necessary regulations to ensure that these dangerous animals are not a scourge to the ordinary people of the community.
Mr. J. Mitchell: Can the Minister tell the House how many half-breed wolves are in the country?
Mr. N. Treacy: I have not got that statistical information available. I would guess that we would not have very many, but if the Deputy has any problems in that regard he should table a question.
Mr. McCartan: I thank you, Sir, and the Ceann Comhairle, for the opportunity to raise this very worrying picture that has been highlighted in our national media only two days ago, showing that crime is on the increase, in particular in the suburbs on the north side of the city of Dublin that it is being pushed from the city centre and it has taken us and, it would appear, the Minister for Justice, totally unawares in that regard.
Recent revelation of internal Garda figures indicated that Raheny district in Dublin North-East has experienced the worst figures in the rising crime wave in Dublin. That is appalling and warrants immediate and definite action. Raheny, a settled suburb on our city north-side has been exposed to a reputation it does not deserve, an area with the highest increase in crime in the city of Dublin in the past year in the order of 28 per cent,  its near neighbour Santry being the next closest at a 20 per cent increase. The fact that it is also at the back door of the former Chairman of the Dáil Committee on Crime, Lawlessness and Vandalism and the Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Michael Woods, makes it all the more unacceptable.
I last raised the matter of policing in my constituency on the Adjournment here on 28 November 1989 when the Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Woods, replied on behalf of the Minister for Justice. I was prompted to raise the matter then by the disturbing figures given to me by the Minister for Justice on 8 November 1989, indicating that Garda numbers in two of the three north-east stations, Raheny, needless to say, and Howth, had been allowed to drop from 41 to 37 in Howth and from 62 to 58 and back to 61 in Raheny over the period 1984-88. I am not saying the crime problem as emerging in these areas and the explosion in the Raheny area in particular are due solely to the drop in numbers of gardaí in these stations but the failure to keep the numbers at an acceptable level and to increase them as necessary is no doubt a contributing factor.
It is clear that by vigorous police efforts crime in the city centre has now been pushed to the city suburbs. The Minister and the Government have been caught unawares and have been shown to be illprepared. However, the signs have been there for some considerable time. Growing unemployment figures in the blackspots close to areas adjoining Raheny were clear indications of a problem that would certainly lead to crime in time. Secondly, a changing pattern from aggressive robberies in the city to a concentration more on burglaries and house break-ins left an area like Raheny vulnerable because of its mainly old and retiring population. Thirdly, the emerging pattern across Dublin North-East shows that drug peddling, especially in public parks such as Belcamp, Millbrook and St. Anne's Park near Raheny, is on the increase. This is well known to the Gardaí and the Minister. Fourthly, increased cider drinking, often by underaged youths, with related assaults and acts of petty vandalism were on the  increase and again there was a clear indication that matters were not right.
There is an urgent need now to respond and to restore the good name of Raheny. It is essential that action be taken and seen to be taken to reassure people in their homes and at leisure. Those are four points the Minister should take on board. There should be a reallocation of adequate Garda personnel to the stations immediately concerned, those of Raheny and Howth. In addition, there should be the re-establishment of the Garda Special Task Force and mobile units that have been so effective in recent years but which for some inexplicable reason were disbanded by the Garda Commissioner recently though I understand they are to be reintroduced. That should be done sooner rather than later. There should be an introduction of a comprehensive system of community policing throughout the area and an opening of a Garda sub-district in the Bayside-Sutton Park area close to Raheny because of the overlapping there.
I alerted the House and the Minister to this problem on 28 November 1989. The response of the Minister for Social Welfare and my local constituency colleague, Deputy Woods, was to the effect that there was no real problem and that the Minister was well aware of it. The figures now show that a major problem has emerged. I requires urgent action and response and I hope the Minister of State has good news for the good citizens of Raheny and its environs.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Mr. N. Treacy): The very worrying figures emerging, which indicate that the Raheny district of Dublin has the highest increase in crime in the country in 1990 and the need for the Minister for Justice to introduce an action plan to address this problem is the subject of the motion before us.
As the House is no doubt aware the Minister for Justice, Deputy Ray Burke, yesterday discussed in detail in this House and in the Seanad our approach and the approach of the Garda, to dealing with  the crime problem in Dublin and elsewhere. He outlined the positive measures taken to deal with crime and also gave details of the on-going programme of providing adequate resources for the Garda Síochána, the steps being taken to ensure that the most effective use is being made of Garda resources and the initiatives being taken particularly in relation to juvenile crime. The Minister also gave details of the sustained programme of law reform, which is being pursued to ensure the safety of our people from criminal attack.
I do not propose to reiterate all that was said, however, I think it is important to repeat what the Minister for Justice said in relation to the measures being taken to deal with crime in certain parts of Dublin. These measures include the use of additional patrols and checkpoints, greater deployment of plain clothes surveillance units, and the targeting of Garda resources to meet specific anti-crime needs in particular areas. Needless to say the problems of the Raheny district are being taken into account by the Garda authorities in this respect.
I am informed that provisional figures indicate that recorded crime in Raheny district in 1990 increased by approximately 18 per cent. This is indeed a disappointment as the crime level had decreased in 1989 significantly in this respectable area. I am also aware that provisional figures indicate that the level of recorded crime in Raheny district for the first five months of 1991 indicates a further increase. I am informed by the Garda authorities that this increase is attributable to a rise in recorded burglaries and thefts from vehicles. A considerable number of these crimes have been committed by a small group of people many of whom have been or are being dealt with by the courts at this time. I might add here, that the gardaí in Raheny have achieved considerable success in solving crimes in this area over the past year and more particularly, during the last few months.
The divisional task force have been very active in patrolling areas with high crime rates, including Raheny, with a high degree of success and it is planned  that they will further intensify their attention together with local units under the direction of the district officer at Raheny. In additional there will be increased patrols by both uniformed and plain clothes gardaí and more frequent checkpoints at various locations will be set up at irregular intervals to deter the activity of criminals.
