Order of Business.

Thursday, 27 February 1992

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 416 No. 4

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The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  It is proposed to take Nos. 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16. It is also proposed that Nos. 8 and 9 shall be taken without debate. It is further proposed that the Dáil shall meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 4 p.m.

Subject to the agreement of the House, it is proposed that in respect of tomorrow's business, which shall be Nos. 10 and 11, the following arrangements shall apply: that the questions necessary to bring the proceedings on Nos. 10 and 11 to a conclusion shall be put not later than 12.30 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively; that the speech of each Member called on in the debates on Nos. 10 and 11 shall not exceed 15 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively, and that any division demanded tomorrow shall be postponed until 6.45 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 March 1992.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the proposal that Nos. 8 and 9 be taken without debate agreed?

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  The proposal in relation to Standing Orders attempts to deal with the anomalies which have arisen because of the resignation of both myself and my colleagues from The [790] Workers' Party, thereby reducing The Workers' Party to one Deputy in this House. Clearly, I accept that one Deputy should not have the same full rights as a group in this House.

A Deputy:  What about Deputy Garland?

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Nevertheless, I have argued consistently that Independent Deputies and single Deputies representing parties in this House should have rights.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I cannot permit a speech at this stage.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  I appeal to the other parties in this House to recognise those rights and to provide for Private Members' time, priority questions and, indeed, financial support——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That must be sufficient.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  ——for Deputies like myself and others, Deputy Garland and Deputy Mac Giolla.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  May I put the question then?

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Let me, on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, congratulate the Labour Party on the new greening it has experienced this morning in the House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We are being environmentally friendly.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Unfriendly?

Mr. T. O'Sullivan: Information on Toddy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Toddy O'Sullivan  That is for St. Patrick's Day.

Mr. Garland: Information on Roger T. Garland  Zoom on Roger T. Garland  I also oppose the proposal that Nos. 8 and 9 be taken without debate. On behalf of the Independent and small party Deputies I have been pleading unsuccessfully that we be given more time and consideration in this House. They deal with far too serious [791] a matter and they should not be taken without debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Mac Giolla wishes to intervene.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  The Workers' Party Dáil group have discussed this motion at length.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  I discussed it with myself.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Is there consensus, Deputy Mac Giolla?

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  He looked at himself in the mirror.

Tomás Mac Giolla: Information on Tomás MacGiolla  Zoom on Tomás MacGiolla  Despite the best expert advice, we cannot find seven. I beg your indugence, Sir, as I would like on behalf of The Workers' Party Dáil group to express my great appreciation and thanks to myself for the great support that I have given to myself during the past few trying days. I want to assure you, a Cheann Comhairle, that there is now full unanimity and concern and that there will be no further splits in The Workers' Party.

Question: “That Nos. 8 and 9 be taken without debate,” put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is the proposal that the Dáil shall meet tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and adjourn at 4 p.m. satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals in respect of tomorrow's business, that is, Nos. 10 and 11, in the matter of divisions and business to be conducted, satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  May I ask the Tánaiste, in view of the fact that during the week one of the courts decided that sections of the Companies Act were unconstitutional, what proposals the Government have to amend the Companies Act or to hold a referendum?

[792]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That matter must be dealt with in another way.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  That question was asked and answered yesterday. Were it not for the fact that I know of the humaneness and courtesy of Deputy Barry I would think that he was trying to make me make a different statement from the one the Taoiseach made yesterday.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  Will the Tánaiste say whether the Government have given consideration to the method by which this House will discuss the Supreme Court decision which will be published next week? If not, will the Government give urgent consideration to making time available in this House next week so that the consensus and the spirit of co-operation established by the Taoiseach last week among party leaders can be built on and used effectively?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This is not the appropriate time for dealing with the matter. There are many other ways of raising it and it is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  It is time for an explanation. It is probably the most relevant matter in a long time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Chair merely administers Standing Orders.

Mr. Spring: Information on Dick Spring  Zoom on Dick Spring  With respect, this is in relation to ordering business in this House.

