Order of Business.

Wednesday, 22 May 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 465 No. 7

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The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is proposed to take No. 5 — motion concerning Consumer Information (Consumer Credit) (Revocation) Order, 1996; No. 13 — Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 1996 — Second Stage (resumed) and Remaining Stages; No. 16 — statements on Delivering a Better Government — A Programme of Change for the Irish Civil Service (resumed): No. 36 — motion concerning Health Insurance Regulations, 1996; and No. 14 — Health (Amendment) Bill, 1995 — Report and Final Stages. Nos. 36 and 14 shall be taken at the conclusion of the announcement of matters on the Adjournment under Standing Order 20 and the order shall resume thereafter.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 5 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 36 shall be brought to a conclusion within two hours and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the opening speech of the main spokesperson for the Fianna Fáil Party, of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokesperson for the Progressive Democrats Party shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; (iii) [1838] Members may share time; and (iv) the main spokesperson for the Fianna Fáil Party shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; the proceedings on the Report and Final Stages of No. 14, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 6.45 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Health; Private Members' Business shall be No. 24 — motion re Defence Forces (resumed) and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There are four matters to put to the House. Is the proposal that Item No. 5 shall be decided without debate satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with Item No. 36 satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with item No. 14 satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with Private Members' Business this evening satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  When I raised the crisis in the beef industry arising from BSE and related matters yesterday the Taoiseach's initial reaction was that Members on this side of the House were manufacturing an issue. I thank him for having changed his view overnight and allowing a debate on the subject tomorrow.

More importantly, as the incoming President of the European Council, what action does the Taoiseach consider necessary — within the Troika or directly on his part, to avoid a potential disaster at the Florence Summit? I have no doubt the British Prime Minister's remarks will be discussed in every Parliament of the European Union today, as he made serious threats which have enormous implications for the Irish Presidency, namely that the conclusions of the Florence Summit will be vetoed, which would be detrimental to our [1839] Presidency and which we utterly condemn. He said he will disrupt every Council, economic and monetary union and the Intergovernmental Conference.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We cannot have a debate on the subject this morning; it is not in order. I understand that a debate has been arranged on the matter.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  A debate has been arranged on the BSE issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let us not anticipate it.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We will be very glad to discuss that issue because of statements made in recent days which greatly affect the price of Irish beef in the marketplace.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Ahern, let us not debate the issue now.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  In regard to the remarks and statements of the British Prime Minister — which would be detrimental to the Irish Presidency, the operations of the European Council and various Council meetings in the weeks ahead — what action does the Taoiseach consider he should take to prevent this disruption?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I find it difficult to determine that the matters referred to by the Deputy are appropriate to the Order of Business.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  In the Taoiseach's Question Time on 24 April I put a question to him in relation to the collapse of the Duncan extradition case when he told me that he knew with certainty that no fault lay with the Attorney General's Office. I take it, if the Taoiseach knew with certainty that no fault lay with the Attorney General's Office, he was aware of all the facts of that case. Yet he went on to tell the House he had no [1840] reason to believe there was any fault on the Irish side——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy Harney, it is not in order to raise the matter now. If the Deputy feels she is entitled to elaboration on this matter, she may raise it in many other ways.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That is what you told me on 24 April, A Cheann Comhairle, when you accused me of queue jumping——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If I did, I was quite in order in doing so.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Taoiseach transferred my question. This is no ordinary matter; extradition is a sensitive issue in Anglo-Irish relations——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy Harney, if you are dissatisfied with the Taoiseach's reply or that of a Minister in this House, Members have a remedy. It can be raised again and again.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am trying to raise it again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I could indicate to the Deputy how she can raise it — indeed she knows that anyway — but it is not in order to do so now.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It has taken more than six weeks to establish that the fault did not lie with the British authorities.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry, Deputy Harney, I must ask you to desist from any further reference to this matter. If it is to be raised it must be done in accordance with the procedures of this House and in no other way.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Then why did the Taoiseach fuel the view in this House on 24 April that the fault lay with the British.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  No, the [1841] Deputy can table further questions, raise the matter in the ordinary way or by substantive motion in Private Members' time. There are many ways of raising it.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  This is a matter of public interest and the Taoiseach should say why he told the House what he did on 24 April.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy, I must ask you to resume your seat, how dare you insist on raising a point of order while I am dealing with disorder?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  What I said was true.

