Order of Business.

Tuesday, 11 May 1999

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 504 No. 4

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. 3, Twentieth Amendment of the Constitution (No. 2) Bill, 1999 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 31, the Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Bill, 1999 [Seanad] – Committee and Remaining Stages.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Second Stage of No. 3 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 6.30 p.m.; and Private Members' business shall be No. 54, Local Government (Planning and Development)(Amendment) Bill, 1999 – Second Stage and the proceedings on the Second Stage thereof, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday 12 May.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 3 agreed?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  In respect of that proposal, is it the Taoiseach's intention, some time today, to avail of Standing Orders to make a personal statement to clarify the record in respect of the matter I raised under Standing Order 31?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  With respect, Sir, it would enable the Taoiseach to indicate his intentions with respect to this matter. There is a clear conflict between what the Tánaiste said last Friday and what the Taoiseach said on 28 May to the House. Previously, when such a contradiction was brought to the attention of any Member of the House it was considered reasonable and proper to give the Member concerned an opportunity to clarify the record. Since in this instance the matter relates to the Taoiseach, who is ordering business and asking us to agree to a specific Order, before we agree to the Order of Business, will he indicate to the House if he intends to avail of the opportunity to set the record straight?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I see no contradiction. This is clear if one reads the full section and all the comments I made. I am sure these matters will be considered by the tribunal which is examining them.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I cannot accept that. We have read the full section.

[641]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We will not have a discussion on that matter. I am putting the proposal for dealing with Item 3.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On a point of order, is the Taoiseach aware that a Fianna Fáil Minister is quoted as saying these matters are not among those to be considered by the tribunal?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not a point of order.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is a time honoured provision of this House—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on this matter. I now put the proposal for dealing with Item 3.

[642]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  This matter led to the resignation—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I now put the question.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Taoiseach should avail of the opportunity—

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  You cannot foreclose the debate, Sir.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This discussion has nothing to do with the proposal before the House.

The question is: “That the proposal for dealing with Item 3 be agreed.”

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, David.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Briscoe, Ben.
Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cowen, Brian.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Foley, Denis.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McGennis, Marian.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moffatt, Thomas.
Molloy, Robert.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
Power, Seán.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Treacy, Noel.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Walsh, Joe.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Allen, Bernard.
Barnes, Monica.
Barrett, Seán.
Belton, Louis.
Boylan, Andrew.
Broughan, Thomas.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Liam.
Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.
Clune, Deirdre.
Connaughton, Paul.
Cosgrave, Michael.
Coveney, Simon.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
Currie, Austin.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Deasy, Austin.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Farrelly, John.
Finucane, Michael.
Fitzgerald, Frances.
Gilmore, Éamon. Gormley, John.[643]

Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael.
Hogan, Philip.
Howlin, Brendan.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Jim.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Naughten, Denis.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
[644] O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Owen, Nora.
Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Spring, Dick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Wall, Jack.
Yates, Ivan.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 54 agreed? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The House is facing an unsatisfactory situation in that on the face of the Official Report and the tribunal record there is a contradiction between what the Taoiseach told the Dáil on 28 May 1998 and what the Tánaiste told the tribunal last week. I understand the Taoiseach is saying that the Official Report does not accurately reflect what he meant—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on this matter.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  If the Taoiseach believes he was not accurately reported in column 1013 of the Official Report of 28 May 1998—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on this matter.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On a point of order, I seek your guidance as guardian of the Official Report. What course is open to the Taoiseach, if he is not able to make a personal statement about this matter, to indicate whether he was accurately reported in the Official Report of 28 May 1998?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On a point of order, what is the orderly way of resolving this contradiction?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest that the Deputy call to the office of the Ceann Comhairle and the matter will be discussed with him.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the Leas-Cheann Comhairle indicating that he will discuss the matter with the Ceann Comhairle on the House's behalf?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No, I am suggesting that if the Deputy has a difficulty that he call to the Ceann Comhairle's office.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I am not the only person who has a difficulty; on the face of the Official Report there is a clear contradiction.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There has been a reference to evidence given at the tribunal. For the benefit of Members, the relevance of evidence before a judicial tribunal of inquiry is not a matter for the Order of Business. The Dáil should not attempt to have a parallel tribunal on these matters.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is in every newspaper in the country.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It should be borne in mind that the tribunal was established by a resolution of this House and it does not give the House a right to attempt to interfere in any way with its proceedings. The resolution of this House establishing the tribunal was in pursuant of statute, the Tribunal of Inquiry Acts, 1920 to 1998, where the judicial proceedings, including evidence and the conduct of hearings held thereunder, are clearly the sole responsibility of its judicial chairman.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I agree with all that but I wish to ask how the House can regulate the accuracy of its records given that there is a contradiction here in relation to what the Taoiseach said.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not a matter for the Order of Business. Are there any other matters arising from the Order of Business?

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I respectfully suggest you try to find—

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Much effort goes into the operation of this House to ensure what is said on the record is accurately reported. I have brought to the attention of the public and the Taoiseach the fact there is a clear contradiction between what he said on 28 May and what was said by the Tánaiste last Friday. When such a contradiction occurs elsewhere, it is normal practice for the person to whose attention the contradiction has been drawn to come into the House to seek to clarify it. All [645] the Taoiseach has said so far is that a full reading of the text would not give one the impression that there is a contradiction, and that was said on his behalf last night. That is simply not the case.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On the inaccuracies in the Dáil report, it is a long standing tradition that the Official Report, although not strictly verbatim, is substantially the verbatim report with repetitions and redundancies omitted and obvious mistakes corrected but which, on the other hand, leaves out nothing which—

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Who writes those notes for the Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  —adds to the meaning of the speech or illustrates the argument.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  There are no interruptions or repetition here.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy to resume his seat while the Chair reads a note.

