Dáil Éireann

19/May/1999

Prelude

Order of Business.

Health (Eastern Regional Health Authority) Bill, 1998: Report and Final Stages.

Ceisteanna–Questions. - Official Engagements.

Ceisteanna–Questions. - Civic Honours List.

Ceisteanna–Questions. - Office of the Attorney General.

Ceisteanna–Questions. - Millennium Projects.

Ceisteanna–Questions. - Committee on Social Inclusion and Drugs.

Priority Questions. - Employee Shareholding Schemes.

Priority Questions. - Aer Rianta Report.

Priority Questions. - Public Private Partnerships.

Priority Questions. - Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities.

Other Questions. - EU Directives.

Other Questions. - Fares Increases.

Other Questions. - Duty Free Sales.

Other Questions. - Case Against BNFL.

Other Questions. - Aer Rianta Report.

Other Questions. - Sustainable Energy.

Adjournment Debate Matters.

Message from Select Committee.

National Disability Authority Bill, 1998 [ Seanad ] : Report and Final Stages.

Private Members' Business. Great Southern Hotel Group: Motion (Resumed).

Industrial Schools: Statements (Resumed).

Message from Seanad.

Messages from Select Committees.

Adjournment Debate. - School Accommodation.

Adjournment Debate. - Veterinary Inspectors.

Adjournment Debate. - Vaccination Programme.

Adjournment Debate. - Roads Projects.

Written Answers. - BNFL Plant.

Written Answers. - Nuclear Electricity Industry.

Written Answers. - BNFL Plant.

Written Answers. - Light Rail Project.

Written Answers. - Airport Charges.

Written Answers. - Light Rail Project.

Written Answers. - Rail Services.

Written Answers. - Aer Lingus Staff.

Written Answers. - Post Office Network.

Written Answers. - Telecommunications Services.

Written Answers. - Television Deflector Systems.

Written Answers. - Aer Lingus Services.

Written Answers. - Natural Gas Grid.

Written Answers. - Nuclear Safety.

Written Answers. - Independent Reviews.

Written Answers. - Electricity Generation.

Written Answers. - Privatisation of Public Enterprises.

Written Answers. - Regional Airports.

Written Answers. - Light Rail Project.

Written Answers. - Radiation Protection Standards.

Written Answers. - Postal Service.

Written Answers. - Baldonnel Aerodrome.

Written Answers. - Public Transport.

Written Answers. - Departmental Meetings.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Petrol Retail Outlets.

Written Answers. - Community Employment Schemes.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Foreshore Licences.

Written Answers. - Salmon Conservation.

Written Answers. - Seafish Landings.

Written Answers. - Afforestation Programme.

Written Answers. - Inland Fisheries.

Written Answers. - Fisheries Programme.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Human Rights Abuses.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Legislative Programme.

Written Answers. - Nuclear Safety.

Written Answers. - Marine Accidents.

Written Answers. - Employee Shareholding Schemes.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - European Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Telecommunications Investment.

Written Answers. - Rail Network.

Written Answers. - Public Transport Funding.

Written Answers. - Pension Entitlements.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Legislative Programme.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Dairy Hygiene Scheme.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - Tax Clearance Certificate.

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Legislative Programme.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Disabled Drivers Scheme.

Written Answers. - Motor Taxation.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Redundancy Package.

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Written Answers. - Hospital Funding.

Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Written Answers. - Birth Registration.

Written Answers. - Mental Handicap Services.

Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.

Written Answers. - Special Educational Needs.

Written Answers. - Gender Identity Disorder.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Directives.

Written Answers. - Commencement Orders.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Hospital Services.

Written Answers. - Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Written Answers. - Local Developments.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - European Directives.

Written Answers. - Commencement Orders.

Written Answers. - Legislative Proposals.

Written Answers. - Motor Taxation.

Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - European Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Teilifís na Gaeilge.

Written Answers. - State Property.

Written Answers. - Roads Funding.

Written Answers. - Cemetery Repairs.

Written Answers. - National Monuments.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Garda Stations.

Written Answers. - Traffic Wardens.

Written Answers. - Prison Facilities.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EU Directives.

Written Answers. - Implementation of Acts.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Dublin Convention.

Written Answers. - Immigration Procedures.

Written Answers. - Traffic Wardens.

Written Answers. - Redundancy Package.

Written Answers. - Sports Capital Programme.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - EC Directives.

Written Answers. - Proposed Legislation.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Written Answers. - Schools Funding.

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Written Answers. - Student Support Schemes.

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Written Answers. - School Accommodation.

Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants Scheme.

Written Answers. - Child Abuse.

Written Answers. - School Accommodation.

Written Answers. - Third Level Fees.

Written Answers. - International Multilateral Agreements.

Written Answers. - Legislative Programme.

Written Answers. - Statutory Instruments.

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

[1] Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 10.30 a.m.

The Taoiseach:  It is proposed to take No. 28, Health (Eastern Regional Health Authority) Bill, 1998, Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 29, National Disability Authority Bill, 1998, Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 30, Solicitors (Amendment) Bill, 1998, Second Stage (resumed); No. 1, Qualifications (Education and Training) Bill, 1999, Second Stage (resumed); and No. 31, statements on Industrial Schools (resumed), to be taken not later than 8.30 p.m. and the order shall not resume thereafter. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m. tonight. Private Members' Business shall be No. 70, motion re proposal to dispose of Great Southern Hotel Group (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle:  There is one proposal to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed.

[2]

Mr. J. Bruton:  Will time be provided to debate the future of post offices? The Government appears to be divided and in difficulty on the interpretation of EU law as it applies to the social welfare contract administered through rural post offices

Mr. Yates:  It is a social service. The Government will not be happy until they are closed.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Does Fine Gael remember its decision?

Mr. Byrne:  Fine Gael closed ESB offices.

The Taoiseach:  That matter is under consideration. Deputy Bruton will remember what his Government did on this issue.

Mr. J. Bruton:  We kept the post offices open.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Wait until the Deputy reads what he decided.

Mr. J. Bruton:  The directive in question was agreed to by a Fianna Fáil-led Government and [3] the current issue is being considered by a Fianna Fáil-led Government. Will time be provided to debate the future of rural post offices, in view of the need to provide services to people who do not have private cars to take them to other sources of cash dispensing?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Absolutely.

Mr. M. Smith:  Anytime the Deputy wants.

Mr. Yates:  The Government is running away from a debate.

The Taoiseach:  As Taoiseach in a Government consisting of two parties totally committed to rural Ireland—

Mr. Yates:  Another soundbite.

The Taoiseach:  —I have fought to hold Objective One status, regionalise it and protect it, and I will continue to do so.

An Ceann Comhairle:  There are ways of raising this matter, we cannot discuss it further.

Mr. Yates:  Will there be a debate?

Mr. J. Bruton:  I will put my question a third time and perhaps this time I will get an answer. Will the House have an opportunity to debate this matter? The Minister for Public Enterprise has indicated she wants a debate.

The Taoiseach:  The Government is always anxious to debate anything connected to the protection and livelihood of rural Ireland.

Mr. Sheehan:  It will not matter after 11 June.

Mr. Quinn:  If, as reports indicate, the Government has referred this matter to the Attorney General for a legal interpretation, and assuming he is not driven by some form of market madness which suggests that a rural post office is a financial and not a social service, will legislation be necessary to put such a contract out for public tender?

The Taoiseach:  I do not believe legislation is required. The Attorney General is examining the EU Directive relating to this matter. We must examine what happened and the legal advice obtained on this matter at that time.

Mr. Quinn:  Do I take it the future of the rural post office system will depend on a legal interpretation of whether it is a financial or a social service, and the rest of us are powerless?

Mr. Yates:  There is no other network like it.

[4]

The Taoiseach:  Previously the issue was kicked to touch in a clumsy way. The Deputy can take it that it will be properly dealt with this time.

Mr. Yates:  The Taoiseach will not be happy until they are closed; he wants to save money.

Mr. Quinn:  The Taoiseach should answer the question.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Does the Taoiseach agree it is a poor sign of a Government if it has to hide behind its Attorney General?

Mr. Quinn:  On a separate matter, which the Taoiseach will not want to kick to touch, this House will have to enact legislation before 3 June to extend the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. To avoid a last minute debate such as we had on the constitutional amendment Bill to recognise the role of local government, will the Taoiseach indicate when the legislation will be published? Will the normal convention of two weeks be observed to give Opposition parties time to study the Bill? Will the legislation contain a specific date?

The Taoiseach:  A fortnight ago I undertook that my office would brief the party leaders on this matter and I understand that has happened. The legislation is to be published shortly. I understood it was scheduled for next week. It will contain a date.

Mr. J. Bruton:  How long will the extension be for?

The Taoiseach:  Twelve months.

Mr. Kenny:  For the fifteenth time of asking, when is the broadcasting Bill likely to be published? I am aware the Taoiseach is an enthusiastic GAA supporter but is he likely to attend the match in which Deputy Rabbitte will feature for Mayo at the weekend?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The first question is relevant; the second is not.

The Taoiseach:  The proof reading of the broadcasting Bill is under way at present. I hope it will be published next week.

Mr. Currie:  Will the emergency services be on standby at the weekend?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  That is unkind.

Ms McManus:  Three months ago, haemophiliacs who contracted HIV from blood products were promised a tribunal of inquiry. So far there has been no sign of a motion being introduced to establish such a tribunal even though it was indicated that the tribunal would be up and running by early summer. Given the grave concern expressed by the representatives of haemo[5] philiacs and their families, what is the situation regarding the tribunal? When will the motion be introduced so Members will have an opportunity to support a worthy venture and ensure the tribunal is up and running when it should be?

An Ceann Comhairle:  There is no legislation promised in that regard.

Ms McManus:  I seek the Chair's indulgence on this important issue. It is heartbreaking for those concerned that they are now in limbo because promises have not been fulfilled.

An Ceann Comhairle:  There are other ways of raising the matter.

Ms McManus:  Can I ask the Taoiseach—

An Ceann Comhairle:  When there is no legislation involved it is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Ms McManus:  I ask the Taoiseach to give the House a reply.

Mr. J. Bruton:  On a point of order, is it not the case that the issue raised by Deputy McManus would require a motion to be brought before the House? It is appropriate to inquire about the timing of such a motion so Deputy McManus' question is in order.

Mrs. Owen:  The organisation is very upset about this matter.

The Taoiseach:  The Minister for Health and Children is dealing with this issue. I will ask him to contact the Deputy about it.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  Given the worrying light in which the appointment and promotion of judges have been cast by recent events, is the Government considering legislation to change the methods of appointing and promoting judges?

The Taoiseach:  Not at present.

Mr. Sargent:  When will the Irish energy centre Bill be published? A recent OECD report severely criticised the Government for not putting a brake on the runaway consumption of energy here. If the date for the introduction of that Bill were brought forward, we could start dealing with the issue.

The Taoiseach:  The heads of the Bill are being prepared in the Department with a view to making a submission to Government in July for drafting authority.

Mr. Deenihan:  When will the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill and the greyhound industry Bill be introduced?

[6]The Taoiseach:  Later this year. The heads of the Ombudsman Bill were approved by the Government last January so it should be introduced in the autumn.

Mr. Deenihan:  What about the greyhound industry Bill?

The Taoiseach:  It is still running.

Mr. Sheehan:  When will the Government introduce legislation to give the Irish Naval Service powers of intervention which would enable them to investigate serious incidents, such as the sinking of the Oiléann Cléire fishing trawler 70 miles off Loop Head by the French trawler Rohellan last Saturday evening? Can the Taoiseach also explain why the Government did not ratify the 1982 law of the sea convention which would enable the Irish authorities—

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy was permitted to raise this matter on the Adjournment—

Mrs. Owen:  He got no answers.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy should not raise it now. I ask the Taoiseach to reply to the question concerning promised legislation.

Mr. Sheehan:  I want an answer.

Mr. J. Bruton:  This is not a laughing matter.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Deputy Sheehan should resume his seat. He was given the opportunity to discuss the incident last night.

Dr. Woods:  It was very well handled. The Frenchmen saved the Irish in the first place.

Mr. Sheehan:  Will the Taoiseach say when legislation will be introduced to rectify this serious situation?

The Taoiseach:  The matter was dealt with by the Minister last night and what he said then applies. The convention was ratified. There is no legislation pending but the Minister is examining the matter to see if there is any way around some of the issues involved. These are international waters.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I call Deputy Joe Higgins.

Mr. Sheehan:  When will the Government ratify the law of the sea convention? The Taoiseach is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Dr. Woods:  The convention has been ratified.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy must resume his seat. I call Deputy Higgins.

Mr. Higgins:   (Dublin West): The Bill dealing with disabilities has been described as legislation [7] to set out the rights of persons with a disability together with means of redress for those whose rights are denied. Is this Bill being prioritised? The disabled had to take to the streets of Dublin yesterday to highlight the fact that only nine buses can be accessed by them without crawling on their hands and knees—

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy can pursue the matter in the context of item No. 29 on today's Order Paper.

Mr. Higgins:  (Dublin West): The Taoiseach should make a comment since hundreds of people with disabilities turned out yesterday to protest.

The Taoiseach:  Item No. 29, the National Disability Authority Bill, is before the House today. Work on the other Bill will proceed as soon as the National Disability Authority Bill is dealt with.

Mr. Higgins:  (Mayo): In the past year the Opposition introduced three Private Members' Bills to deal with the enforcement of court orders, the liquor licensing laws and the need to regulate and legislate for the private security industry. The Government rejected the three Bills on the basis that it was preparing its own legislation. However, the attachment of earnings Bill, the intoxicating liquor Bill and the private security Bill are not on the priority list. To use the Taoiseach's term, what is the story?

The Taoiseach:  These matters are being dealt with and are listed. Only a certain number can be brought forward. Work on the attachment of earnings Bill is at a preliminary stage of examination in the Department. There is ongoing consultation with the new Courts Service relating to it in the context of the technology programme that is under way. I do not have a date for the Bill being ready. The intoxicating liquor proposals are before Government.

Mr. Higgins:   (Mayo): What about the private security industry Bill?

The Taoiseach:  Work is proceeding on it although I do not have a date for it. The legislative recommendations of the consultative group on the private security industry are being addressed within the Department.

Mr. Quinn:  In view of the revelations that many of the unfortunate young people who went through our industrial schools are now likely to be in prison or are frequent visitors to prisons—

An Ceann Comhairle:  There is a continuing debate in the House on this issue.

Mr. Quinn:  I am aware of that, but there is also promised legislation, the Prison Services Bill. Is [8] there a sense of urgency about bringing forward this legislation?

The Taoiseach:  Work is proceeding and I am told the Bill will be ready in the autumn.

Mr. Crawford:  Does the Taoiseach remember and can he give the House an update on the promise he made two years ago that he would reopen the live cattle trade to Libya and the beef trade to Iran?

An Ceann Comhairle:  That is more appropriate for a parliamentary question. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Crawford:  It is very appropriate to the farmers of this country.

Mr. M. Higgins:  What is the current position of the Vocational Education (Amendment) Bill? Caidé fosta faoi Bhille na Gaeilge? Gheall an Aire Stáit an Bille seo bliain ó shin ag cruinniú den choiste. Tá an chosúlacht ar an scéal nach bhfuil sé i gcló fiú agus nach mbeidh sé againn an bhliain seo. An féidir leis an Taoiseach a rá linn cathain a mbeidh an Vocational Education Bill réidh?

A number of Bills that have been promised will affect the Gaeltacht, the Irish language community Bill, Bille na Gaelige and the unusual housing Gaeltacht (amendment) Bill, which was promised nearly a year ago.

The Taoiseach:  The heads of the vocational education Bill are being prepared in the Department and I expect it to be circulated this month, but it will be some time before it will be ready. Bille na Gaelige will not be circulated until early next year and the housing Gaeltacht (amendment) Bill will be ready later this year.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  For many months and again this morning the Taoiseach has cited the National Disability Authority Bill as the reason a disability Bill has not yet been published. As Report and Final Stages of the National Disability Authority Bill will be before the House today, can he indicate a timeframe for when a disability Bill will be published?

The Taoiseach:  The Deputy is correct. That is what I stated. The same people will work on the two Bills. As soon as the National Disability Authority Bill is completed they will move as quickly as possible to work on a disability Bill.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I raised earlier the question of the appointment and promotion of judges. The Taoiseach said there is no plan to reform the law in this area. The courts Bill is no. 36 on Government's agenda. Does the Taoiseach agree what has been revealed about lobbying for the promotion and appointment of judges constitutes an incursion into the independence of the Judiciary and it is time the law in this area was changed? If [9] a courts Bill will deal with this issue, will he ensure it contains a provision to ensure that either known or unknown lobbying will not be possible on behalf of potential appointees?

The Taoiseach:  The courts Bill is being prepared. A working group on the qualification and appointment of judges is considering those matters. The system introduced under the previous Administration by the then Minister, Deputy Owen, brought forward proposals, which are only three years old. Those proposals that being operated for judicial appointments.

Mr. J. Mitchell:  I wish to ask a supplementary question.

An Ceann Comhairle:  We cannot debate this matter now. That concludes the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Amendment Nos. 1 and 2 are consequential on amendment No. 5. Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 5 can be taken together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Shatter:  I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

“‘the Act of 1991' means the Child Care Act, 1991;”.

This amendment seeks to amend the definition section by referring to the Child Care Act, 1991. Amendment No. 2 seeks to insert in the Bill the words “'The Acts of 1952 to 1997' means the Adoption Acts, 1952 to 1997;”. In the context of the obligations of the eastern regional health authority, amendment No. 5 seeks to insert in the legislation that one of its obligations is “to ensure the provision of child care and adoption services within each Area Health Board pursuant to the Act of 1991 and the Acts of 1952 to 1997”.

I will explain the purpose of the proposed amendments. The existing legislation does not contain explicit reference to the Child Care Act, 1991. That legislation requires each health board, including the Eastern Health Board, to provide protection for the welfare of children. It is also concerned with ensuring that where children are at risk appropriate action is taken and such action would include bringing court proceedings.

I drew to the Minister's attention on Committee Stage a concern I had to ensure that legal difficulties could not arise in the future in the context of the legal obligations and the legal powers of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the individual health authorities when it comes to their operating under the provisions of the Child Care Act, 1991.

[10] Paragraph (b), as detailed in amendment No. 5, seeks to ensure the provision of child care and adoption services within each area health board pursuant to the 1991 Act in the context of adoption services and pursuant to the Adoption Acts. I drew to the Minister's attention the fact that the Health Act 1970 was silent on this area and did not deal adequately with it. In a court case in 1988 we discovered the courts determined that as a consequence all the powers we believed could be exercised at that time by health boards, as conferred by the Children Act, 1908, to provide protection for children were found not to extend to health boards in the manner envisaged.

In the context of our child protection laws, which have been much in the spotlight in recent days, this amendment is designed to ensure there is not a lacuna in this legislation. The Minister said he would examine this issue further. I am anxious to ensure that there is no uncertainty in this regard. The Department of Health and Children might consider that an amendment of this nature is not essential, but if an amendment of this nature is not made there is a likelihood that the capacity of the individual health authorities to properly operate that legislation will end up being an issue that would be litigated in the High Court and the Supreme Court. If that issue were litigated, it may throw into uncertainty many existing child care orders and create a position whereby, for some months while such court case is pending, a health board feels paralysed in regard to taking steps it believes may be required in the interests of children's welfare. That is the thinking behind this proposal.

I draw to the Minister's attention that we know there are hundreds of cases of alleged child abuse reported to the Eastern Health Board that remain uninvestigated. This has been the position for some time. As of today, how many such cases remain uninvestigated? Are we still talking about many hundreds? Are there cases where reports of child abuse were made to the health board more than three or six months ago where to date the health board, due to the lack of resources or personnel, has not been able to undertake any family assessments or check into the position of individual children in respect of whom it has received reports that they may be at risk? I want an assurance from the Minister that in dealing with this issue the area health boards will have the capacity to respond speedily to reports of child abuse. Will the Minister indicate how the outstanding cases that require investigation or the cases that are currently the subject of assessment will be dealt with following the creation of the eastern regional health authority? Where will child care services be based? Will child care services be based in one area health board and service all three area health boards or will they to be split between the area health boards? What can he tell us about the continuity of assessment in the context of the personnel involved in this area? To what degree has that been thought out?

[11] As regards adoption, each health board in the State, including the Eastern Health Board, has a function in the undertaking of assessments for both domestic and foreign adoptions. The Minister is well aware that there is widespread concern about the manner in which the Eastern Health Board is undertaking assessments of couples seeking to adopt abroad who need declarations of suitability. Has the Department received the independent report commissioned to investigate the manner in which the health board has been dealing with adoption assessments? If it has, when will it be published? If the Minister has the report, will he lay it before the House this week? If it is in his possession and it has not been laid before the House, why not?

There are widespread reports in the media, which could only have been leaked from limited sources, that this report is very critical of aspects of the approach of the Eastern Health Board to the assessment of couples for foreign adoption and that it recommends the adoption of a uniform approach by all health boards, which should have been in place a considerable time ago. Changes are recommended to the approach which up to now has been taken by the Eastern Health Board. Will the Minister tell the House what is happening? I am aware of a number of couples who have sought Eastern Health Board assessment for foreign adoptions and experienced a great deal of distress as a consequence of the manner in which they have been treated and their perception of the health board's attitude to adopting outside the State.

Will the Minister clarify what will happen to adoption services following the creation of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the splitting up of the Eastern Health Board into the three area health boards? Will one area health board have responsibility for the adoption service of all three health boards or will services be separately run in each area health board? How is it proposed to deal with the backlog of couples awaiting assessment when the new area health boards are put in place and what will happen as regards the continuity of assessments?

These issues are of great relevance to the lives of children in need of care, children whose parents are experiencing difficulties looking after them and couples who hope to adopt. They arise under the Child Care Act, 1991, and the Adoption Acts of 1952 to 1997 and require more clarification than we have received to date during the passage of this Bill. I ask the Minister to constructively consider my amendments and to take them on board.

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  These amendments require the authority to fulfil its obligations under the Child Care Act, 1991, and the Adoption Acts by ensuring the appropriate services are provided within each area health board. As such, the amendments are unnecessary because this requirement already exists in the text [12] of the Bill as it stands. I refer the Deputy to section 7(5) which provides that the authority is construed as a health board in the context of existing legislation. This means it will have all the powers, duties and functions of a health board, including those in the two Acts referred to in these amendments. Section 10(2) requires the authority to make arrangements with each area health board for the provision of services formerly provided by the Eastern Health Board. These arrangements will encompass services pursuant to the Child Care Act and the Adoption Acts.

The Deputy asked where the child care services will be based. This will be a decision for the authority when it is set up. The overall intention in the Bill is to devolve responsibility as far as possible to each of the three boards for services in their own area. The thrust of the legislation is to ensure continuity of care from the present Eastern Health Board services to the services provided under the new structured arrangements.

As regards what the Deputy said about adoption assessment procedures, the Department of Health and Children received a draft report of the independent consultants' review of foreign adoption assessment procedures and it is now being examined by the advisory committee set up to assist with the project. The comprehensive report contains a detailed overview of the current assessment procedures in health boards. It proposes a standardised framework for the carrying out of future assessments which accords with best practice in the field and delivers the service in the most efficient and sensitive manner possible. I expect to receive the consultants' final report in the next few weeks. We will then decide what to do as regards the recommendations. The draft is available and the advisory committee is considering it.

Mr. Shatter:  I am aware of the provisions in section 7 and I am concerned that their general nature may still give rise to difficulty. I am also concerned that particular difficulties may arise in child care functions in circumstances in which this House has not legislated for the designation of how these services are to be dealt with. This is not appropriate and there are legal difficulties with an issue, that is, whether one area health board should have responsibility for child care court cases or three different area health boards. There could be legal difficulties given that this will be determined by a decision of the Eastern Regional Health authority. As regards the serious issue of the courts processing child care cases, I am concerned we will discover a major lacuna in the law.

This issue is too important to be dealt with by the Eastern Regional Health Authority as a discretionary decision without legislative guidance. As matters stand, in theory, one of three things could happen – all such cases could be brought by the Eastern Regional Health Authority, one area health board could be designated to deal [13] with such court applications in the area of child care on behalf of the other two or each could be given separate powers. Equally, we could end up with one service run by one health board applicable to the entire Eastern Regional Health Authority area which we now regard as too large and which we are seeking to separate into three area health boards or the service could be fragmented into three different areas.

These are major policy issues of sufficient seriousness that the Dáil should make decisions on them. These are not decisions for which we should abdicate responsibility. They are essential policy issues. The correct approach is to ensure, as the Minister has generally expressed, services are as local as possible. The Eastern Regional Health Authority area is vast which is why the three area health boards are being created. It should not be necessary in the context of the areas covered that such services be particularly centralised in Dublin as regards each of the three area health boards. The correctness of the policy decision is copperfastened by the practical difficulties which have been experienced to date with the ability of the Eastern Health Board to carry out its child care services in a responsive way and which indicate that each of the three area health boards should be performing these functions. That is of great importance to ensure that if a child at risk in a particular local area requires protection it is extended to him or her by way of a local service rather than a centralised service. The local service should be staffed by men and women with the necessary local knowledge who are sufficiently close to the alleged events that they are able to investigate them speedily and undertake family assessments.

In the context of the Child Care Act, 1991, my amendment is appropriate and I will press it. The Minister still seems to experience difficulties in obtaining information from the EHB because he was not able to tell me the up-to-date position on how many hundred reports of child abuse to the board currently remain uninvestigated. He is welcome to intervene if he has this information because every Member is concerned about it. The fact that that is the reality flies in the face of the Taoiseach's announcement on Tuesday of last week when he recognised the need for a comprehensive policy to address issues of child abuse but failed to address the reality that the largest health board in the country currently lacks the capacity to fully investigate and speedily respond to all allegations of child abuse or children at risk as a result of neglect which it receives within a reasonable time.

It is a major problem and high powered announcements in the form of media events do [14] not take from the reality that hundreds of children remain at risk in this State who may still, because their cases have not been investigated, be victims of abuse and who in years to come as adults will discover that more lives have been blighted because of the failure of the State to extend to them the protections to which they were entitled. Yet again they will be in a position where the only way they can vindicate their rights is to seek compensation. I hope that a commission will not need to be formed in 2010 to investigate the failures of the 1990s, which occurred because health boards lacked the capacity to respond to allegations of child abuse.

I will press amendments Nos. 1 and 2 because I am not satisfied that the service provided currently by the EHB in the area of adoption, particularly the manner in which couples who have sought to adopt abroad have been treated, is appropriate. I have raised this issue in the House for four years as a result of representations I have received from various people who experience difficulties in the assessment process. It took until last autumn for the Government to take this issue seriously and for any group to be put in place to investigate the issue.

I am pleased the Minister has the draft report but I am concerned that it is being looked at by an advisory committee. It might look at it to ensure accuracies but I am always concerned about internal departmental advisory committees which receive independent reports and then, often for the sake of protecting bureaucracy, try to persuade the people responsible for the reports to emasculate them and moderate their language to avoid upsetting people who have failed to properly fulfil their functions in the interests of the people. The Minister should be wary of how the draft report is changed by the advisory committee. I have no doubt that I will seek the report under the Freedom of Information Act, 1997, and I would be surprised if Deputy McManus is not equally interested to ensure the final report that is published is in no way emasculated or watered down. It is of great importance that a knowledge of what has gone wrong in this area is out in the open as rapidly as possible and the Government is taking action to get it right.

In that context foreign adoption assessments should be dealt with by individual health boards, as should child care functions. They should not be centralised within one large bureaucracy which has a tendency on occasion to develop ideological views which may be out of touch with reality and substantially divorced from the needs of children and the concerns that need to be investigated in this field to determine people's suitability to adopt.

Amendment put.

[15]

Ahearn, Theresa.
Barnes, Monica.
Bell, Michael.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
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.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Farrelly, John.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
[16] Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Michael.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Shea, Brian.
Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Yates, Ivan.

Níl

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Ardagh, Seán.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Foley, Denis.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
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.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Sheehan and Stagg; Níl, Deputies S.Brennan and Power.

Amendment declared lost.

Mr. Shatter:  I move amendment No. 2:

In page 3, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

“‘the Acts of 1952 to 1997' means “the Adoption Acts, 1952 to 1957;”.

Question put and declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 20 are related and are to be taken together.

Mr. Cowen:  I move amendment No. 3:

In page 5, line 15, to delete “service” where it firstly occurs.

On Committee Stage I accepted an amendment from Deputy Shatter which changed the term “mental handicap” in section 2 to “intellectual disability”. I indicated then that some further amendments might be required as a consequence. The word “service” appears twice on page 5, line 15. The first of these amendments simply corrects the text of the Bill to read “voluntary intellectual disability service provider”. The other amendments change the references in sections 2 and 22(e) so that they accord with the new terminology.

My Department has searched the Health Acts [17][18] and other related legislation and has found no other references to the term “mental handicap” which require amendment.

Mr. Shatter:  I support these amendments. I raised this issue on Committee Stage and it was agreed that other sections in the Bill would be looked at before Report Stage to ensure they coincided with the Committee Stage amendment. Amendment No. 3 arises out of a typographical error more than anything else and amendments Nos. 4 and 20 ensure a continuity of approach in the Bill. They are fully supported.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Cowen:  I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, line 16, to delete “mental handicap” and substitute “intellectual disability”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Shatter:  I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following:

“(b) ensure the provision of child care and adoption services within each Area Health Board pursuant to the Act of 1991 and the Acts of 1952 to 1997,”.

Amendment put.

Ahearn, Theresa.
Barnes, Monica.
Bell, Michael.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
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.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Farrelly, John.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Michael.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Shea, Brian.
Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Yates, Ivan.

Níl

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Ardagh, Seán.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt. Brennan, Séamus.[19]

Níl–continued

Browne, John (Wexford).
Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Foley, Denis.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
[20] Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
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.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Ferris and Sheehan; Níl, Deputies S.Brennan and Power.

Amendment declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

Mr. Cowen:  I move amendment No. 6:

In page7, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

“(d) provide in its annual report an account of measures taken to monitor and evaluate services and an account of the outcomes of such measures,”.

There was some discussion on Committee Stage about the annual report of the authority and whether it should reflect the role of the authority as overseer of the services provided within its region. I agreed at that stage to give some thought to the matter. As is the case with all health boards, the authority will be obliged by section 15 of the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1996 to produce an annual report. I agree with the point made by Deputy Shatter that the authority will be in a unique position among health boards because it will have a statutory role in overseeing, evaluating and monitoring the services provided. This amendment reflects that position. It provides that the authority will include in its annual report, details of the measures it has taken during the preceding year to monitor and evaluate services and the results of such measures.

With regard to Deputy Shatter's amendment, the authority and the area health boards will not be unique in having complaints made against them. This is an issue for all health boards. The provision in the Health (Amendment) (No.3) Act, 1996 allows the Minister to specify particular items which might be included in a health board's annual report and how they should be presented. It would be more appropriate to address the issue of complaints in that context than as a particular provision of this Bill. Accordingly I do not propose to accept that amendment.

Mr. Shatter:  I welcome amendment No. 6 tabled by the Minister and the provision proposed in it which will ensure that the annual report gives an account of measures taken to monitor and evaluate services provided in the Eastern Regional Health Authority area, and of the outcomes of such measures. This issue was raised on Committee Stage. It is very important that the annual accounts are more than a financial exercise and that the authority is recognised as having a responsibility to report annually on the manner in which it is exercising its monitoring functions of the services provided by the area health boards under its aegis. I fully support the amendment and thank the Minister for taking our discussion on the issue into account. I am pleased that this aspect of matters is being addressed properly.

Amendment No. 7 seeks to address a related issue. I am proposing that an additional subsection (e) be inserted in the Bill which would require the Eastern Regional Health Authority to “provide in its annual report an account of bona fide complaints received about health board ser[21] vices, detail the steps taken to investigate such complaints and an account of the outcomes of such investigations”. While I fully accept that this is an issue which affects not only the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the area health boards but also the other seven health boards, we are starting out on a new adventure in the eastern region and setting down principles and approaches which we recognise are desirable in the provision of health and social services which fall under the aegis of health boards. We are living in an era of greater openness and accountability. Powers are vested in the Ombudsman to investigate complaints against health boards and report on the outcomes of such investigations.

Given the vast population that it will provide for, it is of great importance that we know that the Eastern Regional Health Authority will be genuinely responsive when difficulties arise in the provision of services by area health boards. We need to know that it will not select services to monitor. Where complaints are made, they should be investigated and addressed speedily. Where they are spurious, this should be clearly stated and where they are valid, there should be immediate redress for the complainant. This is an essential ingredient of a modern health authority.

The fact that the proposed subsection (e) would not extend to the other seven health boards is not a reason for not making it a statutory imperative for the Eastern Regional Health Authority. It can be made a statutory imperative for the other seven health boards when the Minister comes to legislate for them. It is only right that the Eastern Regional Health Authority should start with a new and more open ethos than might be the case at present.

Those Deputies who live in the Eastern Health Board area regularly come in contact with it concerning difficulties experienced by constituents about the manner in which they have been treated by the hospital service, alleged discourtesies and, in particular, the difficulties which arose in adoption assessments. I have written to the board about children at risk, where there was a belief that action should be taken and was taken only after I had made representations. These are issues with which public representatives should not have to deal.

The Eastern Regional Health Authority will have a unique role in monitoring the service. It should be required to detail in its annual report the numbers of complaints received, to give examples of bona fide complaints made while preserving the anonymity of complainants, if they so wish, and to indicate the measures taken in response. This would ensure that it will be a responsive authority, that it is on its toes. The message would go out that it can be called to account for a failure to respond within a reasonable time to bona fide complaints received.

I urge the Minister to consider accepting my amendment. I am loath to call a formal vote which, given the realities in the House, the Opposition does not have the numbers to win but it is [22] not about winning. The Minister has a genuine wish to break new ground in the context of the Eastern Regional Health Authority. He has been willing to accept constructive proposals from the Opposition. The aim is not to score party political points but to ensure that those who live in the Eastern Regional Health Authority area receive a service that is responsive, that the authority lives up to the purpose for which it is being partially created, and that some of the issues which ultimately fall on the lap of the Ombudsman are dealt with more speedily without the Ombudsman having to become involved. The Ombudsman is entitled to publish the outcome of his investigations into such complaints. There should be a statutory obligation on the Eastern Regional Health Authority to do likewise.

I am anxious that the Minister, if he is not in a position to accept the amendment today, will give further consideration to it before the Bill is taken in the Seanad. This is an important issue in respect of which the Minister may be receptive.

Mr. Cowen:  I said on Committee Stage that in bringing forward new legislation it is important that there is consistency. It is important that specific additional statutory obligations are not placed on a particular health authority. That would not be good legislative practice.

It has been argued that there is a need for openness. The freedom of information and Ombudsman legislation has brought about a change in culture in health boards. Complaints about the administrative decisions of health boards are dealt with in the Ombudsman's report every year. There is no need, therefore, to refer specifically to that aspect of their operations in legislation.

Section 15 of the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1996, allows the Minister to specify particular items which may be included in the annual report of a health board and how they should be presented. This is a matter to which I would like to give consideration in the context of all health board reports rather than place an explicit statutory duty on a particular board. Under existing guidelines health boards are required to provide information to the public on how complaints are dealt with.

Legislation is being prepared in the Department of Finance to extend the remit of the Ombudsman to voluntary hospitals. Therefore, we can see the means by which we may achieve wider accountability in the area of complaints in the health and hospital services, and that is by extending the remit of the Ombudsman Acts, which are the responsibility of the Department of Finance which is preparing legislation at the moment.

For all those reasons, I do not believe I should accept the Deputy's amendment other than to say, without making any explicit promises in the House, that under the Health (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1996, there is a provision enabling [23] me, as Minister, to specify if I require further information in the annual reports. I will give consideration to that on the basis of it being a requirement of all health boards, including this authority. For that reason, we should not insert a specific provision in this Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Shatter:  I move amendment No. 7:

In page 7, between lines 8 and 9, to insert the following:

“(e) provide in its annual report an account of bone fide complaints received about health board services, detail the steps taken to investigate such complaints and an account of the outcomes of such investigations,”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Ms McManus:  I move amendment No. 8:

In page 9, line 17, after “hospitals,” to insert “not less than 2 non-consultant hospital doctors,”.

The amendment is a very simple one which seeks to ensure a full complement of representation for doctors. At the moment it is proposed that there will be no fewer than two consultants in general hospitals, no fewer than one consultant psychiatrist, no fewer than two general medical practitioners and no fewer than one registered medical practitioner with special knowledge or experience of preventative medicine. It is a glaring omission that the key personnel who staff our hospitals are not included in that list. I refer to the NCHD, the junior hospital doctor.

It is a great deficiency in the Bill that the Minister intends to exclude what is certainly the largest cohort within the medical profession, the cohort which deals most directly with the patient and which is, in effect, at the coalface in providing services to the patient. When one looks at the health board hospitals, it is the junior hospital doctors who are the backbone of the service. They man the accident and emergency units and are the first member of the medical profession to deal with public patients coming into hospital, yet they are excluded from representation in the health board structures.

I am sure there are traditional reasons for this, but I suggest the Department and the Minister are failing to recognise what is happening in the medical profession by specifically excluding this sector. It is very important that the deficiency is put right because junior hospital doctors are frustrated and, more importantly, fearful about their position and their area of responsibility in relation to patient care. The health boards and the Department of Health and Children do not recognise the risks involved in the current status of junior hospital doctors.

[24] The strains are showing and they are very severe indeed. If we do not address this issue, we are pointing the way to an incident which will create a crisis for some unfortunate junior hospital doctor who will simply take on a workload which is unacceptable and untenable. We need to recognise that and to ensure these people are accommodated by way of representation appropriate to their needs and to the needs of the service. We need to hear from junior hospital doctors, in a structured way, about their needs, pressures and strains. It is not adequate to depend on explosive statements that appear now and again in the media or to wait until pressure points start to be felt when there is conflict between the junior hospital doctors and the Department. That is not the way forward. The way forward is to ensure there is a platform for junior hospital doctors to express their concerns and to make an input into ensuring high quality.