Mr. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Deputy John Bruton suggested yesterday that a possible method of doing this would be for the Government to bring forward an Estimate in respect of the Attorney General's Office. That should be considered.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  Deputy Spring knows that the Taoiseach is in London performing a very important task for the country. The Supreme Court judgment was handed down yesterday and he knows that there has not been a meeting of the Government since to consider this. [793] The question of an Estimate for the Attorney General's Office can be considered by the Whips.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  When the Supreme Court have delivered their judgment — presumably some time next week — will the Tánaiste consider providing for a full debate in this House on the implications of the judgment? Although we proposed and passed an amendment to the Constitution in 1983 we have not yet introduced legislation arising from that amendment. Perhaps the Tánaiste——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The rules and precedents governing the Order of Business should be adhered to.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  It is time for a debate.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I do not want to delay the House but I think that everybody in the House welcomes yesterday's decision.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  There will be discussions this morning regarding next week's business and I ask that time be set aside next week — on the assumption that the judgement be delivered early next week — for this House to debate the issue. In that context I also ask the Tánaiste to communicate with the Taoiseach to——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy should not embark upon a speech; it is quite out of order.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Following publication of the judgement there should be further discussions between party leaders to see where we go from here.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I do not wish to be disorderly and I appreciate, Sir, that you are administering the rules as laid down. I wish to reinforce the request by the Labour Party leader to the Tánaiste. We appreciate time constraints and the fact that the Taoiseach is on important business in London. Will this matter be discussed by the Government at the earliest possible opportunity and time made [794] available — and the decision communicated through the Whips in the normal manner — some time next week when the judgment is available? I am sure that the Government would like to maintain the assistance of the Opposition parties on this matter.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  Ba mhaith liom a fhiafraí den Tánaiste an dtuigeann sé go bhfuil Comhchoiste an Oireachtais don Ghaeilge fágtha gan chathaoirleach agus gan rúnaíle tréimhse, agus an bhféadfadh sé a chur in iúl an bhfuil sé ar intinn cathaoirleach agus rúnaí a cheapadh agus cén uair a bheidh an chéad chruinniú eile den chomhchoiste?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Níl sé sin in ordú anois.

Deputies:  Tá sé.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  There is an Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Irish language which does not have a chairman or a secretary. It is disgraceful that the Committee——

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  Ní gá bheith chomh borb sin. Beidh cathaoirleach agus rúnaí ag an gcomhchoiste sin agus déanfaidh mise mo dhícheall, mar Aire na Gaeltachta, an Ghaeilge a chur ar aghaidh sa Teach.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  Is the Tánaiste aware of a statement by the Minister for Industry and Commerce regarding unemployment? He said that thousands will be unemployed in the years ahead.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let us not make a mockery of the Order of Business.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  Was he speaking as a member of the Government or as a member of the Progressive Democrats?

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  As the Taoiseach said in the House this week that the Cabinet have not yet considered the statements by the Minister for Health regarding the Family Planning Bill, will the Tánaiste say whether the Cabinet have since discussed the new Minister's attitude to this legislation?

[795]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This matter was raised yesterday and I cannot permit a rehash of yesterday's business.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  It is No. 2 on the Order Paper.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I know.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  Will the Bill be introduced next week or the week after? I am entitled to ask that question.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  It may not surprise the Deputy but my answer is precisely the same as the Taoiseach's answer yesterday.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  May I ask the Tánaiste or the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, in respect of the promised amendment to the Companies Act, the Minister will give consideration to whether a further amendment is necessary in the light of the manner in which 150 workers have lost their jobs at Atlantic Magnetics in Clondalkin arising from a perceived deficiency in the operation of the Companies Act?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I thought we dealt with that matter last evening.

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  Will the Minister for Health state when the report of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals will be brought forward? This is the first report in 15 years despite the fact that under legislation the inspector is required to report to the Oireachtas every year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is legislation involved?

