Request to move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 31.

Thursday, 25 March 1999

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 502 No. 5

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Before coming to the Order of Business, I propose to deal with a number of related notices of motion under Standing Order 31 from Deputies Quinn and De Rossa and Deputy Joe Higgins. I propose to call on the Deputies in the order in which they submitted their notices to my office. I call first on Deputy De Rossa to state the matter of which he has given notice to me.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  I request leave to move the adjournment of the Dáil to discuss the following specific matter of public interest: the decision by NATO to launch a series of air and missile attacks on targets in Serbia and Kosovo; and the need for the Government to urge a suspension of the attacks and for renewed efforts, through political and diplomatic means, to secure a peaceful settlement to the crisis in Kosovo. I hope in view of the seriousness of the matter, A Cheann Comhairle, that you will grant the request.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): I seek leave to have the Dáil adjourned to discuss the following matter of extreme public importance: the position which the State should adopt regarding the bombing of Serbia by NATO forces; the political consequences of the bombing for the people of the Balkans and the rest of Europe; and the extreme danger of loss of life of innocent civilians.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Having considered the matters fully, I do not consider them to be contemplated by Standing Order 31. Therefore, I cannot grant leave to move the motions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  This is the first time that a war has been declared in Europe since 1945. It seems extraordinary that this House cannot even discuss the matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The House had over an hour's discussion yesterday afternoon and I will [1118] allow brief comments from either the party leaders or the foreign affairs spokespersons on the Order of Business in view of the seriousness of the matter.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I share the view expressed by Deputy Quinn. The Government would be prepared to provide time to have statements on this matter and perhaps the Whips could discuss that. Perhaps we could sit later to facilitate it.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  We will take up the offer of the Ceann Comhairle.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  I suggest that it may be worthwhile considering deferring the statements on genetically modified organisms today and replacing them with statements on this issue.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  On a point of order—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I want to make it quite clear that on the Order of Business it will be a contribution from either a party leader or alternatively a spokesperson on foreign affairs. We could not have a prolonged discussion on the Order of Business. It would be brief. Is that acceptable?

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is quite acceptable.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I welcome the attitude being taken by you, a Cheann Comhairle, and by the Tánaiste and others to try to facilitate a debate. However, statements confined to the party leaders or spokespersons on foreign affairs might not meet the genuine interest of those in this House who are opposed to the indiscriminate and unauthorised actions of NATO and their consequences.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Chair is trying to facilitate the House. Obviously we cannot have a long discussion on the Order of Business, but the Tánaiste has offered to allow time later today for fuller statements.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  My point is that it should be a matter for the Whips to decide on the length of the debate. I am not interested in disrupting the Order of Business – the matter is too serious. Equally, it is too serious to be confined to short set pieces. That would be unacceptable to me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Does the Tánaiste wish to comment?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am in your hands. Obviously, you can allow Private Notice Questions, as you did yesterday. The Government is prepared to facilitate statements in the House in whatever way possible. The Whips can discuss this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  How soon would you have the statements?

[1119]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That is a matter we need to discuss between the Whips. In fairness, people are not ready to discuss the matter in any great detail now.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I thank the Tánaiste for the offer. As far as the Labour Party is concerned, given the logistics the matter should be discussed by the Whips. We should try to accommodate the scheduled business for today and perhaps consider extending the sitting this evening.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  As this matter is urgent, I would prefer that we deal with it now.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The suggestion made by Deputy Quinn is acceptable. It is the one which makes the best sense under the circumstances.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): The statements on Telecom Éireann will conclude at approximately 11.30 a.m. and between then and 1.30 p.m. the Sea Pollution (Amendment) Bill, 1998, will be debated. I suggest that is the time to take statements on the war in the Balkans. That means statements on the genetic modification of food can also take place.

Mr. Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Who is in charge?

Mr. Belton: Information on Louis J. Belton  Zoom on Louis J. Belton  Is anyone in charge here?

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It would not want to be the Deputy.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Because we have not come to the Order of Business I find myself in an awkward position. It is not impossible. Everybody is trying to be helpful. In my view, we should have a debate today. The most satisfactory way to deal with the matter is for the Whips to meet after the Order of Business and to agree the schedule of that debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Whips will meet immediately after the conclusion of the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I do not agree. This matter is extremely urgent and the House should express its view on it. We should not wait and I will be surprised if the Tánaiste will not be able to express the Government's view on this matter this morning and is not ready to do so now. It is not appropriate to wait until this afternoon to debate this matter. The Opposition is ready to debate it now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I propose we proceed to the Order of Business and allow the Whips to meet immediately afterwards.


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