The Minister will say that because junior hospital doctors are transient, it is somehow impossible to ensure they can be accommodated on the new health board structure, but I do not accept that as an argument. It would be very wrong for it to be used as a shield to prevent junior hospital doctors from being included. The nature of the system of appointments is certainly transient and short term. It may not always be so, but that is certainly the case at the moment, with very short-term contracts of six months or so for junior hospital doctors.

The IMO, the medical organisation, has been able to establish a committee representative of junior hospital doctors which provides continuity and representation. If the IMO can do that, it is not beyond the capability of the Department of Health and Children and the health boards to ensure that they provide continuity of representation for junior hospital doctors. It is a matter of will rather than an inability to deliver.

The fact that junior hospital doctors are not covered by the Organisation of Working Time Act is of grave concern. Anybody attending or working in hospitals, in whatever capacity, has an interest in ensuring junior hospital doctors are not exploited. I have had a number of complaints, particularly from staff working in allied professions in hospitals who have witnessed the strain experienced by junior hospital doctors. A nurse told me that she pitied anybody coming into the accident and emergency unit of her hospital on a Sunday night because of the likely experience they would have in meeting an exhausted junior hospital doctor who is simply not capable of making a clear judgment on health care. That is the type of complaint I am receiving. I have no doubt the Minister, who is not a stupid man, is well aware that this poses a risk in our hospitals.

The general public is probably not aware that there is no restriction on hours of work for junior hospital doctors under the Organisation of Working Time Act. There are arrangements with the representative bodies, such as the IMO, but we [25] all know these arrangements are being abused and that some doctors are working 100 to 130 hours per week, which is untenable. The system of breaks is not statutorily based in terms of overtime, holiday cover and sick cover.

These are the issues junior hospital doctors would like to see addressed and which have a significance when it comes to decision-making within health boards. We will not deal with them by keeping junior hospital doctors outside the health board structure. If we ensure junior hospital doctors have no voice, it is inevitable that these issues will not be addressed by any management structure within health boards. Do members of health boards and those who will be on these new boards appreciate that when a junior hospital doctor is required to work overtime the rate of pay they receive is lower than the national minimum wage being proposed by the Government? The average member of a health board would find this quite startling. I know one junior hospital doctor who worked on Christmas Day which, because he had to pay for travel and meals, cost him money.

Many elected and other members of health boards would want to ensure that in making decisions in terms of management and the running of health boards people working for them are not exploited. At present it is clear there is much ignorance and a certain amount of concern about the status and functioning of junior hospital doctors. I appreciate the relevance of legal measures and that there are issues relating to the EU directive which are not related to the Bill, but if we are to deal with the ongoing questions concerning junior hospital doctors we must have them represented on the boards. There is no other way to proceed.

Hospital consultants will probably not even be aware of some of the concerns of the NCHD. Psychiatrists and those involved in preventative medicine do not directly experience what the NCHD experiences. Even at this stage the Minister should accept a representational role for the thousands of junior hospital doctors who are in effect ensuring our acute hospital service is kept going. If such representation is not accommodated, another pressure will be put on junior hospital doctors. At the end of the day this will create unbearable pressures which will lead to the possibility of industrial action which could be avoided if we ensure their inclusion.

Will the Minister ensure that when we talk about the medical profession being represented on the boards we include junior hospital doctors, the largest cohort of which is at the coal face and which is experiencing the greatest strains of all those in the medical professions who are providing excellent care.

Mr. Shatter:  Both I and Deputy McManus have tabled similar amendments in relation to non-consultant hospital doctors, an issue which was discussed on Committee Stage. I do not disagree with anything Deputy McManus has said. At the [26] very least non-consultant hospital doctors should have a guaranteed representation on the authority given the burden they bear and the responsibility they have for the functioning of our health services within the Eastern Regional Health Authority area. I know the Minister may say that non-consultant hospital doctors may work outside the Eastern Regional Health Authority area or outside the country. However, that is not unique as currently when members of health boards resign they are replaced by an appropriate person.

There should be a minimum of two guaranteed places on the authority for non-consultant hospital doctors. Their concerns should be part of the discussion which takes place in the authority when it is formulating policy.

In the context of working time legislation and the working time directive, I am appalled to learn that in discussions with the EU the Government is seeking to extend to 11 years the timeframe within which we may have to comply with a 48 hour working week. The working week non-consultant hospital doctors are expected to work is not only unfair to them but poses serious risks to patients. I do not believe people who work for 65, 70 or 80 hours per week and who are under pressure in hospitals are always in a position to make the necessary, essential and speedy judgments in the interests of patients, for no reason other than their sheer tiredness and the pressures under which they work.

Our health service is far more complex and the technologies are far more sophisticated than they were decades ago, and the manner in which non-consultant hospital doctors work and the times they are expected to work do not reflect the difficulties under which they work in the modern health service. This is to the detriment of doctors and their patients. It is a concern in the context of the provision of a quality health care service in which people are treated equally and undermines this commitment which we wish to see implemented.

In the context of the Bill we cannot resolve all the problems of non-consultant hospital doctors. However, the Bill will represent a continuing failure to recognise their value in our health service if we exclude them from representation on the new authority. I urge the Minister to take on board the amendments tabled by Deputy McManus and me. I also ask the Minister in his reply to clarify Government policy in the context of the EU directive. I noted that the Minister of State, Deputy Moffatt, is reported in one of this week's medical journals as saying that we are seeking an 11 year extension in the application of the working time directive to non-consultant hospital doctors. This is a disgrace: we should not seek that amount of time to comply with a draft EU directive which is seeking to put in place a provision to protect patients. The protection of patients is the primary issue, in addition to our concern for the health of non-consultant hospital doctors. Seeking such a substantial derogation [27] from that directive will not only say to non-consultant hospital doctors that we do not care about the pressures they are under, but will say to patients that we do not care about the risks those pressures present to them when they seek assistance and medical help in the hospital service.

Mr. Cowen:  The issue of representation on the authority of the registered professions was discussed at some length on Committee Stage. I explained on that occasion that the representation of the medical profession in the Bill is similar to that which currently applies to the Eastern Health Board. The same categories of medical doctors are represented on all health boards.

The representation proposed is based on the recommendation of the task force on the Eastern Regional Health Authority which was established by the previous administration to examine the issues involved. The task force stated in its report that the issue of a broader representation for the professions over and above that which currently applies on the Eastern Health Board was one which would have implications for the membership of all health boards. I am not proposing in the Bill to reform the membership of health boards – that is a matter for another day. What is being proposed here is a structure which will allow the health services in the eastern region to be planned, managed and delivered in a more efficient and effective way. The membership proposed is consistent with the membership of all other health boards, something I do not propose to change.

The issue of majority representation of public representatives is in line with the terms of reference given to the task force at the time and I agree fundamentally with it.

Ms McManus:  It is regrettable that the Minister is being so conservative on this matter. Saying that something was done in the past is not sufficient reason for us to continue doing it into the future. Similarly, saying it does not apply elsewhere in the country is not a sufficient reason for us not to provide for it in the Eastern Health Board region. We are debating a Bill which is establishing something different from that which exists in other parts of the country as it is recognised that there are different conditions in the eastern region. Although there are many similarities with other health boards, the structures being put in place are different. Certain aspects of the authority recognise that we are dealing with a region which has particular needs and a particular scale. The number of junior hospital doctors in the Eastern Health Board region is significant. There is nothing in the Minister's reply to prevent him from introducing this modest reform which would appeal to, rather than threaten, other health boards. They would see it as a step towards modernising health boards and [28] a recognition of the strains in our acute hospital services.

The Minister would show intelligence and wisdom if he accepted this amendment and recognised that things change and problems deepen. A good decision made by a previous Government in terms of democratic accountability does not prevent the Minister from accepting this amendment and ensuring we are not frozen in time. He is in power to make decisions and changes as the need arises. Although he is a conservative Minister, he is not afraid to make decisions or to face up to the problems in the health boards and acute hospital services.

I urge the Minister to examine the needs of junior hospital doctors and, more importantly, the needs of patients for good quality and safe care. These problems will not go away, they will deepen. This amendment will not solve them but it is a measure of good intent. It will help to establish a line of communication and to encourage partnership, about which the Minister continually speaks and which is promoted in hospitals, although with some difficulty because of hierarchical hospital structures and traditional views which the Minister is reinforcing instead of challenging. I urge him to take this opportunity to accommodate people and to live dangerously.

Mr. Cowen:  This is living dangerously.

Ms McManus:  I am glad the Minister is laughing because he can see how ludicrous it is.

Mr. Cowen:  It is not as ludicrous as the point the Deputy is making.

Ms McManus:  It is ludicrous to have a structure in place where almost every element of the medical profession, which has enormous influence, is represented, yet those people who have the most direct relationship with the patient, particularly in terms of acute and emergency care, are kept outside the system for no good reason. I urge the Minister to accept this amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Acting Chairman (Mr. McGrath):  Amendment No. 9 arises from Committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 9, 10, 12, 13, 15 and amendment No. 1 to amendment No. 15 are related and may be discussed together. Recommittal is necessary in respect of amendment No. 15 as it involves a charge on the Revenue. I ask the Minister to move to recommit the group of amendments to Committee.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 9 and 10.

Mr. Shatter:  I move amendment No. 9:

[29] In page 9, line 27, to delete “one” and substitute “three”.

This amendment seeks to provide for the representation of three members of the general nursing profession on the Eastern Regional Health Authority, while amendment No. 10 seeks to provide for the representation of two psychiatric nurses. While we talked about these amendments on Committee Stage, we were unable to fully pursue them because the manner in which they were framed would have increased the numbers on the authority beyond 55 and would have resulted in an additional charge on the Exchequer.

The nursing profession is grossly under-represented on the Eastern Regional Health Authority. While junior hospital doctors make a vast contribution to our health service – it could not function without them – nurses make a greater contribution as they tend to be more permanent and less transient than junior hospital doctors. Nurses are at the coalface of our hospital service. Experienced nurses frequently assist newly qualified junior hospital doctors in their work. It is wrong that we have made a provision for the appointment of only one general nurse and one psychiatric nurse to the authority.

I am conscious that the amendment the Minister has tabled tries to overcome one of the difficulties raised on Committee Stage, namely, that if only two nurses were represented, one general and one psychiatric nurse, it would not be possible to ensure that each area health board had a nursing representative on the authority. The Minister is proposing that a member of the authority or of one area health board shall be entitled to attendance rights in other area health boards. That is welcome in so far as it may ensure that representatives of under-represented professions, such as dentists and others, have an opportunity to attend area health board meetings of a board of which they are not a member. It also places an onerous commitment on the individuals on the Eastern Regional Health Authority who represent their profession.

Each area health board should have a minimum of one nurse with general nursing experience on the authority. I amended the provision from one psychiatric nurse to two rather than from one to three because that would be out of order as it would increase the membership of the overall authority.

I urge the Minister to extend to nurses the recognition to which they are entitled. Nurses can make a valuable input to the running of the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the deliberations of each area health board. We need their input, expertise and views on how the health service is operating and on its needs. Nurses are the Cinderella of this authority. While general practitioners and consultants will have extensive representation, the representation for the nursing profession will be [30] kept to the bare minimum. That is not in the interests of the authority. I urge the Minister to accept the amendments.

Mr. Cowen:  On Committee Stage concern was expressed by the Opposition about representation on the three area health boards for those registered professions which have only one representative on the authority. The professions in question are general nurses, psychiatric nurses, pharmacists and dentists. I accepted there was a problem and put forward a suggestion that perhaps those professions could be given observer status at the area health boards of which they were not a member. This idea appeared to be welcomed by the Opposition and, accordingly, I am now bringing forward that amendment.

This is an amendment to section 16 which deals with the membership of the area health boards. It proposes a new subsection (7) which provides that the members of the authority who are representatives of the general nurses, psychiatric nurses, dentists and pharmacists will be entitled to attend meetings of the two area health boards of which they are not formal members. They will be allowed to participate in the discussions at those meetings but will not have voting rights. The proposed new subsection (8) amends the existing subsection (7) to ensure that expenses can be paid to those attending meetings in an observer capacity.

The amendments put forward by the Opposition in this regard do not, in my view, adequately address the problem which was identified on Committee Stage. With regard to those put down by Deputy Shatter, there are four registered professions affected by this problem but these amendments deal with only two – nurses and psychiatric nurses. Also only two psychiatric nurses are proposed, leaving us with the problem of how to allow for two individuals to serve on three area health boards.

To allow for the increase in membership, amendment No. 12 proposes to delete the provision by which the Minister appoints three members to the authority. This provision is in line with existing legislation whereby the Minister of the day appoints three members to each health board. I see no reason this ministerial privilege should be discarded on this occasion.

The effect of amendment No. 13 tabled by Deputy McManus would be that each of the four individuals concerned would be full members of all three area health boards. This would add two or three new members to each area health board and would upset the balance of membership between local authority members and others. In two of the three boards the effect would be that the local authority members would no longer be in the majority. The amendment I have tabled addresses the problem in a way which does not interfere with the overall balance of membership on the authority. Accordingly I ask Deputies to withdraw [31] these amendments and to support the ministerial amendment which, I believe, represents the most equitable solution to what has been acknowledged by all to be a difficult problem.

With regard to Deputy Shatter's amendment to amendment No. 15, I appreciate the Deputy's concerns on this issue. It would be important that the timing of the various meetings of the area health boards be such as to facilitate, so far as possible, the participation of all. I am sure the members of the area health boards and their management will be conscious of this when making their arrangements. However, I do not consider that an issue such as this is appropriate for primary legislation; it is an administrative matter which can and should be left to the area health boards.

Mr. Shatter:  I am still of the view I expressed with regard to nurses. The Minister's amendment is welcome and I would not oppose it as it gets over the problem with the other professions to which he referred. The problem derives from the extent of the membership of the authority which will render the deliberations of the authority difficult. In that context it is accepted that the authority will not exceed 55 members. The flexibility the Minister is introducing to allow members of area health boards to attend other meetings is welcome. I hope that flexibility will not be used by any member other than in circumstances in which they have a genuine interest in the deliberations of the other health authority. I am anxious to ensure it is not seen as a mechanism whereby some people may claim expenses to attend meetings in which they have no interest.

Mr. Cowen:  That is unfair.

Mr. Shatter:  That is an important issue. The Minister's proposal will work only if we have an assurance that meetings of area health boards will not coincide either by day or time. If the three area health boards decide to meet on the first, second, third or fourth Monday of the month at a particular time, there would be a theoretical right to attend an area health board meeting of which one is not a member. That would not be right but, in practice, it can be exercised.

My amendment to amendment No. 15, which seeks to add the words “and to facilitate such attendance, meetings of each Area Health Board shall not coincide and shall be arranged for different days”, is a sensible mechanism which should be in primary legislation. We should set out clearly the thoughts of this House on this issue. There is no reason that amendment cannot be adopted and taken on board and I ask the Minister to accept it. The mechanism discussed on Committee Stage to provide for the possibility of members of one area health board attending the meetings of [32] another could be at naught by simple administrative or bureaucratic practice where it is determined that it is convenient for particular area health boards to meet on a certain day. There is a serious risk that the meetings will coincide.

This is an issue for primary legislation because it is about the entitlements of nurses, dentists and others to avail of their rights to attend these meetings. There is no point in having a theoretical right if the meetings coincide. In the context of the Minister not accepting the other amendments I have tabled with regard to increasing the number of nurses who will be represented on the area health authority, I want to make certain that the nursing representatives have the possibility of attending area health board meetings other than those of the board to which they are appointed. I ask the Minister to reconsider his approach to my amendment to amendment 15 and to take it on board in the same spirit as other issues have been discussed as we work through this legislation.

Ms McManus:  I support Deputy Shatter on this point. I welcome the fact that the Minister has come some way in terms of opening up the possibility of nurses and dentists attending area meetings although, given the way they work, it will be difficult for them to attend all the meetings. Dentists and nurses working in the health board system, particularly in the Eastern Health Board, are already under a great deal of pressure. This is a positive move but I do not think it will have the desired outcome unless Deputy Shatter's amendment is accepted.

We all know custom and practice are different from the intent of a Bill. The practice of any board can sometimes be determined simply by a majority of board members whom it may suit to have meetings on a certain day; minorities are not always catered for unless protected by statute. I do not like the idea of a Minister ever saying the intent of the Bill is such and such, so we do not have to spell it out in the Bill. The intent may be correct and genuine but the custom and practice that develop at local level can be very different from the intent. That is human nature.

In this instance an onus is being put on nurses, dentists and pharmacists to take up an option which will create difficulties for them in time terms because it is not spreading the load but leaving it to a small number of individuals. If the Minister does not ensure meetings are held to accommodate these people, I have no doubt we will end up with a system where meetings are held that will exclude these people from time to time. They will be seen as extraneous to decision-making. People who are not automatically members of health boards will be seen as being there on sufferance. From time to time their requirements will be made secondary to the overall needs of the majority [33] of the people on the health board. There are dangers involved in this area.

The Minister has come some way towards ensuring that these people are accommodated but it will be half hearted if he does not protect their interests regarding the times of meetings. Everybody has the freedom to go to the Ritz, but it does not work out that way. People may have the freedom to attend meetings, but it will not work out that way if a tradition evolves where all the meetings are held on the same day. The Minister must be realistic and firm about what he is doing. Given that he is in discussions with his officials, I hope he will accept this simple amendment.

Mr. Cowen:  I have no problem saying “yes” when I am persuaded by the argument. However, in this case I am not persuaded by it. There were discussions on committee stage and on this Stage about improving the prospects of representation for these professions on health boards. However, Deputy Shatter made the unworthy comment that he hoped I was not inserting an additional requirement that people should be paid proper subsistence and travelling expenses to attend meetings on the basis that, in his opinion, they would not be required to attend all the meetings in any event. This is a basic inconsistency in his approach.

Mr. Shatter:  I did not say that about any of the professionals.

Mr. Cowen:  The Deputy was specific. His comment was unfair and unworthy. Those motives should not be ascribed to any member of a health board. The purpose of the provision is to ensure that a problem which has been identified in the transition from the health board to the health authority is addressed while also ensuring that people are not out of pocket. This is a legitimate aim and unworthy motives should not be ascribed to it.

It is not the purpose of primary legislation to indicate when State agencies should meet. If that was done, people would then want the standing orders of bodies included in primary legislation. Deputy Shatter and Deputy McManus are experienced legislators and are aware that it is not the practice of the Oireachtas to incorporate in primary legislation when and how bodies meet in conducting their business. That is a matter for the boards which are established. The provision states it is the view of the House that observer status should be given to members of the authority on all the area health boards.

It is not the case that the chief executive officers of area health boards and the Eastern Regional Health Authority will undermine the position by holding all the health board meetings at the same time in different places so that people cannot attend them. There is no basis for this view. It is management practice to [34] ensure that all members attend. This ensures a full and inclusive debate and that everybody is aware of what is happening. This avoids problems at the next meeting such as a 30 minute row about the minutes of the previous meeting. We should be practical and sensible about this matter.

The provision seeks to meet the needs in this area. I spoke informally to people who are the subject of this dilemma. I am not overstating the case by saying, despite all the problems which prevail in resolving this matter, they are happy with my proposal. It meets the requirement for them to be able to attend and contribute to meetings. They understand and respect the task force recommendation on the overall numbers. They also understand and support the majority representation by public representatives. The administrative matters which will enable them to participate fully at area board level will be respected by any reasonably good management. I have no reason to suspect that will not be the case.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 10 not moved.

Bill reported without amendment.

Mr. Shatter:  I move amendment No. 11:

In page 10, to delete lines 1 to 5 and substitute the following:

“(iii) 3 shall be nominated for appointment by such person or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of the voluntary physical and sensory disability service providers in the functional area of the Authority,”.

The amendment seeks to insert representation of the voluntary physical and sensory disability service on the Eastern Regional Health Authority. As the section stands, there is provision for three persons to be nominated to the authority for appointment by such person or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of the voluntary intellectual disability service providers in the functional area of the authority. The voluntary physical and sensory disability service providers are not given any such representation. The amendment proposes the insertion of an additional provision that three shall be nominated for appointment by such person or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of the voluntary physical and sensory disability service providers in the functional area of the authority.

A number of bodies and organisations fall within that definition. It is important that they have the same representation on the Eastern Regional Health Authority as the groups and organisations providing voluntary intellectual disability services. I hope the Minister will take [35] on board the proposal which requires the deletion from the Bill of a general provision which allows three people to be nominated for appointment by such persons or organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of other voluntary service providers.

I am conscious that the other voluntary service providers may include organisations which provide services for people suffering from physical and sensory disabilities. However, it is important to set out our commitment to placing those who suffer physical and sensory disability and the people who provide services to them on an equal footing to the people who provide services to those who are intellectually disabled in the Eastern Regional Health Authority area. I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.

Ms McManus:  I support the amendment. It is most important that those who provide services to people with physical and sensory disabilities are recognised in the Bill as having a certain right to nomination. It has also been brought to my attention that the organisation Rehab is not included in the Second Schedule to the Bill. Perhaps the Minister could refer to that matter in his response.

I am sure the Minister is aware that an association of not for profit organisations has developed. It represents the key organisations which provide services to people with physical and sensory disability. I am most impressed with its approach. It is developing a most efficient approach which is based on partnership and co-operation. The amendment gives the Minister an opportunity to formally include these groups in terms of nominations. It would address a perceived imbalance between the attention and focus on people with intellectual disabilities rather than those with physical and sensory disabilities.

There is a perceived imbalance in focus. This offers an opportunity for the issue to be addressed fairly. It will not make a major difference to the Bill but it will be significant for service providing organisations.

Mr. Cowen:  The provisions regarding members of the authority are based on the recommendations of the task force set up by my predecessor. The specific instructions given to the task force on its establishment were that the authority should include “persons drawn from the voluntary hospitals, mental handicap agencies and other voluntary bodies”. The term “other voluntary bodies” is deliberately broad. It allows for the possible inclusion on the authority of small, community based voluntary groups as well as the established voluntary service providers in the area of physical and [36] sensory disability, services for the elderly, drug abusers, the homeless and child care services.

While I can understand the Deputy's concerns the amendment would have the effect of permanently excluding all these groups from membership of the authority except for those dealing with physical and sensory disability. On the other hand, retaining the provision as it stands allows the Minister, at his or her discretion, to ensure a balance prevails. If necessary, the Minister's three appointees to the authority could be employed to redress any imbalances arising.

Mr. Shatter:  I am disappointed with the Minister's response. The imbalance is now built into the Bill. Many sufferers from physical and sensory disability and many service providers feel their needs are not being fully and properly addressed by the Government. They are not being given the attention they deserve and their voice is not being heard. Part and parcel of hearing their voice is to give them membership of this authority as of right. They should not be one of a variety of groups who might be represented.

Each health board should have a representative of the groups who provide services to the intellectually disabled and one of those providing services to the physically and sensory disabled. We had this debate in the context of nursing and other professions. These are a broad range of groups doing extraordinary voluntary work for people with specific and identifiable needs, and it is of the greatest importance that health boards should contain a representative of each of these groups to ensure a proper focus of the needs within the communities which the boards represent of those who suffer from intellectual, physical and sensory disability.

It is unfortunate the Minister is not taking this amendment on board. In tabling it I anticipated there was a reasonable possibility that he would do so. We should not treat the report which gave rise to this Bill as if it were written on tablets of stone, as if since it was written our understanding of needs remains immutable and unchanged. We are entitled to take account of needs which were not fully recognised in that report. The House has a duty to ensure those suffering from physical and sensory disability are not treated differently to those suffering from intellectual disability. This legislation should not contain an in-built discrimination against service providers in the voluntary sector for the physical and sensory disabled. This is an important amendment which I hoped would not divide the House but, sadly, it will.

Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”

[37]

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Ardagh, Seán.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Foley, Denis.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Jacob, Joe.
[38] Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
McCreevy, Charlie.
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.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Níl

Ahearn, Theresa.
Barnes, Monica.
Bell, Michael.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
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.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard.
Farrelly, John.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kenny, Enda.
Lowry, Michael.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Shea, Brian.
Penrose, William.
Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Wall, Jack.
Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Sheehan and Ferris.

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 12 to 14, inclusive, not moved.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 15.

Mr. Cowen:  I move amendment No. 15:

In page 12, to delete lines 47 and 48, and in page 13 to delete lines 1 to 4 and substitute the following:

“(7) A member of the Authority who has been appointed to the Authority in accordance with section 11(2)(b), other than subparagraph (i), shall be entitled to attend a meeting of an Area Health Board of which he or she is not a member and to participate in the deliberations at such a meeting, but shall not be entitled to vote on any question arising at such a meeting.

(8) The Authority may make payments to a member of an Area Health Board or to a member of the Authority referred to in subsection (7) in respect of travelling and subsistence expenses incurred in attending a meeting of an Area Health Board or otherwise in the pursuance of the business of an Area Health Board in accordance with a scale determined by the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment reported.

Amendment No. 1 to amendment No 15 not moved.

Mr. Cowen:  I move amendment No. 16:

In page 15, between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following:

“(8) Any reference to the Eastern Health Board in an order made by a court before the establishment day shall, on the establishment day, be construed as a reference to the Authority.”.

This is an amendment to section 19 which deals with dissolution of the Eastern Health Board. On Committee Stage, Deputy Shatter queried whether there was a need for a specific provision to protect the validity or continuing in force of care orders made under the Child Care Act, 1991, in favour of the Eastern Health Board. My officials considered this matter and obtained legal advice which indicates it could be argued that care orders are adequately protected already in this section as it stands. Given the particular sensitivity of child care orders and the risk, however small, of a court taking a [39][40] different view, I decided to put the matter beyond doubt. This amendment provides unambiguously that all orders made by a court in favour of the Eastern Health Board will transfer to the new authority on the establishment day.

Deputy Shatter raised two other issues about the Child Care Act on Committee Stage. He requested clarity as to which area health board would be responsible for a child in care following implementation of this legislation and asked whether the area health boards could apply for such orders in their names. The legal advice I obtained on these issues is that all health board functions under the Child Care Act, 1991, can be delegated under this Bill by the authority to the area health boards. The relevant sections are sections 9 and 17. In addition, section 15(5) will allow an area health board to apply for care orders in its name. Therefore, there does not appear to be a need for any further amendments. I thank Deputy Shatter for bringing these matters to my attention.

Deputy Shatter:  I thank the Minister for tabling this amendment. I hope in time the difficulties we discussed in this area on Committee Stage will prove to have been satisfactorily resolved. I am conscious of the advice the Minister received. I hope his amendment will ensure no doubt or difficulty can arise about the validity of orders, particularly child care orders, obtained by the Eastern Health Board following the establishment of the new authority and the area health boards.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms McManus:  I move amendment No. 17:

In page 16, between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following:

“(2) Where, but for this section, the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, would not prevent the Authority or a Board from entering into or approving a contract of employment which provides for hours of employment (including training and on-call periods) of more than 52 hours per week in any week, averaged in accordance with that Act, no such contract of employment may be made with or approved by the Authority or a Board.”.

I do not intend to repeat the earlier points I made about junior hospital doctors. It is important that certain standards are met by health boards in terms of their employment and pay and conditions. This rather unwieldy amendment provides an opportunity to ensure the abuse in terms of the number of hours junior hospital doctors are required to work at present will not be perpetuated into the future. Acceptance of this amendment would be a statement of goodwill that health boards must [41] ensure junior hospital doctors work a reasonable number of hours and not be expected to work to the point where they would be a danger in terms of patient care, which has become increasingly evident. Acceptance of this amendment would also ensure the principle laid out in it would be adhered to by the health boards. At present it seems almost unlimited demands are placed on junior hospital doctors. That has been facilitated by a loophole in the Organisation of Working Time Act whereby the maximum hours of employment outlined do not apply to junior hospital doctors and that is likely to be the case for some time to come.

The Minister was asked earlier to specify his approach to the discussions that will take place on 23 May at EU level and his views on a watering down of the Commission's draft directive, which at least would set a time limit on the ongoing open-ended approach to junior hospital doctors' working time. I ask him to take this opportunity to refer to that matter. He has been asked twice to indicate his views on this ongoing serious problem that may prove to be critical if an error is made by some unfortunate junior hospital doctor.

Mr. Shatter:  I support Deputy McManus. I raised earlier with the Minister the Government's position on the European Union directive and I do not want to delay the House by repeating what I said. It was noticeable the Minister did not respond when I asked him to articulate Government policy on this area. I hope he will take this opportunity to do so.

Mr. Cowen:  The Organisation of Working Time Act sets out statutory rights for employees in respect of rest, maximum working time and holidays. These agreements apply either by law as set out in the Act, in regulations made under the Act or through legally binding collective agreements. Employees working in the new authority would be covered by such arrangements and their interests in relation to working time are adequately dealt with under such legislative arrangements. It would be inappropriate to attempt through this legislation to put in place arrangements in relation to working time, which would be more properly dealt with under the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997.

It is assumed the Deputy's principal concern is the working hours of junior hospital doctors. This group is not covered currently by the rest and maximum working time rules. At present, collective bargaining agreements incorporate various methods to deal with the issue. The contract for non-consultant hospital doctors, which came into effect on 1 January 1997, arose from detailed discussions with NCHD representative groups and includes agreement on the number of approved rostered hours, the arrangement in relation to unrostered episodic hours, the mechanism for dealing with persist[42] ent unrostered hours and payment arrangements for hours in excess of 39 and Sunday work.

The Deputy should also note that the EU Commission has brought forward proposals to amend the Working Time Directive 91/104/EC. Discussions are ongoing in the Council on the implementation of the Working Time Directive for doctors in training and other excluded groups. These discussions have underlined the complexity of the issue of excessive hours and the difficulties in implementing the Working Time Directive for this group.

The Commission's proposals and the resultant discussions have already raised issues concerning definitions as well as questions regarding reference periods and transitional periods. Such amendment does not recognise these complexities and, therefore, would not be implementable given the existing structures of medical manpower and the operation of rosters at hospital level. Moreover, it would be neither practical nor appropriate to attempt through this legislation to bring in arrangements which would cut across the ongoing discussions on EU legislation dealing specifically with the issue. The matter will come before the Labour and Social Affairs Council on Tuesday, 25 May.

As to the Government's view on these issues, Ireland is committed to the introduction of a 48 hour week for doctors. We want to be certain we can comply with the obligations imposed by Community legislation in this area. Hence we need a set of proposals that recognise the difficulties we will encounter in moving to the agreed objective of 48 hours per week.

The Presidency is seeking to come up with a consensus proposal. We are happy with the general outline and structure of the Presidency's revised proposals, as circulated. We would like to proceed with finding a consensus view based on the Presidency's proposals. We could probably agree with the transitional period as proposed by the Presidency. We would like an additional year, making it three years in terms of its implementation and a transition period of nine years. We could accept reference periods proposed by the Presidency as outlined to us. We are not prepared to accept periods beyond that, which I understand is the present position of Deputy McManus's colleagues in the British Labour Party.

Ms McManus:  There is nothing to stop the Minster accepting this amendment. Just because a directive specifies the absolute limit of junior doctors' working time does not mean we cannot act. There are countries in Europe in which junior hospital doctors are already covered by the working time legislation. I assure the Minister that the socialist movement across Europe has been a major force in ensuring the protection of workers' rights and their working time.

I am not sure whether the Minister is saying the Government is now supporting a 12 year lead-in period. The expectation was that it would be [43] an 11 year period but now we are talking about nine years plus three. Will the Minister state the position clearly? There has been a certain amount of debate and discussion and it appears from what emanated from Brussels that the Irish Government was at least considering supporting the British Government view. Is the Minister now stating that the Irish Government is supporting a 12 year lead-in time? This is a rather lengthy period for Irish junior doctors.

There is nothing to stop the Government from being progressive in relation to any directive, as other European countries have been. We should have regard for that and not always look for the absolute minimum when it comes to improvement and progression in relation to workers.

Mr. Cowen:  I am saying the Presidency's proposals form the basis upon which a consensus can be achieved. The Government will be guided by that when we enter discussions on 25 May. The Commission's original proposals were not practicable or acceptable and did not obtain support around the table. The Presidency has listened to member states and taken on board their concerns. Our nearest neighbour is seeking a transition period beyond what we would regard as reasonable in the circumstances. However, every member state has its problems and they are entitled to put their position as they see it.

The working time directive negotiations will be concluded on the basis of a consensus being achieved. The Presidency, in its role as President of the Council is trying to do that. We are prepared to attend the Council meeting on that basis. We do not have a problem with the Presidency's proposal because we obviously want a consensus on the issue.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Browne,:  Carlow-Kilkenny): Amendments Nos. 18 and 19 may be discussed together as amendment No. 19 is cognate. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Ms McManus:  I move amendment No. 18:

In page 17, line 10, after “direct” to insert “following consultation with each health board”.

I raised this matter on Second and Committee Stages. I am concerned about the commitment to set up a health board executive. I do not have a problem with the idea of an executive as there are arguments to be made in favour of strategic planning, co-ordination and streamlining across the various health boards. However, I have serious reservations about the lack of accountability.

There is already great alienation at local level due to setting up independent authorities such as the EPA or the National Roads Authority and the lack of connection between local authorities [44] and national bodies. The title of this body is the Health Boards Executive. However, the reality is an executive comprising chief executive officers who are directly responsible to the Minister and have no accountability to their health boards. Acceptance of my amendments would not radically change the situation but would acknowledge that health boards make decisions for their localities and areas of responsibility and provide local democracy, which is important. In the perception of the public, local democracy is being continually eroded. There is a sense that non-elected officials make decisions, whether they are county managers or chief executive officers of health boards, without accountability to public representatives. A great deal of this alienation will be expressed in the upcoming local elections.

Will the Minister accept the small measure provided for in this amendment to consult and allow this form of connection to be made. Otherwise, he will create a parallel system which is secretive, unaccountable at local level, and to which health members will have no access. It will be controlled in effect by the Minister and is a centralising edifice rather than one based on subsidiarity.

Mr. Cowen:  This issue was adverted to by the Deputy on second and committee stages. Despite my best attempts I have been unable to persuade the Deputy it is not the serious issue she believes. These amendments propose I should consult with each health board before deciding what functions the executive might carry out and before making regulations under this section.

I emphasised during the committee stage debate that the functions to be exercised by the Health Boards Executive will be executive only. It will not make policy decisions, supersede or undermine the boards in the implementation of policy. All of those functions of the board which are reserve functions under the Health (Amendment) Act remain with the boards. This section is not germane to the setting up of the Eastern Regional Health Authority. We are using the introduction of the legislation to put the Health Boards Executive on a statutory basis to enable boards to carry out functions for the whole country rather than expecting eight different areas to carry them out, perhaps not properly. It ensures that people will work together efficiently in implementing policies with a national perspective, for example, an immunisation programme etc. in the interests of the patient.

That is the purpose of this body. There is no hidden or subterranean agenda. It is expected to do what is done administratively anyway which is, consult and work out best practice in the executive daily management of the boards. There is no question of it overtaking or interfering with the remit of the functions of the elected members or the board generally. Because it is not germane to the Bill, people felt it was being included in a smart way but that is not so.

There is no question of keeping members of health boards in the dark about the activities of [45] the executive. They will be kept informed by their chief executive officers in accordance with existing legislation. It is not correct to say the executive is not obliged to inform health boards of their actions. It is required to do that under existing legislation because it is exercising executive functions. It is accountable to the board for those decisions. Similarly, this executive, acting as a collective, will be responsible to the respective health boards in which it has jurisdiction, that is, the eight chief executive officers will be answerable to the eight health boards.

The Deputy's amendments are unnecessary and would add to the bureaucratic and administrative machinery to no great effect. First, under existing legislation the executive is answerable to the boards. Second, we are talking about executive functions being taken together where it is in the interests of chief executive officers to do it in that way as regards the delivery of health services.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 19 not moved.

Mr. Cowen:  I move amendment No. 20:

In page 19, line 37, to delete “mental handicap” and substitute “intellectual disability”.

Amendment agreed to.

Bill reported with amendment and passed.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

  1.  Mr. J. Bruton    asked the Taoiseach    the priorities he has for the next summit of EU Heads of Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12780/99]

  2.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    if a date has been fixed for a meeting with the President of the European Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12964/99]

  3.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the further meetings, if any, he has finalised prior to the Cologne summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12969/99]

  4.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    if he has confirmed a meeting date with the German Chancellor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12970/99]

The Taoiseach:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.

The next European Council, which will take place in Cologne on 3-4 June, will be the fourth [46] time that EU Heads of State or Government have met during the German Presidency. The President of the European Council, Chancellor Schröder, who toured capitals in advance of the special European Council devoted to Agenda 2000 in Berlin in late March, will not undertake a second tour in advance of this European Council. As I already indicated to the House, I understand that the Chancellor plans to consult Heads of State or Government by telephone. I will meet the President designate of the Commission, Mr. Romano Prodi, on Thursday, 27 May. I expect that Mr. Prodi will attend the European Council as, of course, will President Santer.

As regards forthcoming meetings with other EU Heads of State or Government, I will meet with the Portuguese President, Dr. Jorge Sampaio, during his state visit to Ireland from 29 May to 2 June. In keeping with established practice, there will not be a formal agenda for the Cologne European Council. The issues and how the Presidency plans to approach them will gradually become clearer as the Cologne summit gets closer. Chancellor Schröder's planned telephone contacts with his colleagues will be one element of this process as will his letter to HOSGs immediately in advance of the summit.

On the basis of preparatory work so far, I expect the issues to include the situation in Kosovo; the European employment pact; institutional questions, specifically the handling of certain issues which were not resolved at Amsterdam; and common foreign and security policy, including the nomination of the high representative for CFSP. The Cologne summit is also expected to review developments in regard to European security and defence, with particular reference to the EU's role in the Petersberg tasks. Discussions are expected to continue under the Finnish Presidency.

Mr. J. Bruton:  When will the Taoiseach nominate a person to take Pádraig Flynn's place as Irish EU Commissioner?