Deputy McCartan suggested that the task force was abolished recently by the Garda Commissioner as a result of Government decisions. The task force was abolished as far back as 1986. We in Government originally created the task force system which was very successful. The Minister for Justice has reactivated that task force and again it is proving to be very successful. We are taking the appropriate measures in every area of activity to ensure that we can contain and reduce crime and bring to justice as quickly as possible those who commit serious crime, or crime of any type.
It is also important to add that there are three gardaí active in community policing and they regularly visit local schools and attend Neighbourhood Watch meetings. The Garda also encourage the continued participation by residents in Neighbourhood Watch of which there are 50 schemes in the area involving 22,000 households. The Garda authorities are satisfied that these measures will prove effective in tackling the problems in Raheny.
However, the situation is being very carefully monitored. I can assure the House and the Deputy and the residents of Raheny that everything possible is being done to deal with the problem. Our colleagues, the Minister for Social Welfare, Dr. Woods, and Deputy L. Fitzgerald are——
Mr. McCartan: Asleep.
Mr. N. Treacy: ——constantly in touch with the Garda and the Minister for Justice regarding the problems. I have listened with interest to Deputy McCartan. He is constantly coming into this House inferring that the Minister for Social Welfare, Dr. Woods, is not doing this, that or the other. It is acknowledged that he is the most successful Minister for  Social Welfare in the history of the State. He has done tremendous work in this area.
Mr. McCartan: That is because there are more people on social welfare.
Mr. N. Treacy: If there is to be a reflection on Dr. Woods in the light of crime in the area in question, such reflection must surely extend to Deputy McCartan who is also a Deputy for that area in that both share a common responsibility to represent the people of that area. I can assure this House and Deputy McCartan that the Minister for Social Welfare, Dr. Woods, along with his colleague, Deputy Liam Fitzgerald, leave no stone unturned in bringing this matter to the attention of the Garda and are in communication with them and with the Department of Justice in regard to it. Collectively we will continue to attend to this problem.
Mr. Gilmore: Two years ago the Minister for Health was present at the opening of a new orthopaedic theatre at St. Columcille's Hospital Loughlinstown. We were told then that this new facility was expected to reduce the waiting lists for orthopaedic operations, particularly for people waiting for hip replacement operations, in the south Dublin and north Wicklow areas. Subsequently, two orthopaedic surgeons were appointed and were to be shared with St. Michael's Hospital and St. Vincent's Hospital. Despite this not a single major orthopaedic operation has yet been performed in this new orthopaedic theatre. The waiting lists for hip replacements in south Dublin and north Wicklow are still as long as ever. On average, people are still waiting two years for hip replacement operations despite the fact that this fine facility is lying virtually idle. Admittedly, some smaller operations have been performed in the theatre but no major operations.
The local people, local doctors and myself as a local Deputy, cannot understand why this brand new facility is still lying idle while people are waiting for  operations. There are two reasons I wish to raise the matter here: the first, concerns the waiting list and the facility which was provided at taxpayers' expense but which is not being used and, second, the downgrading of Loughlinstown hospital. The problem with the theatre has not been the only problem in relation to this hospital.
A number of years ago the maternity unit at Loughlinstown hospital was closed down. We were told at the time that the hospital was to be developed for orthopaedic services but this has not happened. In addition there is a problem with paediatric services at the hospital. I have received reports of children being brought to Loughlinstown hospital suffering from severe asthma attacks and not being permitted to use the nebulizer at the hospital because there is no paediatrician there. It is absurd that children from the area are being referred to city centre hospitals rather than being cared for in their own local hospital.
I would remind the Minister that Loughlinstown hospital serves a very wide area of south County Dublin and north Wicklow, an area which has a young population. It is disgraceful that the facilities of this hospital are not being used to the maximum extent, a facility which has been provided at taxpayers' expense, while local people are waiting for operations and cannot be treated in the hospital. I would like some explanation for this and some assurance from the Minister that Loughlinstown hospital will be given the consideration and the grading it deserves.
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. N. Treacy): The organisation of orthopaedic services in St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown, is a matter for the Eastern Health Board in the first instance. A review of orthopaedic services in Dublin South-East was completed in early 1989 and recommended the development of a joint department of orthopaedics for Dublin South-East. Following this review the number of consultant orthopaedic surgeons in the area was increased by the Minister for Health from three to four. In addition, the posts were restructured  to provide, first, that each consultant has at least three sessions per week for elective work at St. Mary's Hospital, Cappagh, and, second, that an orthopaedic service was established at St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown.
There was general agreement at the time that the lack of a consultant orthopaedic input to St. Columcille's Hospital was a shortcoming in the services for the area which required priority attention because of the role of the hospital in providing accident and emergency services.
I should also like to emphasise that the development of a joint orthopaedic service between St. Columcille's, St. Vincent's and St. Mary's, Cappagh, is in line with the policy of the Department of Health in developing closer links between the general hospitals in the Dublin south-east area. Progress has also been made in regard to the development of joint departments of pathology and anaesthetics in Dublin south-east.
The orthopaedic service of Loughlinstown commenced on 1 May 1990 with the appointment of a consultant orthopaedic surgeon. A second consultant took up duty on 1 December 1990. As I already explained, these are joint appointments to St. Columcille's, St. Vincent's and St. Mary's, Cappagh. The 1991 letter of allocation from the Department of Health to the Eastern Health Board made specific reference to additional revenue funding being provided for the orthopaedic service at St. Columcille's. The Minister for Health also approved capital grants totalling £177,000 for orthopaedic equipment at St. Columcille's Hospital. Deputy Gilmore is incorrect in stating that no orthopaedic operations have been performed  at St. Columcille's Hospital in the past two years. Operative work is being done in St. Columcille's.
Mr. Gilmore: Small ones.
Mr. N. Treacy: The Deputy said that no operations were being done out in St. Columcille's.
Mr. Gilmore: There are no major operations being carried out.