(Interruptions.)

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Taoiseach wants to reply.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  No, the Taoiseach may not reply. The Deputy must resume her seat.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy knows when he should raise a point of order; it was most audacious of him to raise a point of order when I was clearly dealing with gross disorder.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  May I raise a point of order? It appears from the Official Report of 24 April that the Taoiseach seriously misled this House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Dea, please desist——

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  Does he now want to clarify the position? Clarification is all I want, the Taoiseach misled this House on 24 April.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I ask the Deputy to please withdraw that statement.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  I will read it to the House if you wish, a Cheann Comhairle.

[1842]Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Will the Taoiseach allow time to discuss the whole issue?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  On a point of order, the Taoiseach misled this House on 24 April and we are entitled to an explanation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Dea, you have raised a spurious point of order, resume your seat.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  We are entitled to an explanation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy may not say that a Member of this House misled this House; that is not in order. The Deputy will withdraw unreservedly the implication that the Taoiseach misled the House.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  I was only seeking an explanation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Dea, you will withdraw the remark forthwith, unreservedly——

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  A Cheann Comhairle, I was only——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Dea, you must withdraw the remark or leave the House.

Mr. O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  A Cheann Comhairle, I presume——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Dea, withdraw the remark or leave the House.

Deputy O'Dea withdrew from the House.

Ms O'Donnell: Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  I notice that the Minister for Justice has voluntarily withdrawn from the House on this occasion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy may not reflect on the ruling of the Chair.

[1843]Ms O'Donnell: Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  Who is in charge of the Department of Justice since the Minister, having had four weeks' notice of a matter——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Donnell, I have ruled on that matter, you may not proceed.

Ms O'Donnell: Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  ——was not informed that the fault lay with the Irish authorities? How can it be that the Minister for Justice, seeing that——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have already advised your colleague, Deputy Harney that, if you are dissatisfied with the procedure, you may raise it again, but not now.

Ms O'Donnell: Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  It is a matter of accountability to this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Perhaps it is, but let us proceed to deal with it properly.

Ms O'Donnell: Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  It is a fundamental matter.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Without referring to the issue it appears offensive to mention, one of my party Members has been put out of the House as a result of seeking information on a serious matter. Can the Taoiseach find time within the remainder of this week to allow Members of the Opposition to put their points of view on this issue and the Government to reply?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  If Members have any reason to wish to question anything I said in the House, it is open to them to table parliamentary questions to me in regard to what I said——

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  ——but I can tell the House that I have not, as is claimed by Deputy O'Dea, misled the House. The statements I made were accurate and [1844] true, based on the knowledge I had at the time——

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I made it clear that subsequently a definitive statement on attribution of responsibility in this matter would be made in a detailed parliamentary reply by the Minister for Justice, making it clear that the matter was not one upon which I was making a definitive statement; I was merely stating that the matter would be the subject of a final and full reply from the Minister for Justice.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  On a very serious point of order, A Cheann Comhairle——

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I believe that the record of the House shows what I have said to be true.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  A Cheann Comhairle, I find this procedure you are allowing here totally unacceptable. A colleague of mine has been put out of the House——

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I believe it is not in order——

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  A Cheann Comhairle, it is disgraceful that you are allowing this procedure.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Burke, allow me to comment.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Sir, you have my respect at all times but I am most surprised that you would allow such an answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Burke, I will take no further abuse from you——

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I am not abusing you, Sir. You asked a colleague of mine to [1845] leave the House and then allowed the Taoiseach to make an explanation——