The Taoiseach:  I expect that will be some time after the European elections but it will be discussed in the first instance with Mr. Prodi next week.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Why will the Taoiseach wait until after the European elections to nominate somebody?

Mr. Quinn:  He is waiting to see whether Gerry Collins will be elected.

Mr. D. Ahern:  Grow up.

The Taoiseach:  We will discuss this matter in the first instance with Mr. Prodi and the Government will then discuss it. We will then a make a decision in plenty of time for Mr. Prodi's initial work. He is not in a position to talk about portfolios at this stage.

[47]Mr. Quinn:  I am not asking the Taoiseach to open a debate on the position in the House because that would be against Ireland's interest, but has he signalled directly or indirectly to Mr. Prodi the areas in which Ireland would be interested in appointing a Commissioner and that there would be a variety of candidates that he could draw upon to fill that post? Does the Taoiseach agree that it is not appropriate, given the institutional structure of the country, that we should speculate openly here as to the identity of the next Commissioner? That is a matter for the Government, as has been the practice in the past, but it is entirely appropriate to ensure that Ireland gets an appropriate area of responsibility and that the Taoiseach puts in place a selection process which must be confidential and which will ensure that person will be accepted. What steps has he taken to ensure that Ireland gets a real job, not a left over job, after 11 June?

The Taoiseach:  The Deputy can take it that all the matters to which he referred are high on the agenda. I have had preliminary talks with Mr. Prodi. At this stage, as Deputies will be aware, he is working from a temporary office with one secretary and is only there some of the time. He is not yet in any way organised. He indicated to me that he will not be able to talk about portfolios next week. However, I will point out to him all the issues raised by the Deputy. The Tánaiste and I have already began the consultation process on how the Government will handle this issue.

Mr. Quinn:  I understand that Mr. Prodi will be here next Thursday and that the Taoiseach is due to meet him at 11.30 a.m. Will he ensure, as he is entrusted with the responsibility of the government of this country for the time being, that he will signal to him the areas of responsibility in which the Government is interested for an Irish Commissioner and satisfy him that he has a panel of candidates who could do that job? Can he give an indication that people within the Department of the Taoiseach and elsewhere are doing that work currently? Will he assure the House that 11 June, the date of the European elections, has no bearing whatsoever on the selection of a Commissioner?

The Taoiseach:  It has no bearing whatsoever and I have effectively already dealt with the other matters raised by the Deputy. However, Mr. Prodi has told me in advance of next week's meeting that because of the position in other countries and his own position, which is that he has not effectively taken up office, he is not in a position to make decisions on any portfolios but he will certainly listen to my views. We have always had good people and good positions and, naturally, I will make a strong case in those areas.

Mr. J. Bruton:  If the European elections have no bearing whatsoever on the Taoiseach's appointment, why did he say, in response to my [48] first supplementary question, that he would not make a nomination until after they have taken place?

The Taoiseach:  No other country will engage with Mr. Prodi until after the European elections.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Why?

The Taoiseach:  I do not know why others will not; I will do so next week.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Why has the Taoiseach not put forward a name before now? What is preventing him from doing so? Does he not see that if he has a good name in the field early there is a better chance of getting a good portfolio than if he comes in at the back of the field?

The Taoiseach:  I will meet Mr. Prodi to discuss all these issues; I am certainly not discussing them here.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Why not?

Mr. Sheehan:  The early bird catches the worm.

Mr. Quinn:  I am glad the Taoiseach confirmed that the outcome of the European elections will not be a factor in the selection of the Commissioner. I am not as sure that Gerry Collins is glad but, nevertheless, I am glad that has been put on the record. Does the Taoiseach agree that, bearing in mind the change in Ireland's relationship with the European Union, our traditional role in spending departments in the European Commission has shifted and Ireland has a greater interest, for example, in areas such as taxation, regional policy or fisheries than it might otherwise have had in areas such as agriculture or social affairs? Has the Government developed a position on these portfolios? Will the Taoiseach engage in a substantial conversation with Mr. Prodi next Thursday? Does he recognise that a number of countries have already signalled informally who will be their Commissioners? The Finns have already identified the area of responsibility – I am referring to science and information – they would like to assume after the establishment of the new Commission.

The Taoiseach:  Ireland's Commissioners have held different portfolios a long time ago, including that of competition. There are a number of important briefs, apart from those of agriculture and social affairs, both of which we have held. There are many other important ones, including those mentioned by the Deputy.

Dr. Prodi is coming here to discuss all these matters with me. When I spoke to him in recent weeks, I indicated that we have always presented high quality people who have served extremely well in the Commission down through the years and that will continue to be the case. Their records stand to all of them. I will certainly talk to Dr. Prodi about a range of people. Unfortu[49] nately, he has indicated to me that he is not in a position to indicate portfolios, and will not be until after the European Parliament elections. He will listen, but he is not in a position to talk about portfolios at this stage.

Mr. J. Bruton:  What is the Taoiseach's view of the proposal by the French and German governments, that a committee of three to five so-called wise persons should be set up to prepare for a new intergovernmental conference to deal with institutional questions as necessary, to facilitate enlargement? Does he favour this approach or does he favour the approach of other governments, which is that all governments should be represented on the personal representatives group?

The Taoiseach:  This matter will be discussed in Cologne. However, we will be better off if we are all involved. Enlargement is an important process and everyone should be involved. As Deputy Bruton knows, the intergovernmental conference will also be discussed at the Cologne Summit.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Given that the Cologne Summit will discuss European security and defence issues, what view will the Taoiseach take on the proposal from the Italian Prime Minister, Massimo Delama, that there should be a pause in the bombing of Yugoslavia to allow diplomatic efforts to proceed?

The Taoiseach:  I support the position of the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, that if the terms of his statement of 9 April – which was backed by the EU Heads of State at their meeting on 14 April – are adhered to by Milosevic and his authorities, there should be a pause. If that does not happen, there will not be a pause, and I support that position.

Mr. Higgins:  (Dublin West): Will the Taoiseach raise with the president of the European Commission, Mr. Prodi, remarks which he made on the BBC about a week ago? He was quoted as saying that eventually Europe will need to develop its own army to enable it to act quickly to intervene in crises like Kosovo. Will the Taoiseach tell the president that the view of the Irish people would be to have absolutely nothing to do with an EU army?

Will the Taoiseach raise the remarks Mr. Prodi made when he pointed out that mergers between European defence firms had already started a process—

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy cannot cite quotations during question time.

Mr. Higgins:  (Dublin West): The president of the European Commission said approvingly that the big defence firms in Europe were merging. He apparently sees this as some kind of positive development. Will the Taoiseach tell the pres[50] ident of the Commission that the arms trade is one of the dirtiest and most immoral trades that any section of humanity can be involved in? The people do not want anything to do with it. As the Taoiseach knows, some of the biggest EU member states are up to their necks in the arms trade.

In view of the constant prodding of the EU in the direction of a common army – certainly a common defence policy, which even Deputy Quinn appeared to be articulating in a statement a week ago—

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy should not make a statement. Will he please confine himself to questions?

Mr. Higgins:  (Dublin West): In view of the constant prodding of this country in the direction of an EU defence force, does the Taoiseach agree that those of us who are calling for a referendum on the Partnership for Peace, are entirely justified in our fears about what is going on?

The Taoiseach:  The current Minister for Foreign Affairs has taken a strong position against armaments and has supported UN resolutions on disarmament. Our position on that matter is clear. I have listened to Mr. Prodi's views about establishing a European army, but I would not support them. In the current circumstances, the issue of primary importance to the European Union is the potential for peacekeeping under the Petersberg Tasks, which is what people voted for in the Amsterdam Treaty. We should focus our efforts and energies on that issue. Under the Amsterdam Treaty it is for each member state to decide whether to participate in such tasks, on a case by case basis. I strongly support that. I do not see the issue of a European army being on the agenda, and I do not support it.

Mr. Quinn:  In the Taoiseach's initial reply he indicated that the appointment of the High Commissioner for Common Foreign and Security Policy will be decided at the Cologne Council. Will he indicate also what other posts will be filled? What is his view on how that post will be filled and who the likely person to fill it might be?

The Taoiseach:  I do not know. The matter remains where it has been for some months. A number of names have been around. An Irish candidate has not been declared formally, but some of the other names that are out have not been formally declared either. It is the only post that will be filled at this stage, although the French in particular, with some support from others, would probably like to see any of the outstanding posts filled.

Mr. Quinn:  Will the Taoiseach move from being a reporter to being a player? Will he indicate his view, whether the other position should be filled at the same time and whether it should be balanced against the composition of portfolios within the Commission proper? In effect, this is a [51] quasi-Commission post, although it is not part of the treaty. Does the Government have a view on these matters?

The Taoiseach:  My view is that it should have been filled many months ago, and I stated so last December. I do not like the idea that these posts are all held vacant while large countries, in the main, try to divvy them out among each other, and small countries must fight for their positions. That is what has been happening for years. These posts should be filled when they arise. However, the large countries do not take that view and they have very successfully managed to deal with them over the past 20 years.

At this stage the CFSP is the only post that is up for decision, but there are three other posts. I would prefer to see them all being dealt with. I do not like the idea of a compromise being worked out.

Mr. Quinn:  Will the Taoiseach be arguing for that?

The Taoiseach:  Yes, I have been doing so already.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Can I take it from the Taoiseach's response to Deputy Joe Higgins that he and the Government are opposed to an eventual common European defence policy?

The Taoiseach:  No, I am not opposed. I was asked about the question of a European army, to which Mr. Prodi referred at least twice recently.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I take it then that the Taoiseach is in favour of an eventual European common defence policy.

The Taoiseach:  We have stated that in all these matters we want to work from the Petersberg Tasks. That is what has been agreed. That is what the Amsterdam Treaty was about and we should follow it. We also believe that early intervention in these matters can be successful if dealt with in a humanitarian, peacekeeping way. That is what we support.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Does the Taoiseach recall that he was one of the people who signed the Maastricht Treaty which specifically commits all signatories to framing a common defence policy leading eventually to a common defence? Does the Taoiseach believe that is still the position of the Government? Or, is it the position of his Government that we are only committed to Petersberg Task type commitments?

The Taoiseach:  That is the position.

Mr. Noonan:  Which position?

The Taoiseach:  In my view we should be in the business of trying to prevent wars. That is what [52] this country should be trying to do and the Petersberg Tasks gives us plenty of scope to do so. That is what the people voted for and to what we are committed. As I said recently, I believe the common security and defence policy will move and people will continue to press this agenda. There will be other issues on the agenda later, but that will happen later. We are quite clear at this stage of our position. We are committed to the Petersberg Tasks—

Mr. J. Bruton:  What about a common defence policy? The Taoiseach signed up to that in 1992 with the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey.

The Taoiseach:  We did, but Deputy Bruton knows the understanding under which that was signed. It related to humanitarian positions and crisis management.

Mr. J. Bruton:  It is broader than that. It is all in the treaty.

The Taoiseach:  It is not much broader than that. It has never been defined as that. It is defined as what is set out in the Amsterdam Treaty, which was discussed and in which Deputy Bruton played a part. It was put to the people.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I am talking about Maastricht.

The Taoiseach:  Yes, but the Amsterdam Treaty is the one being pursued. The issue will continue to be on the agenda but we are clear as to where we are now. Let us not move to somewhere we are not.

Mr. J. Bruton:  What about the 1992 Treaty?

The Taoiseach:  We went through the Amsterdam Treaty only last year.

Mr. Higgins:  (Dublin West): Deputy Bruton will be general of the European army.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Thank you, and Deputy Higgins will be my Adjutant-General.

  5.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    if he has finalised plans to meet other Heads of State on the margins of the EU-Latin American and Caribbean Summit; if he has finalised plans to visit Mexico and Argentina; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12975/99]

The Taoiseach:  The EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit will open on 28 June. On the morning of that day, I will attend a meeting with the Heads of Government of the members of MERCOSUR – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Chile and Bolivia will also be represented, as will all of our EU partners. I hope to have a number of bilateral meetings with Heads of Government from the Latin America and Caribbean region during the course of the summit, [53] with whom I expect to discuss matters of bilateral interest, including our UN campaign and trade.

Preparations for my visits to Mexico and Argentina around the summit are proceeding. As the primary focus of these visits is economic, I will attend a number of business related events. I am seeking to finalise these arrangements to ensure my visit promotes Ireland's economic interests in the most effective way. For both visits, I will be accompanied by Irish business people with interests in that region. I will have a working meeting with President Zedillo and I also intend to meet members of the Irish community, including members of the Ireland Fund of Mexico.

My visit to Argentina will commence after the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit. As with Mexico, I am placing major emphasis on the economic aspects of the visit. I will meet President Menem on 30 June. I will also address the Argentine Council for International Relations about the peace process in Northern Ireland. In addition, I will have the opportunity to meet some of the local Irish and Irish-Argentinian community.

Mr. Quinn:  I welcome the Taoiseach's proposed visit to that part of the world, which Ireland has largely neglected for a variety of reasons. Cost was a major constraint, but that is no longer the case. Does the Taoiseach consider it is timely for the Department of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with Enterprise Ireland, to consider a strategic presence in Latin America for trade purposes?

In the various fora he will attend, does he intend to raise the outrageous and immoral continuing trade blockade of a valiant country by the only remaining superpower? That country, Cuba, has sought to do little more than plot its way in the world. The United States is sending aid and support to Vietnam. Does the Taoiseach consider the continuing economic strangling of Cuba is immoral? Does he propose to raise this matter at any stage during his visit to Latin America? Following that, does he intend to raise the issue with the President of the United States?

The Taoiseach:  I thank the Deputy for his remarks about these opportunities. The Government has moved on setting up an embassy in Mexico, which should happen either late this year or early next year. There are many opportunities in this area and some Irish companies, particularly food companies, have identified opportunities in this area. The economic delegations will be small but they see bigger opportunities in the future. I have not yet examined the detailed briefing but I will look into the matter raised by the Deputy and consult officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs about it.

Mr. Quinn:  Does the Taoiseach have a view on the morality of the United States maintaining this economic war against a minor country which is no longer part of the Cold War? It is ten years [54] after the event. Will the Taoiseach raise this matter? They are doing no more than we did under De Valera in 1932.

The Taoiseach:  I will consider the issue. I have not yet briefed myself on it, but there may be an appropriate opportunity to raise the matter. In fairness, Cuba has tried to move itself to a more modern position and is trying to reform.

Mr. Quinn:  Even the Pope has spoken out about this.

The Taoiseach:  I am aware of that and other countries have also raised the issue. If I can fit this in, I will gladly do so.

Mr. M. Higgins:  When the Taoiseach has an opportunity to raise this issue, will he ask those with whom he speaks to refer to the significant breaches of international law that are involved in the blockade? It is not merely a political issue but a significant breach of international law relating to freedom to trade. Will that be a component of the Taoiseach's case?

The Taoiseach:  If I get an opportunity to brief myself on what can be usefully done on this issue, I will do so. The argument has gone on for a long time. I am not sure of the effectiveness of the reforms Cuba has tried to effect—

Mr. Quinn:  The Taoiseach could lend his voice of support on behalf of this independent country. It is as simple as that.

The Taoiseach:  I said I will consider the matter, and if an opportunity arises I will raise it.

  6.  Mr. Finucane    asked the Taoiseach    the progress, if any, achieved in the consideration of a civic honours list to acknowledge people who have made a major contribution to Irish society. [12947/99]

The Taoiseach:  The question of whether such a scheme should be introduced is one for discussion and agreement between the parties. To provide a basis for such discussions, my Department has been preparing a discussion document on possible elements of such a scheme. Research into the practice in other countries has been conducted. I hope to circulate the discussion document to party leaders next month.

  7.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the number of parliamentary draftsmen employed in the Office of the Attorney General; the number employed at this time in 1998; if he has satisfied himself with these numbers having regard to the growing demands on the office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12973/99]

[55]The Taoiseach:  Legal drafting services are provided in the Office of the Attorney General through the office of the parliamentary draftsman and the statute law revision unit. There are 14 approved drafting posts at present – 13 in the office of the parliamentary draftsman and one in the statute law revision unit. Of these, two posts are unfilled and one drafter is on leave of absence from the office. In addition to the approved posts, three draftsmen are engaged on contract in the office of the parliamentary draftsman.

In May 1998 there were 13 approved posts, two vacancies and one drafter on leave of absence. I am conscious of the demand for legal services, particularly drafting services, and the impact developments or initiatives in other areas can have on these services. I have asked the Minister of Finance to monitor these developments with a view to ensuring resources are adequate to meet the demands which will arise for the office. I also understand the Civil Service Commission competition to recruit drafters is now complete and this will enable the vacancies to be filled.

Mr. Quinn:  Many Members present have shared in the honour of being in Cabinet. No matter how hard an individual Department works to bring forward a party policy platform to convert it into draft legislation, the ultimate delay is due to the funnel arising from staff shortages in the Office of the Attorney General, and the office of the parliamentary draftsman in particular. There are approximately 32 Bills pending in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform which cannot be drafted due to the capacity of the drafting office, which has 14 draftsmen and two on contract. Does the Taoiseach agree there is a need to radically change the way legislation is drafted as the system simply does not work? This has been a problem for successive Administrations and it is not a partisan observation. Does the Taoiseach accept that the system does not work? We have a legislative backlog, not to mention the secondary legislation in relation to compliance with the Internal Market. Does the Taoiseach believe the Civil Service Commission advertisement will solve the problem?

The Taoiseach:  I acknowledge this has always been a problem.

Mr. Quinn:  It is considerably worse now.

The Taoiseach:  We are passing more than 60 Bills a year.

Mr. Quinn:  It is not enough.

The Taoiseach:  It is never enough because there are always Bills outstanding. There are approximately 100 Bills outstanding at present. I, and other Ministers, have outlined the difficulties over the years. The size of the office allows two or three draftsmen to be trained. It is always difficult to recruit draftsmen. Barristers and solicitors are eli[56] gible to apply for the posts but they must also have a number of years experience and it takes almost five years to go through the system. Even if work is done in Departments – and increasingly, much of it is done in Departments – the Attorney General, like his predecessors, believes this work must be checked. The Attorney General and the parliamentary draftsman's office believe strongly that they must play a key role in this. Although parliamentary draftsmen are under pressure, when they are asked to provide legislation urgently they do so. The Social Welfare and Finance Bills, constitutional Bills and other urgent matters are dealt with. There is pressure on the office and there always will be.

The statute law revision section has opened and staff have been recruited for it, but unless one has an enormous office with a large number of staff, procedures cannot be quickened. It is difficult to recruit highly experienced draftsmen and that has always been the case.

Mr. Quinn:  Does the Taoiseach not agree that we have moved on from the position he describes? All legislation passed since 1922 is now on disc with an indexed electronic reference system. This kills one of the old arguments which used to come from Upper Merrion Street. When the Fianna Fáil Party was in opposition it had the capability, which the parties in opposition currently possess, to draft legislation. Fine Gael, when in opposition, tabled legislation which the Government of the day enacted.

Mr. Hayes:  The ground rent Bill, for example.

Mr. Quinn:  Let us not be polemical. That is nonsense and this is a serious matter.

We are not meeting our legislative requirements. Would the Taoiseach agree that when the Fianna Fáil Party was in opposition it generated legislation with the back-up which was available to it? The Fine Gael and Labour parties do likewise. The argument being made by the Taoiseach is not tenable. The suggestion that parliamentary draftsmen are magical witch doctors whose skill takes ten years to acquire is nonsense. The Taoiseach must know this from his experience in opposition. Does the Taoiseach not agree that we are falling behind in meeting our secondary legislation requirements? Will he review the situation and make a greater response to this crisis in the administrative system? We are not doing the business of parliament because of a bottleneck caused by a group of lawyers who have created a monopoly and who will not allow the bottleneck to be cleared.

The Taoiseach:  The Department of Finance is working with the Attorney General in an effort to increase numbers in the office. The office of the parliamentary draftsman has undergone a major review in recent years and its technology has been updated. The former Attorney General, Mr. Gleeson, did much of this work. The number [57] of staff has been increased and systems have been modernised. The demands on the office are enormous and its workload has increased dramatically.

Mr. Quinn:  The demands will grow.

The Taoiseach:  More than 60 Bills are being produced as well as all legal advice to the Government. The parliamentary draftsman is called upon, more and more, to provide priority legislation. I am sure that if the Department of Finance approved the appointment of ten more staff they would be welcome but that would take time. The present and previous Attorneys General have said the office can train two or three people at a time. People with relevant experience are not easily found. A competition was recently held to recruit a senior draftsman and one has been found. There is capacity for six contractors. Much preparatory work on legislation is now done in Departments but all legislation must be completed in the office of the Attorney General.

Mr. Quinn:  We are talking about a monopoly.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Does the Taoiseach think it might now be appropriate to ask if the emperor has any clothes? It appears to be accepted that the method of drafting legislation derives from the occult and is known only to the select initiates in the Attorney General's office who must go through the seven stages of preparation before they are allowed to draft legislation. Has it occurred to the Taoisach that this may be a worldwide form of restrictive practice which benefits those engaged in it?

Mr. M. Smith:  Did that ever occur to Deputy Bruton?

Mr. J. Bruton:  Amateurs such as politicians and individual lawyers have done as good a job as some of the initiates of parliamentary drafting. Would the Taoiseach not agree that as many problems have arisen in the courts from legislation drafted by parliamentary draftsmen as from legislation drafted by others?

Mr. Quinn:  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Will the Taoiseach undertake a study of what differentiates the drafting skills of parliamentary draftsmen from the drafting skills possessed by others which makes them special and requires that those who possess them have a monopoly in the drafting of all Government legislation apart from Revenue?

The Taoiseach:  It might be easy to jump on a bandwagon but the current and past parliamentary draftsmen have been competent and have served us extremely well. Their job is difficult and requires skill. This has been portrayed as a unique skill and it is. Much legislation tabled by Opposition parties is straightforward and does [58] not require references to, or consolidation of previous legislation.

Mr. Quinn:  That is not true.

The Taoiseach:  It happens all the time. If one examines the amendments made to Private Members' Bills one sees that they are required because the Bills are often drafted without reference to preceding legislation.

Mr. Quinn:  The debate on Committee Stage could deal with those shortcomings effortlessly.

The Taoiseach:  Let us not criticise people unfairly.

Mr. Quinn:  Since last December the entire legislative body is on electronic record and can be instantly cross-referenced.

The Taoiseach:  The drafting of legislation requires skill. It is not a simple matter and it should not be portrayed as such.

Deputy Bruton's proposal has already been put into effect. I continually raise the questions of how best to fulfil the legislative programme, how many people are needed in the Attorney General's office and how much work can be done by other Departments. These matters are being discussed by the Attorney General and the Department of Finance following work done by the Attorney General. I recall the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, one of the most complex industrial relations Bills which referred to legislation going back to 1810. Approximately 95 per cent of that Bill was drafted outside the Attorney General's office although the office checked the draft. It is almost ten years since that was done.

Mr. Quinn:  The Taoiseach succeeded because the people who drafted the legislation were going to agree to it.

The Taoiseach:  A legal person drafted the Bill. There was, admittedly, good consultation.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I am in favour of that.

The Taoiseach:  That sort of work is done in the Revenue Commission, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and others.

Mr. M. Higgins:  Does the Taoiseach agree that the idea of granting a drafting monopoly to an office like the office of the Attorney General was introduced in Britain in the middle of the 1960s? It was adopted here in the second half of the 1960s. One of the consequences of this has been the reduction in the number of amendments made by parliaments. The number of amendments made in the House of Commons fell from 80 per cent to 17 per cent. Parliament is damaged by the acceptance of the monopoly of legislative drafting. This is not a reflection on those who hold offices but simply to ask—

[59]An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy is giving information.

Mr. J. Bruton:  He is giving good information.

Mr. M. Higgins:  —will the Taoiseach make a comparative study of this problem in other parliaments, even those in the European Union, so that we know how the problem commenced and how, with fairness to everybody, it can be addressed?

Mr. J. Bruton:  I endorse the suggestion made by Deputy Higgins which is similar to mine. Will the Taoiseach undertake the study suggested so that we will know what is the best way of drafting legislation and the advantages of a monopoly as against a dispersed or decentralised system of drafting?

The Taoiseach:  This issue has been looked at probably by every Government. I have discussed it privately with Deputy Higgins. In talking to officials in the United Kingdom I found out that they enact far less legislation and that the changes did not help the overall legislative programme. The reports state that while some of the preparatory work needs to be centralised, the legal ramifications in a constitutional context need to be looked at.

Mr. J. Bruton:  Who prepares these reports but the people themselves? This is a report about a monopoly prepared by monopolists.

The Taoiseach:  If in preparing legislation the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources runs into difficulties in the courts, to whom will it turn for legal advice?

Mr. J. Bruton:  Quis custodiet?

The Taoiseach:  It is easy to give off-the-top-of-the-head solutions but I will look at the position which is being looked at by the Attorney General to see if he can improve the system.

  8.  Mr. J. Bruton    asked the Taoiseach    if he will ensure funding is provided for the millennium proposal put forward by Kilbride national school, County Meath (details supplied) to build a peace house on the site of the Parnell Street bomb as a memorial to all those who died in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings in 1974; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10805/99]

  9.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    when the national millennium committee last met; when it will meet again; if he will give a progress report on its work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [ 12972/99]

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. S. Brennan):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together.

[60] The national millennium committee, which I chair, is to make recommendations to Government on project proposals of national significance for inclusion in the Government's millennium programme and recommend a system for supporting community, local, county or regional projects which will provide an opportunity for local communities, including in areas of disadvantage, to participate in the millennium commemoration.

The national millennium committee meets at least once every month. Its last meeting was held on 22 April and it is to meet again tomorrow, 20 May. Since its establishment towards the end of last year the committee has made substantial progress, including the design of a national millennium logo following a competition in third level colleges of art and design, North and South; the processing of over 500 proposals as a result of a public invitation to submit projects for the millennium; recommending and receiving the Government's approval for the following awards from the millennium fund: £1 million for Millennium Festivals Limited; £2 million for Míle Átha Cliath for its Liffey of Lights and Liffey Boardwalk projects, and £80,000 for the Millennium Book project, Write Here, Write Now. The work of the committee is ongoing and under the terms of its remit it reports regularly to Government.

The National Millennium Committee has received a large number of project proposals. To ensure millennium funding is available for locally-based projects, the Government, on the recommendation of the committee, recently approved a millennium recognition awards initiative to be administered by Area Development Management Limited on behalf of the committee. A sum of £1.9 million of millennium funding is to be made available for awards under this initiative and details will be announced shortly.

A number of letters have been received from students in Kilbride national school, County Meath suggesting that a peace house be built on the site of the Parnell Street bomb as a memorial to all those who died in the Dublin and Monaghan bombing of 1974. As Deputies will appreciate, there are a number of issues which would need to be considered for such a project to go ahead, for example, the ownership of the site, funding and implementation of the project. The proposal will be considered by the national millennium committee in the context of its mandate. It would greatly assist the committee in its consideration of the project if a more developed proposal was submitted to it.

Mr. J. Bruton:  I thank the Minister of State for his fair reply in regard to the Kilbride national school initiative. I will follow it up.

[61]

  10.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the last occasion on which the Committee on Social Inclusion and Drugs met; the number of occasions on which it has met to date in 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11528/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Mr. Flood):  The Committee on Social Inclusion and Drugs met on Thursday, 22 April. It has met on three occasions this year, 28 January, 23 February and 22 April. Its next meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, 20 May.

Mr. M. Higgins:  Given the infrequency of meetings and the urgency of the problem which the committee is addressing, are proposals being considered?

Mr. Flood:  On its establishment, it was envisaged that the committee would meet once a month. With the exception of March, it has achieved that objective. It met at least once a month last year – twice in one month. While I take the Deputy's point about the frequency of meetings, we are keeping to that schedule.

Mr. M. Higgins:  If the committee came up with a social initiative relating to the elimination of drug use as part of a significant millennium project, would the Minister of State's colleague in charge of millennium initiatives be in a position to consider it?

Mr. Flood:  The issue raised by the Deputy is one of the significant issues being addressed by the Committee on Social Inclusion and Drugs. The Deputy's suggestion is a good one and has considerable merit. I will endeavour to establish if we can proceed with an initiative along the lines suggested. It would have my strong personal support.

Mr. Gregory:  On the last occasion a similar question was tabled the Minister of State indicated that an expert body was in the process of being established. What timescale does he have in mind for its establishment? I understand the initial allocation of £10 million to finance the local drugs task forces, which have been requested to review their work programmes, is now fully committed. What allocation is envisaged to enable the work programmes continue over the next year or two?

Mr. Flood:  My proposals to establish the expert body are to be presented to the Committee on Social Inclusion and Drugs tomorrow when I hope there will be a positive outcome. The sum of £10 million is now fully committed and is being drawn down for in excess of 250 projects under way in the areas covered by the 13 local drugs task forces. The national drugs strategy is currently being evaluated. I expect to bring proposals to Government for a further allocation of funding to enable the national drugs strategy team and, importantly, the local drugs task forces to continue their work.

[62]An Ceann Comhairle:  We now proceed to priority questions to the Minister for Public Enterprise.

Mr. Stagg:  I tabled a priority question on the Great Southern Hotels group in good time. Because the rules of the House allow a party other than my own to table a motion on the same subject, it has been gazumped. As a result there is no priority question in my name.

Mr. Yates:  I was unaware of that.

  11.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if she will ensure every person who registers to purchase Telecom Éireann shares under the initial public offering will be guaranteed up to £3,000 worth of shares and, through this, a decision to ensure the retail market will be able to receive priority treatment in the allocation of shares. [12545/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  It is too early to speculate about the allocations as these will not take place until closer to the launch. As I stated last week in the debate on the general principles of the Telecom Éireann IPO, I want to ensure every citizen in the State is given a fair opportunity to participate. While the details of the retail offer have yet to be decided, I can confirm that there will be a significant tranche of shares for retail investors. I would like to see a greater allocation to the Irish public than in other cases to date but this will be decided by Government at the appropriate time. It would be my intention also to structure the retail offer with the small investor in mind. There must be an equitable balance between the retail and institutional offerings. It is the market which will decide the value of the company. The institutional offer needs to be sufficient to encourage investors to participate.

Mr. Yates:  Will the Minister give a commitment that everybody who registers – I understand perhaps in excess of one million will do so – will be guaranteed at least a fixed option up to a certain level? Even if the figure is £1,000, which is somewhat less than I would have liked, will the Minister include such a provision in the memorandum she brings to Government? I appreciate it is a Government decision. Does the Minister accept her £40 million advisers, as I like to call them, have a vested interest in having a number of tranches of sales? The Minister has up to 50.1 per cent to sell. If this is the best opportunity, given that one million have registered and their only preference is to be ahead of those who have not – there will be few people who will not have registered – will the Minister ensure that as much of the stake as possible is sold to facili[63] tate at least £1,000 for everyone who registers, if they want it?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I cannot possibly give details of a memorandum which I have yet to prepare, as that would be extraordinary behaviour. I am aware the advisers, at whatever price they finally square off, would have an inclination towards a particular type of investor. Therefore, it is my job as the political mover of the matter to ensure the small retail investor gets a chance. I will give the exact number who have registered in response to another question. I believe registration closes on Friday. If there is over-subscription, those who have registered will get first call.

Mr. Yates:  Is the Minister aware that in other privatisations across Europe substantial windfall profits were made by those who bought shares in the public listing, IPO, such as this, and subsequently had the opportunity to trade upwards? Does she consider it politically acceptable that fat cat city slick stockbrokers in Manhattan, London and Geneva might make a killing on an asset that is already publicly owned and paid for by the Irish public? Does she consider it politically acceptable that those fat cat stockbrokers should have the same chance of buying shares as the Irish public?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  No, because I have no time for fat cats. That has been my stated opinion from the start.

Mr. Yates:  Why does the Minister not give a guarantee?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Under the legal structures of Government, I cannot disclose the content of a memorandum which has yet to be written and on which I have very strong thoughts. Small investors, who have shown, by registering, that they have a keen interest in what will happen, should have their chance in this flotation. I believe the memorandum I will bring to Cabinet will reflect my views.

  12.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    her response to the report (details supplied) commissioned by Aer Rianta into its strategic future; if it is Government policy to retain the three airports of Dublin, Cork and Shannon as one unit now and in the future; if she has satisfied herself that the investment programme of £350 million put forward by Aer Rianta is justified and necessary; and if she will ensure that there is proper consultation with air carriers and clients of Aer Rianta's airports to see that this level of investment is justified economically. [12546/99]

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Aer Rianta report on the future strategic direction of the Aer Rianta group [64] has been referred to a team of consultants appointed by myself and the Minister for Finance, Deputy McCreevy. Those consultants will examine and evaluate the full range of recommendations made by the board of Aer Rianta to me. It would not be appropriate for me at this point to speculate on a possible response to the Aer Rianta report until it has done its work.

In that report, which I circulated to the House, Aer Rianta contends that the retention of Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports as one group of airports is central to its vision for their strategic future. This matter will be considered as part of our analysis of what they have said.

The figure of £350 million, to which the Deputy refers, relates to the capital expenditure proposals put forward by Aer Rianta in its report and covering all three State airports for the three year period 1999-2001. These proposals are a development on a six year programme first approved by the Deputy's party when in Government in 1996 to cover the period to 2001. That programme was costed at £220 million in 1996. Two years later in 1998, this Government, in response to the continuing high growth rates of traffic, increased the amount to £308 million. The latest proposals contain a significant element relating to the completion of major capacity enhancing projects. At Dublin and Shannon, large elements of the investment programme relate to major terminal expansions and at Cork Airport, it relates mostly to improvements to the runway.

When it has formulated its proposals, Aer Rianta will, as always, engage in consultation with its airline customers. In addition to Aer Rianta's latest proposals, the company also has outline plans for the years beyond that point. The present programme is an expansion of the 1996 programme.

Mr. Yates:  I have two specific questions on the future of Aer Rianta. I know the Minister is always one report away from making a decision—

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I made many of them in my time.

Mr. Yates:  —and again in this case, she awaits another report. Having got a report, she has commissioned another one. It is a familiar pattern, but I am used to it. There is a fear in Shannon that Dublin is by far the most profitable airport and that in some future existence they could be split up. Will the Minister give an assurance that it is this Government's policy to preserve the three airports? As the Minister knows, Shannon is seen as a vehicle for regional policy.

Notwithstanding that the Minister has a report on the strategic alliance of Aer Lingus, she was able to go on radio and say she favoured an IPO for Aer Lingus in the future. That is fair enough. Does she, however, favour an IPO for Aer Rianta in the future? Will the Government keep the [65] three airports together in all circumstances? Does she favour an IPO for Aer Rianta?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy is like a scatter-gun.

Mr. Yates:  They are very straight questions.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Of course, they are straight questions. I guess the Deputy is a very straight guy, at least I hope he is. I have a warm regard for Shannon Airport and have made that clear in my 14 visits to it in less than two years. The Government will make a decision on Aer Rianta's proposals and on the way forward as regards an IPO for Aer Rianta or Aer Lingus. They are decisions for Government, not for me. I will put forward proposals and Cabinet will debate them.

Mr. Yates:  I note the Minister is not prepared to give a commitment to the people of Shannon that the airports will be retained as a single unit. We have debated the dissatisfaction of the air carriers – this is critical to Aer Rianta – Aer Lingus and Ryanair, in relation to the abolition of the discount scheme on 1 July. Will the Minister intervene to ensure retention of that scheme? In the context of the future of Aer Rianta, whereby a regulatory role will remain with the Minister, is she prepared to intervene in this issue so that the proposals to expand low fare access to Ireland will continue through that scheme?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  As the Deputy knows, I am very interested in that issue, and he has contacts to which I have no objections. As it is an important matter, I hope we will be able to come to a decision on it at a future date. The continuation of low fares, regardless of the airline, in and out of Ireland has positioned this county well in the tourism and commercial markets. That is an issue which will fall to be addressed very soon.

  13.  Ms O. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    when legislation will be brought forward conferring powers on CIE to delegate to a private sector operator some of its operating functions under the Transport (Dublin Light Rail) Act, 1996. [11692/99]

Mrs. O'Rourke:  In December last, the Department commissioned a study on a public private partnership approach for the Dublin light rail project. The consultants' report was published recently. It indicated that, if their proposed approach to a PPP for the project was accepted, changes to the Transport (Dublin Light Rail) Act, 1996, would be required.

The recommendations in the report are being studied by my Department and I am consulting again with interested parties. I am anxious that all interested parties will be given an opportunity to study the report and respond. When that con[66] sultation has been completed, I will bring a report to Cabinet. The requirement, if needed, for amending legislation will be addressed in this context.

Ms O. Mitchell:  Perhaps I should have asked the Minister if the consultants report would be accepted and whether CIE or its subsidiaries would continue to be the client for the purposes of procuring a private operator. Is the Minister aware of CIE's attitude to the Luas project? I am sure she is aware of rumours and media reports which suggest a divergence of opinion on the value of this project. Has she detected a change of attitude in CIE since it has become known that it may not operate Luas? Is she satisfied there will not be a major conflict of interest if CIE continues as the client but in competition with the operator of Luas?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I received an interesting letter from the chairman of CIE three or four days after I published the PPP report we had commissioned. The Deputy asked if I was aware of a change of attitude following the publication of the report. That was the first inclination I had that the sponsor of Luas, which is CIE, might consider changing gear. However, it did not change gear.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister is going to abort Luas and blame CIE. That is good footwork.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I do not know what the Deputy is talking about. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked me a question and I am sure she is annoyed with the Deputy.

Mr. Yates:  That is a clever move.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I did not think it was a clever move by CIE.

Mr. Yates:  It is a clever move by the Minister.

Mr. Stagg:  The £400 million plus has now increased to £1,000 million plus.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Because it got the report from me.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister will scupper the project and blame CIE.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Someone saw the Deputy on television last night and they asked me if he was an ass. I said he was a clever person.

Mr. Yates:  I am glad for that reassurance.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy is rude. Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked this question.