In this sense, the Official Report is intended to be a full report of the proceedings in the House. As Members are aware, the Official Report of the Dáil is published as unrevised and Deputies have up to 14 days after publication to bring corrections to the notice of the Editor of Debates who is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the report.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  That is precisely the task I am now performing. I am bringing to the attention of the Taoiseach the apparent inaccuracy in the record compared to what was said.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I remind the House that the last time a Progressive Democrats Tánaiste disagreed with a Fianna Fáil Taoiseach it led to the disruption of Government.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not a matter for the Order of Business and I have already ruled on the matter. I call Deputy Joe Higgins. Will he raise something appropriate to the Order of Business?

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): I wish to raise a different matter regarding legislation. In view of the alarming statement by a building society chief that house prices will rise into the next millennium and the clear failure of legislation, to date, to end the suffering caused by the housing crisis, will any amending legislation be brought before the Dáil to curb the onward rise in house prices and to end speculation—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not appropriate to ask about legislation unless it has been promised.

[646]Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): On the OECD's demand that a home tax be imposed and that mortgage interest relief be removed, does this reflect any legislative intent on the part of this Government or does that demand come in any way from it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  No legislation is proposed. This report by the OECD has not been the subject of any discussion or consideration at this stage.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Jim Higgins  Zoom on Jim Higgins   (Mayo): On promised legislation, as the House will know the most unspeakable barbarities, including ethnic cleansing, genocide and rape, have occurred in Kosovo. On 17 July last Ireland attended the international diplomatic conference in Rome under the aegis of the United Nations. On 7 October Ireland signed the statute to establish the international criminal court, yet eight months later, we still have not moved to introduce the necessary legislation to ratify it. When may we expect the legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  As I stated before, an interdepartmental group is looking at this matter which raises constitutional issues. The group has not reported yet.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  When will the Broadcasting Bill be introduced? Will it be enacted before any concessions are made to broad band operators?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill will be published shortly – within the next week or so.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  Does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation to change the hours of work Bill which will affect the work of junior doctors in hospitals? As he will know, they are disputing what the Government plans to do. Will the Taoiseach use his renowned skills to intervene in the scaffolding strike which is bringing many of the building sites around the city and country to a halt and is preventing investment?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mrs. Owen: Information on Nora Owen  Zoom on Nora Owen  The Taoiseach may want to take an interest in this matter because the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, does not seem to be able to solve the problem.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On the contradictory statements made yesterday—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I have already ruled on that matter.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  What matter?

[647]

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is there anything the Deputy would like to ask which is appropriate to the Order of Business?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I was going to ask about refugees.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That is no way to refer to the Progressive Democrats.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I will restart my preamble. As regards one of the contradictory statements yesterday by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, how many refugees from Kosovo will this country accommodate? I wish to refer to a related matter – asylum seekers and the long promised legislation to allow work permits to be given to them. Is there agreement in Government on that matter and when will see that proposal?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not know why Deputy Howlin believes there is disagreement because there is none.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I refer to two statements – one by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, made yesterday in Kerry and another by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy O'Donnell, yesterday on Today FM. I will put them on the record for the Taoiseach if he wishes.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Taoiseach might like to hear the tone.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Government has, at this stage, agreed to accept 1,000 refugees who will come to this country in the next few weeks. Arrangements are being made by the Minister and the agencies to make sure they are catered for adequately and properly with interpretation facilities and so on. When that is done, if there are more requests and if we have locations, about which we are at all times taking soundings, we will go further. At this stage, our priority is to make sure we can cater for those who are on the way, and that is what we have been doing for the past number of weeks.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  What about legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  No legislation is proposed at this stage.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Is it still on the agenda?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Yes.

Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  When we were in Government there were demands from the Opposition benches almost weekly for the introduction of an adoption contact register but two years later, what has happened to it? I notice Deputy McGennis has been very quiet. Did she swallow her tongue in the past two years?

[648]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  To address the information rights, search and reunion services for those formally and informally adopted, the heads of a Bill are in preparation in the Department and it is expected that they will be submitted in the autumn of this year.

Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  The autumn of this year, so we will have it this century.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Like others, I wish to ask about unspeakable barbarities, those perpetrated against children in our country – I know this matter will be debated on Thursday. On related promised legislation, will the mental health Bill be taken soon, as proposed, as well as the human rights commission Bill, so that we will have the opportunity to prevent programmes coming to light in ten or 15 years time about the present situation? Will the OECD report be debated in the House in light of the serious warning bells it sounds for Ireland?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The OECD report may be discussed if arrangements are made. The mental health Bill and the human rights commission Bill will be taken this session.

Ms Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Is it the intention of the Government to introduce legislation to amend the parental leave legislation which was introduced some time ago and which has been found to be in breach of EU law?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not in order to ask about legislation which is not promised.

Ms Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  I thought it was appropriate. The legislation passed by the Oireachtas has been found to be in breach of EU law.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is the subject of discussion between the Department and the Commission.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Earlier Deputy Jim Higgins raised the International Criminal Court. Why were the constitutional difficulties which have arisen not identified during the negotiations before Ireland signed the necessary documents? If they had been identified at that stage we would not find ourselves in a position of bad faith by virtue of not implementing something we signed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes  Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  It is not appropriate at all.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It has not been ratified.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the Taoiseach aware that the court cannot come into existence until 60 countries ratify it and that these lately discovered constitutional difficulties—

[649]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on the matter.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  —are preventing war criminals from being dealt with?


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