Mr. N. Treacy: The Deputy said that no orthopaedic operations had been performed. I repeat that operative work is being carried out in St. Columcille's but the Deputy will appreciate that the orthopaedic service at the hospital is a relatively new one which is still being developed. I understand that the Eastern Health Board are having detailed discussions at present with St. Vincent's Hospital concerning admission procedures for the treatment of trauma. We are confident that these discussions will be brought to a successful completion in the near future, leading to a further enhancement of orthopaedic services at St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown. I wish to emphasise that we provided the funds and the extra consultants, the operations are proceeding and the situation will be improved——
Mr. Gilmore: How many hip replacements were carried out?
Mr. N. Treacy: I do not have that information.
The Dáil adjourned at 4.15 p.m. until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 July 1991.
4. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for the Marine if his Department will aid investment in developing the fishing, processing and exporting of eels; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the potential of the eel harvest is enormous and would fully justify a very substantial investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): The granting of aid investment does not fall within the remit of my Department. However, I have been advised by my Department that the development of farming facilities for eels is a matter which BIM are actively pursuing.
My Department are currently involved in an in-depth study of the Irish eel industry and its potential for development. The study is being undertaken on a national basis and covers all aspects of the industry from source of product, development, stock, source of additional elvers, legislation, and the potential viability of an improved export product. When the results of this study are complete I will be in a better position to initiate whatever measures may be necessary. It is the intention that the study will be completed before the end of the year.
20. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the findings of a recent survey published by a French magazine (details supplied) which rated Irish Ferries last of 36 international ferries surveyed; if he intends to request any review of safety procedures, especially in regard to evacuation methods; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): I can tell the Deputy that I have seen a copy of the article published in the French consumer magazine Que Choisir. The article contained details of the evacuation procedures used on 36 passenger ferries which operate from French ports. The vessels were assessed under various headings with each ferry being given an overall rating of very good, good or average. Twenty-five vessels received an overall rating of very good and seven were rated good. Four vessels including the two Irish Ferries vessels the St. Killian II and St. Patrick II were rated as average.
Since receiving a copy of this article I have passed a copy to Irish Ferries with a view to obtaining their comments on it. This report will also be discussed at a future meeting of the National Ferry Safety Committee which works to ensure that the highest standards of safety are maintained on all ferries operating here.
21. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the staffing level at the Fisheries Research Centre, Abbotstown, Dublin 11 is completely inadequate to deal with fish husbandry and disease control aspects of fish farming; and when sufficient laboratory facilities and funding will be supplied to protect and expand this important resource.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): Fish husbandry and disease control measures are operated by the fish pathology unit of my Department's Fisheries  Research Centre. When the unit was originally established it was staffed by one fish pathologist and three laboratory technicians. Since then a microbiologist has been assigned to the unit and an additional fish pathologist and laboratory technician will be assigned shortly.
I am conscious of the need to maintain the Fisheries Research Centre laboratories as up-to-date as national expenditure constraints will permit. In this regard I am happy to inform the Deputy that I submitted yesterday to the EC a programme under STRIDE, Science and Technology in Regional Innovation and Development in Europe, for the period 1991 to 1993 for marine activities. A positive response from the EC to this programme will deliver the necessary funding to ensure that the FRC laboratory enjoy state-of-the art equipment/facilities.
22. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for the Marine when the expanded research programme put in place this year to exmaine and report on factors affecting sea trout stocks will be in a position to identity and make recommendations on the present problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): The working group which I established encompassing all the scientific expertise working on the sea trout problem is due to report in November of this year.
23. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Marine if any application has been made to the EC for resources to protect EC fish stocks off the Irish coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): I am happy to inform the Deputy that, in response to an application submitted by me last year, the EC Commission has approved the first phase of a £34 million five year investment programme in  equipment to strengthen Ireland's fishery protection capability.
During the current year EC grants will amount to £4.4 million and over the course of the programme the Community are expected to contribute 50 per cent of the total expenditure involved. Amongst the equipment being acquired are two twin engined turbo-prop maritime patrol aircraft and onshore surveillance and communications systems.
I am confident that the programme will improve significantly the overall efficiency and effectiveness of Ireland's fishery protection services.
24. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline the figures which are available for catches of salmon in Irish rivers for each of the past five years; and if he will further outline the figures for the number of registered fishermen per river and the number of registered snap-net fishermen.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): The information regarding salmon catches requested is not readily available in the format requested by the Deputy. My Department are currently compiling an analysis of salmon returns in recent years with a view to publication as soon as possible. I have arranged that a copy will be made available to the Deputy when published. As regards snap-net fishermen, I can inform the Deputy that 140 snap-net licences have been allocated for this year. I would point out that each licence is normally fished by four people.
25. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine the number of drift net licences which have issued in each of the last five years.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): The number of drift net licences which have issued in each of the last five years is as follows: 1986, 869; 1987, 852; 1988, 835; 1989, 801; 1990, 758.
26. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline the Government's policy on snap-net fishing; whether it is intended to bring forward new legislation in view of the effect of pollution and the decline of wild salmon stocks in our rivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): Snap-net licences are issued by regional fisheries boards under the Control of Fishing for Salmon Order which is currently under review in my Department. The position in relation to snap-net fishermen will receive consideration in the light of this review.
27. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine if he will outline the current position in relation to employment and normal working conditions for fishery board employees; whether he has satisfied himself with the current situation; if he will further outline the efforts which have been made to rectify any problems; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): The conditions of employment of staff in the central and regional fisheries boards is a matter in the first instance for the boards themselves. In accordance with the Fisheries Act 1980 the Central Fisheries Board are required, following consultations with each of the regional boards and with any recognised staff associations or trade unions concerned, to prepare and submit to the Minister a staff scheme or schemes providing for the regulation, control and management of the staff of the central and regional boards and indicating in respect of the staff the remuneration, tenure of office, qualifications for appointment and conditions of service.
Staff schemes have been approved for the majority of the staff in the boards and other are in the course of preparation.
 I am not sure what problems the Deputy is referring to but I can say that there is provision in the 1980 Act for amending staff schemes and some of the schemes are at present being reviewed by the central board in consultation with the unions concerned.
28. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for the Marine whether he is prepared to undertake a review of legislation on monofilament nets; if he has satisfied himself that the current legislation is being fully adhered to; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): I have had numerous consultations with representatives of various groups and organisations around the country concerning a number of salmon-related issues including the use of monofilament nets. The legislation in this regard is continually monitored by my Department as indeed are all aspects of fisheries legislation. I can say, however, as I have said previously in this House, that I have no plans at this stage to legalise monofilament netting in salmon fishing.
Regarding the Deputy's question on adherence to the legislation, I am satisfied that the regional fisheries boards in conjunction with the Naval Services are doing everything in their power to ensure that the legislation is being observed.
29. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline the progress which has been made in the implementation of the decision of the Dublin EC Summit of June 1990 that the Commission open discussions with Brazil and other Amazonian Pact countries in relation to the destruction of tropical forests; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Collins): The Dublin European Council of  25-26 June 1990 asked the Commission to open discussions as a matter of urgency with Brazil and other Amazonian Pact countries with a view to developing a concrete action programme involving the Community, its member states and these countries aimed at preventing the continuing and rapid destruction of tropical forests. Subsequently, the Group of 7 — the main industrialised countries—at the Houston Economic Summit of August 1991 expressed their willingness to co-operate with the Brazilian Government on this issue and requested the World Bank to prepare a proposal in close consultation with the EC Commission.
The World Bank, the Brazilian authorities and the EC Commission representatives met on a number of occasions in the latter part of 1990 and during the early months of this year, most recently last month, to work on the proposal and to prepare an agreed approach. While agreement has yet to be reached on a detailed programme, the following are the main elements under consideration: a programme of preservation, management and recovery of the resources of tropical forests; an international board for monitoring of activities under the programme and an appropriate time-frame and budget for the programme.
Progress on the contacts between the Commission, the Brazilian authorities and the World Bank have been discussed by the Council of Ministers on two occasions recently: at the Development Council on 27 May and at the Environment Council on 13 and 14 of this month. At both Councils, Ministers confirmed the importance it attaches to the rational management and the conservation of tropical forests, which are of vital importance both to the developing and to the developed countries.
31. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline (1) the number, (2) date, (3) location and (4) the estimated cost of each official foreign visit undertaken by him since appointment to the Government in 1989.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Collins): Since becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs in July 1989 I have made the following official visits abroad:
|Italy||24 Oct. 89 — 29 Oct. 89|
|Poland||21 Jan. 90 — 23 Jan. 90|
|Yugoslavia||23 Jan. 90 — 25 Jan. 90|
|Canada||8 Feb. 90 — 10 Feb. 90|
|Hungary||22 Feb. 90 — 23 Feb. 90|
|Bahrain||23 Feb. 90 — 24 Feb. 90|
|Saudi Arabia||24 Feb. 90 — 26 Feb. 90|
|Czechoslovakia||9 March 90 — 11 March 90|
|Luxembourg||3 April 90 — 4 April 90|
|Morocco||24 May 90 — 25 May 90|
|Singapore||30 July 90 — 2 Aug. 90|
|South Korea||4 Sept. 90 — 8 Sept. 90|
|Iran||21 Nov. 90 — 25 Nov. 90|
|Turkey||9 Jan. 91 — 13 Jan. 91|
|Bulgaria||13 Jan. 91 — 14 Jan. 91|
|Egypt||6 Feb. 91 — 10 Feb. 91|
|Germany||10 Feb. 91 — 16 Feb. 91|
|India||20 Feb. 91 — 25 Feb. 91|
|Mexico||19 March 91 — 24 March 91|
|Japan||15 April 91 — 20 April 91|
|Austria||6 June 91 — 9 June 91|
By their nature, official visits are undertaken at the invitation of the host country. Accommodation and other costs, within that country are borne by the hosts.
In addition to the above, I regularly travel abroad to attend meetings and conferences in relation to European Community, United Nations and Anglo-Irish business. I also undertake travel abroad from time to time in a national representational capacity and to various international fora in keeping with our international and diplomatic commitments and obligations.
32. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when a C2 certificate will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that an application for a subcontractor's certificate of authorisation, form C2, was received from the taxpayer on 21 May 1991. On 6 June 1991, the inspector of taxes wrote to the taxpayer's agent requesting further information.
On receipt of a reply to that letter, the matter will be considered further.
33. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if all Border posts between here and Northern Ireland will be dismantled as of 31 December 1992.
Minister for Finance (Mr. Reynolds): It is not possible to indicate at this stage the impact which completion of the internal market may have on existing customs arrangements along the Border with Northern Ireland after 1992. Decisions in many important areas still remain to be taken at EC level before the shape of the post-1992 arrangements can be finalised. While some controls on the land frontier will have to be discontinued it will still be necessary to have effective arrangements to control movement of certain goods. In any case, in order to preserve indirect tax revenues generally, in the post-1992 context, there will be need for preventive and enforcement operations within the State.
34. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline his views on the estimates by the European Commission that the benefits to Europe arising from economic and monetary union will amount to £215 billion; and if he will further outline his views on whether sufficient Community powers now exist to ensure that all states will share proportionately in these benefits.
35. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the EC Structural Funds, as constituted at present, are sufficient an instrument to ensure a fair distribution, within and between member states, of the benefits of (a) the EC single market and (b) the proposed EC Economic and Monetary Union.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I propose to take Questions Nos. 34 and 35 together.
While the Structural Funds are making a contribution to achieving cohesion, they are not sufficient in themselves to ensure an equitable distribution among member states of the benefits of the completion of the internal market or of the moves towards economic and monetary union.
In their communication on Economic and Monetary Union of 21 August 1990, the Commission stated that “...an aggregate estimate of the impact of Economic and Monetary Union is not feasible ...”. Nevertheless, the Commission's overall assessment was that EMU would yield substantial net benefits to the Community.
Ireland accept that EMU will be of significant advantage to the Community as a whole. However, it is a matter of concern that these benefits may not be distributed equitably. The amendments to the Treaty provisions on economic and social cohesion which Ireland has tabled at the Inter-governmental Conferences on EMU and on Political Union are designed to reinforce and extend existing mechanisms with a view, inter alia, to ensuring such equity.
36. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the action he expects the forthcoming EC Summit will take on the problem of unemployment in Europe.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): Unemployment is not a specific agenda topic for the forthcoming European Council.
As the Deputy will be aware, the main  purpose of the meeting of the European Council will be to review progress in the Intergovernmental Conferences on Political Union and on Economic and Monetary Union.
Of course, all member states are very concerned about the problem of unemployment and, collectively and individually they are doing all in their power to create the conditions necessary for its resolution. In this context, the work of the ECOFIN Council is focussed sharply on the best means of reducing unemployment in the Community, in particular through the co-ordination of economic policies. The special significance which Ireland ascribes to the creation of additional employment in the Community is reflected in Treaty amendments which we have tabled in both Conferences. In particular we propose that full employment be enshrined in the Treaty as one of its basic principles.
37. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the action which has been taken by the EC pursuant to the decision of the EC Summit of December 1988 in Rhodes, that the Commission examine the special problems of island regions within the EC; if this study will include Ireland or parts thereof; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am informed by the EC Commission that the following actions have been undertaken on foot of the decision of the EC Summit of December 1988 in Rhodes. A Community initiative has been established to provide Community assistance in the form of loans and grants to the most remote regions of the Community to finance operational programmes. The initiative referred to as REGIS covers Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira and has the following objectives: to promote economic diversification; to consolidate the links between these regions and the rest  of the Community; to stimulate co-operation between neighbouring remote regions and between them and nearby non-member countries, particularly those enjoying preferential arrangements with the Community and, where appropriate, to increase their capacity to cope with natural disorders.
The Commission has published a preliminary overview of a major document in preparation called Europe 2000. The document aims to highlight the trends and pressures that are likely to shape land-use and physical planning within the Community at the beginning of the next century. The study which is expected to be published later this year will include consideration of coastal areas and islands particularly those heavily dependent on fisheries. The Commission has made a small amount of aid available to the Islands Commission of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions of the Community to help to develop projects of economic benefit especially those involving joint actions between islands. Some inhabited islands off the Irish coast are members of the Island Commission. The Commission has also developed proposals for Council decisions setting up programmes of options specific to the remote and insular nature of the Canary Islands (Poseican) and Madeira and the Azores (Poseima).
In addition the Commission has recently confirmed that it is in the process of considering, in line with the conclusion of the Rhodes European Council, 1988, the special socio-economic problems affecting certain island regions of the Community with a view to submitting at the proper time appropriate proposals.
38. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if the objective of fiscal harmonisation in the road transport sector by 31 December 1990, set out by the EC Summit at Dublin in June 1990, was achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): The objective of agreement,  by 31 December 1990, on fiscal harmonization in the road transport sector was not met.
Following the June 1990 Summit, extensive discussions on the Commission proposals for the sector took place within the framework of the Transport and ECOFIN Councils. Arising from these discussions, Presidency Conclusions, which set out the broad parameters of a harmonized regime for road transport, were noted by the ECOFIN Council on 8 April 1991. Further progress in this area is linked to a resolution of the wider issue of approximation of excise duty rates generally. The ECOFIN Council's consideration of this topic is scheduled to continue on 24 June 1991.
39. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the progress which has been made since the decision thereon at the EC Summit at Dublin in June 1990, in relation to opening up the market for public procurement of services; and if he will further outline the opportunities which this provides for Ireland in selling services to Governments of other member states.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): As part of the internal market programme on public procurement, a draft directive for the co-ordination of procedures on the award of public service contracts was presented by the Commission of the European Communities to the European Council in December 1990.
The directive is aimed at opening the market for services purchased by public authorities to Community-wide competition along similar lines to the directives which are already in force covering supplies and works contracts. The directive has been discussed in a preliminary way at EC Council Working Party level and the views of the European Parliament have been sought. The detailed amendments proposed by the Parliament  are now being considered by the Commission and a modified proposal is expected shortly.
A proposal for a separate directive to cover services procurred by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and telecommunications sectors, which are not covered by the present proposal, is expected to be presented by the Commission possibly later this year.
These developments will give rise to extra opportunities for Irish suppliers of services. Córas Tráchtála Teoranta has been actively engaged in assisting potential Irish suppliers in identifying the new opportunities which the expanded European public procurement market will open for Irish exporters. As a part of this effort it has published extremely detailed public procurement guides, one for each of the 12 member states.
40. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline the working assumption about the average level of unemployment for 1991 now in use for budgetary purposes in the light of the Taoiseach's statement in Dáil Éireann on Tuesday, 11 June 1991 on this matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have already indicated to this House, on 25 April last, that, this year, I may have to provide for a somewhat higher average live register figure, perhaps 10,000 to 12,000 more, than provided for in the budget. The matter, of course, remains under continuing review in the light of developments on employment and migration. The Department's updated assessment will be published in Economic Review and Outlook in due course.
41. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if grant aid will be made available for bulk tank refrigeration to Kerry farmers and to farmers in other areas; and if he will outline the amount which has been allocated for this scheme.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The details of the assistance to farmers for expenditure on milk quality measures which I obtained during the recent EC prices negotiations are being finalised with the EC Commission at present.
I will make an announcement on the matter as soon as possible.
42. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the current position regarding an application for a special beef premium subsidy in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and when payment will issue in this case.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This payment is being processed and will issue shortly.
43. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork has not received payment of a special beef premium for 25 animals.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payment was not made on the 25 animals because 24 were sold without their identity cards being submitted as required and the remaining animal had already been ear-punched for premium.
44. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he has received complaints about a company (details supplied); if he has investigated these complaints; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): I can confirm that a request was received to have the affairs of the company in question examined and that this request is under consideration.
I should like to explain, as a general matter, that I do not see the resolution  of difficulties which arise in the operation of individual companies as primarily a matter for me as Minister. Rather, the Companies Acts provide a statutory framework within which parties, like the present applicant, can seek to have their difficulties resolved.