Mr. Yates:  I accept that.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I got a letter from the chairman of CIE three or four days after the report [67] was published. Meanwhile, CIE is giving evidence before Judge O'Leary about the second line. We have pointed out to CIE that it is the sponsor of Luas, so what is the purpose of the letter? I presume no one disagrees with the public/private partnership building a portion of Luas. The report advised that CIE should consider contracting out to private operators the running of Luas. The Deputy asked if there would be a conflict of interests if there was competition. I hope to meet the unions and the board of CIE shortly and I hope to receive a correctly worded and evaluated proposal for the building of Luas. I found the change of tack extremely interesting – I would not say alarming – four days after the report was published.

Ms O. Mitchell:  I thank the Minister for her honest and open reply. Is it her intention to implement the recommendations of the Behan report? Will CIE remain the sponsor of this project?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I do not know because I am only beginning to talk to people about it. The note I received with the report stated that those proposals should be considered. The first meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on the national development plan will take place tomorrow and those issues will be aired informally there. I will go back to Cabinet with proposals in that regard.

  14.  Mr. Currie    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the consideration, if any, given to the proposal made on 15 April 1999 to the Joint Committee on Public Enterprise and Transport involving decommissioning of nuclear facilities, an end to reprocessing, including Sellafield, and a programme of nuclear clean up described as the grand bargain; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13081/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  I am aware of the proposals made by Dr. Gordon Thompson for a nuclear grand bargain. These proposals were previously referred to during a debate in the Seanad on 3 March 1999 in connection with a motion on nuclear fuel reprocessing in the course of which I outlined the Government's position.

Under the terms of the proposed bargain, France and Britain would agree to stop reprocessing and, with the involvement of other nations, would initiate a vigorous programme of nuclear clean up in Russia and elsewhere. Dr. Thompson suggested that smaller countries not directly involved, such as Ireland, could play an important role as facilitators of the bargain. The Government fully supports the suggestion that reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel should cease and be replaced by nuclear clean up activities. However, the approach to be adopted by Ireland [68] needs to be realistic and based on our best assessment of what is likely to achieve success.

It does not necessarily follow that the nuclear reprocessing companies in Britain or France would abandon their reprocessing activities because of their participation in a major clean up programme. These companies are already involved in such clean up operations and may see further clean up operations as a useful commercial extension of their existing activities, including reprocessing.

The EU PHARE and TACIS programmes provide assistance to the central and eastern European countries and to the states of the former Soviet Union in the form of specific co-ordinated activities which are aimed at assisting with the closure of unsafe and aging Chernobyl-type reactors, the upgrading of other reactors to acceptable western standards, the improvement of radioactive waste management and assisting with clean up operations.

I am anxious that we pursue our nuclear safety objectives in a realistic fashion, taking account of our best judgment of the likely outcome of any diplomatic initiatives we adopt. Implicit in our approach is the Government's wish to see an end to reprocessing.

Additional InformationWe are also anxious to contribute in any way we can to the promotion of improved safety standards and environmental protection globally. Any initiatives to this end, such as the EU PHARE and TACIS programmes, are actively supported by the Government.

Mr. Currie:  I had hoped the Minister of State would have said something useful. I am disappointed he was not allowed to finish his reply.

Would the Minister of State agree that, in addition to world stability and stability in Russia, this proposal would have certain advantages for Ireland in terms of ending the reprocessing at Sellafield, which has been our aim for a long time, reducing the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, particularly the risk of such weapons getting into the hands of terrorist organisations, bringing tangible benefits to our economy and giving opportunities to entrepreneurs? Would the Minister agree that we, as a neutral state, should give serious consideration to this proposal as it would be in line with our record on nuclear disarmament at the United Nations?

Mr. Jacob:  I agree. There are huge benefits for Ireland incorporated in this proposal which are in keeping with the aspirations of this and previous Governments. We have to be realistic about this. This is not a fairy story. We are dealing with companies which are involved, as I was for many years, in the harsh world of commerce. BNFL and its French counterpart are also involved in the corporate world and will do things for profit. Obviously that which is suggested would be beneficial and is in line with Government policy. The [69] Government policy is to continue the campaign against Sellafield. We do that vigorously and at all times. I am happy to raise this matter with my counterparts abroad, whom I meet regularly.

I have asked the Energy Minister in the UK, Mr. John Battle, to come and speak to us on nuclear issues and specifically some relating to his own portfolio. He will come to Dublin on Friday next. I will certainly put to him that which is proposed here and will stress once again our aversion to reprocessing activities at Sellafield and our aspiration and demand that they be discontinued.

Mr. Currie:  I am glad the Minister of State is showing considerable enthusiasm for this proposal. I hope he will push it extremely hard and, if so, he will be supported from this side. Will he agree that one way he might approach it in view of the practical problems he spoke about and which I accept, would be —

An Ceann Comhairle:  The time for Priority Questions has now expired. We must proceed to Question No. 15.

Mr. Currie:  May I finish my sentence?

An Ceann Comhairle:  No. The time has expired. The Chair has no option but to operate the order of the Dáil which lays down six minutes for each question.

Mr. Currie:  I imagine more flexibility should be shown. I was in the middle of a sentence.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The order of the Dáil does not provide for flexibility.

Mr. Currie:  Everything depends on flexibility and judgment.

An Ceann Comhairle:  We proceed to Question No. 15.

Mr. Currie:  That is ridiculous.

  15.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals, if any, she has to reverse or defer the implementation of legislation on the new EU directive relating to the regulation of hushkits on airplanes; the contingency plans, if any, she has to limit any consequences to the economy from its implementation or arising out of a trade war with the United States; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12544/99]

[70]

  26.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the study, if any, her Department has carried out on the effect on jobs if the new EU directive relating to the regulation on hushkits on airplanes is implemented and the exact quantum of noise improvement this will provide at EU airports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12543/99]

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 26 together.

Council Regulation (EC) No. 925/1999 on the registration and operation within the Community of certain types of civil subsonic jet aeroplanes which have been modified and recertificated as meeting the standards of Chapter 3 of Annex 16 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation was adopted on 29 April 1999 at the EU Industry Council. I am circulating in the Official Report a copy of the declaration to this effect which was made by the Council and Commission.

These discussions with the US are aimed at establishing a joint EU-US position on noise rules for the International Civil Aviation Organisation's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection, CAEP. These discussions may also identify a possibility to modify parts of the regulation recently adopted. I hope that the differences between the EU and US will be resolved during these discussions.

My Department, in conjunction with the Irish Aviation Authority, will participate in these ongoing discussions and will evaluate any new proposals or amendments to the regulation that may emerge. In the meantime, as the regulation is not in operation, it will not have an impact on jobs in Irish companies.

Council and Commission declaration

The Council of the European Union took note of the report by the Commission on the consultations held with the United States on the draft regulation on re-certificated aircraft following the Council Conclusions of 29 March 1999. The Council recalls that it decided to postpone its decision to adopt this regulation by a month to facilitate work on an agreement which would help to accommodate concerns expressed by the United States.

The Council and the Commission welcome the priority given by the United States to the ICAO work on noise standardisation. They note with satisfaction the willingness recently expressed by the US to develop expeditiously, within ICAO and in close co-operation with the European Community, the next generation of noise standard that would answer the long-term needs of citizens who live near to airports. The European Community committed itself to work, in close co-operation with the US and other partners, on a new ICAO noise standard as a priority. This work should include, in addition to a next generation noise standard, the development of phase-out measures for the noisiest categories within Chapter 3.

The Council and the Commission consider that, in addition to a new ICAO standard, it is important to answer the immediate noise problems generated by the development of air trans[71] port and the problems arising from deficiencies in the phasing out of the Chapter 2 aircraft by 2002 as agreed with ICAO.

The Council, in adopting the regulation, decided in this exceptional case and without creating a precedent, taking due account of the views of the European Parliament, to postpone the date of application of the Regulation by one year to facilitate the continuation and the conclusion of the consultations with the United States. The Commission is invited to report to the Council on these consultations by September 1999.

The Council and the Commission stressed that they attach great importance to the success of this process.

Mr. Yates:  Do I take it the date for implementation of this regulation has been deferred or is the regulation subject to consultation that may result in it being altered?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  It was finally adopted at the EU Industry Council on 29 April but is not in operation and will not come into operation for 12 months. I will send the details to the Deputy. Its implementation has been delayed to allow for full discussions between the EU and US on their concerns and differences.

Mr. Yates:  It may be altered within that year.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  It will be altered. We hope it will be as that is what they will be talking about.

Mr. Yates:  In relation to the Irish perspective on this, will the Minister ask her officials to investigate whether this new directive has any quantum of noise improvement because I am advised it is less strict than the ICAO proposal? Is she aware of representations by the US embassy and the US Government that they see this matter as so important that there could be trade recriminations as there are in beef hormones and beef and that that should be taken into account? During the next year will she consider the implications for jobs in Ireland in relation to a number of aircraft maintained, serviced and reconditioned here which would become obsolete in Europe if this regulation was implemented? In any future discussion, at the end of the consultations, the Irish Government should have a strong and informed position.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I am aware the US has made representations. The American Ambassador spoke to me about it on a social courtesy occasion but did not go into detail. I had not intended to go to the informal meeting because it did not suit. At informal meetings no real business is done but I felt business could be done so I went to Germany. I heard Mr. McEvaddy on the radio that morning. I contacted my office to tell him I was going for that one reason, to speak to my colleagues about hushkits. He has both before and [72] after been into the Department speaking to John Lumsden about it. I think I spoke to all my colleagues about the matter. A belief developed during the day that this was the way it should proceed to allow for proper consultation. It was one of the few times in my ministerial career when I was glad I went to an informal meeting where conclusions are not reached. The chat allows one to develop an issue which finally became the regulation on 29 April.

Mr. Stagg:  For the benefit of the public who are watching us on TnaG will the Minister tell the House what are hushkits?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  When I became involved in this area I asked what hushkits were about. A hushkit is a component which is attached to a plane to enable the noise level of that plane to be lessened.

  16.  Mr. Gilmore    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the plans, if any, she has to sanction a fare increase in Dublin Bus and DART services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12997/99]

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I am currently considering an application for fares increases for the three CIE operating subsidiaries. I hope to be in a position to make a decision on this application in the near future.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister issued a press release last December in which she said she intended to look positively at an application with her for an increase of 16 per cent.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I did not say 16 per cent.

Mr. Stagg:  I have it here in front of me.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  That is 16 per cent because it is a graded one.

Mr. Stagg:  The press release says that since the cost of living has risen by 16 per cent –

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I would not grant a 16 per cent increase. The CPI is 16 per cent since the last increase.

Mr. Stagg:  This is the press release. Will the Minister agree that at a time when we want to get people to go on to trains and buses and out of cars, to use the mechanism of funding the public transport system by increasing fares will discourage people from leaving their cars and getting into trains and buses? Will she agree it would be a better system to increase the subsidy to the companies from the Exchequer directly as in every other capital city in Europe rather than increase the fares?

[73]Mrs. O'Rourke:  I said CPI increased by 16 per cent since the last fares increase.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister said that in the context of a fares increase. By how much will they increase?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I have no notion of increasing fares by 16 per cent. It is an old tactic used by Opposition Deputies. I used it, so I am aware of it. I said CPI increased. Interestingly, many of the fares were increased in 1994 under the Labour-Fianna Fáil Coalition Government. The general level of fares did not increase but many individual fares were increased.

Mr. Stagg:  Never mind 1994. What is the position now?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy was in the Department at that time; one cannot forget that from time to time.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister is promising to increase the fares.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I am looking at the issue.

Mr. Stagg:  How long will the Minister look at it?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Quite a while.

Mr. Stagg:  Will it be until after the election?

Mr. Yates:  Will the Minister confirm that fares will increase by 9 per cent after the election?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  No. I will not do so just to please the Deputy.

Mr. Yates:  The dogs in the street know that is the position.

Mr. Stagg:  Is the Minister aware that the Arrow and DART commuter services are so crowded that nobody pays fares unless they buy a weekly ticket? The collectors cannot get through the carriages to collect the fares. Unless they are foolish or honest enough to buy a weekly ticket, people travelling to Naas, Maynooth, Greystones and the northside do not pay fares.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I am sure people are honest and want to pay their fares.

Mr. Stagg:  They cannot pay them.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I would not suggest that everybody who travels is not paying fares.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister grossly misinterpreted my comments. I do not suggest that people are dishonest. My point is that the conditions on the trains are such that the collectors cannot get through the crowds to collect fares. The figures for these trains, when they become available, will [74] show that there were very few people on them although they are packed to the doors. Will the Minister do something about this matter and enable the collectors to collect the fares which are due by providing the necessary infrastructure?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  That is not part of the question.

Mr. Stagg:  Will the Minister do something about it? It is part of the question because it relates to fare increases.

Mr. Yates:  Is the Minister confirming that immediately after the local elections she will sanction fare increases? Does she agree this will add to the cynicism of the travelling public? A political decision has, in effect, been made but it has been deferred until after 11 June.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I am sorry to inform the Deputy that no political decision has been taken.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister promised to look positively at Dublin Bus fare increases. It is stated in her press release.

Mr. Yates:  It is a cynical move.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  It is interesting that, in September 1994, a total of seven range increases were given.

Mr. Stagg:  Rubbish. The Minister has been looking at the matter since last December. She will not make an announcement until after the elections.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Deputy Stagg was the Minister involved at that time.

Mr. Stagg:  We are not looking at 1991.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  How interesting that Deputy Stagg was the Minister involved.

Mr. Stagg:  This is another fine mess.

Mr. Yates:  It is another botch.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  It is awful to be in Opposition. It must be terrible for Deputy Stagg because he was the Minister involved. I feel sorry for him but it is a good idea to change portfolios. At least one can then be straightforward.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister does not have the courage to do it.

Mr. Yates:  She should do the decent thing and go to Europe.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I would hate it. Imagine all the spats I would miss.

Mr. Stagg:  Let the record show that the Minister hates Europe.

[75]Mr. Yates:  She likes her big meals at informal Council meetings.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Unfortunately, I could not stay for dinner. I had to come home.

  17.  Mr. Wall    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the position in relation to the campaign to retain duty free sales; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13000/99]

Mrs. O'Rourke:  At ECOFIN on 15 March, Germany, as the current President of the European Union, proposed a two and a half year extension for the retention of duty free facilities. However, the proposal failed to obtain unanimous support and no clear position was taken. It was then hoped that the Heads of State meeting in Berlin on 24 and 25 March would provide an opportunity for further discussion. However, this did not happen.

The French Minister for Finance will raise the duty free issue at the ECOFIN meeting on 25 May. In addition, the German Chancellor's office has indicated Germany's intention to follow through on the issue at the next EU summit meeting on 3 June with a view to persuading the European Commission to reconsider its position and come forward with a legislative proposal for a final, one-time extension of intra-EU duty free sales. Germany, as the current President of the European Union, remains the key to obtaining concessions at this late stage.

Mr. Stagg:  Does the Minister agree that the Government of which she was a member with collective Cabinet responsibility in 1991 failed to send a Minister to the crucial meeting where the decision was made to abolish duty free sales? Does she agree that the Irish Ambassador to the EU at that time received instructions from the Government to support the abolition of duty free sales? Will she agree this is the reason for the current position? The then Government had a veto which would have ensured the continuation of duty free sales, but it failed to act. The Minister and the Government are late converts in terms of support for this issue. Will the Minister confirm that there is no realistic prospect of reversing this decision? She knows a unanimous decision is not possible now.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I have no idea if a unanimous decision will be secured but I think we will get it. The French have placed the matter on the agenda for the meeting next Tuesday.

Mr. Stagg:  They do not have a hope.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Germans will follow up the matter at the next EU summit under its presidency.

Mr. Stagg:  They do not matter.

[76]Mrs. O'Rourke:  When I spoke about the fare increases Deputy Stagg granted in 1994, he said we should forget the past.

Mr. Stagg:  That does not matter. This relates to 1991. The Minister was directly involved in this fateful decision in 1991.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I was not involved in it.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister was involved.

Mr. Yates:  It is called collective Cabinet responsibility.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I ask Deputies not to engage in this crossfire.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  It is interesting that the Deputy does not want to talk about his own decisions in 1994. Why does he not want to talk about them?

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister can do so if she likes, but she should deal with 1991.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Deputy may ask another supplementary if sufficient time is available.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy does not want to deal with 1994 when he granted fare increases but he wants me to talk about events in 1991. The Deputy has developed an interesting position for himself.

Mr. Stagg:  The Minister did not answer the question.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister said the Commission must propose any change if duty free sales are to be retained. Is she aware that Mr. Jacques Santer said that, because the Commission has resigned and there is currently an acting Commission, it is not empowered to make such a proposal? This matter is running into the sand fast.

Mr. Stagg:  In June.

Mr. Yates:  It would be better to be honest with people than to pretend that this campaign, which was always based on quicksand, is getting somewhere. It is going nowhere.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I have no control over the French who placed this matter on the agenda for the meeting next Tuesday. They know their business.

Mr. Yates:  It is an acting Commission.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  That is the case but the French placed the matter on the agenda for next Tuesday's meeting.

Mr. Stagg:  That is only a meeting of ECOFIN. There will not be unanimous agreement there.

[77]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Minister without interruption.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The French tabled the matter for the meeting next Tuesday. As President of the EU, Germany said it will raise the matter at the next Heads of State meeting. They know their business. It is not for me to tell them that they should not raise it.

Mr. Stagg:  Will the Minister confirm that, as a Minister in 1991, she shared Cabinet responsibility for the decision of the Government to support a European decision to abolish duty free sales although Ireland had a veto?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I will not confirm it.

Mr. Stagg:  Why?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I do not have the relevant details. The Deputy mentioned the instructions given to the ambassador.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister knows well what happened. Do not tell me she is losing her memory like the Taoiseach. Amnesia is becoming infectious on that side of the House. They cannot remember who they met or where they were.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Minister without interruption.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy could not remember whether he was in Dublin Airport or a pub in Wexford.

Mr. Yates:  I always knew. The Fianna Fáil Party twisted it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I call Question No. 18.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy has amnesia.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister is blustering.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The Deputy cannot remember where he was.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I remind Members that under new Standing Orders six minutes are allocated to each question. The Chair is obliged to ensure we stay within that time but I cannot do that if there are many interruptions.

  18.  Mr. Spring    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the position in relation to the funding of the STAD case against BNFL; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12977/99]

Mr. Jacob:  The County Louth residents, who are taking a case against BNFL, accepted the terms of a Government offer of financial assistance towards the cost of research activities in [78] relation to their case. A total of £76,000 has been paid to date under that arrangement. Further invoices have recently been received from the residents' solicitor. These invoices are currently being examined in my Department to ensure that the terms of the agreement are being complied with.

The Government approved a further package of assistance in December 1997, relating to defined areas of work by the residents' legal team, arising from their research activities. Details of this offer were outlined in my letter to the residents' solicitor dated 12 December 1997. The residents have recently requested a meeting to discuss the offer and appropriate contact will be made as soon as possible.

Mr. Stagg:  To set the record straight, I was not in the Department of Transport, Energy and Communications in September 1994, I was in the Department of the Environment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Deputy, if you have a question for the Minister relating to Question No. 18, please put it.

Mr. Stagg:  I am correcting the record of the House, you should assist me in this.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I accept the correction.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It is not appropriate at this point.

Mr. Stagg:  It is in order.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  It does not arise under this question.

Mr. Stagg:  I thank the Minister for accepting that, and thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for nothing. Does the Minister of State know when the case might come to fruition? Will the research go on forever? I congratulate him on providing this level of funding and for keeping a lid on the issue. Does he share my worry that we will be funding research indefinitely and how long does he think it will be before BNFL will be in court, on foot of the money he has provided?

Mr. Jacob:  Deputy Stagg has been involved in this issue and he will know that carrying out research is a matter for the residents and their legal advisers. As to developments in the case, no date has yet been set for the substantive hearing. The residents' solicitor indicated he received a second notice of particulars from BNFL. The first notice was issued by the company in June 1998. The residents lost a motion in relation to this first notice because of their delay in replying. That is the position to the best of my knowledge.

Mr. Sargent:  Does the Minister accept that Fianna Fáil's pre-election promise of full funding is now amended? Is that not a fair impression, [79] since the promise of funding has been qualified to funding for research? Is he meeting the STAD group on a regular basis or does he wish or plan to meet the group and its solicitor more frequently? Does he accept that BNFL is under pressure to operate the THORP plant above and beyond its design capacity, given the long stoppages experienced as a result of faults being detected?

Mr. Jacob:  Was the Deputy asking whether funding had been ended?

Mr. Sargent:  No. The promise before the election was that there would be full funding.

Mr. Yates:  Deputy Dermot Ahern made a promise, does the Minister not remember it?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Let the Minister reply without interruption.

Mr. Jacob:  To state the position accurately, a sum of £400,000 was approved by Government to be paid to the County Louth residents to further their case. To date, some £76,000 has been paid against invoices submitted. Further invoices totalling more than £50,000, I think, are being examined at present. Subject to the usual proprieties those invoices are set to be certified and put forward for payment. That is ongoing and the money is in place.

I have met the residents and their solicitor on a number of occasions but I have not met them for some time. Their solicitor has recently requested a meeting and that request will be responded to positively. We are prepared to meet them at any time to tease out matters or to assist in this matter.

Deputy Stagg rose.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The six minutes for this question have elapsed.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I was not aware that six minutes applied to all questions.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The limit applies to all Members, including Ministers.

  19.  Mr. M. Higgins    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    her views on the conclusions of the report on Aer Rianta's future strategic direction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12991/99]

Mrs. O'Rourke:  As I said in reply to an earlier question, the report on the future strategic direction of Aer Rianta has been referred by the Minister for Finance and me to a firm of analysts. We hope they will come back to us in late June and I will then go to Cabinet with the report.

[80]Mr. Stagg:  Is the Minister aware that the preferred option in the union's report, which was drafted with management, was for increased investment by the Government in the company rather than a sale?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  Is the Deputy speaking of the whole company or the hotels?

Mr. Stagg:  The whole company. The hotels issue has been gazumped by another party.

Mr. Yates:  We missed the Deputy last night.

Mr. Stagg:  Has the Minister looked at that proposal and could she express an opinion about its desirability?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The report will be examined by the analysts. I would not favour an injection of Government cash.

Mr. Stagg:  I call it investment.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I do not think it is a good idea.

Mr. Yates:  When the Arthur Andersen report was published the Chairman of Aer Rianta said the State had no business making beds and washing dishes in this day and age. I do not know whether he is a close friend of the Minister but he is a friend and neighbour of the former Taoiseach. Does the Minister agree with that sentiment?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  He is not a neighbour – Deputy Reynolds lives in Dublin and Mr. Noel Hanlon lives in Longford. He was reappointed by Deputy Lowry. Did Deputy Yates know that?

Mr. Yates:  Will the Minister reappoint him?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  The time to do it will come soon and I would be glad if he would accept the position, but that is another day's work.

Mr. Yates:  Do you agree with him?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  That is his opinion and he is entitled to state it. I have my ideas on the subject but I stand over any chairman's right to say what he wishes.

Mr. Stagg:  The report advocates the sale of the Great Southern Hotels but does the Minister agree they should be dealt with separately from the main Aer Rianta issue?

Mrs. O'Rourke:  That may turn out to be the case when we see what the analysts devise. They have extended their remit to look at the hotels. The main report reached the simple conclusion that the hotels would wish to leave the company. That is fair enough if that is what they advise. We will examine it. The Deputy asked if the hotels [81] can be dealt with separately. That may well be the case.

Mr. Sargent:  Does the Minister support the widely held view that Aer Rianta ought to be supportive of and, indeed, involved in providing access to the airports? I have in mind the proposed light rail connection to Dublin Airport which we could get under way after so many delays.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  I note its point of view in that regard. There are proposals in which Aer Rianta has expressed such an interest. Clearly, the line to the airport would be a suitable one for a public-private partnership. It would be widely used which is what PPP proposals seek.

  20.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if she will co-operate with the Departments of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, the Marine and Natural Resources and the Environment and Local Government in devising a national plan which would declare and plan the potential of wind energy in each area in order that this potential can be reached with the greatest possible level of public support; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13038/99]

Mr. Jacob:  The Departments of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands and the Environment and Local Government and the Marine Institute have made submissions towards a Green Paper on sustainable energy which I will publish shortly. In addition, there is ongoing contact between the Department of Public Enterprise and the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources regarding the potential offshore renewable energy resource.

The Green Paper on sustainable energy will, among other things, establish minimum national targets for employing renewable energy based technologies, including wind, over the next decade. The report prepared by ESB International and ETSU on the total renewable energy resource in Ireland identified an abundance of wind energy opportunities. However, the targets for additional wind power in the Green Paper will be dictated by the technical and economic limits of the technology at this time.

The future penetration of renewable energy technologies will benefit from the national campaign to increase public awareness of the environmental and economic benefits of renewable energy based technologies which is administered by the renewable energy information office of the Irish Energy Centre. However, local support for individual projects must be established on a case by case basis by individual developers.

Mr. Sargent:  The Minister of State should reflect on his last sentence, that these developments should be assessed on a case by case [82] basis. Does he accept that there is a need for a national plan for the development of wind power given the conflict which often arises between those who believe wind power is good for energy reasons and those who believe it is bad for visual reasons? These viewpoints are—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Brevity please, Deputy. A number of Members are offering.

Mr. Sargent:  Will the Minister of State accept there is a need for a national plan so there will be a yardstick to measure the potential and targets for the development of wind power? It could be prepared in tandem with the county development plans.

Mr. Jacob:  I agree there should be a plan and I consider the Green Paper to be that plan. It is close to finalisation. There has been wide consultation; the Department received 60 submissions from a wide group of people and organisations. The Green Paper will determine policy over a number of years for renewable and sustainable energy.

Mr. Sargent:  On a county basis?

Mr. Jacob:  It will address the matters which the Deputy correctly raises. These include the targets which will be suitably raised and increased and, hopefully, adhered to.

Mr. Deasy:  Does the Minister of State agree that a highly irrational approach is being taken by many people to wind farms? An information campaign is required to educate them about the benefits of wind farms.

Mr. Jacob:  I agree that has been the situation in some cases. Our experience to date is that there is wide diversity in the approaches taken by individual developers. There are ten wind farms in operation at present and it is hoped that number will increase in the next 12 months to 20.

Of the ten, a number of them went through the planning process with comparative ease because of the approach taken by the developers. They held consultations from the start with the local community, schools and local public representatives. They handled the matter delicately and sensitively and brought the local communities with them. Those state-of-the-art wind farms are now up and running.

On the other hand, some developers took the opposite approach and dealt with it in a “bull in a china shop” fashion. They attracted the odium and aversion of the local people. The approach is most important. The Deputy is correct that an irrational attitude is adopted by some people. However, I have found that the people who are most averse to these developments are genuinely interested in the environment. They must be informed of the environmental advantages of this type of energy production.

[83]Mr. Stagg:  The Minister of State referred to minimum targets for the various disciplines within the renewable and alternative energy production sector. However, the Minister has brought a Bill before the House, the Electricity Regulation Bill, which will set maximum targets and put a cap on the amount of alternative energy. I urge the Minister of State to keep an eye on the senior Minister in that regard.

Mrs. O'Rourke:  We will keep an eye on each other.

Mr. Yates:  Does the Minister of State recall that at the annual conference of the Wind Energy Association in Waterford he made explicit commitments of support for the wind energy sector? Is he aware that within a week of that conference, the Minister circulated a series of amendments to the electricity Bill which were greeted with shock and horror by the wind energy sector? Was the Minister of State consulted about those amendments or does he talk to the senior Minister?

Mr. Jacob:  Full consultation always takes place between my senior colleague and me on all matters relating to energy. My three colleagues contributed expertly and ably to the discussion in Waterford and I remember it well. I am enamoured with wind energy and with renewable and sustainable energies generally.

Mr. Yates:  The Minister is shafting the wind generation sector.

Mr. Jacob:  The Deputy is referring to the promotion of combined heat and power. I am a particular fan of that technology. It is propelled by our cleanest fossil fuel, natural gas—

Mr. Yates:  What about the fossil beside the Minister of State?

Mr. Jacob:  —and it will be part of our projections.

Written Answers follow Adjournment Debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 21 and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Finucane – the need to secure an alternative industry arising from the proposed closure of Giro Limited assembly plant in Newcastle West, County Limerick; (2) Deputy Theresa Ahearn – the need to discuss the non-use of the new fully equipped x-ray room in St. Joseph's Hospital, Clonmel due to lack of staff; (3) Deputy McGuinness – the urgent need to update legislation governing the composition and functions of An Bord Pleanála; (4) Deputy Naughten – the need for the Minister to clarify his position on the [84] three-in-one vaccine consequent on his reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 175 to 179 of 11 May 1999; (5) Deputy Browne (Wexford)– the need to appoint extra veterinary inspectors to County Wexford to enable owners of meat processing factories to operate to departmental standards and new meat processing licence applications to commence operations; (6) Deputy Deenihan – the necessity to provide a community hospital in Tralee, County Kerry, which is the only town of its size in Ireland without such a facility for its senior citizens; (7) Deputy Perry – the provision of two new classrooms and an extra teacher for St. Patrick's national school, Calry, County Sligo; (8) Deputy McGinley – the urgent need to upgrade the R 251 and R 255 roads in County Donegal to underpin and support 1,300 jobs at the Gweedore industrial estate; (9) Deputy Sheehan – the withdrawal of the State funded ferry service to Oileán Cléire and the proposal to privatise this service; (10) Deputy Michael Ahern – the refusal by SIPTU to consent to the enrolling by IMPACT of 20 grade 5 employees at St. Raphael's Hospital, Youghal, County Cork.

The matters raised by Deputies Browne (Wexford), Naughten, McGinley and Perry have been selected for discussion.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Select Committee on Family, Community and Social Affairs has completed its consideration of Vote 40, Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs (Revised) for the service of the year ending 31 December 1999.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 in the names of Deputies O'Sullivan and McManus cannot be moved as neither of the Deputies is in the House.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 not moved.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“(a) to monitor compliance with the recommendations of the Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities and the relevant EU and international agreements that have been accepted by Government;”.

This amendment goes to the heart of the legislation and will determine the effectiveness of the NDA. A good deal of time and effort was spent by people, the majority of whom are people with disabilities, drawing up the Report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. One of the commission's recommendations is that [85] the NDA should monitor compliance with the recommendations of the commission's report and the relevant EU and international agreements accepted by the Government. On Committee Stage, the Minister, Deputy O'Donoghue, tried to convince us that the authority's functions are so broad that the function proposed in my amendment is as good as included in them. If this function is included in the authority's remit, why can this amendment not be included? The commission's report was debated in the House and its recommendations were accepted. It was hailed as the bible for people with disabilities. It is regrettable, therefore, that this important legislation fails to include one of its basic recommendations.

In an interview with Insight Magazine in January 1998, the Minister of State, Deputy Wallace, stated that monitoring compliance with the recommendations of the commission's report should be one of the functions of the NDA. What has happened since then? While I realise the establishment group did not recommend this function, we must not forget that that group was not made up of people with disabilities. The proposals and recommendations we should honour are those contained in the commission's report. Those recommendations were made by people involved in the disability sector, by people who know what they are talking about. Who will monitor compliance with the recommendations of the commission's report? We are awaiting an action plan from the Department that was promised in February.

The inclusion of this amendment would give the NDA teeth. Its core function is to advise the Minister. How can it advise the Minister if it does not monitor compliance with the recommendations of the commission's report which were agreed by the House? The Minister of State should accept this amendment as it would strengthen the Bill and give clout to the authority. Its acceptance would be in line with the recommendations of the commission's report.

It is soul-destroying for those who spent hours preparing this report, following numerous consultations, to learn that we set up an establishment group – not made up of people with disabilities – and accepted its recommendations rather than those in the commission's report. The amendment is proposed in a spirit of co-operation and its intent is to strengthen the Bill. The most worthwhile thing the Minister could do is to accept it.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Miss M. Wallace):  What I said during that interview in January 1998 still prevails. It is a function of the National Disability Authority to be involved in the monitoring of recommendations as they will be prioritised in the plan of action. The specific and important tasks identified in the Deputy's amendment can be located under one of the principal functions in section 8(2), which enumerates a range of functions the authority will perform. In particular, the [86] principal function of the authority relates to its role in the co-ordination and development of policy on disability issues. The Deputy can be assured that, as I said in January 1998 and as I have said here, it is a function of the National Disability Authority to be involved in monitoring recommendations as they will be prioritised in the plan of action. That is included under the authority's principal function, which is the development of policy on disability issues.

Regarding the inclusion in the Bill of the function outlined in the Deputy's amendment, as distinct from it being included in the authority's principal function of developing policy, we must be clear that the Deputy's proposal is included under the authority's principal function to develop policy. The plan of action should be finalised shortly after the Bill is signed into law. When the recommendations are prioritised in the plan of action, the NDA will monitor them.

It is also important to bear in mind that we hope this function will be accomplished in the short to medium term whereas this legislation will be in place forever in terms of the authority's work. I am sure the authority will perform this function at an early stage under the heading of policy and then proceed to address other issues under the policy heading. This function applies to the short to medium term and, therefore, does not need to be mentioned specifically in the legislation. The NDA will have that function under its developmental remit. There should be no doubt about that.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  Given that the Minister of State had to explain this to me and try to convince me that the function outlined in my amendment is included in the authority's functions proves two points. It proves she believes this function should be stated separately in the Bill. Given that she had to explain that the function is included in the Bill under the authority's functions means it is not outlined clearly. Why should we proceed with this Bill when it has to be clarified that a function of the authority is included in a later section? That is not the way to do business. The amendment I tabled is clear and I know the Minister of State believes this function should be included separately. The Minister has as good as said it should be included. Why not include it rather than defining the functions in such a way that one has to search the legislation to discover if it is there? I conclude that the Minister agrees with my amendment. If she wishes, I would not have a problem changing the wording. However, the Bill does not clearly state that one of its functions is to monitor compliance with the recommendations of the report of the commission nor does it state it should monitor the relevant EU and international agreements which have been accepted by the Government. The Minister of State is saying this is included, but it is not. The only way to clarify this and make everyone happy is to include it.

[87]Miss M. Wallace:  I will refer to the EU and international agreements which are mentioned in the Deputy's amendment and with which I did not deal earlier. I accept the principle of Deputy Ahearn's amendment. There are important tasks in which the NDA should have an input. I am satisfied that the functions already prescribed for the NDA will allow it involve itself with these tasks which essentially fall within the remit of policy but are not specifically enumerated.

The Deputy says the provision proposed in her amendment should be included in the Bill. I assure her it is included under the heading of policy. It is important to clarify this now because people are concerned about what we understood to be contained in the paragraph dealing with policy. The NDA will monitor the recommendations of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, as prioritised by the plan of action.

The review of EU and international agreements is also provided for in the legislation. If one lists a number of specific tasks under the heading of policy one leaves out others which are not covered. It is better to agree that the National Disability Authority has this function with regard to the development of policy relating to people [88] with a disability, as under section 8(2)(a) which is as prioritised in the plan of action with regard to the recommendations of the commission, and the policy with regard to monitoring EU and international agreements. These are covered under the broader policy which is included in the legislation.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  The commission's report is all-embracing and encompasses all aspects of the lives of those who suffer with disabilities. Therefore, an obligation is not being put on the Minister to include something other than this which would make the legislation too long-winded. This goes to the heart of the Bill. If the functions of the NDA are not defined correctly, its effectiveness will be weakened. I accept that the Minister and the Minister of State support monitoring the recommendations of the commission's report. However, this legislation will be in operation beyond a time when the Minister, Minister of State or I will be around. It gives the authority an obligation and a duty. I will press this amendment as it is necessary to include it in the functions assigned to the authority.

Amendment put.

Ahearn, Theresa.
Barnes, Monica.
Barrett, Seán.
Bell, Michael.
Belton, Louis.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Liam.
Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.
Clune, Deirdre.
Cosgrave, Michael.
Coveney, Simon.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
D'Arcy, Michael.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Farrelly, John.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
Gormley, John.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Shea, Brian.
Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Wall, Jack.
Yates, Ivan.

Níl

Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Ardagh, Seán.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle. Dempsey, Noel.[89]

Níl–continued

Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Foley, Denis.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
McCreevy, Charlie.
[90] McGuinness, John.
Moffatt, Thomas.
Molloy, Robert.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barrett and Ferris; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.

Amendment declared lost.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 4:

In page 7, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“(a) to review and evaluate on a regular basis all legislation in order to assess the effectiveness of such legislation in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities.

This amendment complements amendment No. 3. I seek to include, as a function of the authority, the review and evaluation on a regular basis of all legislation in order to assess the effectiveness of such legislation in meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities. This is crucial because it must not be forgotten that the Bill is intended to improve the quality of life and standard of services for those with disabilities. Legislation is one way to protect them. Every Bill passing through the House should be examined, monitored and scrutinised to see if it meets the needs of people with disabilities. If we exclude the terms of this amendment, the Bill will only aspire to improve the standards and services for those with disabilities. People with disabilities are on the agenda now, in every programme for Government and every political party's policy document, but aspirations are not enough. We must have the courage to copperfasten their rights in legislation and if we are not prepared to do so in this Bill, where will we be prepared to do it?

Who will monitor legislation? For example, the Building Regulations Act, 1992, aimed to ensure access to all new buildings for people with disabilities but we all know that the law is being flouted. The regulations are not being adhered to but who is taking action? It would be desirable for a body like the National Disability Authority to be in a position to review how legislation is being implemented and monitored.

The intention of the amendment is to strengthen the Bill and demonstrate to the disabled that we are genuine when we say we want them to have equal rights and to be treated as full citizens. If this legislation is not monitored I can guarantee that, irrespective of all the efforts that will be made it will not meet the needs of people with disabilities. The amendment can only improve the Bill and will also protect the rights of such people.

Mr. Boylan:  Opportunities for the younger generation of people with disabilities are very relevant to this debate. If we are to make provision for them we must give them the best possible opportunities. While that is the general intention, in reality it does not take place. We do not have facilities for people with a mild mental disability, who otherwise could attend primary and secondary schools.