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Burke, you may not pursue the matter in this fashion. It is usual and proper in this House to hear the Taoiseach whoever that may be; it is not proper that he should be shouted down in that fashion.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  The Chair asked my colleague to leave this House and he did not allow the Taoiseach give an explanation. That is most unfair and unusual. The Chair is a fair man, but on this occasion I am surprised by his ruling.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Burke, I have nothing to apologise to you or to any Member of this House for.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I am not asking the Chair to apologise, but I am entitled to my view.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am seeking to maintain the dignity and decorum of this House, nothing more.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  I am seeking to protect my colleague in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy's colleague was out of order and he suffered the consequences.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I was replying quite properly to a question that had been put to me by the leader of Deputy Burke's party. Another Member of his party, Deputy O'Dea, made a statement that was incorrect to the effect that I had misled the House.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  Deputy O'Dea did not get a chance to make a statement.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I did not mislead the House and an examination of the record of the proceedings on the day in question will show that to be the case. It shows a descent in standards for [1846] Deputies to use so freely accusations of that seriousness without foundation.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  On a point of order, I heard Deputy O'Dea say that the Taoiseach misled the House and the Chair called him to task for that. From my experience in this House when a Deputy makes an accusation that a Member deliberately misled the House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy is questioning my ruling on the matter.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I am seeking clarification.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  There are other ways of doing that. It cannot be raised now.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Chair did not use the word “deliberately”.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  As a Member of this House, I am entitled to ask the Chair if he will ask a Member to leave the House if he or she makes a political charge against the Government. Can a Member not open his or her mouth to say anything against the Government?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy knows the procedures in this House quite well.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Will the Chair clarify whether a Deputy can make an accusation that a Member opposite misled the House without being thrown out of the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I gave the Deputy concerned every opportunity to withdraw his allegation.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The Chair is missing the point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Dempsey, I will not be cross-examined by you. If the Deputy feels there is anything fundamentally wrong with the ruling of the Chair he should proceed to raise it [1847] at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges or elsewhere.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  How can I question it when the Chair will not clarify his ruling?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The Deputy knows his rights.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I know I am entitled to raise a matter on the Order of Business and the Chair should respond to this point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Not now.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  When?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy, resume your seat. I invited the Deputy to proceed if he feels there is anything fundamentally wrong with my ruling. He knows what to do.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I do not know the Chair's ruling on the matter and I am seeking clarification of it. Will the Chair throw Members out of the House if they accuse members of the Government of misleading the House, or must they use the term “deliberately misleading”?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The House was not misled.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  It was.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I told the Deputy concerned that it was wrong to allege that the Taoiseach misled the House in this fashion.

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The Chair said that the Deputy accused the Taoiseach of doing so and that he was not entitled to do that, but he is entitled to accuse him of misleading the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We shall differ on that one, Deputy Dempsey.

[1848]Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Since the Taoiseach has taken the opportunity to defend his integrity, perhaps he would tell us when he proposes to make time available in this House to tender an apology to those he blamed in the wrong. I particularly refer to the activities of the Government press secretary——