Mrs. Fennell: Information on Nuala Fennell  Zoom on Nuala Fennell  Yes.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  I was surprised that on the Order of Business yesterday the Government Chief Whip or the Taoiseach did not seem to know that the Government had committed themselves to legislation to have sub-county elections in 1992. As the commitment was given by the Tánaiste, will he now clarify the position? Will legislation be introduced in respect of sub-county elections [796] this year and, if so, when will it be brought before the House? Will he also clarify, once and for all, whether the Government are proceeding with the idea of district council elections in 1992?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is legislation promised in this area?

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Yes.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I suspected that the Deputy might try to catch me out in regard to this question today.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  So the Minister checked the records.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I prepared my answer very carefully. During the week the Taoiseach was asked this question and I will stand over his reply.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  The Tánaiste does not know either.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We cannot debate the matter now.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  This is another example of open Government.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  The Taoiseach said that legislation in this area was not promised. However, according to the Official Report for 4 December 1991 the Tánaiste said that there would be elections at sub-county level in 1992 and that all the legislation would be in place before that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This matter should not give rise to argument.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  It is a fact. The Tánaiste's answer today, confirming what the Taoiseach said yesterday, is in contradiction of what he said in the House on 4 December last. Will the Tánaiste now answer the question?

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  The Deputy will not quarrel with me if I tell him that I know on which side my bread is buttered.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  In the words of Milton, “confusion worse confounded.”

[797]Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  It is a matter of who is buttering the bread.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  In view of repeated requests for debates in this House in regard to cases of national importance pending before the courts, when will the Government's proposals in regard to the sub judice provisions governing this House be circulated? The same applies to the broader programme of reform of Government and of the Dáil as promised in the Programme for Government which we expected would have been circulated by now.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  Oireachtas reform will come before the Government shortly.

Mr. McCartan: Information on Patrick McCartan  Zoom on Patrick McCartan  What about the rule of sub judice?

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  That is included.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  In view of the widespread confusion and distress among Irish language speakers, what are the intentions of the Government in relation to promised legislation? There has been much legislation promised in the area of education. May I ask what is the present status of the University of Limerick Act which was agreed by this House and which allowed Irish speakers to enter Limerick University with full recognition of the Irish language? Can the Tánaiste tell me if it is the Government's intention to vindicate the Act passed by this House or will they bring forward reforming legislation to rationalise the ultra vires behaviour of the head of the University of Limerick?

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I do not know whether any legislation has been promised on this matter but I can assure the Deputy that I would be very anxious that the Irish language be afforded proper status in the University of Limerick and that it maintains its status in the other universities.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Richard Bruton.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I do not wish to delay [798] the House but I wish to make progress on this matter. The Irish language in the University of Limerick has the status Catalan enjoys — it is not recognised as a language.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This should not lead to debate.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Meetings have taken place between the Department of Education and the University of Limerick. Will the Tánaiste give an assurance that the University of Limerick Act, as passed by this House, will prevail?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  In other words, govern.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  The only assurance I can give the Deputy at this stage, without the matter having been considered by the Government, is that we will be conscious of the stádas bunreachtúil of the Irish language in our consideration of this matter.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  May I ask the Tánaiste when regulations will be introduced in the House to activate the sections of the Child Care Act, bearing in mind that during the past four years 30,000 abused children have contacted Childline? Regulations need to be introduced in the House as a matter of urgency to activate the provisions of that Act.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  I think I am being tried out on a second run of all these questions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Tánaiste is doing well.

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  That question has been asked practically every day for the past week.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  The Tánaiste does not remember the answer.

(Interruptions.)

The Tánaiste: Information on John P. Wilson  Zoom on John P. Wilson  The provisions of this Act are being implemented step by step.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Stonewalling.

[799]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I want to advise the House that I am moving on quite promptly to deal with the business ordered.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  May I ask the Tánaiste when the Government will inform the local authorities of their road block grants?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That is not in order now, Deputy.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  The potholes are getting bigger.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  May I ask the Tánaiste when regulations under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990, which would facilitate the payment of a subvention for public patients in private nursing homes, will be published?

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy should deal with that matter in another way.


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