I want to make the case for children with a mild Down's Syndrome disability and mild autism. I know of one mildly autistic child of 18, who is currently preparing to sit her junior certificate examination in a vocational school. However, there are no provisions for special correction of such children's examination papers. If I bring this matter up with the Department of Education and Science, I am told that there are such provisions, but in reality there are not.

There is no clear understanding of the special exam correction requirements for children with a disability, even though they are making a gallant effort to the best of their abilities. Their answer to two plus two may not be four, but at least they are trying to express themselves.

The child I am referring to was asked what animals are for. A child without a disability might say that animals are bred to feed people. The mildly autistic child said animals are there to be cared for and fed with milk. It was not a bad expression and she was using her intelligence. In [91] an examination, however, that would be marked as an incorrect reply, even though it is not. That is because there are no examiners with an understanding of what these children are trying to express. That is just one such example.

The same applies to children with physical abilities, who experience difficulty in writing. They find it hard to express themselves because of problems in writing what they wish to write. There is no provision for special marking of exam papers by people with such disabilities, although there should be. If we understood what they are trying to do they could be more fairly marked in exams, thus emerging into the workforce where they could find meaningful employment in the IT and other sectors. However, without the basic leaving certificate they will be hampered in their efforts to find jobs. This will happen because we do not have examiners with the knowledge or experience to give them marks for effort.

The Department of Education and Science means well but it does not have anything in place to deal with this problem. Perhaps the Minister will examine the matter because it is a widespread problem.

Miss M. Wallace:  In the course of this debate it is impossible to reply to the point concerning the autistic child sitting the junior certificate examination. However, if I can help in any way with regard to the specific case, I will do so. If the Deputy furnishes me with the details, I will talk to the Minister for Education and Science who has a role to play in that matter.

Deputy Ahearn is correct in saying that section 8 involves a similar point to that already discussed in amendment No. 3. Section 8 makes clear that the central task of the authority is to advise and inform the Minister on issues of policy and practice. The core functions of the authority arise from this central task and are enumerated in subsection (2) of the section. Part of this policy remit will be to advise the Minister as regards legislation, especially legislation concerned with service provision. As I have stated with regard to amendment No. 3, I do not consider it appropriate to specify individual issues and tasks which, as a result of its function in relation to policy, will fall to the authority. It is the intention to establish the NDA with a broad ranging remit and, consequently, I cannot accept amendment No. 4.

If we are talking about going into this broader work of dealing with all legislation as it goes through the House, we must be careful and practical in this debate in addressing what the National Disability Authority can reasonably be expected to deliver. If we were to specify in the Bill the functions as outlined by the Deputy, we might tie the hands of the authority into examining all legislation, instead of the broad ranging remit that we are seeking in order to prioritise the authority's work. The effect of the amendment might be to [92] hamstring the authority's work rather than allowing it to cover as many issues as possible.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  One of the very important functions of the authority will be to advise the Minister on legislation. It is strange that having advised the Minister, the authority will have no role or function in monitoring legislation to see if it meets the needs of people with disabilities. It is akin to allowing the authority to come up with an idea, but not giving it the freedom to ensure that what it wants in legislation will be carried through. Legislation is only beneficial when it is monitored to ensure that it is implemented. I would therefore have thought that giving the NDA the role of adviser to the Minister on legislation would have been logical. It could monitor legislation to see if it covered the needs of those with disabilities. I foresee much unrest between the NDA and the Minister if its role is to advise the Minister on a particular Bill and no more. The Bill is a contradiction in terms in that it seeks to achieve proper standards and codes of practice while the NDA has no authority to monitor anything. Perhaps the Minister of State has a secret weapon to help it achieve standards without having the authority to monitor what is happening but this is a major omission in the Bill. I understand the Minister of State will not accept the amendment. That is negative because it misses the chance to give the Bill the clout it deserves to help those it is supposed to benefit. I regret that the Minister of State is not accepting the amendment.

Miss M. Wallace:  We are at one on this in many respects. Deputy Ahearn asked how the NDA is to monitor the effects of legislation. It can do so under section 8(2)(a) in terms of development of policy. However, the difficulty is if we charge the NDA with the responsibility of monitoring every Bill that goes through the Oireachtas it would not have time to do anything else. To take Deputy Boylan's points about education, if an education Bill was going through the Oireachtas which was seen as particularly important to people with disabilities, under the policy area, the NDA could develop the role of monitoring that legislation as distinct from dealing with every Bill. That would tie it up unnecessarily. It is better that we concentrate on the broad remit that comes under the word “policy” and accept that it can monitor legislation as part of its policy brief as distinct from monitoring every Bill to be debated every week. It would do nothing else in that case. I assure Deputy Ahearn that the NDA has a function to monitor legislation.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  There is no difference between us but I am a person for clarity in legislation and regulations. What is expected should be stated clearly and one should decide what is to be done according to the desired result. Surely we all desire that all legislation meets the needs of people with disabilities but we cannot guarantee [93] it, though I hope those omissions will be very scarce. Nonetheless, this should be monitored and it would be in keeping with the principles on which the NDA is being established if it had that function.

We agree on the basic principle. The Minister of State is happy this is covered by section 8 but I am not. Many recommendations came from the commission report and one asks why we took the trouble to set up a commission to draw up a report on the needs of those with disabilities when we do not accept its recommendations. We are accepting them in principle but this vague implementation should not be allowed. We want legislation to meet the needs of people with disabilities and we want it monitored. Why is that not included in the Bill?

Mr. Ferris:  I support Deputy Ahearn's amendment. Unfortunately, amendment No. 1 was not moved and there is an obvious need for monitoring. We went to the trouble of setting up the commission and its work and recommendations are invaluable and important. As the recommendations are being enshrined in legislation we feel there should be a monitoring procedure included, which was the idea behind amendment No. 1. There is a similar concept behind amendment No. 5, as Deputy Ahearn is seeking an overview of the legislation.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Kirk):  Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are cognate and are to be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Ferris:  I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, lines 16 and 17, to delete “Minister” and substitute “Government”.

The Minister of State will understand why we seek to substitute “Government” for “Minister”. It is important that a Government approach is taken to people with disabilities and their rights. I congratulate the Minister of State on bringing forward legislation in this area but these amendments propose making the matter a Government responsibility. It has been a matter for Government for some time and that should continue into the future.

Miss M. Wallace:  Section 8 lays down the functions of the National Disability Authority which will report to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on a range of functions set out in this section. Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 seek to provide that the authority should report to the Government in respect of these functions rather than to the Minister under whose aegis the authority will operate. Our concerns regarding these proposals are that the Government agenda is a busy one and the amendments would almost certainly lead to a situation where pressure on Government time rather than the requirements of the authority would impact on the reporting [94] arrangements envisaged. I do not believe it is in the best interest of the authority that it would have to wait to report to the Government and await Government decisions regarding what will be largely programme based and operational issues which could be considered more appropriate in another forum.

Functional responsibility for the Bill has been placed under the aegis of our Department and the priority regarding disability issues is underlined by the fact that our Department has established a disability equality unit and the appointment of a Minister of State with special responsibility for the area since the formation of the last Government. Disability is getting a strong focus within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and this is being linked to other Departments. These amendments would cause more difficulties and delays when much can be clarified for the NDA by reporting to the relevant Minister, which is the case with various other bodies. The Minister can then bring appropriate matters to Government for broad Government approval. The method of dealing with this in the Bill is more effective and efficient.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I support Deputy Ferris. It is easy to understand the reasoning behind these amendments; the needs of people with disabilities are in no way confined to one Department or Minister. They span the Departments of Education and Science, Health and Children, Social, Community and Family Affairs, Enterprise, Trade and Employment as well as Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It is for that reason that this amendment is tabled. I wonder how effective one Minister can be in ensuring that his or her colleagues are vigilant in meeting the requirements of people with disabilities. For example, Dublin Bus, which comes within the remit of a Minister and received money from her Department, is about to buy 150 new buses, not one of which will be accessible to people with disabilities. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform does not appear to have the power to convince a ministerial colleague of the needs of people with disabilities. Yesterday, they had to take to the streets in an attempt to convince a Minister of their rights. The remit of the National Disability Authority will be limited and its recommendations will be confined to one Department. The implementation of these amendments may be cumbersome and time consuming. Our concern, however, is not with the time factor but with how successful this authority will be. Any measure which supports its power to improve the quality of life and status of those with disabilities should not be compromised. I support the amendment because it recognises the broad needs of people with disabilities.

Mr. Ferris:  The previous Government referred to by the Minister of State appointed a Minister with specific responsibility for people with disabilities, the Minister for Equality and Law [95] Reform. The Government, unfortunately, has given this responsibility to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. We all know how difficult it is to elicit legislation or even a response to a query from that Department. For that reason, we suggest it will be easier to deal directly with Government which has responsibility for the broad range of services used by people with a disability. The responsibilities of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister of State are so wide that the needs of people with disabilities will not be addressed as speedily as we would like.

I accept the Minister does not suggest that the Government would neglect its responsibility. Neither do I believe this to be the case. Given the Government's wide remit, it is appropriate that the authority should be responsible to it. I hope the Minister will re-examine the amendment on that basis.

Miss M. Wallace:  Deputy Ferris misunderstood me. I did not refer to the previous Government but to the fact that this Government was the first to appoint a Minister of State with special responsibility for disability.

Mr. Ferris:  In the previous Government there was a full Minister.

Miss M. Wallace:  The Minister for Equality and Law Reform in the previous Government held the equality and law reform brief. The current Minister of State has special responsibility for disability. There is a clear distinction there. It is important to take the correct approach in order to get the most done for the National Disability Authority. The approach provided for in the Bill is more effective than that which would result from the acceptance of the amendments. There will be occasions when reports of the National Disability Authority will be placed before Government for consideration. As Minister of State with responsibility for disability, I have attended Government meetings on occasions when disability was discussed at Government. It is important, when reports of the authority go before Government that the occasions are not matters of routine. Such reporting to Government should be reserved for occasions when critical and important issues are to be decided. It is important also that a sponsoring Minister should be at the table with a clear advocacy role. It is my view that the sponsoring Minister and the most appropriate Minister to have the role of reporting to Government and a relationship with the authority is the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It is appropriate that the authority should report to the sponsoring Minister who would bring matters of critical importance to Cabinet when appropriate. The authority must have regular contact with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform under whose aegis the authority will come.

[96] The Bill provides the best of both worlds. The authority deals with the Minister and when important matters are discussed at Cabinet, the sponsoring Minister will be there, fully briefed by the authority. The approach taken in the Bill is the more effective formula.

Question, “That the word proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.

Mr. Ferris:  I move amendment No. 8:

In page 7, line 35, after “standards” to insert “(including community development plans)”.

I am sure the Minister will accept this amendment. She cannot possibly exclude community development plans from this section. The amendment will ensure that an area of inclusiveness is given to community development. I hope the Minister of State will accept this amendment in the spirit in which it is tabled.

Miss M. Wallace:  Amendment No. 8 provides for the inclusion of community action plans among the functions of the authority. Community action plans centre on the arrangements for service provision and delivery. The establishment group which advised us on the role and functions of the authority recommended that the authority should dedicate itself to policy work and the development and monitoring of standards in service provision. The establishment group specifically recommended that no role be given to the authority in the delivery of services. This recommendation was made because the group saw that any role in service provision for the National Disability Authority would jeopardise its credibility and standing in undertaking its central role of evaluating and monitoring these services. These recommendations have been accepted by Government and are reflected in this legislation.

The functions assigned to the National Disability Authority are appropriate and I cannot accept the addition to its functions sought in amendment No. 8. I hope the Deputy will accept that it has been specifically recommended that no such role be assigned to the authority.

Mr. Ferris:  I am shocked that the Minister of State wishes to exclude community development plans from forthcoming proposals. The amendment is a worthy one and I am disappointed the Minister of State has not given it serious consideration. Community and voluntary bodies, which do much work in this area, have come up with many good ideas. Including a reference to community development plans is the minimum requirement.

Miss M. Wallace:  The intention in establishing the authority is to have a powerhouse dedicated to policy work and developing and monitoring standards in service provision as opposed to being a service provider. The establishment group [97] recommended against the assignment of a role to the authority in connection with the delivery of services.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Acting Chairman:  We now proceed to amendment No. 9. Amendments Nos. 13, 14 and 15 are related. Amendments Nos. 9, 13, 14 and 15 may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 9:

In page 7, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:

“(g) to provide a grievance and redress procedure,”.

The failure to provide for a grievance and redress procedure is the most serious omission from the Bill. The disability sector is bewildered and astonished at its exclusion. Why was it excluded? The commission recommended its inclusion as a priority. In the interview that she gave to Insight magazine in January 1998 the Minister of State stated clearly that the Bill would provide for such a procedure. It was not recommended by the establishment group.

There is no logic to what we are doing and I am worried about what we will end up with. The main function of the authority will be to monitor standards and codes of practice for people with disabilities. It is illogical, therefore, not to provide for a grievance and redress procedure. It is not good enough to say that the matter is covered in other legislation, for example, the Employment Equality Act or the Equal Status Bill. It should be provided for in this Bill. What happens when somebody is dissatisfied with a service? To whom does he or she turn?

In the Seanad the Minister of State accepted an amendment under which money will be withdrawn from a service provider who fails to provide a quality service. How will this be established given that the authority will not be in a position to receive complaints? Is it the Minister of State's hope that the Ombudsman will inform the authority that the service being provided is not up to standard? It is a contradiction. The people at whom the Bill is directed are not being treated fairly. There should be a grievance and redress procedure.

We know what happens when people have no one to turn to with a complaint. Look what happened to the children about whom we are reading in the newspapers. The reason the abuse is only now being disclosed is that they are adults and have the courage to complain. The reason it was swept under the carpet is that there was no one to whom they could complain.

It is extraordinary that the authority will be expected to monitor standards and codes of practice in the absence of a complaints mechanism. This is not logical and worries me deeply. The authority must be in a position to receive complaints. This will have an effect in the sense that [98] services which are not of the required standard will not be brought to the notice of the authority. This will make it difficult for it to perform its functions.

This is the most serious omission from the Bill. The disability sector is astounded. There is no logical or justifiable reason for its omission. I hope the Minister of State will reconsider.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I support the amendment and agree with Deputy Ahearn that this is the most important issue on which we disagree with the Minister of State. When the Commission for the Status of People with Disabilities recommended the establishment of a National Disability Authority it was indicated clearly that it should be in a position to deal with grievances. An opportunity is being missed to provide for such a procedure. As a consequence the authority will not have teeth.

This issue was debated at length on Committee Stage and in the Seanad where an amendment was made under which the Government will be able to withdraw funding from organisations which fail to provide a proper service. The inclusion of a grievance procedure would enable people with disabilities to seek redress. We have to ensure the legislation we produce, including the Employment Equality Act, the Equal Status Bill which will be debated tomorrow and the legislation which will be presented later, is of use to people with disabilities who wish to be treated as equal citizens. In a sense, all these Bills link up with each other. If we do not have a grievance procedure in the National Disability Authority Bill, a vital link will be missing in that chain of giving people the rights they deserve and to which they are entitled in our society and, indeed, under our Constitution.

I urge the Minister to accept this amendment, which is of most importance to myself, my party, Deputy Ahearn, her party and the people who have spoken to us from the various organisations that represent people with disabilities who are extremely anxious to have strong legislation on which their members and individuals with various disabilities can depend to ensure they get what is their right rather than something given out of a sense of charity. This is a human right to which people in our society are entitled. We can have all the fine words in the world, but if there is no redress procedure, if people cannot access their rights and get redress when they do not receive them, they are not being treated equally and fairly. We feel strongly about this issue and I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.

Miss M. Wallace:  The key point being missed in this debate is that, since the report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities was published in November 1996 and the January 1998 interview I did with Insight magazine on the many issues in this legislation, particularly in regard to grievance and redress, the Employment Equality Act has since been passed. There is the [99] infrastructure in that Act to deal with grievance and redress for individuals with a disability. The Act clearly covers nine different grounds, including disability.

We are providing for something which is provided for elsewhere in an Act we passed last June. When the commission reported, the Employment Equality Act had not been passed. After it reported in November 1996, the Employment Equality Bill had been drafted and in May 1997, it was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. For that reason, the Bill had to be redrafted. It was redrafted at the end of 1997 and early 1998 and passed in June 1998. That legislation includes what Deputies are looking for in terms of grievance and redress. People can seek to take their case to the office of the Director of Equality Investigations. That has been missed in the debate.

It is important to distinguish between what we are talking about in terms of grievance and redress for individuals on the one hand and for service providers on the other. While the NDA will not provide grievance and redress procedures in individual cases, because it is already provided elsewhere, it will, however, intervene in regard to service providers to determine that the standard of service provided is adequate and appropriate. The NDA is free to make such interventions on the grievance and redress side where it believes it is necessary as regards service providers.

When the progress we have made since the commission report was published is clearly understood, we will see that, as a result of the passing of the Employment Equality Act last June, the introduction of this Bill and the publication of the Equal Status Bill last Easter, we will have achieved what was sought in the report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. We should not duplicate what we are trying to do because it will be confusing.

Deputy Ahearn mentioned the Ombudsman. It must be understood that if people are to take their case to the Ombudsman, they must exhaust all other avenues before so doing. That is an important issue which we need to understand.

Amendments Nos. 9 and 13 to 15, inclusive, include the provision of grievance and redress procedures for individuals as a specific function of the authority. The assignment of such activity to the NDA would also run contrary to its core functions. The role envisaged for the authority by the establishment group is essentially a proactive one. We have already provided for grievance and redress, so what do we want the authority to do? There is no point in the authority doing what the Director of Equality of Investigations is doing. There are so many other things we need to achieve in the disability area.

The authority must have a strong co-ordinating and development role and must discharge a research function. It would not do research if it were hamstrung with all the jobs about which we are talking. It must act as a standards body, [100] develop codes of practice and exercise a support and liaison remit. These are the type of functions which may best be discharged through close co-operation, support and leadership. I am convinced an enforcement role cannot reasonably be exercised side by side with the central remit of the authority without seriously jeopardising that role.

The Oireachtas knows a redress function is necessary but it is being provided by the Director of Equality Investigations. Since it is being provided elsewhere, surely it makes good sense to concentrate the National Disability Authority on the many other functions we want it to carry out. There are many needs in the disability sector. If this matter is being dealt with elsewhere, we should let the authority get on with the other important work it can do in terms of making progress for people with disabilities.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I cannot accept the logic in the Minister's response to the amendments tabled by myself and Deputy O'Sullivan. Taking that logic to its conclusion, the Minister said there should be no grievance procedure in this Bill because it is contained in the Employment Equality Act. Would the same logic conclude that because we have an Employment Equality Act and the Equal Status Bill will be passed, there is no need for a disability Bill and that it is all about equality? It is not logical to conclude that because there is a grievance procedure in the Employment Equality Act, it should not be included in the National Disability Authority Bill. We will not do justice to the rights of people with disabilities until such time as we have legislation dealing specifically, as this Bill does, with people with disabilities and include in it everything which people with disabilities require.

If, as the Minister said, we overload the National Disability Authority with duties and obligations, there are others which I would remove in order to insert this one. I consider it important that there should be a grievance and redress procedure. If the NDA was not able to cope with all the functions given to it, there are functions which could be removed. This function, however, should be included.

A point which is being missed is that there should be a mechanism available to the person who will receive the service to make a complaint and let their grievances be known. Having a grievance and redress procedure will enable the NDA to carry out its functions better. How can the Minister guarantee that complaints received through the Employment Equality Act will be passed on to the National Disability Authority? Will that not be cumbersome? The NDA will have to depend on other sources for information on the high standard of service which it is trying to provide to people. That is cumbersome and inefficient. It is neither good for the authority nor for the person receiving the service that there is no grievance and redress procedure in this Bill. It is important that legislation which deals specifi[101] cally with people with disabilities includes provisions relating to the standard of service they deserve.

The disability sector was ignored for so long because everyone said they would be looked after under certain legislation. The only time people with disabilities will be treated as full and equal citizens is when legislation copperfastens their rights. As services will determine their quality of life, we must do everything possible to ensure that standards are maintained and the only way we can do that is to establish a grievance procedure. Nobody in the services industry would maintain standards only there is a mechanism for dealing with complaints. That is how they know their service is being monitored.

This is one of the most serious omissions in the Bill. I am not prepared to accept the Minister's explanation that there is no need for it to be included in this legislation because it is already in the Employment Equality Act. While we should avoid unnecessary duplication, it will improve the standards of service for people with disabilities.

Ms O'Sullivan:  This legislation deals specifically with service provision. While there is redress under the Employment Equality Act which is linked to the Equal Status Bill, they cover a broader area. People should be able to seek redress under this legislation for any problems with service provision. The Employment Equality Act and the Equal Status Bill will not cover the specific issues which may arise if a person does not get a proper service in accordance with their needs.

Miss M. Wallace:  I refer Deputy O'Sullivan to section 14 where there is a grievance and redress procedure with regard to service providers. We are specifically dealing with the issue of grievance and redress for individuals.

Deputy Theresa Ahearn wanted to know if a disabilities Bill was necessary. There is need for such a Bill because the Employment Equality Act and the Equal Status Bill are anti-discrimination measures while the disability Bill is a positive proposal. The National Disability Authority Bill [102] deals with the setting up of the National Disability Authority.

I agree with the principle that we should include everything in one Bill. However, that is not how it works. The Employment Equality Act deals specifically with disability and mentions disability as one of the nine grounds of discrimination. It would, therefore, be a duplication to include a separate grievance and redress mechanism in this Bill. It would be different if the Employment Equality Act was all encompassing and covered the wider society than mentioning particular grounds.

The Deputy said we could eliminate other functions to include this one, but she did not specify which functions. It would not be wise to eliminate important functions of the authority to duplicate something else. The Deputy stressed that individuals should have a mechanism for individual grievance and redress. There is a mechanism for individuals via the director of equality investigations which was provided for less than 12 months ago in another Act when the commission report was published. It is important to bear that in mind.

The commission was correct that we should have a grievance and redress mechanism for individuals with a disability who have a difficulty in employment or elsewhere. We have that mechanism under the Employment Equality Act. If we include it in this Bill as a duplication, it would be at the expense of one of the functions of the authority to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  The Minister misunderstood me. I did not suggest that anything should be eliminated or withdrawn. The Minister stated that the authority would be overloaded with all its functions. I suggested that if I had been in her position I would not have left out this grievance and redress procedure, which is what the Minister has done.

Miss M. Wallace:  I did so because it is provided elsewhere.

Amendment put.

Ahearn, Theresa.
Barnes, Monica.
Barrett, Seán.
Bell, Michael.
Belton, Louis.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Broughan, Thomas.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Liam.
Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.
Clune, Deirdre.
Cosgrave, Michael.
Coveney, Simon.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
D'Arcy, Michael.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Farrelly, John.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Michael. Howlin, Brendan.[103]

Tá–continued

Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
[104] Perry, John.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Wall, Jack.
Yates, Ivan.

Níl

Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Ardagh, Seán.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
McGuinness, John.
Moffatt, Thomas.
Molloy, Robert.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Barrett and Stagg; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.

Amendment declared lost.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Amendments Nos. 10 and 12 are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I move amendment No. 10:

In page 8, lines 13 and 14, to delete “may, and shall if requested by the Minister,” and substitute “shall”.

The purpose of the amendment is to strengthen the legislation and to ensure that the issuing of codes of practice is mandatory rather than discretionary. The use of the terms “may” and “as directed by the Minister” does not place an obligation on the National Disability Authority to produce codes of practice. It creates a position where the authority may or may not produce codes. The amendments seek to strengthen the role of the authority.

Amendment No. 12 seeks to delete “or as the Minister may direct”. This is also an attempt to strengthen the legislation to ensure the authority is independent and not subject to the direction of the Minister with regard to these matters. The amendment would ensure it is obliged to issue a code of practice and carry out its other functions without the direction of the Minister.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I support the amendments. The problem is that the Bill as it stands is not strong enough. The purpose of the amendments is to strengthen the Bill. The use of the word “may” gives scope to a person to decide that he or she may not do something. The amendment seeks to delete the word “may” and to insert “shall”. This would guarantee that something will be done and remove the scope for a decision to [105] be made that something will not be done. I do not suggest that the function would not be carried out, but the amendments would copperfasten the position.

Miss M. Wallace:  Amendment No. 10 would impose a requirement on the National Disability Authority to develop codes of practice for all programmes and services provided for people with disabilities. The authority could be involved in almost 5,000 different codes of practice. It is important to be practical and to determine what is workable. In that context, the authority should be involved in developing codes of practice, but it should not be restricted in identifying subject matter suitable for the development of codes of practice or committed by law to promulgating codes of practice over the general comprehensive terms of its remit. However, where the development of a code of practice is requested by the Minister, the provision is mandatory. This will ensure that where the authority fails to identify and prepare a code of practice and a need arises which becomes known to the Minister, he or she will be in a position to ensure the need is addressed.

It would be unworkable to make it mandatory for the National Disability Authority to be involved in codes of practice for all the different services under its remit given the number of codes involved. It is more important that they are identified in terms of priority by the National Disability Authority. In addition, if it is brought to the attention of the Minister, he or she can seek the introduction of a code of practice. This is a more workable way to deal with the issue than changing the term in the provision from “may” to “shall”.

Regarding amendment No. 12, I am happy to advise the House that further consideration, as promised on Committee Stage, has been given to this issue. In drafting section 10(2) the intention was to give equal and independent discretion to the authority and successive Ministers for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in determining the persons or bodies to be consulted on the drafting of the codes of practice.

I agree with the Deputies that it is important there is complete clarity in the Bill with regard to the authority's discretion in this matter. Therefore, since Committee Stage, the issue was referred for further consideration and possible amendment to the parliamentary draftsman. The advice received is that the provision, as drafted, is explicit in its intention. The phrases “as the authority considers appropriate” or “as the Minister may direct” provide for independent discretion to be exercised in both cases. I am satisfied the provision is correct and appropriate.

The provisions in section 10 follow the approach taken in previous legislation, such as the Industrial Relations Act, 1990, and the Employment Equality Act, 1998. It can be initiated by either side, which is the point the Deputies seek to address. The position has been [106] clarified with the parliamentary draftsman and I hope the Deputies will be satisfied.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I welcome the Minister of State's comments. This issue arose during the discussions on the Employment Equality Act when it was stated that the Minister's views on how the legislation should be interpreted will be taken into account. I hope it works. If the interpretation given is the one used, it will probably fulfil the aim of amendment No. 12.

There should be codes of practice in all areas covered by the National Disability Authority's remit. I hope this will be achieved eventually. For example, in the debates on the industrial schools, codes of practice are most important in terms of ensuring mechanisms work properly. I hope the National Disability Authority will have codes of practice for the various services under its remit. While I wish the Minister would accept the amendment I hope the provision will be interpreted so that codes of practice are put in place. Perhaps the review of the legislation, to be carried out in accordance with the Bill, will look at this matter also to ensure the authority is fulfilling the functions we wish it to carry out and is working properly and effectively.

Miss M. Wallace:  I thank the Deputy. Last week was disability awareness week and I met many people with disabilities and visited various locations. At one centre I was presented with the recently drafted codes of practice for its training activities and was pleased to see some organisations were developing codes of practice on their own initiative without the involvement of the authority. What is positive about what the Deputy is saying, which we support, is that all places should have codes of practice. The authority would not be able to check all organisations within its first month or even first year of operation but one hopes that all organisations will be committed to standards and codes of practice, stemming from what the authority achieves in its first year. As the Deputy said, this item can then be reviewed to see what progress we are making with regard to standards and codes of practice in places attended by people with disabilities to receive various services.

Ms O'Sullivan:  We have made progress in this debate so I will not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I move amendment No. 11:

In page 8, line 19, to delete “ministers” and substitute “Ministers”.

This is a quibble about higher or lower case letters and is not hugely important.

Miss M. Wallace:  The amendment proposes a grammatical change to the Bill. My advice, which has not altered since the issue was raised in the Seanad and on Committee Stage, is that the lower [107] case “m” is appropriate because “ministers” is a common noun, not a proper noun.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 12 to 15, inclusive, not moved.

Acting Chairman (Mr. McGinley):  Amendments Nos. 16 to 19, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 16:

In page 9, line 36, after “Oireachtas.” to insert “Both Houses of the Oireachtas shall debate the report within three months of it being so laid before them.”.

An important role of the authority is the production of its annual report. One thing we are not short of as Oireachtas Members is reports. Many are laid before the House but one might well ask what happens to them after that. For this reason the National Disability Authority's report should be debated in the House. This is our only means of ensuring that what it recommends and the advice it gives to the Minister will be carried through. We have so little legislation for people with disabilities that the annual report will be an important reminder to us as legislators about the standard of services to and the status of people with disabilities in our society.

I realise it is not normal practice for every report to be debated in the House but we should have the courage to pick those which are of sufficient importance to be debated. We are establishing an authority which we hope will have a great positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities. We are all obliged to ensure that the authority is successful. Its annual report should, therefore, be debated. If the House annually discussed what the authority had to say, pressure would be put on Ministers to meet the needs of the disability sector.

We work within a tight schedule and it is difficult to fit in everything which we should debate, although the committee system has eased the pressure. We must be selective and it would be wise and prudent to decide to debate the report of the NDA. If we do not debate the report it will become yet another which is placed before the House and that will be the end of the matter.

Amendment No. 17 proposes to delete the “Minister may direct” and substitute the “authority thinks fit”. If the annual report is to be of value it should not be controlled too much by the Minister. The authority should have the scope and power to include in its report what it thinks fit, rather than what the Minister may want, although I have no problem with the Minister advising or seeking information from the authority to include certain matters in the annual report.

[108] It would be wise to provide in the Bill that the authority's annual report should be debated in the House, otherwise it will become one of many such reports and that would not do justice to the disability sector.

Ms O'Sullivan:  Amendment No. 18, in the names of Deputies Ahearn, McManus, Jim Higgins and myself proposes that “the Minister shall cause such report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas”. I support what Deputy Ahearn is trying to achieve in the other amendments. I do not know why the phrase “the Minister shall cause such report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas” is not included in the Bill. I thought it was normal for such reports to be laid before the Oireachtas. The point is well made by Deputy Ahearn that such reports should also be subject to debate. On Committee and Report Stages we have sought to strengthen aspects of the legislation. The Minister of State's usual response is to say it is intended that the authority will be strong, will have the power to draw up codes of practice, for example, and to deal with other issues. To ensure that the legislation will achieve its objectives and to ensure it is strong enough to deliver for people with disabilities, who believe there is a need to strengthen service provision, it is important that the House monitors the legislation carefully. That is the objective of these amendments. I hope the Minister of State will accept amendment No. 18 which requires that the reports be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Those reports should be debated.

Miss M. Wallace:  Each of these amendments is concerned with the reporting functions of the new authority provided for in section 15. Amendment No. 16 would impose a requirement on the Houses of the Oireachtas to debate the annual report of the authority within three months of it being laid before them. It is not normal practice or appropriate to make such an imposition on the Legislature. If it were, one would expect to see such provision incorporated in the legislation governing the work of the Ombudsman or the Director of Consumer Affairs. There will be occasions when the contents of the annual report of an organisation are such as to warrant debate in the Oireachtas. On these occasions, opportunity will be given, either in Private Members' or in Government time, to have the matters which warrant such consideration debated.

Deputy Ahearn's point was that we should have the courage to select the reports that should be debated. That is important but it already happens all the time with regard to annual reports. Instead of debating every report laid before the Oireachtas, the Oireachtas should have the courage to select the debates that are necessary. I have no doubt time will be given for such debates.

Amendment No. 17 seeks to exclude the Minister from any role with regard to the contents of the annual report. It is standard practice to pro[109] vide in legislation governing the submission of annual reports to a sponsoring Minister that the Minister may require an organisation under his or her aegis to put specified information into the public domain through its annual report. The power is one option open to a Minister in the strategic management of bodies which come within his or her remit. A similar provision is common in other statutes establishing independent offices. It is, for example, included in the Courts Services Act, 1998, and the Employment Equality Act, 1998.

Amendment No. 18 concerns the laying before the Oireachtas of additional or special reports of the National Disability Authority. Such reports may result from an intervention by the authority with an individual service provider and, in many cases, aspects of the report may be confidential. It will be incumbent on the Minister to take appropriate action on receipt of a report and to proceed to address the matters raised by the authority in a manner beneficial to all concerned.

Deputies should note that it is necessary and important that the National Disability Authority would be free to report in this way to the Minister without having to make public every such communication. These reports will provide an effective and statute based mechanism through which the authority can channel its concerns directly to the Minister and, through him or her, to all Government Departments and service providers. The authority will be able, through its annual report, to bring the contents of specific, additional reports to the attention of the Oireachtas if it is appropriate to do so.

Amendment No. 19 would make mandatory the inclusion of all recommendations made by the authority in its annual report. In many instances recommendations of the authority on matters which it has raised in special reports to the Minister will be recorded in the annual report. However, it is essential to leave it open to the authority to judge whether it might wish to proceed in this way in each case. Accordingly, I do not propose to oblige the authority to publish all its recommendations on an annual basis. For these reasons, I am unable to accept the amendments.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 17:

In page 9, line 38, to delete “Minister may direct” and substitute “Authority thinks fit”.

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I move amendment No. 18:

In page 9, line 40, after “fit” to insert “and the Minister shall cause such report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas”.

[110] Amendment put and declared lost.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 19:

In page 9, line 46, after “recommendation.” to insert “The Authority shall note in its annual report all such recommendations made.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Acting Chairman:  Amendment No. 28 is consequential on amendment No. 20 and both amendments may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I move amendment No. 20:

In page 11, line 28, to delete “19” and substitute “18”.

The purpose of the two amendments is to provide for two worker directors on the authority rather than one. This matter was discussed at length on Committee Stage. The Government's argument was that as the body is relatively small, only one worker director is necessary. Having one worker director on a body is not appropriate, no matter how small the body is. It means there is only one person to argue the workers' case and put forward their point of view. It is possible that the single worker director might be unable to attend certain meetings or be present when important issues are being discussed due to illness or for some other reason. It is sensible to have two worker directors and it should not cause a difficulty with the establishment of the body. The purpose of having worker directors is to ensure that the people who work in an authority have their point of view heard and incorporated in its decisions. It is logical to have a second worker director in this case and that is the purpose of the amendments.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I support these amendments. If we wish to have worker directors on bodies such as this, we should be serious about it. It is not good enough to provide for just one such director and to consider our obligations in that regard fulfilled. We must insist that workers are represented. The way to achieve that is by ensuring there are two representatives rather than one. This proposal requires the co-operation of the Minister. If accepted, it will not change the format of anything in a major way. It will ensure the workers are represented. This comes down to fair play. The inclusion of this amendment would not change the Bill in a major way or how the authority would operate, rather it would show we are serious about the principle of having worker director representation.

Miss M. Wallace:  Subsections (1)(b) and (4) of section 20 provide for the appointment of an elected worker director to the membership of the authority. The amendments proposed seek to increase the number of worker directors on the authority from one to two employees. We are not [111] disposed to increasing the number of staff representatives to two employees as proposed in the amendment. Given that the NDA will be a small expert body with an initial staff complement in the order of 35 employees, it would be disproportionate to provide for two staff representatives on a body of this size, which has a policy and a non-commercial remit. In the circumstances, I am not disposed to accepting amendments Nos. 20 and 28.

It is useful to consider such representation on other bodies. Enterprise Ireland was established with an initial staff of approximately 100 employees. Legislation was enacted to establish Enterprise Ireland and the National Standards Authority of Ireland without reference to staff representation on their boards. In both cases, one staff representative was appointed on an administrative basis, but neither of the authorities provided for such representation in legislation. In the case of the NDA, provision for representation is being made in statute rather than on a purely administrative basis. The National Social Service Board will become part of the new information service, Comhairle. There was no statutory provision for staff representation, but it has one staff representative on a non-statutory basis. Expert bodies, such as Enterprise Ireland, the National Social Service Board and the National Standards Authority have a parallel role to that which will be played by the NDA. The arrangement for one worker director in this legislation is fully in line with the existing practice in those organisations except we are going one step further by putting it on a statutory basis.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I appreciate what the Minister of State said, but it does not alter the principle that there should be two representatives rather than one. That would ensure workers would be represented adequately on the board and their viewpoint heard at all times. If there is only one representative, there may be times he or she may not be able to attend important meetings. I wish to press my amendment.

Miss M. Wallace:  Surely the main issue is to ensure 60 per cent of those represented on the authority are people with disabilities. We must also comply with the requirement that the membership of the authority should have a gender balance of 40 per cent. If a worker director is appointed who does not have a disability and that appointment does not provide a gender balance, this will create a further complication. This Bill goes further in terms of such representation than other legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I move amendment No. 21:

In page 11, line 30, after “Authority” to insert “(not being a person engaged in or employed by a person or body engaged in the [112] provision of services to persons with disabilities)”.

This matter was debated on Committee Stage and in the Seanad. The intent of this amendment is to ensure that the chairperson of the authority is independent and not engaged in the provision of services for people with disabilities.

I know a chairperson has been appointed to the interim authority and I do not mean to take in any way from that person, but we must be aware of the principle involved here. If an issue arises concerning the provision of a service by a body in which the person chairing an authority, such as this, is involved, it is inappropriate that the person chairing the meeting is engaged in or employed by the service provider concerned. I realise an interim board was set up, but I want to ensure for the future that a determination is included in the legislation to provide that the person who chairs meetings is not directly employed by one of the service providers.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  This matter relates to one of the recommendations in the commission's report. It recommended that the chairperson should not come from the service provider sector. The most important point is to ensure that the chairperson will be efficient and will enable the authority to work effectively. Given that recommendation in the report, there was a hope that the chairperson appointed would be a person with a disability. As I said on Committee Stage, given that the interim chairperson comes from Tipperary, I have no doubt she will be very effective and will carry out her work in an impartial manner. There is a justifiable fear as to whether a person, who has worked as a service provider, could monitor effectively the provision of services. My remarks about this position do not reflect on the person who is filling it. I am sure she will do a very good job.

