Thursday, 27 February 1992
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Tánaiste: 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.
Proinsias 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  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.
Mr. 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  a matter and they should not be taken without debate.
Tomás Mac Giolla: 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.
An Ceann Comhairle: 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: 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?
The Tánaiste: 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: 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?
Mr. 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: 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.  The question of an Estimate for the Attorney General's Office can be considered by the Whips.
Proinsias 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——
Mr. 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——
Mr. 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  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: 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?
Mr. 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?
Mr. 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?
Mrs. 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.
Mr. J. 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  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?
Mr. J. 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.
Mr. J. 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?
Mr. 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.
Mr. M. 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: 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.
Mr. M. Higgins: I do not wish to delay  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.
Mr. M. 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?
The Tánaiste: 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: 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.
Mr. 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?
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