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

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  ——who on 15 April indicated that the fault lay in England. This led to a demand in London that the officials involved should resign.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have ruled on the matter. Members may raise this matter at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  I suggest if there is any resignation, it should happen in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy McDowell, I must ask you to desist forthwith.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  The Government press secretary misinformed the people and falsely attributed error in this matter. The people who are to blame for this should resign or explain themselves to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Unless Members conform to the Order of Business proper I shall have to take a serious view of the proceedings.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  This is a matter for the Order of Business. It was promised in the programme for Government in the first instance.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is considerable dispute on this issue. The Taoiseach was asked on 24 April by me, Deputy Burke and, I understand, Deputy Harney [1849] about the position in this case and if there was any fault on the Irish side.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have ruled on that matter and I cannot make an exception for the Deputy.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will not repeat what the Taoiseach said. Will the Taoiseach allow a short debate on this matter today or tomorrow to allow the Opposition to put forward its points?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Put down a question on the matter, Deputy Ahern. It is not in order now.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  The Chair is not giving equal treatment to the Opposition.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I invite Members interested in the matter to read the reports of 24 April.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  They should read the newspapers.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  When a Deputy tried to raise the matter he was thrown out.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  They will see that I did not mislead the House. I was asked about speculation that the error had not occurred on the Irish side and I said, truthfully, that I had no reason to believe at the time that there was an omission on the Irish side, but that the matter was the subject of a separate parliamentary question to the Minister for Justice and that any attribution of responsibility in the matter would be made by the Minister for Justice on having investigated the matter fully. That she subsequently did and, as a result of that investigation, she made a subsequent statement which indicated that there had been an omission on the part of the Garda Síochána on the Irish side.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Any suggestion that I misled the House on this matter is entirely false. I had no information to [1850] that effect at that time because the investigation had not been completed. I said categorically that the Attorney General's office was not responsible in any way for this matter. The questions I was asked on that occasion in the Dáil were about the Attorney General's office, not about any other office.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The wrong question was asked.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The response by the Government press service in regard to this matter was in response to a Sky television programme to the effect that British sources indicated the Attorney General's office was responsible. That speculation emanating from Sky television was dealt with by the Government press secretary.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  He said something very different and the Taoiseach knows that.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I believe that the Government press secretary, acting as he does under instantaneous requirements of the news media, has behaved in this matter, as he acts in all other matters, with the utmost integrity. Not having succeeded in his attempts to impugn my reputation, Deputy McDowell's attempt to spread the muck further and impugn the reputation of an honourable Government press secretary is indicative of the depths to which both Opposition parties have sunk in their attempts to use any issue to raise their flagging profile.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  It is called accountability.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. McCreevy: Information on Charlie McCreevy  Zoom on Charlie McCreevy  I respect you, sir, as Chairman of this House for many years and because of the fairness of your rulings and your fairness in general, despite great pressure at times. I heard the Chair say to Deputy O'Dea that the Taoiseach cannot reply to that matter. [1851] The Taoiseach has now given a one-sided explanation. The Chair is a fairminded person, but the record will show that is what the Chair said. The Taoiseach has been allowed to make a contribution, but Deputy O'Dea was thrown out for making a point. With the utmost respect to the Chair, that is not fair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I appreciate the Deputy's comments and I did say that the Taoiseach might not reply to that. I rather expected that he would not reply to it, but I have ruled on the matter and when I rule on these matters I expect to be obeyed by both sides of the House. I cannot be faulted for that. As it now seems there will be a debate about this matter, I would ask the House to formalise the debate properly.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  There has been no indication of that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Let the Whips have a look at the matter if necessary.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Put down a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Formalise the debate. Do not blame the Chair.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  That is acceptable to us.

A Deputy:  The Taoiseach disagrees with that.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I would be happy to have a debate but I have heard the Taoiseach ask us to put down questions. I tabled a number of question on this issue to the Taoiseach on 17 April and he transferred all of them except one about procedure. When I asked him about a specific case he replied that I was queue jumping by asking about it, even though they were my questions that he had transferred.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I want to be [1852] helpful to the Deputy but I have ruled on the matter.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It has taken us nearly six weeks to get some answers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have ruled on the matter.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Taoiseach is reported at column 877, volume 464, of the Official Report saying: “...would involve an element of queue-jumping.” The Taoiseach did not want to answer that question.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Chair had ruled on the matter — column 876 of the same volume of the Official Report.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  They were my questions and the Taoiseach had transferred them because he did not want to answer them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have ruled on the matter. I must ask now that there be no further reference to it. If there is to be a debate it will have to be formalised among the Whips.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  If the Taoiseach was so certain there was no fault with the Attorney General, he must have known the Attorney General served the original documents and that the fault lay on the Irish side. When did he find out that the fault lay on the Irish side?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Harney, we cannot debate the matter now.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  When? Was it just yesterday?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Harney please desist.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I find it extraordinary the Taoiseach was not aware until yesterday that the fault was on the Irish [1853] side even though he knew on 13 April that the documents——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have ruled.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  In the programme for Government the Government said that all important and sensitive cases, including every extradition case should be brought to the immediate attention of the Attorney General.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am sorry Deputy. I have ruled against debate on the matter.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  A Government fell on this issue.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  A five minute perusal would have told the Attorney General that the papers were in error.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Woods heard me, I am ruling against the Deputy.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  That is part of the programme for Government. The Taoiseach is just trying to dodge the issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If there is nothing else on the Order of Business proper I will proceed to the business of the House in respect to item No. 5.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  It would have taken five minutes with the Attorney General.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  In case the official reporter did not pick it up in the ri-ra that was going on, it is as well to have it on record that the Taoiseach said it was yesterday that he first knew.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I did not, Deputy Harney said that.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Taoiseach said “yes”.

[1854]Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  The Taoiseach nodded.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  When did you find out?