Miss M. Wallace:  The amendment seeks to stipulate that the chair of the authority should be a person who is not engaged in the provision of services to people with disabilities either as an employee or as a member of the board of such a body. As the Deputies said, the interim board has been announced and the members of the board of the National Disability Authority are well balanced. It is important to note that the authority as announced is made up in the main either of people with disabilities who are not engaged in service provision or of the parents or carers of people with disabilities. In addition to the fact that about one third of the membership is drawn from among service providers, acceptance of the amendment would give rise to a position where a significant proportion of the membership of the interim authority would be excluded from serving as chair of the authority. We must consider the people appointed in this instance. They are fully capable of distinguishing their role as service providers or service recipients from their role as members of the National Disability Authority. I [113] am sure the authority will act in a manner that will ensure that the statutory remit of the authority is exercised without prejudice. As a result the Minister would have no difficulty in appointing either a service provider or a service recipient to the position.

The selection of the chair from among members of the interim authority was made with a view to challenging the programme that would fall to be delivered by the authority, with the chairperson and some of the other members drawn from the service sector and a majority of members drawn from among people with disabilities, their parents and carers. A sufficiently broadly based group has been appointed to meet any challenges that may lie ahead.

Deputy O'Sullivan made an important point about an issue arising concerning a service provider where the chairperson of an authority had worked. Section 31 covers that matter. It provides that if an individual has a particular interest in a service provider, he or she should step aside during such debates. That is a general provision in most legislation governing authorities. Irrespective of whether it relates to the food industry or any other area of life, on a rare occasion the chair may have an interest in an item raised. This applies to various food and other boards. It is standard practice that where there is a conflict of interest that person would step aside during that particular debate. This is provided for in section 31.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I accept that the person would step aside if it involved a matter in which he or she had a direct interest. However, because there is a relatively small number of service providers in this area, the chairperson might have to step aside more often than in organisations to which the Minister referred. If it only happened rarely the standard procedure would probably be adequate and there would be no need for this provision. However, because of the nature of the authority it may happen more frequently.

As the Bill will be considered again after a period of time to see how well it is working, this provision should also be looked at. If there is reason for the chairperson to withdraw on a number of occasions, not for any sinister reason, but because one of the organisations he or she happens to work for is one of the service providers, this should be looked at again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Acting Chairman:  Amendments Nos. 23 and 24 are alternatives to amendment No. 22, amendment No. 25 is related, amendment No. 26 is an alternative to amendment No. 25, amendment No. 27 is related to amendment No. 25 and all may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I move amendment No. 22:

In page 11, to delete lines 45 to 50, and in [114] page 12, to delete lines 1 and 2 and substitute the following:

“(a) the requirement that 15 members shall be appointed by the Minister from persons nominated to the Minister by organisations representative of persons with disabilities, their representatives, families or carers; and the remaining 3 appointed members shall be chosen by the Minister from persons appearing to the Minister to have relevant knowledge and experience, and”.

I thank the Minister for going some way towards meeting what we raised on Committee Stage as regards gender and the point raised by Deputy Ahearn on the desirability of having a geographical balance in the composition of the authority. However, amendment No. 22 is very important as its intention is that the bodies which represent people with disabilities should have nominating rights so they will be able to choose the people they want representing them on the National Disability Authority rather than a Minister deciding for them.

There are precedents for this in other legislation, for example, the universities legislation where different groups with an interest in the composition of a university have nominating rights rather than the Minister selecting who should represent them. The intention of amendment No. 22 is to achieve that in this legislation so the representatives, families and carers of different disability organisations have the right to nominate people.

I welcome the common ground we have achieved as regards some of the other amendments. As regards gender balance, I welcome the Minister's amendment. However, the wording of my amendment No. 26 seeks a requirement of a percentage of women and men while the Minister's seeks an objective. My amendment uses stronger terms which means that one would not just hope to have a gender balance, but that one would be required to have one. This is important to ensure that what we want actually happens.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  The common strand in our approach to this Bill is that at every stage we are diluting the recommendations of the commission's report. For example, I tabled amendment No. 24 in accordance with the recommendations of the commission's report that at least 60 per cent of the authority would be people with disabilities, their representatives, families or carers. The Minister has decided to use “a majority”. I do not understand why we nit-pick like this. There is a difference between a majority and 60 per cent on an authority of 20 people. I do not understand why we did not have the courage to go the whole way and give some kind of status to the commission's report. I worry about the recommendations made given that almost every one it made concerning the National Disability Authority has been diluted.

[115] I welcome the Minister's amendment No. 23 which deletes “desirability” and substitutes “objective”, although I question why we need any of these words. The amendment strengthens the Bill a little but the word “objective” is still weak and I wonder does it copperfasten the aspiration we all want which is that a majority of those on the authority should be people with disabilities. I do not understand why we cannot leave out words such as “desirability”, “objective”, etc., and just say a majority “will” be persons with disabilities, their representatives and families.

The same applies to gender balance. I wonder where this House would stand on gender legislation if the EU was not our watchdog. We always seem to do the minimum which will get us out of the category where we can be criticised for not ensuring there is some gender balance. We will never go the whole way. I welcome what is the Minister's effective acceptance of my amendment. However, unlike the commission's report the wording had to be changed. I proposed a geographical representation but the Minister has chosen the words “urban” and “rural”. I cannot figure out the difference. I do not understand why we nit-pick about this.

I hope the use of these words will give the geographical spread I want because the standard, quantity and quality of services for people with disabilities differs greatly between one area and another. While I accept my proposal is being included in some way, I wanted to ensure the authority would have members from areas that do not enjoy the same standard of services for people with disabilities as others. I welcome the amendment but once again we had to play with words. I will not press amendment No. 27. I accept the Minister's proposal that the authority will include among its members those from urban and rural areas. I hope this will achieve the geographical spread I have sought for justifiable reasons.

Miss M. Wallace:  The Minister indicated on Committee Stage that he would consider a number of issues raised by the Deputies concerning section 20(3). These issues arise again in amendments Nos. 22, 24, 26 and 27. Having examined the issues, we have responded to several of the Deputies' concerns.The question of making mandatory the criteria of board membership set down in section 20(3) was raised by Deputies. While their views are not fully accepted, we have sought to meet the concerns expressed by strengthening the working of that subsection. The existing text requires the Minister to have regard to the desirability of meeting certain criteria for board membership. The new wording in amendments Nos. 23 and 25 would oblige the Minister when appointing members of the authority to have regard to the objective of meeting the criteria of board membership set out in section 20(3)(a) and 20(3)(b).

Two issues raised by Deputies are dealt with in amendment No. 25. The fully constituted board [116] of the NDA will comprise 21 members, 20 of whom will be appointed by the Minister. One seat on the authority is reserved for an elected representative of the staff and as such will be independent of the criteria provided for in paragraphs (a) and (b). Consequently, to ensure that in all possible cases gender balance of 40 per cent is achieved, having regard to the full number of board members, I am happy to amend section 20(3) to provide that at least nine members of the authority shall be women and at least nine shall be men.

I am also pleased to accommodate the Deputies' concerns that members of the authority should, where possible, come from a broad geographical spread. Deputy Ahearn wonders why we talk about urban-rural balance as distinct from geographical spread. We felt that it was better to approach it in the manner suggested by the Deputy. If there are 26 members on the board, one is not saying that one wants a member from each county but one wants people from rural areas who may not have access to transport etc. along with people with problems relating to taxis etc., in Dublin. That is why there is reference to the urban-rural spread.

Amendment No. 22 concerns board membership, to which I am not in a position to respond by way of Government amendment. It seeks to require the Minister to appoint 15 members of the authority from among the nominees of disability organisations and three from among persons having other knowledge and experience relevant to the work of the board. In appointing the members of the interim authority the many nominations received from disability groups were taken into account and found to be useful. It is standard practice for interested parties to submit nominations for State boards and for consideration to be given to such nominations and this will no doubt continue to be the case according to section 20(3). A large number of organisations represent the disability sector, and in many people's opinion they have an equal interest in having nomination rights to the authority.

There are many organisations representing people with different types of disability. The Department has regular contact with more than 100 disability groups. The disability sector is emerging and evolving and the legislation, which aims to establish a new authority, must keep pace with developments in the sector as they occur. Acceptance of this amendment would be detrimental to the overall balance of the structural arrangements for the authority.

Nominations were received at the announcement of the establishment of the authority. A file was kept on every organisation which made a request to be on it. They were taken into account and felt to be most useful. Interested people who want to be on any State authority should make contact with the relevant Department. I hope Deputies understand that we have endeavoured to deal with the gender issue and the principle of [117] the geographical balance by referring to the urban-rural divide.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I appreciate very much the Minister of State's remarks but I tend to be sceptical. While the Minister of State is exemplary in taking cognisance of the nominations from disability organisations and may be committed to gender balance, we do not know what Ministers might hold office as we approach the next millennium. My amendments seek to provide that the Minister will ensure that these desirable elements are included as objectives in the legislation. We may not always have a Minister who will want to do that and the legislation does not place any compunction on the Minister to accept nominations from disability bodies or to be absolute in terms of gender balance. That is why I seek stronger terminology in the legislation.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Miss M. Wallace:  I move amendment No. 23:

In page 11, line 45, to delete “desirability” and substitute “objective”.

Amendment agreed to.

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  I move amendment No. 24:

In page 11, line 45, to delete “a majority” and substitute “at least 60 per cent.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Miss M. Wallace:  I move amendment No. 25:

In page 12, to delete lines 3 to 5 and substitute the following:

“(b) subject to paragraph (a)–

(i) the objective that not less than 9 of the members are women and not less than 9 of the members are men, and

(ii) the desirability that the Authority would include among its members persons from both rural and urban areas.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 26 to 28, inclusive, not moved.

Bill reported with amendment and received for final consideration.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Mrs. T. Ahearn:  We have missed an excellent opportunity to make this Bill strong. I regret that many of the recommendations in the commission's report were not accepted by the Minister. I feel very strongly that there is no grievance or redress procedure and in many ways the Bill lacks teeth and clout. I am disappointed that eventually the Minster will be a watchdog over [118] the authority rather than the other way around. I am disappointed that we missed a valuable opportunity to have an effective disability authority which would ensure the delivery of a better service to people with disabilities.

Ms O'Sullivan:  I agree with Deputy Ahearn. This Bill, more than most, will have to be carefully monitored. I ask the Minister of State, if she still holds that position, to ensure that happens.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Miss M. Wallace):  This is an important authority. One of my first jobs as Minister of State with responsibility for disability was to read the commission's report and see if a national disability authority could be established which would provide the engine room for all the recommendations in the commission's report. This authority will deal with policy, standards, research, codes of practice, liaison with other bodies and the provision of quality services for people with disabilities. It will make a difference and be a powerhouse for them. The NDA is a positive step and I am delighted to have been associated with it.

Question put and declared carried.

The following motion was moved by Deputy Yates on Tuesday, 18 May 1999:

That Dáil Éireann calls on the Government to review the Aer Rianta proposal to dispose of the Great Southern Hotel Group so as to ensure that it is retained as a single commercial entity, with a continuing significant contribution to local economies, and maintaining its tourism sectoral role as a flagship group for both hotel standards and all aspects of CERT training and that, if it is necessary to achieve these objectives, a State shareholding is preserved in the company and full consideration be given to an ESOP as part of any review.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after “That” and substitute the following:

“Dáil Éireann notes that the Ministers for Public Enterprise and Finance are examining the future options for the Great Southern Hotel Group in the context of the report on the future strategic direction of Aer Rianta; that no Government decisions in relation to the future of the hotel group have been taken; that such decisions will only be taken after the fullest consultation, in particular with the staff of the hotels, and with the overriding objective of maintaining and maximising employment; and that the Minister for Public Enterprise will continue to make [119] herself available to meet with the staff of the hotels and their union representatives in that regard.”.

– (Minister for Public Enterprise.)

Mr. M. Higgins: I wish to share my time with Deputy Moynihan-Cronin. Deputies Seán Ryan and Howlin are also anxious to contribute but time will probably not allow them to do so. Nevertheless, they very much support the position I outlined yesterday.

Earlier in the debate I spoke about the discrepancy between the contribution of the Great Southern Hotel Group to training in the hotel industry and that of the private sector. One could summarise everything I had to say in that regard in terms of who received funding for training and structural development in the industry and who put money back into it. The figures are quite alarming. In 1997, some 700 hotels contributed 2.13 per cent of the cost of training. In 1998, the figure was 2.08 per cent. Put simply, 700 hotels contributed about £600,000 in two years. In 1997, on the other hand, the State, through the European Social Fund, contributed just under £9 million, and it contributed £10.5 million in 1998. The Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation contributed £3.3 million in 1997 and £3.5 million in 1998. The figures speak for themselves. The contribution of security to the hotel industry requires a flagship group committed to the provision of good standards of training, employment and service. That is the history of the Great Southern Hotel Group.

In making a contribution to resolve a matter on which I am sure, after the debate, there will be consensus, when the Minister meets the unions tomorrow she should do so with the rather colourful and ideologically driven sentiments of the review group on Aer Rianta out of the way. In other words, she should begin from scratch and try to treat the future of the Great Southern Hotel Group on its own merits.

I want to draw attention to a precedent set here in 1982. I recall being in this very position when we discussed the future of Údarás na Gaeltachta. Provision was made in the House to make an oral proposal that was acceptable to all sides. I did so in relation to Údarás na Gaeltachta and the then Minister for the Gaeltacht, Charles Haughey, accepted that this was the way he would proceed. Why not have an agreement in the same way this evening? That agreement could be managed by Deputy Yates expanding his motion to suggest to the Minister that the Department of Finance should transfer its shareholding to the National Treasury Management Agency in exactly the same way as the NTMA handled £180 million of NET's debt. The NTMA could become the shareholder and provide an enterprise driven directorship or shareholding. It could make a valuation of the group that would enable it to borrow in order to expand and refurbish its hotels. The NTMA could also return to Aer Rianta a fair [120] value for the asset that was being transferred and there would probably be a capital gain for the State.

I am making this proposal as a gesture of good faith in advance of the Minister's meeting with the unions. The Minister knows what is in the report and has heard our contributions. I am sure Deputy Yates will agree with my proposal. If the proposal was supported by all sides of the House, the Minister could have a fruitful meeting tomorrow in the best interests of the workers, the hotel industry and the Great Southern Hotel Group.

Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin:  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this important debate. I am proud to support the Great Southern Hotel workers. More than 300 of them work in three of the group's hotels which are located in my constituency of south Kerry. These hotels have acted as flagships for the hotel industry generally. The group has managed to set standards in wages and conditions for staff as well as to provide service for the consumer. The loss of this group to private enterprise would be to the detriment of workers and consumers throughout the industry.

At a time when the hotel sector is facing labour shortages because of the perceived low wages and poor conditions on offer, the demise of the Great Southern Hotel Group, which has done so much to give hotels a good name, would be absolutely disastrous.

There is nothing in the amendment to assure me or the GSH Group workers that the Government does not intend to sell off these hotels. The Government does not have the courage to do so, to make its true colours known, before the local and European elections take place. This is a hare-brained idea which was invented in Dublin for the benefit of Dublin. No consideration was given to the regions. The loss of the Parknasilla hotel in my constituency would be the equivalent of losing a major industry.

The previous sale of hotels in the Great Southern Hotel Group was a disaster, and this would be a disaster also. The price for which they were sold previously was a disgrace. I urge Members to vote against this amendment which would be to the detriment of workers. I support the proposal made by Deputy Michael D. Higgins.

Mr. Howlin:  I wish to lend my voice in support of the clear proposal made by Deputy Michael D. Higgins. A frenzy of privatisation has taken place, which has become a credo to which we are all supposed to subscribe. Public enterprise has served the country well. In terms of value to the tourism industry in training alone, nothing can equal the work done by the Great Southern Hotel Group. I have first-hand knowledge of that. On many occasions, I had the privilege of presenting awards to those who had graduated from the training school in the Great Southern Hotel in Rosslare Harbour. It has now become a year-round operation providing quality service to [121] locals and visitors alike. It has set standards of pay in an industry that is certainly not noted for high wages in the private sector.

I urge the Government to think carefully about adding the Great Southern Hotel Group to the privatisation list. The agenda is being driven not for the benefit of the hotels or their workers, but rather for what is perceived to be to the advantage of Aer Rianta which wants a wad of money to invest in the development of Dublin Airport. I wish Aer Rianta well with its plans to expand the capacity of the country's airports, but it should not have free rein to disregard the benefits and intrinsic value of the premier flagship hotel group, its hundreds of workers and the industry that depends on its training potential. I hope the sound proposal of Deputy Michael D. Higgins will attract consensus in the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  I understand that Deputy O'Flynn is sharing his time with Deputies Browne (Wexford), Pat Carey, Michael Kitt, Daly and Healy-Rae.

Mr. Yates:  The real Taoiseach.

Mrs. Owen:  The silence has broken.

Mr. O'Flynn:  The Great Southern Hotel group was originally made up of railhead hotels, as the Minister pointed out. For some reason lost in the realms of history Cork did not seem to qualify as a railhead in the 1850s when these facilities were first being built. Hotels were built in Killarney, Galway and Sligo and as a leading merchant city perhaps Cork was already well served by hotels. I am glad to note that the Great Southern Hotel group has realised its error and now intends to build a hotel in Cork. This recognises the successful business centre that Cork is today, with modern industries and excellent educational facilities. Cork Airport has marketed itself as the gateway to the south and it is a sign of the times that the new hotel is to be situated at Cork Airport instead of outside the train station. Airports have truly become the gateways of industry, business and tourism and they need to portray the right image. The first impression made on foreign businessmen, investors and tourists is at airports, and first impressions count.

The success of Cork Airport mirrors the economic success of the Cork region. Last year 1.3 million passengers used the airport, which is an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year, and numbers so far this year are up almost 18 per cent on last year. Flights out of Cork to the UK and Europe are full and there is urgent need for additional routes and greater frequency of flights on existing routes. Probably 1.5 million passengers will go through Cork Airport this year and that augurs well for the new hotel.

Despite expanding considerably some years ago, the airport terminal is now reaching capacity again. Aer Rianta has planned a programme of work to expand the capacity of the terminal to [122] enable it to cater for two million passengers. That will not come a moment too soon and will complement the work of improving the runway and apron areas. I understand that a new air bridge, the first ever for Cork Airport, is planned to keep passengers dry as they walk out to their planes.

The new Jack Lynch Tunnel, which is to be opened by the Taoiseach on Friday, will greatly expand the catchment area of the airport. The tunnel will make the airport the choice of people as far away as Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny, given the excellent roads in that area. I hope to see many more passengers coming from that side of the country to use the airport. It is great to be able to announce that the new tunnel is to be named after the real Taoiseach, Jack Lynch.

Mrs. Owen:  What does the current Taoiseach think of that?

Mr. O'Flynn:  I am sure all Members send him their warmest regards and hope he makes a full recovery. The new hotel is to be next to the business park, which is another exciting development in the airport area. This reflects the importance of the airport to business and industry and shows that Cork is much more than a tourist destination. Businessmen form a high percentage of Cork Airport's traffic and they expect the best facilities. The new hotel will fill that gap at the airport, as the fullest range of high quality services must be offered to the business community. The new Great Southern Hotel, with 75 bedrooms, a conference centre and meeting rooms, is an ideal addition to the business park development. I wish the Great Southern Hotel group every success with the hotel in Cork. Their reputation is renowned and their hotel will be an excellent addition to the pool of top class hotels in Cork.

I read the Opposition motion.

Mrs. Owen:  Deputy O'Flynn will vote for the motion.

Mr. O'Flynn:  I also read the Minister's amendment. This is an attempt by the Opposition to scaremonger again.

Mrs. Owen:  Has Deputy O'Flynn read it?

Mr. O'Flynn:  The Minster has repeatedly said she is considering, assessing and consulting on this matter. When she has considered all the options she will bring her decision to the Cabinet for approval. Like other speakers I pay tribute to the great workers in the Great Southern Hotel Group for the excellent service—

Mr. Howlin:  Before dumping them.

Mr. O'Flynn:  —they have given to Irish and foreign tourists going back to the 1850s. I thank those who have worked in the hotel industry for their excellent service.

Mr. Howlin:  Thank you and goodbye.

[123]Mrs. Owen:  They will love Deputy O'Flynn for that.

Mr. Browne:  (Wexford): The Great Southern Hotel Group has over 150 years experience in the hotel business. That alone makes it stand out in the Irish hotel industry. It has seen good times and bad and has survived to prosper today. The group has handed on its high standards of service and hospitality to countless hotel and catering trainees who have brought the traditional céad míle fáilte around the world. In doing so they were sowing the seeds of today's incredibly successful tourism industry.

Like other Wexford Deputies, I am aware of the situation regarding the Great Southern Hotel in Rosslare. For many years that hotel operated on a six months basis and CERT took over for the other six months. We are particularly pleased that due to the outstanding efforts of the hotel's management and staff, it operates practically all year round and makes a profit. It is important that this hotel, given the tremendous development of Rosslare Harbour by different Governments, continues to grow and prosper under its present management and work structure.

Mr. Howlin:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Browne:   (Wexford): The success in Rosslare is repeated in hotels and tourist venues throughout the country. I await with interest the Minister's report to Cabinet, as these hotels should not be sold off as suggested by Aer Rianta. That is Aer Rianta's proposal, not the Minister's.

Maybe I am old fashioned in modern Ireland, where privatisation seems to be the buzzword. This Government, the last Government and the trade union movement have all rushed down that road, but I am not hung up on selling off State assets. To break up and sell off the Great Southern Hotel group would be a total disaster in the economies where the hotels are situated.

Mrs. Owen:  One down.

Mr. Browne:  (Wexford): It is the only semi-State hotel group in the country, its workers have given excellent service to the public and it is making a profit. Why sell it off?

Mr. Yates:  Hear, hear.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Order, please.

Mrs. Owen:  It is a major speech. Deputy Browne is about to cross the floor.

Mr. Browne:   (Wexford): Every major hotel group here and in Europe is trying to purchase or build hotels. It baffles me that Aer Rianta, which is bringing large and increasing numbers of people into the country, wants to sell off its hotels. The Minister must consider her views on Aer Rianta's proposals. I see no reason the hotels [124] cannot form a stand-alone, semi-State company. France, for example, has State-owned hotels.

The Cabinet should think seriously before it allows the hotels to be sold off. There are 850 tremendous, well paid workers in the group, which is making a profit. If the Rosslare hotel is sold, it will be sold to a private operator in Wexford. We all know the standard of some of the hotels in Wexford and the level of wages paid. Do we want the Great Southern Hotel workers to go into that system? I hope not. I will support the Minister tonight, but if a proposal to sell the hotels comes to the House I will have to seriously consider my position. It is wrong to break up the group and sell off the hotels. I urge the Cabinet to think seriously and to look at the long-term interests of the Great Southern Hotel workers who can play a vital role in the expanding tourism industry.

Mr. P. Carey:  There is profound change in the hotel sector and it would be foolish if its future was not considered as the future of other sectors has been. Another record was set for growth in the tourism and leisure industry in 1998. The number of foreign visitors more than doubled between 1991 and 1998, from 2.4 million to 5.4 million. In the same period, foreign earnings trebled from £800 million to £2.3 billion and employment doubled from 60,000 to 124,000. Areas such as my own constituency have benefited greatly from the expansion of the hotel and tourism industry, particularly in the city of Dublin, and the economy of the Dublin region has been greatly enhanced by the expansion of tourism.

For the coming years Bord Fáilte has set ambitious targets predicting that, by the year 2006, annual foreign earnings will reach £3.5 billion and 185,000 will be employed full-time in tourism. One can add to that figure hundreds of thousands of part-time jobs created in the high season. In terms of employment potential, tourism is Ireland's biggest industry. Nationally the number of hotel bedrooms increased from 21,000 in 1990 to 39,000 in 1998, an increase of 86 per cent. Another 4,000 new bedrooms will open in 1999. By the year 2000, the number of hotel bedrooms in Dublin is expected to be more than 12,000 which is an increase of 140 per cent since 1993.

I remember when members of Dublin local authorities wondered if we would ever persuade tourists to stop for even an afternoon in Dublin while they were on their way to the Great Southern Hotels in Killarney, Rosslare or elsewhere. The Great Southern Hotels Group newest hotel at Dublin Airport is undoubtedly a success. It is permanently booked out, open throughout the year and has already been extended. I have known this group for many years. The Killarney Great Southern is not far from where I was born and it was always regarded as a great employer.

Like Deputy Howlin, I had the privilege as chairman of Dublin VEC and associated with the [125] Dublin Institute of Technology, Cathal Brugha Street, of seeing at first hand the work of the Great Southern Hotel. The group is synonymous with quality assurance, high standards, high pay and quality working conditions. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of much of the rest of the hotel sector, although there are exceptions. The Great Southern Hotel Group is a flagship which, in any examination, will be seen as a shining example of how a stand-alone semi-State company can thrive and flourish. Privatisation has a role but it is not the only model of economic development. I would exclude no possibility except the selling of the hotels in the group one by one, primarily because of the dynamic of the group in the Irish tourism industry.

Mrs. Owen:  Deputy Carey will be supporting the motion in that case.

Mr. P. Carey:  I do not wish to rehearse history but I recall that in 1987 when the Labour Party had left Government, the Fine Gael Party, in a very cavalier fashion, took a decision relating to the Great Southern Hotel Group. It is a great pity that this issue is the subject of such play acting by the Opposition.

The examination of the Great Southern Hotel Group is a positive development. The employees of the group will be able to contribute to that examination. The Minister is a good listener and she has a record of listening, taking advice and then making a recommendation. I believe that course of action will benefit the group, the tourism industry and the economy.

The Great Southern Hotel Group appears to have approximately £32 million available for investment. I would urge the group to build another good quality hotel in the centre of Dublin. The group has been a very good employer with a commitment to training. The group's standards are high and it has a siginificant role to play, which I am sure it will continue to play for a very long time.

Mr. M. Kitt:  Among all that has been said and written about the hotel business in Ireland one thing is clear – the hotel sector is desperate to fill the thousands of new jobs created in hotels in the past five years. When Deputy Yates spoke last night about 800 employees of the Great Southern Hotel Group being fearful for their jobs he was indulging in scaremongering of the worst sort. There are not enough workers in the hotel industry and the recruitment and retention of staff is becoming increasingly difficult. The industry must now compete with all industrial sectors to attract new recruits and even look abroad for staff.

Mr. Yates:  It is not scaremongering. The Government is closing post offices as well. I heard today that 900 post offices are to close.

[126]Mr. McCormack:  Will they close the schools next? There will be nothing left in rural Ireland

Mr. M. Kitt:  Certain tourism bodies are now conducting campaigns in secondary schools and on radio to encourage young people to consider the hotel and tourism industry as a career choice. Despite what Deputy Yates said, the employees of the Great Southern Hotel Group, or any hotel, need not be in fear of losing their jobs. The challenge for the industry is not job losses but the opposite. We must find ways to attract, motivate and retain a skilled labour force in the face of increasing competition from other sectors of industry.

I support what the Minister said last night. Employees will, of course, be concerned when there is talk of change but that concern is being addressed by the Minister. She is meeting and talking to the staff and is available to hear their concerns at first hand. She is doing the right thing and should be congratulated for doing so. The idea of consultation is good and I am glad the Minister has visited the Corrib Great Southern Hotel and the Galway Great Southern Hotel. The Great Southern Hotel in Eyre Square is in a prime location, next door to the railway station and with great access to the city.

At the Minister's request, Aer Rianta has commissioned a report and delivered it to her. It is now up to the Minister and the Government to make a decision. In the two Great Southern Hotels in Galway there are fine people giving good service. I know from my visits to other Great Southern Hotels that they are all run very well. I notice that managers are often transferred from one hotel to another in order to gain experience.

Deputy Coveney said last night that he does not oppose the State reducing its role in running the group and that he understands the argument for selling it and raising funds. I agree with some of what the Deputy said but I do not agree that privatisation is always the answer. I was amazed to hear Deputies speak of what might be done with money gained by selling the hotels and suggest that it might be used to develop regional airports. Deputy Ulick Burke specifically wondered if the profit from the Galway hotels would be invested in Galway airport. Deputy Séamus Brennan, when Minister, committed funding for the regional airport in Galway. The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation maintains that commitment which is very much welcomed.

FÁS announced recently that the organisation is obliged to go outside the country to recruit staff for the hotel industry. This is a clear indication of the employment opportunities in the industry. The Great Southern Hotels have played a pivotal role in training hotel staff through CERT programmes.

Tourism will grow in the west. There will be greater access to the western region which has Objective One status. The Western Development Commission has been established. Funding is [127] available for job creation and there will be many opportunities in hotels such as those of the Great Southern Hotel Group. I support the Minister's efforts to develop the group and to secure the employment of the staff of the hotels.

Mr. Daly:  It would be remiss of me not to add my support to the Great Southern Hotel Group and to avail of this opportunity to compliment the staff and management on the excellent service they provide. I am particularly familiar with the Great Southern Hotel in Shannon which provides excellent facilities and is adjacent to the airport. This hotel has made a unique contribution to the overall development of the tourism business in the Shannon area. The Minister recently visited Shannon and announced a £1.8 million investment in the hotel management school. This excellent college which was established by Dr. O'Regan in the 1950s is internationally recognised. Dr. O'Regan recognised that if the tourism product is to be developed, excellent facilities must be provided. The college has made a name for itself internationally. Its graduates are guaranteed a job in any hotel complex in the world.

The changing of deckchairs in recent years has been unfair on management and staff of the Great Southern Hotel Group. It has led to uncertainty, confusion and a lack of confidence on the part of those who manage and work in the hotels. There was a valid case for linking the hotels to Aer Rianta. It would have been better, however, to link them with the national airline. National airlines throughout the world are forming partnerships and alliances, with travel agents among others. The effects of this approach have been felt at Shannon Airport from where Budget Travel has transferred much of its business having entered into an arrangement with an airline.

I passed through the airport about one week ago. There are others in the House who arrived back from Chicago a few days ago. Even though there is an excellent hotel owned by another semi-State company across the apron, the advice of Aer Lingus to those arriving at the airport is that they should stay at a particular hotel in Limerick. Semi-State bodies have never co-operated in providing services. This is blatantly obvious at Shannon Airport.

No one is saying that there will not be a new arrangement. The challenge will be to provide job security and an arrangement that will offer the prospect of expansion, development and investment. The tourism market is buoyant. New hotels and complexes are being developed throughout the country at an accelerating rate. Indecision will lead to a lack of confidence and a fall-off in business.

I urge the Minister to meet the unions quickly to restore the confidence of staff who voiced their concerns to us only one week ago. There is a need for speedy decisions. We should be open, however, to the establishment of links between [128] the new arrangement and the hotel management college whose expertise should be utilised in the provision of training for those involved in the profession. As recognised by Dr. O'Regan in 1951, excellence is of paramount importance if the exciting opportunities to develop the industry are to be availed of. The excellent service provided by the staff of the Great Southern Hotel Group must always be borne in mind. I compliment in particular the staff at Shannon and wish to assure them that the new arrangement can have a prosperous future.

Mr. Healy-Rae:  The Killarney, Torc and Parknasilla Great Southern Hotels are in the heart of my constituency of Kerry South. I live half an hour's drive from each of them. They are renowned throughout the world. The Killarney Great Southern Hotel provides at least 127 jobs throughout the year; the Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel, 80 to 100. The Torc Great Southern Hotel provides between 50 and 70 jobs for six to eight months of the year. They also provide CERT courses.

The removal of these hotels from public ownership would result in a significant loss for County Kerry. The loss of the Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel would be a devastating blow to the workforce who live between Kenmare and Caherciveen. It is well known that these hotels have been the flagship of the tourism industry in south Kerry.

The annual report and accounts of the Great Southern Hotel Group will be published in the next few weeks. They will show that profits have increased from £2.9 million in 1997 to approximately £3.6 million in 1998 based on a turnover of £26 million.

I have discussed the future of the hotels with the Minister and received a firm commitment that there will be no fast decision or cheap sale.

Mrs. Owen:  It will be a car boot sale.

Mr. Healy-Rae:  At my request, the Minister will visit each of the hotels—

Mr. M. Higgins:  She has done that already.

Mr. Healy-Rae:  —and have up-front discussions with each member of staff.

Mr. Yates:  And then exit.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Deputies should desist from interrupting.

Mr. Healy-Rae:  The Minister will have open and full discussions with union representatives. I left her in no doubt that I would take a serious view if the hotels are not retained by Aer Rianta. The staff have my full support. I worked in the hotels many moons ago.

Mr. Perry:  So did the Minister.

[129]Mr. Healy-Rae:  I played a leading role in providing one of the first golf courses in south Kerry at the Parknasilla Great Southern Hotel. At the same hotel I was involved in providing one of the first swimming pools to be attached to a hotel in this country.

I am disappointed I was not in a position to meet the deputation that came to Dublin in the past week to talk to Deputy Higgins about the Great Southern Hotel Group.

Mrs. Owen:  Some of us were there too.

Mr. Healy-Rae:  I was not there as, unfortunately, I was not in Dublin. Why should I go to Deputy Michael D. Higgins to talk about the hotels when it is he who should come to me? I know much more about the hotels than he does.

I listened carefully to the Minister—

Mr. M. Higgins:  SIPTU called the meeting.

Mr. Healy-Rae:  —and know her record over the past number of years, particularly the past year, when she did me a great favour by laying a new railway track from Mallow to Killarney to Tralee and by putting a train back on the track instead of the ramshackle system we had until she took action. For these reasons, I am willing to accept the commitment given to me by the Minister this afternoon. I will give a commitment to the staff as regards the retention of these hotels that nobody will convince me now or in the future to let down the people whose homes have been built around the hotels. I will support them and will not walk through any gate which will send them to any other place other than where they rightfully belong – in these hotels.

Mrs. Owen:  May I share my time with Deputies Donal Carey, McCormack, D'Arcy, Perry and Clune?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mrs. Owen:  I want to thank Deputy Browne for his supportive speech on behalf of the Fine Gael motion. I have no doubt he will do the right thing and join us in the lobbies. If his speech has meant anything, he must follow it up by voting for the motion and not the amendment. If Deputy Healy-Rae is depending on his conversation with the Minister that she will have an open mind when she meets the staff, I am afraid he will be ready to take a dive in the swimming pool he helped to build. Deputy Healy-Rae knows to his cost that he cannot always trust what the Government will do on his behalf.

Come into the parlour said the spider to the fly. That is a nursery rhyme we all learned as children. The Minister's invitation to the 880 staff of the Great Southern Hotel Group is akin to the spider's invitation to the fly. There was only one outcome for the fly when he went into that parlour. In this instance, the staff feel a decision has [130] already been taken by Aer Rianta and tacitly accepted by the Government that the eight Great Southern Hotels will be sold off in order to provide the resources for future Aer Rianta development.

That is what the Arthur Andersen report said. It states that Aer Rianta should actively consider how to exit the hotel business in the short-term while taking into account its commitment to extensive prior consultation. The Minister's invitation to meet with the staff next Thursday before any final decision is taken is seen, I am afraid, by the staff as nothing more than a public relations exercise as the staff do not feel there is any openness to take their point of view on board and that their point of view is not even on the agenda. The stage is set and they know about what the Minister will talk to them. They feel this invitation is a holding operation. I suspect we will hear nothing more about a decision until 12 June because the European and local elections will be held on 11 June. The votes will be safely in the boxes by 12 June when we will hear about decisions.

At a meeting last week between Oireachtas Members, which I and a number of Fine Gael Members attended, and representatives of the eight hotels, they made the case that they want these hotels to remain as a group with some State involvement. The Dublin Airport hotel is the newest of the Great Southern Hotel Group providing 87 jobs, many of them for local people.

I do not have a clue what the Minister's speech means as most of it is gobbledegook. The Minister said her main consideration is – and this is what she will say when she meets the staff – that she wants to find the right future for the Great Southern Hotel Group which will also be right for the staff in terms of their employment and other rights as well as for the Irish tourism industry. What does that mean? It is as meaningless as the comments and promises she made to the TEAM workers in my constituency, and they knew how much they could believe about the right future and doing the right thing by everybody. The Minister could have done the right thing last night by saying that, despite the Andersen report, the Government had already taken a decision that it would assist Aer Rianta in its future development – and not by selling off the hotels.

CERT has used these hotels for training purposes. There is no ideological reason the State cannot retain an involvement in this chain of hotels. The local authorities in Spain have hotels and the hotels de ville in France are owned by local authorities. Undoubtedly, investment is needed to upgrade the facilities in these hotels, and £38 million has been spoken about. That can be done if the State keeps an interest in the hotels.

The location of some of these hotels is extremely important to local jobs and services not only for those directly employed in the hotel but also for the community and the surrounding businesses. At a time when the Government is hell-[131] bent on closing every post office, it is now threatening the closure of these hotels or, at the very least, selling off individual hotels – cherry picking the sales. The Government must give a commitment on the future of these hotels. The staff said the Minister has already marked out the pitch, set up the goal posts and all she is really offering is a discussion on match strategy and not what game will be played on the pitch.

Mr. D. Carey:  I join with other speakers on this side of the House in deploring the methods used by Aer Rianta in the proposal to sell off the Great Southern Hotel Group. This asset was created in areas with little other commercial employment. The Andersen proposal is to sell off this asset and to invest in Dublin Airport by improving and expanding the facilities.

My colleague, Deputy Pat Carey, wants another Great Southern Hotel in the centre of Dublin. In the meantime, the hotels on the western coast will suffer because of lack of patronage. Hotels like Parknasilla will have only seasonal occupation. In case Deputy Healy-Rae has no misgivings about what the Minister said, all he has to do is look at Waterville and he will see that business is seasonal in the hotels there. Parknasilla, because of the State interest, has provided a quality service and is open all year round.