In this regard, section 205 of the Companies Act, 1963 provides that a member of a company, who complains that the affairs of the company are being conducted in a manner oppressive to him, may apply to the courts for an order designed to remedy that state of affairs.
Alternatively, section 7 of the Companies Act, 1990, which will become operational on 1 July 1991, provides that a court may appoint inspectors to investigate the affairs of a company on the application of any one of a number of parties specified in the section.
I expect to be in a position to respond directly to the applicant shortly.
45. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will outline the progress which has been made in relation to the implementation of the Single European Act in the field of intellectual property pursuant to the call by the EC Summit at Dublin in June 1990 for rapid completion of work thereon.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): I set out hereunder, a report giving the information requested by the Deputy.
Progress Report (at mid-June 1991) on intellectual property initiatives within the Community.
(i) Proposal for a Council Directive on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.
Position: Under examination by Council Working Party. Awaiting opinion of the European Parliament.
(ii) Proposal for a Council Regulation  concerning the creation of a supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products.
Position: Under discussions at Council Working Party.
(iii) Agreement relating to Community Patents (which amends and replaces the Community Patent Convention of 1975).
Position: Entry into force is dependent upon ratification by all member states. The position is to be reviewed at the end of this year. Ireland has a constitutional problem which prevents us from ratifying.
Trade Mark Field
(i) Proposal for a Council Regulation establishing a Community trade mark system (and three related implementing Regulations).
Position: Technical aspects of Regulation almost settled.
(ii) Council Directive to approximate the laws of the member states relating to trade marks. (89/104/EEC).
Position: Adopted 21 December 1988. Will be implemented as part of a complete overhaul and updating of Irish trade mark law.
(i) Council Directive on the legal protection of computer programmes. (91/250/EEC).
Position: Adopted 14 May 1991. Legislation to give effect to the directive in Ireland is currently under consideration.
(ii) Proposal for a decision that the member states will, by 31 December 1992, ratify or adhere to and comply with the 1971 Paris Act of the Berne Convention and with the Rome Convention of 26 October 1961.
Position: Under examination by Council Working Party.
(iii) Proposal for a directive on rental right, lending and certain neighbouring rights.
Position: Under examination by Council Working Party.
The following measures are contemplated by the Commission but are  not yet the subject of proposals to the Council.
(iv) A directive on home copying of sound and audiovisual recordings.
(v) A directive on the harmonisation of the legal protection of databases.
(vi) A directive on the harmonisation of the term of protection for copyright and certain neighbouring rights.
(vii) A directive on the co-ordination of certain rules concerning copyright and neighbouring rights applicable to satellite and cable broadcasting.
(viii) Subjects on which studies are planned by 31 December 1992 at the latest:
(a) Moral rights,
(c) Resale right,
(d) Collective management of copyright and neighbouring rights and collecting societies.
Topographies of Semi-Conductor Products
(i) Council Directive on the legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products (87/54/EEC).
Position: Adopted 16 December 1986 and given effect in Ireland from 13 May 1988 by S.I. 101 of 1988.
(ii) Council Decision on the extension of legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products in respect of persons from certain countries and territories. (88/311/EEC).
Position: Adopted 31 May 1988 and given effect in Ireland from 18 August 1988 by S.I. 208 of 1988.
(iii) Two Council decisions on the extension of legal protection of topographies of semiconductor products in respect of persons from certain countries and territories. (90/510 EC and 90/511 EC).
Position: Adopted 9 October 1990. Regulations to give effect to these in Ireland are drafted and will be signed  following clarification by the Office of the Attorney General of certain legal issues.
46. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Labour if he will outline the action being taken on the proposal in paragraph 272 of NESC Report No. 90 that there should be an EC funded project to build a close working relationship between FÁS and the equivalent United Kingdom manpower authorities on the transitional problems faced by Irish emigrants to the United Kingdom.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern: Following consideration of a report on the difficulties encountered by Irish emigrants going to Great Britain, a working party comprising representatives of FÁS, the British Employment Service and voluntary organisations recommended the setting up of a transfrontier committee (TFC) to oversee migratory movements between Ireland and Britain.
Such committees have already been established in other member states which have a high degree of labour mobility such as France and Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. They are supported and funded by the European Community. They comprise a combination of employment, training and careers staff of both countries.
The committees' main functions are to examine and to identify the difficulties and barriers encountered by workers in the context of promoting the free movement of workers within the Community and to initiate action and solutions to mitigate or eliminate such difficulties.
The UK-Ireland Committee is made up of representatives from the UK Employment Service and Department of Employment Training Directorate, FÁS and representatives from the voluntary sector in both countries.
The first meeting of the committee took place on 13 and 14 June 1991. The intention is that it will meet every three months.
The agreed terms of reference of the committee are as follows: to provide  appropriate support for workers seeking to move between Ireland and the United Kingdom; to minimise the difficulties of entry to employment and training markets by arriving or returning migrants by identifying the needs of migrant workers in order to enable the provision of an easily identifiable and readily accessible series of services and activities, e.g., placement, training, counselling and information on the labour markets in Ireland and the United Kingdom; devising ways and means whereby the availability of such services can be brought to the attention of the public at large; advising on and promoting pre-departure information and placement services in Ireland including the discouragement of unplanned and involuntary migration from Ireland.
At their first meeting the committee considered a number of possible initiatives relating to preventing unplanned migration, providing services for arriving migrants and improving the flow of information between relevant agencies. The Inter-Parliamentary Group established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement have welcomed this initiative.
The setting up of the committee represents a further step on behalf of the Government to improve the information and advisory services for emigrants in line with recent recommendations made by the National Economic and Social Council in their report on migration.
47. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his Department will now allow a free electricity allowance to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim which was lodged on 25 April 1991.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The claim by the person concerned to a free electricity allowance is currently with the social welfare officer for investigation. His previous applications for this allowance had to be rejected as his son was residing with him.
The social welfare officer called to the  claimant's residence early in May to determine if the composition of his household had changed. However, nobody was available for interview on that occasion. A further visit will be made shortly.