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  When did you know?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Sorry Deputy O'Malley, this is not Question Time——

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  Why did the Taoiseach not answer when he was asked? When did you know, Taoiseach?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy O'Malley, there will be no further reference to it.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  If Deputies Harney and O'Donnell had not put down three series of questions we would still be in the dark and the record would still be wrong and the wrong Taoiseach would be blamed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  If the matter is to be clarified let it be done by way of proper procedure in this House and not now. Deputy O'Malley please desist. I am calling item No. 5.

Mr. O'Malley: Information on Desmond J. O'Malley  Zoom on Desmond J. O'Malley  It is a disgrace that the Government, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice will not stand up and take the political responsibility for what has happened. It is their responsibility. They carry on in this House in a cowardly fashion.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On 24 April I said a definitive answer on this matter containing an attribution of the responsibility would be given by the Minister for Justice——

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  When did the Taoiseach know?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  ——and it was given to the House by the Minister for Justice on 15 May. The administration of the [1855] Garda Síochána is a matter for the Minister for Justice for which she accounts to the Dáil and for which she accounted to the Dáil.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  The Attorney General.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Check out December 1994 for responsibility.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Who was in charge of this case.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  As far as I am concerned, as Taoiseach I account for the procedures in the Attorney General's office. In this instance the Attorney General's office was not involved in what went wrong. The document received by him was not the original.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  November 1994.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  He received a copy and the original was sent to the Garda Síochána — as the Deputy knows the problem arose because the original was lost.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Taoiseach should read his speech of November 1994.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Therefore, the body for which I respond to the Dáil, the Attorney General's office was not in any way responsible for the difficulty.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Who was in charge of the case?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I said that in my answer in the House and I said it truthfully. I further said, equally truthfully, that I was not aware of any other responsibility for the delay on the Irish side.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Formalise the debate.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I said that matter would be definitively dealt with by the Minister for Justice, the responsible [1856] Minister, in a subsequent reply to the Dáil.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  Who was in charge of the court?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  She gave such a subsequent reply on 15 May and the matter was fully answered——

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  She could not answer it.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  ——in accordance with procedures of accountability governing Ministers.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I am not sure if we have started the formal debate but may I suggest——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I have sought desperately this morning to eliminate any prospect of debate now. I have told Members how to proceed.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Put down questions and I will answer them.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  The Ceann Comhairle suggested a formalised debate.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  We want a debate on this matter.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Taoiseach should read the November 1994 speeches.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Ceann Comhairle suggested that we have a formalised debate. The Fianna Fáil Party will accept that so that we can drop the issue for now. Will the Taoiseach agree to a formal debate on this issue?

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I agree to the tabling of parliamentary questions which I will answer in the normal way. I want to make it absolutely clear to the Deputies that I have answered truthfully on this matter. The responsibilities in the area of other Ministers have been discharged truthfully also and the attempts by Deputy Bertie Ahern and his party and [1857] by Deputy Harney and her party to politicise this matter in the way they are doing are without foundation and will be responded to adequately by means of parliamentary questions. There is no need for a special debate and there will not be a special debate.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Is it a case that we did not ask the right questions?

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  The Taoiseach has now confirmed to us that the original documents were not passed to the Attorney General but that was the whole point in the last issue and that was the point in the six months and 12 month reports that were done in the Office of the Attorney General, that every extradition matter had to be seen and the documents must be observed and checked by the Attorney General. The Taoiseach is now telling us the originals were not checked. It is no wonder the Taoiseach did not want a debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I am calling item No. 5.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  He was supplied in accordance with the normal procedure with a photocopy of the original document.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  A formal debate.

The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The original document was sent as usual, to the Garda Síochána. The purpose of the Attorney General examining the matter is to examine the content of the document. He did that adequately on the basis of the photocopy.

A Deputy:  The Taoiseach is wrong and should have known that.

Mr. S. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  He should have seen the original.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke  Zoom on Ray Burke  The Taoiseach messed up. It was wrong that the Attorney General did not see the original.

[1858]The Taoiseach: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The difficulty arose because in the court proceedings it was necessary to produce the original document. Unfortunately, it would appear that the original was mislaid in the Garda Síochána as was indicated by the Minister for Justice.

Dr. Woods: Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  The Tánaiste told us on 16 November 1994 this was the key issue throughout this entire episode.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I call on the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment to move item No. 5.


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