Did the Minister tell Deputy Healy-Rae that the purchasers of the Great Southern Hotel Group will guarantee that Parknasilla will remain open all year round, that there will be continuous employment – which as it enjoys at present – that it will be marketed in the same way, that it will provide the same quality of service and that the same number of local people will be employed? Did she tell him who will purchase it? There can be no guarantees beyond 12 June about this group.

This is essentially a community problem which is being dealt with on a commercial basis. Andersen's wants to get rid of this asset in order to boost the amount of capital available to expand Dublin Airport. The private sector already offered to expand Dublin Airport, but it was rejected. There were proposals by private companies to build more runways but Aer Rianta rejected that. These people applied for planning permission from Dublin County Council and got it but they still did not get a licence. The board of Aer Rianta is taking the soft option to raise capital to expand Dublin Airport. That is what is at issue. It has done this already at the expense of the country, particularly the west.

Everyone in Killarney must remember the guarantee of a former Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, Deputy Cowen, that nothing would happen to the status of Shannon Airport. The people believed that and thought more Americans would come to Killarney. However, Killarney hoteliers know that the number of Americans going there has dropped by half as a result of the changes. If the business [132] people of Killarney do not understand that selling the Great Southern Hotel and Parknasilla will radically change their economy, there is something wrong.

I join Deputy Daly in praising the quality of the staff in Shannon. If the Shannon hotel is sold, it will be the fourth or fifth time it has changed hands. The staff has already experienced sad times.

Mr. McCormack:  I support the motion which calls on the Government to review the Aer Rianta proposal to dispose of the Great Southern Hotels. The group of eight hotels must be kept together and it must remain in the commercial State sector.

I welcome the contributions of the last four Fianna Fáil Deputies. They assured us they will not support any proposal to sell the hotels, although they will support the Minister's amendment tonight. I am disappointed the Independent Deputy who supports the Government has so easily bought the Minister's assurance that she will not sell the hotels at a cheap price. That is not an assurance as that means she has already decided to sell them. She will not sell them at a cheap price because they are a valuable asset.

The Great Southern Hotels play a vital part in the economy of the areas they serve and in the country's tourism interests. Galway is fortunate to have two excellent Great Southern Hotels, the Corrib Great Southern Hotel on the Dublin road, which overlooks Galway Bay and the Clare hills, and the world famous Great Southern Hotel in Eyre Square. These hotels employ more than 250 people in a full-time capacity. I have no doubt if they were put up for sale, they would make several million pounds each. Will those who support the Minister's amendment, particularly the three Ministers of State who represent Galway city, stand idly by and allow those hotels to be sold to put an extra runway at Dublin Airport, as Deputy Donal Carey said? This is an anti-west proposal.

The eight Great Southern Hotels are a unit which enjoy international fame. It makes no sense to dispose of that unit. Any proposal to sell them would be contrary to good business practice as they are a good marketing tool. If an American tourist stays at the Great Southern Hotel in Eyre Square, as most of them do when they are in Galway, and they decide to move to another location, such as Shannon, Dublin, Killarney or Rosslare, they will be directed to the Great Southern Hotel in that area. That unit should not be broken up by a report, the publication of which has been delayed until after the elections on 11 June.

The hotel group is promoted as a unit in its promotion brochures. If these hotels are sold, as four hotels were in the 1970s – one has since closed and the others are not as good as they were – a great asset will be broken up. I rang one of the hotels today and while I was waiting to be put through to the appropriate person I heard an advertisement for the group. If one looks up the telephone directory for the number [133] of one of the Great Southern Hotels, one is advised to consult the other area directories for the remaining hotels in the group. The hotels are promoted as a family. It would be ridiculous to sell them.

Galway is unique in that three Ministers of State represent the city. I appeal to those three outspoken people not to allow the Minister to accept the proposal to sell off the group of Great Southern Hotels, particularly the two outstanding hotels in Galway city.

Mr. D'Arcy:  Aer Rianta's proposal to dispose of the Great Southern Hotel group has been inspired by the Government's policy. The Aer Rianta executive summary and recommendations states:

Prevailing Government policy is to withdraw from commercial involvement in semi-State companies. In light of this, there is little possibility of the shareholders making further equity investment in the group.

This is a stark warning to many people. This policy is negative and will do extreme damage to the training provided by the group to young people. The Great Southern Hotels facilitate CERT training and they have made a great contribution to the quality of training of all grades of staff in that industry. This proposal, if implemented, is short-sighted and will prove to be detrimental to the long-term future of the tourism industry. National control of a valuable training centre will be eliminated if we dispose of these hotels.

Recent debates have highlighted a serious shortfall in the availability of staff at all grades in the hotel and tourism industries. It is predicted that tourism will increase by 6 to 8 per cent on an annual basis for the next five years. This clearly indicates the staff requirement for the future. Before this debate I contacted the Dublin Institute of Technology in Cathal Brugha Street to ascertain the current position in terms of demand for staff. It informed me that it has applications for 300 positions of one type or another but it can only deal with 100. That clearly indicates the depth of the problems facing the tourism industry.

Instead of disposing of these national assets, we should invest in and extend their education and training functions. We should invest in our future and build on our strengths, not on our weaknesses. It is easy to dispose of our national assets.

I ask the Minister to clarify the status of the hotel management training course in Shannon. This college has been responsible for providing management training for the majority of today's managers in our top grade hotels. Who will do such training from now on? The Minister did not mention that in her speech. This college has done great work in providing the top management for the hotel industry.

This hotel chain is operating at a profit. Last year it made a profit of £3.5 million on a turnover [134] of £26 million. This was a 20 per cent increase on the previous year. It reflects the buoyancy of Ireland's hotels and the tourism industry. Concern has been expressed by the staff for their future. If the hotels were to be sold individually to independent operators it would result in huge job losses. Some of these hotels have been sold previously and there has been terrible disruption. Given that they are doing well and are profitable what is the reason for selling them? Is it just to get money? Somebody has told the Minister to invest in airports in Dublin.

I come from a constituency in Leinster. Those hotels, which are of great benefit, were built in areas of high employment in the west where they operate successfully. I accuse Aer Rianta and the Government of short-term advantage in securing moneys for airport development at the expense of the hotel and tourism industry, thereby denying thousands of young people quality training and education for the industry. This is short-sighted in the extreme. The Minister has lost the battle in terms of duty free sales. Is it the Minister's policy to make up the shortfall by selling off our hotels to invest in airports?

Mr. Perry:  I congratulate Deputy Yates on tabling this motion. The Great Southern Hotel Group shows profits of £3.5 million. I understand the hotels are to be sold off, on the advice of consultants, as part of a review of Aer Rianta's direction which would lead to the airport authorities being privatised and, ultimately, floated on the stock market. The way in which the hotels, which are seen as non-core business, would be disposed of is not clear. I am very concerned about the sale of the hotels.

Proper training provides the perfect platform for people to develop careers within the business or to branch out on their own. The Great Southern Hotel Group has allowed that to happen very successfully in the past. Some 11,000 people who have been trained by CERT are in employment. The difficulty at the moment is the poor image of the hotel industry. The Great Southern Hotel Group has done a great job in changing that image, in training people for a growing industry, and has operated successfully throughout the country. The argument that the hotels are not part of the core business does not stand up. We are talking about the biggest industry in the State, that is, tourism. The consultants said that a better deal would be done by selling the hotels on a piecemeal basis.

The Jury's Hotel Group bought the Doyle Hotel Group for £119,000 per bedroom. Given their viability and location, when these hotels are put up for sale they will be snapped up. Where is the tourism industry and Aer Rianta in all of this? This is a quick method of getting cash. The Government started by privatising Telecom Éireann, now it is the hotel group, what will be next? The closure of post offices has been mentioned. If we cannot operate hotels, the biggest industry in the State, something is awfully wrong. [135] If we are to develop tourism why can we not have hotels owned by the State, or at least the State could be a major shareholder in them. While Aer Rianta, which is in the aviation business, gave millions of pounds to Galway it gave only £100,000 to Sligo airport. Will the money from the sale of the hotels go to Dublin Airport?

Mr. D. Carey:  Of course it will go to Dublin Airport.

Mr. Perry:  This is unbelievable. The Government was very quick to calculate the mathematics. It is selling off an asset which was made valuable by the staff. I am in business and I know it is the staff who make a business successful. There would not be profits of £3.5 million were it not for good management and a good team of staff who have given life-long service. If the hotel was not making a profit and had to invest £30 million it could borrow from its bankers. The staff have made that hotel group the asset it is today. Previous speakers asked what the staff will get out of the sale? Given that profitability is up to 13 per cent it is a profitable operation. The hotel business is extraordinarily difficult and requires a life-long commitment by staff who are dedicated to the whole operation. It is obvious that customers using the hotels are satisfied, otherwise the profit margins would not be so high.

As Deputy McCormack said, this is a small country. People who come to Ireland to visit Killarney should be advised to tour around and visit areas such as Galway. Some years ago the hotel in Sligo was sold but it is still trading as a hotel. People should be encouraged to tour the country. By selling the hotels on a piecemeal basis, very shrewd operators in the hotel business such as the Jury's Hotel Group will choose the hotel which is suitable to them. Others will also buy hotels. Their sale is a major mistake and a sad signal for this country and Aer Rianta in tourism terms. Aer Rianta must look at other businesses, including tourism development. What has the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Deputy McDaid, to say about this? Has his Department made a recommendation? Why should Mr. Andersen's opinion be taken as gospel? Is this Government solely directed by consultants?

Mr. M. Higgins:  Yes.

Mr. Perry:  That appears to be the case. Has the Government the backbone to say, given that this hotel group is making money, it is not for sale? In the event that it was losing money it could be sold off. A profit of £3.5 million is substantial. This is not the time for a piecemeal sale for £70 million or £100 million. That money will be lost. Aer Rianta has correctly stated if it gets £70 million it will be lost in the ocean and may not even pay for a runway at Dublin Airport. Given that the hotels are doing an extraordinarily good job [136] they should be left alone. The hotels can afford to borrow money to develop the tourism industry.

Ms Clune:  I agree with the motion tabled by Deputy Yates. This strikes me as a commercial proposal by Aer Rianta to sell off these flagship hotels. This decision made in Dublin has no consideration for the impact on local communities and is similar to the issue concerning post offices. Some of these hotels provide employment all year round. They can be recommended to tourists where they are guaranteed a service of which we as a nation can be proud.

I do not understand why the Government should consider selling these profitable hotels. With further investment they could be brought up to an even higher standard. Hotels are opening in Dublin every day of the week. However, that is not the case on the western seaboard. We must ensure there are always hotels of high standard in these areas for visitors and, indeed, ourselves. I am a regular visitor to Parknasilla. It is an institution in itself and the staff have been there for many years. None of these hotels would be in the position they are in were it not for years of hard work, commitment and loyalty of the staff. The staff are part of the hotel and have made the hotels what they are today. The staff should be part of any profit-sharing arrangement in these hotels.

What will fill the training gap if the Minister proposes to sell these hotels? If the Minister speaks with all members of staff, as promised, she will be convinced, as we are on this side, of the impact the proposed sale will have on local communities. Where will the training currently provided by the group be made available? Has the Minister considered the service and training these hotels offered over the years and the excellent standards they provided? This aspect should be considered in light of the current position in the hotel industry. If we are serious about tourism, and not only in Dublin, the motion must be accepted by the Minister.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  I listened with interest to the contributions to the debate and I took note of last night's contributions from Deputies Yates, Burke, Deenihan and Higgins, who also spoke this evening. The one point which is clear is that everybody recognises and acknowledges the high standing and reputation of the Great Southern Hotel Group. This is a tremendous tribute to the staff and management of the hotels, the chairman, Mr. Noel Hanlon, and the chief executive, Mr. Eamon McKeon, who is also chairman of CERT, the training body for hotels, catering and tourism. The speakers also recognised the great contribution that this hotel group has made to the development and training in the sector. I will return to that point and address some of the issues raised.

It is also clear that at present the Great Southern Hotel Group is operating successfully. Its [137] turnover is increasing, its profits are up and it is developing its network through further investment. We have heard about the new hotel in Dublin, the planned hotel in Cork and the extensions to the opening seasons of many of the resort hotels.

I reiterate what the Minister said last night. It is right and proper at this time to review the future strategic direction of the Great Southern Hotel Group just as it is right and proper to review the future strategic direction of its parent company, Aer Rianta. Long-term strategic planning, which is what this process involves, is best done when times are good rather than at times of crisis. Planning under pressure is not to be recommended. It is too much influenced by the immediate problem and fails to take the long view sufficiently into consideration.

We do not always have the luxury of choosing the ideal time to carry out a strategic review. However, in the case of Aer Rianta and the Great Southern Hotel Group, we have that luxury and the Minister is to be applauded for her foresight when, last August, she called on Aer Rianta to put forward its views for the long-term strategic future of the group of companies.

The role of the Great Southern Hotel Group in training needs to be clearly understood. We all recognise the pioneering role played by these hotels in the early days of tourism in Ireland. Several Deputies referred to that aspect. CERT, which is the national body for training in this industry, rents one of the Great Southern Hotels, the Torc in Killarney, when it is closed in the off-season to run practical training programmes. CERT also uses another hotel in the area for the same purpose. In both cases, it is a business arrangement entered into on the basis of a competitive tendering process. CERT is the body charged with training for the hotel, catering and tourism industry, not the Great Southern Hotel Group, and CERT is doing an excellent job.

CERT's role is to co-ordinate the training of all personnel, including new industry recruits and personnel already employed in the tourism and hospitality sector. Last year, in partnership with industry, CERT trained more than 11,500 people and that figure is set to rise again this year. Well trained, highly motivated staff are essential to the continued success of the tourism industry of which Great Southern Hotels make up a small but important part.

To return to the main issue, Aer Rianta and the Great Southern Hotels are separate companies operating in separate business spheres and it is important to recognise that in undertaking the review process. They need to be examined separately and not as one unit. The review process the Minister has in progress on Aer Rianta's future direction is primarily about Aer Rianta and this will remain the main focus of that work. Aer Rianta has retained the consultants, Arthur Andersen, to do further work, specifically on the options for the Great Southern Hotels. They will hear the views of the staff and management of the [138] hotels as part of that exercise. While that work is in progress, the Minister will make herself available to hear directly the views of the staff of the hotels and to listen to their rightful concerns. That is the right and proper thing to do.

It is only when that process has been exhausted that the Minister will be in a position to arrive at a conclusion and to formulate recommendations to Government. As that review process is still under way, it is futile to ask the Minister, or me, to pre-empt matters by stating at this time what those recommendations will be. The main consideration, as we already said, and the framework for any decision will be in terms of finding the right future for Great Southern Hotels in a way that will also be right for the staff and the tourism industry. We want to position both companies, Aer Rianta and the Great Southern Hotel Group, to the best advantage in terms of serving the widest economic interests of the country. This includes making proper provision for the future developmental needs of the Great Southern Hotel Group.

I am confident that any decisions arrived at by Government will lead to a full and promising future for the hotels of the Great Southern Hotel Group and their staff and that it will contribute to the further enhancement of the hotel and tourism sector.

Mr. Connaughton:  I wish to share my time with Deputy Kenny and Deputy Yates.

An Ceann Comhairle:  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Connaughton:  Any proposal by Aer Rianta to dispose of the Great Southern Hotel Group should be treated with great caution. The value of the Great Southern Hotel Group to the enhancement of tourism and training should not be underestimated. Over many years I have noticed the high standard of Great Southern Hotels. This is the hallmark of the group and the hotels have maintained consistent standards.

Great Southern Hotels are not the only hotels which provide high standards but they have a unique niche in the market, particularly regarding overseas tourism. This aspect should not be forgotten. I congratulate the management and staff of the Great Southern Hotel Group but particularly those in the two I know best, the Corrib Great Southern Hotel and the Galway Great Southern Hotel.

The financial position shows that the hotel chain has done very well since Aer Rianta took over in the early 1990s. It did particularly well last year. The basic anxiety on the part of staff in all the hotels I contacted is that the hotels will be off-loaded as individual units to commercial enterprises and that the hotels' ethos and niche in the industry may be downgraded. This is the major difficulty people working in the hotels have with the proposal. They are concerned that the hotels may be only a pale shadow of what they [139] were in the past, although this depends on what the new owners want to do with them.

Whatever happens, the future of the Great Southern Hotel Group should be well thought out. If nothing else, the debate will ensure that people will rethink the proposal. It is fine for the consultants, Arthur Andersen, to come up with this proposal, but much more is involved than the issues contained in the stark report. One of the reasons the Great Southern Hotels have done so well since 1990 is that they received large tranches of investment in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The hotels were not doing too well before this money was put in, mainly because they did not have access to necessary investment. The hotels were modernised and are now at a very high standard. A conference centre was added to the Corrib Great Southern Hotel in Galway. This is an example of the amenities now provided by the hotels. The group is a flagship in the industry and the ethos of the hotels is important to the tourism industry. It should not be frittered away.

In common with most of my colleagues, I am against breaking up the Great Southern Hotel Group. I do not understand why Aer Rianta must sell the hotels. A good deal of thought must be given to what will be done with the money raised by the sale. Most people agree that the hotels should not be sold off individually under any circumstances. The good aspects of the group would be lost if that happened.

My information is that the other big hotel chains, including Jury Doyle's and Ryan's, are not interested in acquiring the eight hotels in the Great Southern Hotel Group as a unit. This leads one to wonder who would buy it? From where are the new owners likely to come? Why would they purchase the hotels? The Government will have to show great care in that regard. If the hotels are sold and the proceeds buried in, for example, Dublin Airport, it is highly unlikely that type of expenditure would be invested in areas which would need it most, such as regional airports and other facilities. The amount of money likely to be generated from the sale of this group is insignificant in terms of Aer Rianta's investment programme. It is strange that this possibility is raised at a time when the group is doing well, has money for re-investment and is not in the position in which it was ten years ago. SIPTU and the other unions are extremely worried and I hope there will be a great deal of consultation on this issue.

The word should go back to the Minister, the board and the consultants that we see no reason for this to happen at this time. The group has a niche in the market and it is doing well. It is good for tourism and the staff and management of the hotels to keep them as they are.

Mr. Kenny:  The Government amendment to Deputy Yates's motion has conceded that these hotels will be sold, which begs the question whether it is right to sell them. I listened with [140] interest to the comments of a number of Deputies on this matter over both evenings. When the Great Northern Hotel in Bundoran was sold to the McEniff group in recent years, after a decision of the board, that private investment was seen to be a huge success. That is one of a number of hotels owned by that group. On the other hand, the Great Southern Hotel in Mulrany was sold to a number of owners for tax and other purposes and now stands derelict. It is an eyesore and a blight on a beautiful location, its redevelopment having been turned down by An Bord Pleanála following an objection by An Taisce.

Why do people come to this country? Tourism is the fastest growing industry in the world; it is one of the strongest but also one of the most fragile. To facilitate tourism throughout the world one finds modern skyscraper hotels built from glass, etc. The Great Southern Hotel group has a solidity and permanence which is the essence of Irishness.

When I had the privilege of being Minister for Tourism and Trade the Department commissioned the University of Limerick to analyse 8,000 tourist itineraries in Ireland. It considered where they came from, where they visited, what they spent, etc. On leaving, when tourists were asked what one thing they would remember about Ireland, the inevitable answer was, “meeting the Irish people”.

It is in this light we must decide whether this is worth doing. We might get some money from it but in terms of the essence of having a tourism industry, the Great Southern Hotel group has a tradition which cannot be bought for love or money. The group may be bought by an international company, many of which contract out services to people from abroad. I do not run down the quality of their work but if the group were staffed by people from Africa, say, the guests would not meet the Irish experience. The building might be the same but it is what is inside it, the living tourism entity, which makes the difference.

Tourism will not always be as successful as it is now. There are times when it takes a dip as a result of international crises, inflation rates, or people being adventurous and travelling to new places. For a small country Ireland has had a disproportionate impact on world tourism. People coming here see a country where modern tourism is booming but there is still a strong sense of tradition, which has been and is being provided by the Great Southern Hotel group. This requires a good employer, care for employees, good wages and a clear career path with permanence and the possibility of promotion. There is merit in Deputy Yates's proposal and Deputy Michael D. Higgins proposal should also be considered.

Mr. Yates:  I thank all Deputies who spoke in this debate, which made clear the deep significance of tourism to the economy, specifically the local economies of the eight hotels in the Great Southern Hotel group. I was utterly disappointed [141] with the Minister's contribution. We heard about her romantic trysts in the leafy glades of Mulrany and how, on her trips to Valentia, it was obligatory for her to stop in the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney – a lot of guff – but there was nothing else. This is the third Private Members' motion on which the Minister spoke and then left the Chamber, which I deplore. She is so interested in consultation that she does not want to hear the views of Deputies who represent the workers she is so anxious to consult. Neither was her Department over-represented by officials during this debate.

Specific straightforward issues were put to the Minister. Will she retain the group as a single entity? Will she give the employees a shareholding option, as is being given to employees of Aer Lingus and Telecom? Is she prepared to guarantee the investment for the future development of this hotel, a minimum of £33 million for the next five years? Is she prepared to maintain the hotels' standards and commitment to training? She answered none of these questions. The Minister's contribution was an escape from reality and we heard more of the same from the Minister of State. She used the SIPTU meeting later this week as an excuse not to say anything here although the needs of those people are being articulated in this debate.

The best analogy for the present position is a landowner faced with a compulsory purchase order. The hotel group has been told it will be sold. All that is to be agreed is the price and to whom it will be sold. There is considerable merit in changing that position by adopting Deputy Michael D. Higgins' proposal to allow the National Treasury Management Agency to act as a holding company, at a minimum, to decide the best secure future for the group and its employees. To avoid a vote all the Minister has to do is give her assent.

I am sorry Deputy Healy-Rae has left because I have some friendly advice for him. I have been in this House for 18 years and I have seen many Independent Deputies come and go. The surest way to go is to say one thing in one's constituency and to vote for the opposite position in the Dáil. That is what Deputy Healy-Rae is doing, he is accepting the Minister's guff as a substitute for a commitment to the job security and future of the workers of the Great Southern Hotel group. Almost 1,000 people have given the best part of their lives in the interest of this business, they have turned it around and put it into profit, yet they do not get even the mildest reassurance, just [142] the Minister's wonderful gesticulations about consultation.

This issue will not go away. As with issues like sub-post offices and bus fare increases, the Government is hoping to get past 11 June. It is like the Taoiseach's varying accounts of events – he wants to get through the day in question or to win a Wednesday night motion. No sooner will the elections be over than the post offices will close, bus fares will increase and the Great Southern Hotel group will be sold. That is not acceptable. I am glad about one thing. If nothing else comes from the 4 p.m. meeting today and the meeting with SIPTU tomorrow, the way Noel O'Hanlon said the State had no business making beds and washing dishes means that this type of simplistic nonsense will be discarded as the way to proceed. There will be proper commercial and employee consideration and we will act in their best interests. This debate, if nothing else, will put the brakes on Aer Rianta's gallop.

I regret the Government cannot accept the motion and I deplore the Independent Deputies' failure to respond to it. I assure the Minister and SIPTU that we will be extremely vigilant. The usual old guff just will not do on this issue.

An Ceann Comhairle:  I must now put the question.

Mr. M. Higgins:  On a point of order, is it in order to ask whether the oral proposal for a consensus that would avoid a vote would be accepted by the Government? Will the Minister of State indicate the Government's response?

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair has the Government's amendment before it.

Mr. M. Higgins:  The precedent was set in 1982 when the House would have divided on the subject of a semi-State body. It was open at that stage for those proposing an amendment to accept an oral proposal. If the Government agrees, we can avoid a vote.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair has no other proposal before it aside from amendment No. 1.

Mr. M. Higgins:  The offer has been made to the Government. If it agrees to the proposal being made, we can avoid a vote.

An Ceann Comhairle:  The Chair has not heard the Government agree. I must put the amendment.

Amendment put.

Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Ardagh, Seán.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus. Browne, John (Wexford).[143]

Tá–continued

Byrne, Hugh.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
[144] McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
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.
O'Malley, Desmond.
O'Rourke, Mary.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Wright, G. V.

Níl

Ahearn, Theresa.
Barnes, Monica.
Barrett, Seán.
Bell, Michael.
Belton, Louis.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Broughan, Thomas.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Liam.
Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.
Clune, Deirdre.
Connaughton, Paul.
Cosgrave, Michael.
Coveney, Simon.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
D'Arcy, Michael.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
Fitzgerald, Frances.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gilmore, Éamon.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Perry, John.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Reynolds, Gerard.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Barrett and Ferris.

Amendment declared carried.

Motion, as amended, put and declared carried.

Mr. O'Shea:  The courage of those who came forward to expose the appalling treatment inflicted on children in industrial schools in this State has done this State a great service. Those responsible for the “States of Fear” programmes have also done a great service.

The greatest monument to the courage of those who spoke out is that every possible step should be taken to prevent child abuse in the future. That is not to suggest the commission to inquire into child abuse is not welcome and essential. It is equally important that those who were abused and who carry psychological and emotional scars are given every possible support service. The [145] State must follow up the good work of the inquiry as far as possible. Equally, those who perpetrated this terrible abuse must be identified and dealt with before the courts.

The package announced by the Government was a welcome introduction of the measures necessary to redress the appalling treatment inflicted on children in institutions over several decades. I particularly welcome the apology offered to the victims by the Taoiseach on behalf of the State and its citizens. The Labour Party, represented by Deputy Moynihan-Cronin, was the first to seek an apology in the Dáil two weeks ago in the immediate aftermath of the transmission of the first “States of Fear” programme. It is entirely appropriate that the Taoiseach spoke on behalf of all of us.

The establishment of a commission to inquire into child abuse is also a welcome initial step which will allow victims an opportunity to speak about the abuse they suffered. However, it may not be sufficient to meet the victims' demands for justice. When we have heard all the relevant testimony, further procedures may be necessary to establish who was responsible for the terrible brutality carried out against so many children. It also remains to be answered how the victims can best be compensated for the damage done while in State care.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to the victims who have exposed this terrible abuse and to the programme makers who brought the evidence of it into the public arena. They have compelled the State to begin to live up to its obligations to the victims of this cruelty. The State has clearly not considered the full implications of this. It should not leave these critical issues to the three person commission to decide.

I welcome the Government's acceptance of the Labour Party Private Members' Bill which will change the law regarding the statute of limitations for the victims of child sex abuse. The Bill will amend the statute of limitations so that the victims of child abuse can pursue justice through the courts. Given the revelations about the extent of child sex abuse which has occurred in Irish society there is an obligation on the State to facilitate victims who wish to pursue those responsible and attain justice through the courts. I am pleased the Government has accepted the logic of this argument.

However, when the Bill is debated in the House, the Labour Party will oppose any effort to restrict the remit of the Bill to those who have suffered sexual abuse. The original scope of the Labour Party Bill includes the victims of child abuse, physical and sexual, but the Government has signalled its intention to limit the Bill solely to the victims of sexual abuse. I am opposed to this as I see no reason that children who have suffered appalling physical abuse should be treated differently. This country must come to terms with the appalling abuse of children. There is no justification for making a distinction [146] between types of abuse suffered by victims. All victims of this appalling abuse must be treated with an equal degree of respect and dignity.

A number of Government measures were announced previously. The fact that there are many areas relating to the child where reform is long overdue is an indication that we are still not prepared to give children adequate political priority. A few examples highlight this. Ireland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. However, as of yet, there has been no progress on amending the Constitution to provide for those rights. As regards juvenile justice legislation, we are still operating from the 1908 Act. The 1996 Bill which was prepared by the last Government to replace this legislation has been left to gather dust.

In 1996 a review of child protection services in the Eastern Health Board found the service was in crisis and that children were being left in unsafe circumstances because of lack of resources. Many of the social work and family support services are grossly underfunded and there are lengthy waiting lists for services. The absence of mainstream State support for pre-school, coupled with the absence of a nationwide school attendance service, despite many years of promises, are other examples of how we approach child care policy.

The Celtic tiger economy and the employment of 1.5 million people will not solve social inequality. However, the Government has a great opportunity to address the area of child care. I hope the recent revelations and this debate will speed up that process.

Mr. Shatter:  It is time for us to acknowledge that Irish social policy relating to children has over the years been built on a bedrock of hypocrisy and deceit. The State, which constitutionally committed itself to cherishing the children of the nation equally has over the decades placed her most vulnerable and destitute children in institutions in which they are brutalised and sexually violated. Successive Governments, representative of the various political parties who are an integral part of our political system, have consistently failed to put in place essential structures to provide the maximum possible protection for children at risk and to ensure those taken into or placed in care are properly looked after.

Political soap box oratory about children's rights and their welfare has never been matched by the provision of the essential resources and comprehensive legislation required to provide our children with the protection to which they are entitled. I do not believe those who are politically responsible for the betrayal of our children and the destruction of their lives have acted out of malice. The crime is one of ignorance and neglect – a denial of the reality staring them in the face. The State, with its bureaucracy, must share the responsibility and blame for the scandalous events which took place within our institutions [147] and have blighted the lives of so many placed in them during their childhood.

If all the files are opened, we will discover that for many years those who were dealing on a regular basis with the religious orders who administered our institutions were aware of the abuse to which children were being subjected. Programmes such as “Dear Daughter” and “States of Fear” have revealed to those directly involved in working in this area something they already knew. These programmes have shone the spotlight of publicity on events which some in authority would prefer to be covered up. Essentially they have cut through the wall of silence and provided public credibility to the casualties of institutional abuse which has given them the confidence to assert the truth of what occurred and to seek recompense.

The State, church authorities and religious orders stand accused of hypocrisy and deceit. We now know that many of those who were in a position of authority in the Catholic church in the early years when I was a Member of this House and who railed at the evils of contraception, divorce and abortion lacked similar concern for the young children who were being buggered and abused by men and women in religious orders. We now know that those who stood on moral platforms and lectured society were moving abusive priests from one parish to another like pieces on a chess board, ignoring the fact that their sexual proclivities posed a risk to every child with whom they came into contact.

Priests were moved from parishes, not for the purpose of protecting children, but to cover up abusive conduct already known to have taken place, in order to protect the church. Reports of abusive conduct by those in religious orders and those employed by them were covered up by the State because of a false sense of its duty to the church, in gross violation of its obligation to protect the rights of children.

The cover-up was continued until recently by distorted legalism which justified non-disclosure on the grounds that if the State, a Department or health board admitted the scandalous events which occurred, it would result in an inevitable claim for damages and a consequent loss of money to the Exchequer. Exchequer finances were wrongly given priority over our obligations to children abused in our institutions and their rights as citizens to protection and recompense from the State which bore responsibility for the destruction of their childhood.

In the past three years we have witnessed a parade of those guilty of child abuse passing through our courts system and being sentenced to terms of imprisonment. Each time a member of a religious order is sentenced, a member of the relevant order or a bishop publicly apologises for events which have occurred and expresses remorse. Help and counselling is offered to the victims. Last week the Taoiseach finally extended an apology for the State's failures to victims of [148] abuse and, unlike the church authorities, pledged additional resources for counselling.

The commission which is to be set up is welcome and has been welcomed by many of the victims of abuse. However, social policy relating to children and that of the church remains with its foundations deeply rooted in hypocrisy and deceit. Can the apology of church authorities be taken seriously if they and religious orders continue in a legalistic way to contest liability for damages claimed by those who are the casualties of abuse for which they are responsible? How can we take seriously apologies issued for past events, when outside courts on the day fixed for the hearing of cases of alleged abuse, negotiations are undertaken by lawyers representing archbishops, bishops, or religious orders to settle such cases on the basis that a sum of money is paid, liability is denied and confidentiality agreements are entered into with plaintiffs seeking damages to ensure that the public is not made aware of the sum paid to them by way of compensation?

Can the State's apology be taken seriously when those responsible at Government level for the protection of children condone similar practices by health boards when the victims of abuse seek compensation due to a health board's failure to extend to them during their childhood the statutory protection to which they were entitled? Can it be taken seriously when we are told it will amend the Statute of Limitations to extend the time within which victims of sexual abuse may claim compensation, but is currently unwilling to similarly change the law in regard to physical abuse and wishes it examined by the Law Reform Commission?

Can the Taoiseach's acknowledgement that there is a need for a comprehensive policy to address the issues of child abuse be taken seriously when it is clear that a law which extends the time for bringing claims for compensation for sexual abuse will not immediately apply to physical abuse and will, as a consequence, be unworkable in the large number of instances in which children were both sexually and physically abused in years gone by? If both the State and church authorities are truly apologetic, the Statute of Limitations should immediately be reformed in its applications to both sexual and physical abuse. An announcement should be made that the statute will not be invoked by the State, the church or religious orders in any of the hundreds of cases pending before our courts in which the victims of abuse are claiming compensation. Immediate discussions should also take place with a view to the establishment of a tribunal which will facilitate the processing of such claims in a humane and expeditious manner with legal costs and expenses kept to a minimum.

The Government must move away from the hypocrisy and deceit for which the State properly stands accused. It must stop playing with this House a game of political charades by which a perception is created that the issue of child sexual [149] and physical abuse is being comprehensively addressed and actually put in place all the measures that are genuinely required if the State's apology is to be taken seriously.

It is a disgrace that the last comprehensive child abuse guidelines to assist social workers working within health boards were published in 1988 and we still await the publication of new guidelines to reflect the provisions contained in the Child Care Act, 1991. We have learnt over the past decade about child abuse. We ask for a guarantee from Government that the new guidelines will be published within a month.

It is a further disgrace that approximately 280 offenders are currently serving sentences in our prisons for rape and sexual abuse offences and there are only facilities to extend treatment and therapy to ten such offenders. There is a need for a more extensive treatment and therapy programme but to date the Government has been silent on this issue. The State's apology does not deserve to be taken seriously when in the coming years offenders will be released back into the community who can be best described as “sexual exocets” and who will inevitably re-offend and destroy the lives and futures of many more young people.

Health boards, in particular the Eastern Health Board, have received reports naming hundreds of children believed to be at risk that remain uninvestigated and without family assessment being undertaken through lack of personnel and resources. It is not known how many children are suffering physical and sexual abuse to whom protection could be extended if health boards were able to respond quicker to reports received.

For almost two years the courts have been denied the assistance of the welfare service carrying out family and child assessments in family law cases in which our judges believe such assistance is required to ensure that when deciding disputes over children the right decision is made in the interest of their welfare. It is a disgrace that the social service inspectorate recommended by the Madonna House report more than three years ago is not yet properly in place and that the Government's original commitment to establish it by statute and guarantee its independence has been reneged upon. It is also a disgrace that many of the recommendations contained in the Kilkenny incest report and the report into the death of Kelly Fitzgerald remain unimplemented with those reports sitting on the shelves of the Department of Health and Children continuing to gather dust.

It is right that we acknowledge those who have taken heroic action to effect change. The courageous Sophia McColgan and her family exposed the incompetence and gross neglect of the North Western Health Board. The courageous Andrew Madden publicised a civil action brought by him against Fr. Ivor Payne which ultimately resulted in many victims of abuse coming forward and Fr. Payne's imprisonment. There are many other vic[150] tims of similar courage and they have been seen in some of the recent television programmes.

There are also those who have become victims as a consequence of attempting to blow the whistle on child abuse at a time when the State was more interested in cover up and Government was more interested in protecting itself against legal actions for damages. Loretta Byrne, as a civil servant in the late 1980s, brought to the attention of officials in the Department of Education and, ultimately, to Members of this House on the Committee of Public Accounts serious abuse which she believed was being perpetrated in St. Lawrence's in Finglas. Her persistence cost her her job but today we know that at least one victim of abuse there has committed suicide and the Garda, which in 1994 only carried out a limited investigation has recently, having carried out a further investigation, sent files to the Director of Public Prosecutions in regard to allegations of abuse at the Finglas centre. It is time it was publicly acknowledged that Loretta Byrne got it right and those with whom she dealt in various Departments got it seriously wrong. She must be compensated for the fact that her persistence and courage cost her her job and substantially impaired her quality of life.

The State has apologised but still stands accused of failing to cherish the children of the nation equally and to date has failed to provide to our children the protection to which they are entitled. The Government must commit itself to take a more comprehensive approach than that announced by the Taoiseach last week within a specified timescale. If it does not do so the events of last week will in the coming years be seen to be just another tired move in a game of political charades played out in this House and outside by Government and politicians, one which for too long has been played with the lives of children.

Mr. Higgins:  (Dublin West): Do chuir an clár teilifíse de chuid RTE “States of Fear” alltacht ar gach duine sa Stát seo a chonaic é. Thaispeáin sé go raibh an íde a tugadh do leanaí ins na scoileanna tionsclaíochta uafásach amach is amach. Bhí an droch-íde úd níos leithne agus ag tárlú níos minicí ná mar a cheap éinne nach bhfuil aithne acu ar an gcóras sin mar a bhí.

An rud nua faoin méid a tháinig amach ins an clár ná gur thug sé le fios nach duine anseo is ansiúd nó cúpla duine anseo is ansiúd a bhí ciontach ach gur córas eagraithe a bhí ann in a raibh an Stát i ngleic leis an Eaglais agus cumhacht ollmhór ag an dá eagraíocht sin.

Molaim crógacht na ndaoine a tháinig chun tosaigh chun a gcuid scéalta a insint mar gheall ar an méid a tha\rla agus chun an fhírinne anois a chur amach os comhair na ndaoine le go bhféadfaí iniúchadh a dhéanamh air agus foghlaim uaidh.

Tá sé soiléir go bhfuil na daoine a tháinig chun tosaigh brúite agus bascaithe ach go bhfuil léas nua beatha acu agus go bhfuil an dóchas acu maireachtaint an cuid eile dá saol agus an t-olc a [151] tharla dóibh a fhágaint taobh thiar daoibh. Caithfear gach tacaíocht a thabhairt dóibh.

The “States of Fear” programme has launched a new debate on the issue of child abuse. Mary Raftery and the team that produced this documentary deserve the highest praise. There are a number of reasons this programme made a mark at this time. For one thing, the extent of the research was very convincing. Unfortunately, we have become used to revelations of institutions or individuals' stories which are quite horrifying and which are not mitigated in any way by the new revelations. However, what “States of Fear” brought out was that we were not dealing just with a few individuals or locations, but with an entire system. The programme showed an extent of research which was convincing in that regard.