As soon as the investigation is completed, an early decision on his entitlement to this allowance will be made and he will be notified of the outcome immediately.
48. Mr. Farrelly asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a person (details supplied) in County Meath will receive money for school uniforms for her daughters commencing school in September 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Earlier this week I announced details of an improved back-to-school clothing and footwear scheme for 1991. The scheme, which I introduced last year, is designed to assist recipients of social welfare and health board payments in meeting the cost of children's school uniforms and footwear.
The scheme, which is administered by the regional health boards, will commence on 1 July to ensure that families can receive their payments well in advance of the start of the school year. Health boards will continue to accept applications until the end of September and intending applicants should apply to the community welfare officer at their local health centre.
The North-Eastern Health Board have indicated that an application has not been received from the person mentioned in the Deputy's question.
I have made a number of changes to this year's scheme with the result that it is now significantly improved on last year's scheme. Income limits have been standardised throughout the country and for the first time family income supplement recipients have been included in the scheme.
An additional improvement will mean that long term recipients including family income supplement recipients, will  receive the allowance for children up to 21 years who are in full-time education. The allowance, which is £40 for each eligible child in second level education and £25 for each eligible child in primary education represents a welcome boost for families faced with back-to-school expenses.
49. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in determining the appeal of means in the old age pension application of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if an immediate decision will be made with a view towards awarding an increase.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned had his old age non-contributory pension reduced by a deciding officer as a result of a re-assessment of his means. He appealed this decision to the independent social welfare appeals office and his case was examined by an appeals officer who considered that the assessment was fair and reasonable and who therefore disallowed the appeal.
Unfortunately, as the case was associated with a relative's file, who also had an appeal under consideration separately, there was a delay in the appeals officer's decision.
50. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice the number of crimes reported in the Knocklyon area of Dublin 16 in each year from 1987-90.
51. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice the number of crimes committed in the Rathfarnham area of Dublin 16 in each of the years from 1987-90.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 51 together.
Crime statistics are recorded on the  basis of Garda sub-districts. The number of indictable crimes recorded in the Rathfarnham sub-district which includes the Knocklyon area for the years 1987-90 are set out in the tabular statement below.
|Year||Number of Indictable Crimes|
* 1990 figures are provisional.
52. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for the Environment if a first time house buyer's grant will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): A grant cannot be approved, as contrary to a condition of the scheme, a C2 number or a tax clearance certificate expiry date has not been provided in respect of the builder.
53. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if he will consider changing the register of voters procedure to allow for the removal of the letter D from the front of the names of British citizens of the register of electors in view of the security risk involved.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): For the purpose of the conduct of elections, it will continue to be necessary to distinguish the different categories of electors registered in the register of electors.
54. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment if a house improvement grant will now be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The grant will be paid as soon as possible.
55. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment the reason for the delay by his Department in relation to the Nenagh regional water supply scheme; whether the comprehensive report on tenders by the county council's engineers and consulting engineers, which was submitted to his Department in March 1991, has yet been presented to him for financial allocation; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this delay will cause (1) a 15 per cent increase in the cost to the taxpayer and (2) continuous problems in the water supplies of the Tipperary North Riding Area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): My Department are continuing their examination of this proposal on the basis of additional information requested and recently received from Tipperary North Riding County Council.
56. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the amounts received in road tax returns per county in 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): The information requested is set out in the following table:
|County||Motor Tax||Other Receipts||Total Receipts|
1. The figures are rounded to the nearest £1,000.
2. Column 2: the figures comprise fees for driver licensing, vehicle testing, trailer licensing, public service vehicle licensing and other miscellaneous items.
57. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the allocation of rates support grant per county in 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): The information requested is set out in the following table.
Rate Support Grant — Total Payments 1990.
|Urban District Councils|
58. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment if a sewerage scheme has been submitted by Galway County Council for 12 houses on the Monivea Road at Ballybane, Galway; and when sanction for this scheme will issue.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): There are no proposals before my Department for a sewerage scheme to serve this area.
59. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment the progress which has been made on the implementation of the decision in Annex II of the conclusions of the Dublin EC Summit that there be regular reviews of environmental policies of member states, and published reports thereon; if a review policy in Ireland has yet been undertaken under this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): Annex II of the conclusions of the European Council, at its meeting in Dublin on 25-26 June 1990, included an invitation to the EC Commission to conduct regular reviews of Community environmental legislation and its implementation and enforcement by member states. The fifth action programme on the environment, which the Commission is currently preparing, is expected inter alia to address this matter.
As regards the review of national environment policy, I would refer to the reply to Question No. 66 of 7 May 1991 which stated that a detailed progress report on the implementation of the environmental action programme will be published shortly by my Department.
60. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the action which has been taken by the European Community pursuant to the decision of the EC Summit at Dublin in 1990, that research and environmental monitoring be intensified to achieve a better understanding of the phenomena involved in global climatic change; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): An EC research programme on climate change and natural hazards (EPOCH) is already under way and a number of projects have been assisted under it. In addition, the overall Community framework research programme, currently before the Council of Ministers, includes a specific programme on environmental research and, under its auspices, research on climate change will be further assisted.
I would also refer to the reply to Question No. 34 of 11 June 1991 which refers to studies commissioned by my Department on the impact of possible climate change on Ireland. These will be published shortly.
61. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be admitted for surgery by the Eastern Health Board.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The person concerned is on the waiting list for cardiac surgery at the Mater Hospital. The scheduling of surgery is a matter for the clinical judgement of the consultant concerned. However, if this person feels that she needs more immediate attention, she should contact her general practitioner who would be in the best position to highlight her case to her consultant.
The Deputy will be pleased to know that, in order to increase cardiac surgery activity from 500 to 750 by-pass operations per annum, I recently provided special funds for the provision of ten additional cardiac beds at the Mater Hospital.
Cardiac surgery services are also available at Cork Regional Hospital. It is open to the patient's general practitioner to refer her to the cardiac surgery unit at Cork Regional Hospital, if considered appropriate.
62. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo can expect a call for a heart operation.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The person concerned is on the waiting list for cardiac surgery at the Mater Hospital. The scheduling of surgery is a matter for the clinical judgment of the consultant concerned. However, if this person feels that she needs more immediate attention, she should contact her general practitioner who would be in the best position to highlight her case to her consultant.
The Deputy will be pleased to know that, in order to increase cardiac surgery activity from 500 to 750 by-pass operations per annum, I recently provided special funds for the provision of ten additional cardiac beds at the Master Hospital.
63. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health if he will make a grant available from the national lottery funds to the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association which has received no assistance from the State to date.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I will consider the case for a grant to the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association in conjunction with the many other applications for assistance from the limited lottery funds at my disposal.
64. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Health if he will list motor neurone disease as a long term illness to enable sufferers to acquire a long term illness card.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I do not intend to extend the list of conditions covered by the long term illness scheme.
Persons with this condition who in the  opinion of the chief executive officer of the appropriate health board are unable to meet their medical costs without undue hardship will be granted a medical card. Other persons with the condition are entitled to a drug cost subsidisation card which limits their expenditure on prescribed medicines to £32 per month.
65. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the steps which have been taken to fulfil the decision of the EC Summit at Dublin in June 1990 that there be a conference under the auspices of the Pompidou Group on the problem of drugs and organised crime.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Following the decision of the meeting of the Heads of State, which was held in Dublin in June 1990 under the Irish Presidency of the EC, the first Pan-European Ministerial Conference on Co-operation on Illicit Drug Abuse problems was held, under the auspices of the Pompidou Group in Oslo from 9 to 11 May 1991.
The conference, which was attended by Ministers from western and eastern European countries, was provided with an overview of the drug situation in the changing Europe and discussed all aspects of the drug problem, in Europe, ranging from demand reduction to the supply and trafficking of illicit drugs.
The conference agreed on an extensive programme of action, under the following headings: assessment of the situation, information and epidemiology; reduction of the supply of drugs; action against trafficking; co-operation on criminal justice matters; prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration of drug misusers; and further development of co-operation within the European region.
66. Mrs. Taylor-Quinn asked the Minister for Education if a grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Clare through the European Social Fund for 1989-90, and through her Department and Clare County Council for the year 1991-92.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In accordance with the terms of clause 5 (d) of the 1988 higher education grants scheme, the relevant scheme in this case, a grant is not payable in respect of a second period of college attendance at any particular level.
It is understood that the person in question was in receipt of a higher education grant in respect of a two year certificate course in journalism at the College of Commerce, Rathmines, during 1988-89 and 1989-90. Accordingly, a higher education grant could not be made payable in this case until the third year of a new course.
The person referred to was assessed for training grant purposes under the European Social Fund scheme by the authorities at Rathmines College of Commerce and was found to be ineligible.
67. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Education the date from which pupils will be able to use only one set of leaving certificate results for CAO purposes; the reason for this decision; and her views on whether the pupils of that specific year suffer a disadvantage in that they have to compete against students able to double results without being able to do the same themselves.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): No applicant for a third level place will be disadvantaged by the decision referred to by the Deputy since on and from the 1992-93 academic year no applicant will be able to use results from more than one sitting of the leaving certificate for points purposes. The decision was taken to remove the inequity that existed in some applicants being in a position to accumulate results from a  number of sittings of the leaving certificate to improve their points score.
68. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education if she will outline (a) the projected enrolments in second level schools in the Tallaght area for 1991-92, (b) if her attention has been drawn to the concern in relation to present and future provision for pupils in local second level schools for the Aylesbury and Old Bawn areas, (c) whether her attention has further been drawn to the fact that the principals of local second level schools recognise the existence of a shortage of places, (d) if she has discussed with school principals a strategy for overcoming the shortage of places and (e) if she will assure parents that the Department is examining this problem, which is a source of worry to parents in the area.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The projected enrolments in second level schools in the Tallaght area for the 1991-92 school year are as follows:
The total projected enrolment is 5,574 pupils in the seven schools which have accommodation for a total of 6,400 pupils. There is, therefore, no shortage of pupil places in the Tallaght area.
I am aware that a number of pupils had initial difficulties in finding a place in the school, or schools, nearest their homes. Officials of my Department have had discussions on the matter with school principals in the Tallaght area and with representatives of the Tallaght Education Council. I now understand that the problems relating to pupils enrolling for the coming school year have been satisfactorily resolved.
 My Department will continue to monitor the enrolment and accommodation situation at post-primary level in Tallaght on a regular basis.
69. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if she will allocate funds or approve the provision of an extension to Newtown national school, Enfield, County Kildare, for the accommodation of equipment; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department have recently received a request from the chairman of the board of management of the above named school for minor works and this matter will be dealt with expeditiously.
70. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Education the reason the work on Ballinora national school, County Cork, has not been completed; if the builder is owed money by her Department; and, if so, if she will immediately make arrangements to pay the builder and complete the outstanding work.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The work on the extension to Ballinora national school, County Cork, has been completed except for a few minor items which will be brought to the attention of the contractor with a view to having them attended to.
The final account for the project has recently been submitted by the contractor and this is being examined by the supervising architect. In the meantime, I will arrange for an appropriate interim payment to issue to the contractor pending agreement on the final account.
71. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Army hospital at Collins Barracks in Cork; and if it will remain open.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Daly): I would refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 77 of 19 June 1991.
72. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications whether he has received a request for a capital grant from Iarnród Éireann towards the reopening of Sallins railway station, County Kildare, for commuter traffic; if he will favourably consider such a request; if any research has been done to determine the possibility of such a proposal; whether EC funds are available for such matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mr. S. Brennan): I have not received any request from CIE for a capital grant towards the re-opening of Sallins railway station, County Kildare, for commuter traffic. The question of re-opening the station is, under the Transport Acts, a matter entirely for Iarnród Éireann.
The company have informed me that market research which it has carried out in the area indicates that demand is insufficient to justify reopening the station at this stage.