The programme clearly showed that there was a systematic perversion of arms of the State, such as the courts, the Department of Education and the Garda Síochána, who were responsible for having this system in place, in conjunction with the religious orders, mainly of the Catholic Church. The programme revealed that over several decades this system of refined brutality matched, in some respects, the way people were treated in authoritarian regimes such as Stalinist Russia or even fascist Germany and, while not to the same extent of horror, many of the same attitudes were shown to have prevailed.

We must salute the courage of those who have come forward to tell their stories and who, despite the horror they have to live with, are obviously determined to go forward with their lives. With these new revelations now out in the open they may be able to live new lives.

We should examine how this situation was allowed to happen for decades. We can find an explanation in the nature of the State – both the Free State and, later, the Republic – as it was during those years. We can find an explanation in Mr. de Valera's 1937 Constitution which recognised the special position of the Catholic Church. The State was clearly relying on the Catholic Church for legitimacy and support. The Church relied upon the State to give it a privileged position within society, putting it in charge of virtually the entire education system and giving it many other privileges and rights which in a democratic society no institution, other than an institution democratically accountable to the people, should be allowed to enjoy.

It is in this mutual interdependence of Church and State that we can discover why this situation went unchallenged for decades. The authoritarianism of the Catholic Church was the perfect instrument by which these horrors could occur behind closed doors, without people being in a position – or feeling they were in a position – to expose them. The Church has a serious responsibility to bear, along with the State which has to fully acknowledge the wrong that was done and the methodical nature of that wrong. From now on its actions must be informed by that admission.

In 1913, when the working class people of Dublin were fighting desperately for the right to [152] organise themselves in trade unions to have a dignified life with a reasonable income for their families, and when their children were being brought to homes in Britain, the Catholic Church led an assault on the strike leaders denouncing the alleged dangers to which “Irish children going to English homes”, as they put it, were to be exposed. What an irony, that at that very time we had in place this appalling system where thousands of children were incarcerated and systematically used and abused at the hands of that self same Church. Later, the Free State and the Republic shamefully connived in that situation, and was responsible for it continuing.

I welcome the setting up of the commission to allow victims to come forward. It must have a role of rigorous inquiry into the causes of how this happened. All the files must be brought out. It is sinister that files relating to this episode in our history are missing at present. The apology which the State has given is welcome in so far as it goes, but we must deal with the question of compensation for the victims, whichever form it takes. Lives have been broken as a result of this matter.

It was interesting to hear the programme's producer, Mary Raftery, say that what put her on the trail of this particular story was hearing from ex-prisoners and hardened criminals, whom she had dealt with in previous programmes, that many of them had been through the industrial schools. That prompted her to look more deeply into what lay behind them. It is highly significant that the damage that was done in these schools is still being inflicted on society by the unfortunate victims who turned to crime and other anti-social activity as a result. There is an enormous amount to answer for, socially and personally. The State and its institutions are fully obligated to make up for their past failure. We also have to mention the shameful failure of the major political parties which ran the State since the early 1920s.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Mr. O'Dea):  In relation to my responsibilities in the Department of Education and Science, I want to assure the House that every effort will be made to facilitate those educated in Ireland's industrial and special schools to return to the education system, should that be their wish. I am appealing to all adults previously educated in the industrial schools, who feel they were denied the opportunity to secure a decent education, to consider returning to the education system by taking the opportunity to participate in one of the various wide-ranging adult education programmes.

I am prepared to establish a free-phone number or a separate office to deal with inquiries for those individuals, should such a facility be needed. In the meantime, I am calling on all those interested to contact my office in Dublin where details of the various courses on offer will be provided to any individual interested.

The RTE documentary “States of Fear” revealed that many people who attended the industrial schools and schools for children with disabilities in the 1950s and 1960s only barely learned to read and write, and sometimes not [153] even that. In some of those schools education was practically non existent. It is obvious from the evidence furnished in the RTE documentary that many people who attended the various industrial schools for children with disabilities, run by religious orders, were denied a proper education and left school with little formal education. The fact that many people were denied a proper education in these schools has continued to impact on the quality of life of these people long after the physical and mental abuse has ended. It is imperative in the interests of social justice that we help those who have missed out on a good education. We will do everything possible to facilitate the needs of these individuals if they wish to return to education in any capacity.

Now that we have commenced the process of allowing VTOS, Youthreach and PLC courses to be studied on a part-time basis and have almost quadrupled funding for adult literacy, there has never been a better opportunity to return to education, whether part time or full time.

This has been an important debate. The subject it addresses goes to the very heart of whether we, as a society, can go forward by confronting the past. As public policy makers, we need to recognise that the failures of this State, be they in 1959 or 1979, have as many implications for us as failures in 1999. Let us not forget the scale of revelations in 1996 and other times. There was no throwing up of the shutters or lessons learnt and inexplicably there was no professional counselling service. As contemporary politicians it fell to us to respond to the consequences of what happened before most of us were in public life and, quite simply, the response was entirely inadequate.

Speeches were made, questions were asked, interviews were given but nothing was done. Deputies from all sides supported the Taoiseach's historic statement, which apologised on behalf of the State and its citizens to the victims of child abuse. What is far more important however is that many victims have come forward to say how much they valued the Taoiseach's initiative.

This response from the victims, was based on the fact that a Government, for the first time, was saying, without equivocation, legalese or grandstanding, that they had been done a very serious wrong. As was outlined last week, the Taoiseach informed his colleagues that he wanted the Government to address this matter properly.

The response outlined last week is the product of a considered process. It would be both foolish and damaging to imagine that we could immediately devise a comprehensive and final response which would be fully effective in meeting the needs of victims. The two stage approach to the workings of the commission is clearly the best means of proceeding and I am pleased to inform the House that strong support for this proposal has already been signalled to us. The membership of the commission will be announced early next week and work is well under way on staffing and accommodation for its secretariat.

In relation to the other areas included in the Government's announcement, progress has already begun. Work is under way and will be reported within a fortnight on the establishment [154] of a comprehensive professional counselling service and the shorter term responses required to fill this long neglected gap in publicly provided services. On the issue of the reform of the statute of limitations, the House will be debating it next week. Certain Deputies would seem to have changed their previously publicly stated positions on the extent of the reform. As was stated at the beginning of the debate, the Government would welcome any additional expertise which the Opposition could offer to guide a response on the issue of physical abuse. As it stands, the evidentiary and procedural problems for which there is no obvious guidance remain unaddressed. In the circumstances it is reasonable to ask for answers before making a move which could actually be damaging to victims by putting them through the type of invasive and inquisitorial trials which can generally be avoided in cases of sexual abuse.

In the Government's handling of this general area we have sought to be both proactive and open. We have very specifically abandoned the conservative approach which used legal excuses to do nothing. It is a sorry sight – we saw it again tonight – to see some politicians attempting to use this issue for business as usual. I hope we can all take a step back and agree to approach it in a constructive and appropriate manner. This is not a matter suitable for the hype which we invest in our everyday business; it is much more important than that and we should all act accordingly.

As more and more people find the strength to open up and confront the past, the revelations will continue. The commission will serve as a catalyst. It will be a forum in which much pain will be expressed and hopefully it will lead to an opportunity for healing too long denied. I believe that its establishment and effective operation is a sign of a society that is capable of progressing. It will strengthen us all through the force of pure, unvarnished, uncomfortable but unavoidable truth.

I believe we have taken a giant step forward in the last week and I hope we can all commit ourselves to keeping up the momentum. That is this Government's commitment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  Seanad Éireann has passed the Údarás na Gaeltachta (Amendment) Bill, 1999, without amendment.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle:  The Select Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine has completed its consideration of the following: Vote 30, Marine and Natural Resources, Revised Estimate for the service of the year ending 31 December 1999, and the Sea Pollution (Amendment) Bill, 1998, and has made amendments thereto.

The Select Committee on the Environment and Local Government has considered the Local Government (Planning and Development) Bill, [155] 1998 [Seanad], and has made amendments thereto.

Mr. Perry:  With the recently announced changes in the pupil-teacher ratio and the dramatic development of this area in recent years, the school as of 1 September next is entitled to appoint an eighth teacher. This teacher has no classroom and as a matter of urgency a classroom needs to be provided at the school for this teacher. Now is the ideal opportunity to complete the building at the school by providing two new classrooms – one for the new teacher and one to replace the chalet and the long promised GP room. Additional office, remedial and storage space is also required and by completing the original eight classroom plus a GP room plan of the early 1980s – a plan which the board of management and the Department have in their possession – all this could be achieved and the accommodation issue at St. Patrick's national school, Calry, taken off the agenda.

The present accommodation leads to many difficulties in the day to day running of the school. For example, no remedial room was built at the school and when the remedial teacher visits twice weekly, she must work out of a small dark room originally planned as an office. Despite her best efforts to brighten up this room, it is a most dreary and dull environment for her and the children. Surely these children, the weakest in the system, should be given every stimulation to learn and a proper spacious learning environment is the least of their requirements.

The school secretary must also work out of this same dreary office. This means that she cannot attend the school on the same two days as the remedial teacher and thus is only available to the principal and staff three days a week. This leads to inefficiencies in the provision of the secretarial service as the secretary may not be in attendance on the day she is needed most. As the principal is a teaching principal, despite the fact that there are 212 children in the school, he finds that he is continually being interrupted in his teaching duties and the children in his class suffer as a result.

The recent provision of a school psychologist has once again shown up inadequacies in accommodation at the school. When the psychologist attends there is literally no place for her to carry out her work as the remedial teacher or the secretary will already be in the school and the only other room available is the staff room where her work is continually being interrupted by both the secretary or teachers using the photocopier.

Incidental parent-teacher meetings highlight the accommodation problems of the school. Parents who come to speak privately to the principal or a teacher find themselves discussing sensitive and private issues in a corridor or the staff room. The school makes every attempt to implement [156] the primary school physical education curriculum but, given the lack of a general purposes room and the climate of the north west, this is very difficult. For a number of weeks every year, PE cannot be done outside. To ensure that PE is done, the school has designed a plan for wet weeks. One day per week is designated for PE; if that day is wet one teacher has to clear the furniture from her classroom so that the room can be used for PE.

With every available space being used for teaching, storage of teaching, cleaning and other equipment creates a difficulty. When the original plan was altered in the late 1980s the planned staffroom was not built and what had been planned as a small library was converted into a staffroom. This room barely accommodated the six teachers in the school at the time. However, from 1 September next, the school will have eight teachers as well as a remedial teacher twice a week. The present staffroom is too small to accommodate even half this number. When the school doctor or dentist visits, children are expected to be examined and sometimes to undress in a staffroom where they can be interrupted at any moment by teachers going about their daily work.

The Minister must recognise that St. Patrick's national school, Calry is struggling to provide the best possible education for its children in extremely difficult circumstances. As the recent pre-school survey indicates – and as anyone can see from the number of houses being built in the area – the numbers in the school will increase dramatically over the next few years. This, in turn, will place impossible demands on the accommodation in the school. Where is the teacher who arrives in September to teach her class? One small, dark room cannot accommodate a secretary, a remedial teacher and her pupils and an educational psychologist and her clients. Now is the time to put the accommodation issue in order at this school by completing the original plan which allowed for eight classrooms, a GP room, a remedial room, office space and storage space. In a growing area this accommodation is urgently required. I appeal to the Minister to announce the completion of the plan.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Mr. O'Dea):  I thank Deputy Perry for raising this matter because it affords me an opportunity to clarify the position regarding the application for additional accommodation by Calry national school.

This six classroom school was built in 1989 to accommodate the amalgamation of two small schools in the area, Dunally national school and Calry national school. The current enrolment is 211 and the school is staffed by a principal teacher and six assistants.

The school management applied recently to my Department for additional classroom accommodation and a general purpose room. This application is currently under examination in the planning and building unit of my Department. In the course of the examination, factors such as the cur[157] rent accommodation level at the school and demographic trends including possible housing developments in the immediate area, will be taken into consideration. As is normal in such cases also, an inspector's report and recommendation has been sought and obtained in the matter. On completion of this examination, my Department will be in a position to advise the board of management of the outcome.

My officials will seek to progress consideration of this application as quickly as possible. The Deputy will appreciate that it is far too early in the process to determine what the likely outcome will be.

Mr. Browne:  (Wexford): A company in County Wexford, Macmine Castle Pork, was recently informed by the senior superintending veterinary inspector from the Department of Agriculture and Food that its premises now conformed with the necessary conditions of EU Directive 91/497 for an export approved licence. The same letter informed the company that, because of a scarcity of veterinary staff in the Department, the licence could not be issued. This has caused major difficulties for the company.

It is strange that the Department, on the one hand, issues grant aid directly and through FEOGA, to enable Macmine Castle Pork to bring its premises up to the standard required for the issuing of an EU licence and, at the same time, informs the applicant that it cannot go ahead because of a lack of veterinary staff.

This company has been built up by the owner, his wife and family over a number of years. It now has a staff of thirty in a rural area near Enniscorthy. I am baffled by the information that the Department is unable to provide veterinary services. In other areas of the south east, retired veterinary staff have been employed on a temporary basis to provide services in meat processing plants.

I ask the Minister for Agriculture and Food, through the Minister of State, Deputy O'Dea, to examine this. The company is losing export orders and may have to let staff go because of the lack of a veterinary inspection. The statutory levy of £1.05 per pig to cover the cost of inspections should be adequate to cover the Department's expenses. The Minister must consider this issue.

There appears to be an ongoing dispute between the Departments of Finance and Agriculture and Food regarding the allocation of adequate staff to the Department of Agriculture and Food. Macmine Castle Pork should not be a pawn in this game. The owner of the company has spent more than £1 million in bringing the plant up to the required standard. He has been informed by letter that he has conformed to the conditions of the EU directive but because a vet is not available to carry out the inspection, he cannot be issued with an export licence.

The Minister of State should discuss this matter with the Minister, Deputy Walsh to ensure that adequate, permanent or temporary veterinary inspectors will be made available to enable this [158] company to proceed with its current orders and to seek new orders. The owner was in Wales today and won several new orders but until he is granted a licence he cannot deliver to his customers in Wales. This situation could lead to a loss of jobs and serious consequences for the company.

Mr. O'Dea:  I thank Deputy Browne for raising this issue and I apologise for the absence of my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Ned O'Keeffe who made valiant efforts to be here but was unavoidably detained. I assure Deputy Browne that I will convey everything he said to Deputy O'Keeffe and to the Minister for Agriculture and Food.

The Department of Agriculture and Food is obliged to carry out its functions with a fixed number of staff. This policy of capping civil servant numbers was initiated by the previous Government to control public expenditure. Accordingly, the Department must prioritise its resources to ensure the most effective delivery of service to the public. There is extreme pressure on its veterinary services at present to supervise both new plants which have met the relevant EU standards and existing plants to ensure standards are being maintained. Nevertheless, the Minister for Agriculture and Food is ensuring that the number of veterinary officers is maintained at the maximum allowed by the capping policy I have already mentioned.

The Minister is conscious of the very understandable desire on the part of newly approved plants to begin to operate to export standard once they are technically approved to do so, but it must be recognised that operations can only begin when the Department is in a position to provide the necessary level of departmental supervision. Every effort is made, and will continue to be made to limit the delay between approval and the provision of Department staff to allow plants to operate to export standard. The Minister is keeping the veterinary staffing situation in meat plants under constant review and the existing resources will be used as efficiently and effectively as possible to meet the needs of the industry.

The Minister is aware that a pigmeat plant in County Wexford was recently inspected by departmental veterinary staff. As a result of the inspection it has been awarded full EU export status but the staffing problems I have already outlined are preventing the plant commencing operations. I assure Deputy Browne that every effort is being made to resolve this situation, notwithstanding that the changeover from domestic to export status of a plant has immediate and considerable staff resource implications for the Department of Agriculture and Food.

Mr. Naughten:  I thank the Chair for giving me the opportunity to raise this important issue. I wish to give the Minister for Health and Children an opportunity to correct his reply to Questions Nos. 175 to 179, inclusive, on 11 May. The Minister said in column 788 of the Official Report: [159]“The company [Glaxo Wellcome Limited] added that the results of all tests, mandatory and otherwise, together with expert advice which the company had sought, indicate that no other batch gave rise to the same level of potential concern as batch 3741.” This is incorrect for a number of reasons. At approximately the same time as batch 3741 was released and administered, another batch of greater potency, batch 3732, was also released. Batch 3732 was 16 times greater than the British standard at the time. Batch 3741 was 14.5 times greater.

During the Kenneth Best case, when questioned under cross-examination by Mr. Dermot Gleeson as to whether other batches of similar or greater potency were released, Mr. Peter Knight, manager of the Immunological Product Support Group of the Wellcome Foundation stated: “There may have been a half dozen, a dozen or 100 more.Goodness knows what I would have found if I had looked wider.” Does this not give rise to the same level of potential concern as batch 3741?

From May 1968, 14 batches of vaccine which were not subjected to the mouse weight gain test were released. This was a standard test at the time in the United States and recommended by the World Health Organisation. They were administered from approximately January 1969 to January 1970. During this period there was an enormous increase in reactions to the vaccine, so much so that it induced a Dr. Griffith of the Department of Clinical Immunology at the Wellcome Research Laboratories to suggest that the vaccine should be withdrawn at the start of 1970. Does this not give rise to the same level of potential concern as batch 3741?

Eastern Health Board records for 1973 show that the official in charge of the administration of the vaccine in the region was inundated with reports of severe reactions among the children who had received it. The person concerned wrote to the Wellcome Foundation to express concern and questioned the advisability of continuing the Trivax vaccine. This official obviously believed that the reactions gave rise to the same level of potential concern as batch 3741.

An expert medical group, established in November 1977 with three eminent doctors, which reported in 1982 recommended the establishment of such a group on a permanent basis to assess damage caused by immunisation. They obviously believed that other batches gave rise to the same level of potential concern as batch 3741.

Department records and correspondence clearly show the extent of the adverse reactions to the three-in-one vaccine and that these were not attributed solely to one batch. If no other batch gave rise to the same level of potential concern, why have the records and correspondence in the Minister's possession not been made available to the parents of brain-damaged children? Why was the report of the expert group never published? Why has the Department failed to follow up the concerns of staff of the Wellcome Foundation regarding its quality control pro[160] cedures and release of vaccine, the safety of which was questioned in the Best case?

The House has been misled through no fault of the Minister who has been misled by his officials and Glaxo Wellcome Limited which wants to cover up the extent to which children have been brain-damaged by the three-in-one vaccine. The Minister has an opportunity to clarify the record and not to encourage misleading statements which have been fed to him by the Wellcome Foundation. I will not drop this issue until the full truth is known.

Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children (Dr. Moffatt):  I am pleased to have the opportunity to outline the background to this issue and the up-to-date position. In 1993, following the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Kenneth Best, which attributed Kenneth's disability to the three-in-one vaccine, the Department of Health and Children wrote to Wellcome (Ireland) Limited in an effort to establish the extent to which vaccine from the batch in question, batch 3741, had been distributed in Ireland. The company's response indicated that the batch was produced around March 1968 but that due to the passage of time it was not possible to establish during what period the batch was distributed to specific parts of the country.

The Department wrote to the health boards in the matter but with the information then available the boards did not succeed in establishing the extent of the distribution of batch 3741. In 1997, following further consideration of the issue, the Department again approached the company seeking details of the specific vaccine lots produced from batch 3741. Glaxo Wellcome Limited, the successor to the company which produced Trivax three-in-one vaccine, furnished information regarding the lot numbers and quantities of vaccine produced from batch 3741. This vaccine batch was produced in the summer of 1968 and had a two year shelf life.

Following receipt of this information the Department again wrote to the health boards asking them to examine their records to see if the extent of usage of these lots in Ireland in the period 1968 to 1970 could be established. The period in question predates the establishment of the health boards. The health boards' responses indicate that in many cases immunisation records for the period in question are no longer in existence. Those which do exist do not always contain the lot number of the vaccine used as it was not routine practice to record this information at the time. Hence, the responses provide an incomplete picture of the situation in the period concerned.

The health boards' responses show that the use of vaccine from the lots in question was recorded in 295 cases. The boards in whose areas such usage was recorded were the Mid-Western Health Board, the Southern Health Board and the Western Health Board. The Mid-Western Health Board indicated that it had identified 183 immunisation records relating to children who had received vaccine from lot numbers 69684 and 69685. The Southern Health Board indicated that it had identified 109 immunisation records relat[161] ing to children who had received vaccine from lot numbers 69684, 69685 and 69942. The Western Health Board indicated that lot number 69684 had been used in Galway in 1969 and that records indicated three cases where children had received vaccine from this lot.

Following statements made by the Deputy, the Department recently made further inquiries of Glaxo Wellcome Limited regarding tests carried out on batch 3741 and also regarding a number of other batches which, it had been alleged, did not pass certain tests. The company has indicated to the Department that a variety of tests were used to analyse Trivax in the late 1960s and that all batches of Trivax released for sale complied with the mandatory requirements at the time. The company added that the results of all tests, mandatory and otherwise, together with expert advice which the company had sought, indicate that no other batch gave rise to the same level of potential concern as batch 3741. The company further added that it was endeavouring to trace relevant documentation relating to the tests applied to batch 3741 which it would provide to the Department when available.

The Department is considering the health boards' responses and such other information as is available with a view to determining whether further action is appropriate in the matter and what, if any, conclusions can be drawn. This includes consideration of the issue of whether recipients of vaccine from the lots in questions should be contacted.

In relation to concerns regarding alleged vaccine-related brain damage, the Department has no evidence which would suggest that there is any link between vaccination and the subsequent development of neurological damage. Extensive international research has been conducted over many years regarding the possible link between the pertussis component of the DTP vaccine and chronic brain damage.

Mr. Naughten:  This is a standard reply and does not respond to the points I raised.

Dr. Moffatt:  It is as up-to-date as we have at the moment. If any other information is forthcoming it will be given to the Deputy.

Mr. McGinley:  I thank you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, for affording me the opportunity to raise this important matter on the Adjournment. It concerns a road with which I know you are familiar from your frequent visits to Donegal, particularly to Gweedore. The Termon to Dunlewey road is part of the shortest route between Letterkenny and Gweedore and is colloquially known as the Back of Errigal Road or Bealach Chúl an Earagail. It links the N56 at Termon with the N56 at Meenacuing in Gweedore, a total span of 29.2 kilometres or approximately 18 miles. The first six kilometres from Termon is along the regional road R255. The remainder, to the National Park at Glenveagh, past Errigal Moun[162] tain through Dunlewey to Meenacuing, is along regional road R251. This road has been identified as a top priority non-national route.

It is the shortest access route from Letterkenny to the west of the county, particularly to the Rosses and Gweedore, and the industrial estate at Derrybeg where upwards of 1,400 people are employed. It passes through one of the most scenic parts of Donegal and is also the access road to two major tourist attractions, Glenveagh National Park, which attracts in excess of 100,000 visitors per annum, and Ionad Cois Locha in Dunlewey, which was visited by 70,000 people last year. The road also carries a huge volume of local traffic and is used extensively by ambulances and other emergency services.

The condition of this vitally important road is scandalous. While repairs have and are being carried out at both ends, the centre from the Poison Glen crossroads to Glenveagh, is nothing more than a glorified goat track. According to a report prepared by Donegal County Council last year, the transverse cracking is severe, the cracks are wide and the surface water run-off is penetrating the sub-base. There is seldom an incident free day on this road. Articulated trucks get bogged down, many vehicles are damaged and most new cars must be equipped with extra suspension if they are used regularly on this road.

The road serves the Údarás na Gaeltachta industrial estate in Derrybeg. It is used to transport raw materials to the estate and the finished products to their markets. It is placing an intolerable burden on the industries located there, which employ over 1,400 people in this peripheral part of the county. I have heard many of the industrialists and employers expressing their exasperation at the lack of progress on bringing the road up to an acceptable standard.

We have all heard of the importance of infrastructure and access to the development of industry and the creation of employment. We also know of the unacceptable high level of unemployment in Donegal, which is three times the national average. If we are serious about maintaining the Údarás na Gaeltachta jobs in west Donegal, a serious effort must be made to carry out the necessary repairs as soon as possible.

On his recent visit to Donegal, the Taoiseach met all the managers in the industrial estate along with the local chamber of commerce. Their priority was the Back of Errigal Road. My party leader, Deputy John Bruton, on a visit to the county last weekend also recognised the importance of this road. Everyone recognises its importance but funding, so far, has been completely inadequate. During 1998 there was no specific improvement grant for the Dunlewey end of the road because the council did not submit an application. The previous year only £48,000 was allocated for the Dunlewey side. This year there has been a slight improvement and a total of £448,000 has been approved for the R251 section of the road but it is too little too late. Work started last week and only a few hundred metres have been completed. I appeal for a supplementary allocation to enable work to continue on this road until it is brought up to an acceptable and safe standard.

[163] If we are serious about the development of the industrial estate in the west Donegal Gaeltacht, the development of the tourism industry, other industries and the needs of the local population, this road should be a top priority. I urge the Minister to do everything possible to approve the necessary extra funding without further delay. I would also like to mention the alternative route to the west, the N56. It is also in need of major funding, otherwise my part of Donegal, the west of the county, will be left underdeveloped and inaccessible.

Mr. O'Dea:  I thank Deputy McGinley for raising this issue. On behalf of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, I would like to say a few words about the non-national roads programme in general.

The 1999 allocation for non-national roads is over £237 million, or over £242 million including the local improvements scheme. This is an all-time record provision and is an increase of over £37 million, or nearly 19 per cent, on the original 1998 allocation figure. Some of the features of this year's grant package are the following: central grant expenditure equivalent to some £2,626 for every kilometre of non-national road in the country; over £138 million to be spent under the restoration programme for regional and local roads, compared with £118 million in 1998 – this will further accelerate the programme and will allow county councils to undertake all of the 1999 and 2000 restoration improvement schemes included in their multi-annual programmes; county councils will receive a total of over £210 million for non-national roads, compared with £183 million in the initial 1998 allocations and local authorities will receive nearly £51 million in 1999 under the various EU co-financed schemes of specific grants.

With regard to the R251-R255, the Back of Errigal road, the Deputy will appreciate that the maintenance and improvement of non-national roads in his area is a matter for Donegal County Council, to be funded from its own resources, supplemented by grants made available by the Department of the Environment and Local [164] Government. The initial selection of projects in County Donegal to be assisted from the various grant categories – mainly discretionary grants, restoration grants and EU co-financed grants – is also a matter for the council and neither the Minister nor his Department has any function in the matter. In the case of the EU co-financed scheme of grants, the INTERREG II scheme and the peace initiative scheme, the Minister selects the projects on a national basis, but this is from among eligible applications forwarded by local authorities. The Deputy may be interested to know that the Department of the Environment and Local Government has paid over £3.5 million to Donegal County Council for the R251/255 since 1994 in EU co-financed and INTERREG II grants. The prioritising of the various sections of this road for funding has been and remains a matter for Donegal County Council.

The 1999 non-national road grant allocation to Donegal County Council is £13,833,000, an increase of 13 per cent on the original 1998 allocation. This grant includes EU co-financed grants of £145,000 for R251 Dunlewey-Termon, east of Poisoned Glen junction, £300,000 for R251 Dunlewey-Termon, west of Poisoned Glen junction, and £264,000 for R255 Glenveagh-Termon. It will be open to Donegal County Council to prioritise further sections of the R251/255 for funding in subsequent years under the EU co-financed scheme which it is hoped to continue in 2000. It is also open to the council to prioritise this road for funding from its discretionary improvement grant and own resources.

Non-national road grants for 1999 have been fully allocated to local authorities and there are no funds at the disposal of the Department from which further grants could be made available to county councils. The House will agree, however, that Donegal County Council, in common with all county councils, has benefited substantially from the generous level of grants the Minister for the Environment and Local Government has made available.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.05 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 20 May 1999.

[165]

  21.  Mr. Bell    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if her attention has been drawn to concerns that the proposal by BNFL to shed up to 500 jobs at its Sellafield plant may compromise safety and increase the risk of nuclear pollution of the Irish Sea; if she has raised this matter or plans to raise it with the British authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12422/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  I am aware of BNFL's proposals to shed up to 500 jobs at the Sellafield complex, and I appreciate the Deputy's concerns about the possible safety implications.

I understand these job cuts are part of BNFL's ongoing plan to reduce its costs by 25 per cent by the year 2000-1. BNFL has stated publicly that staff reductions will not take place unless it is safe to do so and operational performance can be maintained or improved.

I will be meeting Mr. John Battle, MP, UK Minister of State for Energy and Industry later this week, to discuss a number of nuclear safety related matters. I intend to raise this issue with him and to seek his assurances that safety will not be compromised as a result of such job losses.

  22.  Mr. Sargent    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the policy in her Department in relation to the importation of nuclear generated electricity; if this prospect arose following deregulation of the electricity sector; the measures, if any, she will put in place to maintain the energy sector nuclear free; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13037/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The Government accepts that public opinion is firmly opposed to the nuclear electricity industry. Under the provisions of the EU Electricity Directive relating to third party access to networks, large customers will be entitled, if the necessary interconnection capacity exists, to contract directly with generators or other suppliers abroad for electricity. At present there is no connection between any part of Ireland and any country which has nuclear power.

It has to be recognised that in the UK, as elsewhere, electricity is generated from a variety of sources and once electricity enters the grid it is not possible to identify its source. This is particularly pertinent if non-generating suppliers are involved in a transaction. It seems reasonable to expect that the known position of the Government, and I believe of all the major political parties, as well as clear public opinion would strongly discourage eligible customers from knowingly [166] contracting for electricity imports clearly traceable to nuclear stations.

The electricity regulation Bill provides that the Minister may, by order, specify criteria relating to among others, the nature of the primary source of energy to be used by a generating station. It is my intention that the criteria will stipulate that proposals for the construction of nuclear power stations will not be authorised.

  23.  Mr. Wall    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland has reported to her in connection with its visit to Sellafield to examine information and documentation concerning the probability risk assessments which cover the high level waste storage tanks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13002/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  The RPII has reported to me on its visit to the BNFL Sellafield plant, which took place at the end of April. The purpose of the visit, which I must emphasise was a preliminary one, was to assess the scope and timeframe of the full examination of the documentation which might ultimately take place and the resources that would be required and to form a view as to the feasibility of reaching a conclusion about the safety of the storage tanks.

As a result of the visit, the RPII has concluded that it would be practical and feasible to undertake a further visit to Sellafield to carry out the detailed examination and assessment of the documentation. However, given that BNFL is currently revising its safety case documentation in relation to the storage tanks, the RPII considers that it would be prudent to await the completion of this revision by BNFL before undertaking this further visit. The RPII would envisage the visit taking place in October next when the revision of the safety case documentation is expected to be completed.

I emphasise, as I did when I responded to a previous Dáil question on 18 February 1999 on this matter, that the RPII's investigation of the BNFL safety documentation in no way implies that I have softened my stance about the time-frame for vitrification of the high level waste in the storage tanks. I will continue to request UK Ministers to speed up the vitrification of the liquid waste on the Sellafield site.

  24.  Mr. Ferris    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    her views on the principal recommendations contained in the report on a public private partnership approach to the Dublin light rail project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12988/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I am very supportive of the concept [167] of public private partnerships. I welcome the timely publication of this report which recommends the adoption of a PPP approach for the light railway project. This is a most valuable report which illustrates how the State and the private sector could work in partnership to bring about a much needed improvement to the public transport system. The recommendations in the report are being studied by my Department at present and I am consulting interested parties. I am anxious that all interested parties will be given an opportunity to study the report and respond to its findings. When that consultation has been completed, I will make proposals to the Government for the continuing development of the project.

  25.  Mr. Penrose    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the plans, if any, she has to sanction the increases in charges sought by Aer Rianta in respect of its aeronautical charging policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12982/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  Aer Rianta will shortly submit to me its proposals for a revised charging structure for the State airports. These proposals were prompted by the funding requirements for Aer Rianta's heavy capital expenditure programme and the possible impact of the loss of duty free sales. In anticipation of Aer Rianta's proposal, I recently appointed Indecon Economic Consultants to assist me in my examination of that submission. It is expected that it will take the consultants approximately two months to complete their work.

In my consideration of any proposal in relation to airport charges, I will take all relevant factors into account, including the impact any change in the level of charges would have on airlines, and, consequently, on the travelling public. I will also have regard to the impact of any change in EU policy on duty free. As always, I will take into account the views of interested parties before reaching a final decision on airport charges.

  27.  Ms O'Sullivan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the difficulties, if any, reported to her by the Light Rail Advisory Action Group or CIÉ in relation to the Luas project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12996/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  To date I have not received reports of any difficulties in relation to the Dublin light rail project from the Light Rail Advisory Action Group. However, I understand that the group will be submitting a report to me in the near future.

In submitting cost estimates to me recently in respect of the Tallaght to Abbey Street line, CIE [168] expressed concerns about the potential overall cost of the light rail project. I and my Department subsequently sought clarification of those concerns from CIE and we await a full response. The estimate submitted by CIE in respect of the Tallaght to Abbey Street line is currently being evaluated by Halcrow-McCarthy who have been engaged as consultants to assist the light rail monitoring committee, comprising representatives of my Department, the Department of Finance and CIE.

Following completion of this detailed assessment it is my intention to seek Government approval for a firm capital budget for the Tallaght line and to appraise the Government of the updated overall cost estimates for the light rail project. However, it is not realistic to seek to establish a reliable cost estimate for the northern line pending completion of a geotechnical evaluation of the underground section.

I am pleased to say that progress on the light rail project has been satisfactory. It is proceeding broadly in line with, and in some cases ahead of, the indicative timetable that I outlined in May 1998.

I made a light railway order in respect of the Tallaght to Abbey Street line last March. No application for a judicial review was received within the two months specified in the legislation and CIE can now proceed with securing tenders to allow construction to commence. The target date for the commencement of construction is spring 2000 and the line is expected to be completed in winter 2002. I understand that some preliminary work will get under way within the coming months.

The Government has approved funding for the purchase of the first 20 trams which will operate on the Tallaght to Abbey Street line and this contract was, I understand, signed by CIE last week. The public inquiry into the Sandyford to St. Stephen's Green line is expected to finish today. CIE expects to be in a position to submit an application to me for a light railway order for the Abbey Street to Connolly Station line in August. The public consultation process for the Broadstone to Ballymun and Dublin Airport line began last December.

CIE will appoint consultants shortly to undertake borehole drilling and carry out a geotechnical study of the underground section of the project. This is later than I had expected and, while I have been advised that it will not significantly affect the overall timetable, I have asked that there be no delay in progressing this aspect of the work. I expect that these geotechnical studies will be completed about end year.

[169]

  28.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the position regarding proposed upgrading of the rail services to which she has allocated finance; the degree to which these works have been carried out; if her Department has monitored progress on these development works; the amount of moneys spent; the funds remaining to be spent; if the works will be sufficient to meet requirements in 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13034/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  Iarnród Éireann is currently engaged in the largest ever investment programme in the history of the railway. Projects involving EU or specific Exchequer funding will account for expenditure of just over £300 million in the period 1994 to 2000. Approximate expenditure amounts to £170 million in the period 1994 to 1998 and a further £130 million in 1999-2000.

These projects are closely monitored by my Department. In overall terms there are sufficient projects identified to draw the available funding. However, as we approach the end of the programme period there may be need for some, relatively small, adjustments. This is a normal part of the monitoring process and, where EU funding is involved, it is conducted in consultation with the EU Commission. In such cases, contracts must be signed by the end of this year and expenditure incurred by the end of the year 2000.

In addition the company undertakes expenditure on both safety investment and development projects which do not receive direct EU or Exchequer support and are not specifically monitored by my Department.

  29.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the position regarding Aer Lingus workers who were on secondment to TEAM and are now returning to Aer Lingus and require appropriate placement, particularly licensed engineers who require placement in a special line of work in order to renew their licence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12949/99]

  96.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    further to Parliamentary Question No. 69 of 31 March 1999 regarding the sale of TEAM to FLS Aerospace, the number of employees who returned to Aer Lingus and were placed in positions matching their skills; the time schedule for placement to matching skills of the balance now left; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13077/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 96 together.

I understand that Aer Lingus is endeavouring to accommodate the former staff from TEAM as vacancies matching their skills arise in the airline. To date 50 of the 91 staff who did not accept terms for the transfer of their employment to FLS Aerospace have been accommodated with positions matching their skills. The airline is providing advice and assistance to the remaining 41 staff in terms of career planning. I have been advised [170] by Aer Lingus that the number of technical vacancies in the airline is limited. Nevertheless, Aer Lingus intends that the remaining ex-TEAM staff will be given consideration in the event of future suitable technical positions becoming available in the airline.

  30.  Mr. O'Shea    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals, if any, she has in relation to An Post; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12922/99]

  41.  Mr. J. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the steps, if any, she will take to keep all existing post offices open following her recent meeting with the Irish Postmasters Union; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12839/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 41 together.

As I have stated on numerous occasions, the Government is committed to the retention of the current post office network and to its use for the delivery of a comprehensive range of State services to all citizens. I have instructed An Post to report to me on a monthly basis on the status of every post office where a vacancy occurs for a postmaster. This vacancy may be due to the retirement, resignation or death of the incumbent. I have asked it to specifically refer to the steps being taken to fill that vacancy.

An Post is currently in the process of undertaking organisational changes which are designed to position the company to trade successfully in the increasingly competitive environment now prevailing in the postal sector. I understand that, in this regard, the management of An Post is in regular consultation with employees' representatives concerning the implementation of the proposed changes. I would expect that such consultation and implementation would be undertaken in a spirit of partnership.

  31.  Mr. J. O'Keeffe    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if her attention has been drawn to the concerns expressed by island communities off the west and south coast about whether adequate services will be provided to the islands by telecommunications service providers following the privatisation of Telecom Éireann; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12838/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  Under the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act, 1983, Telecom Éireann has had an obligation to satisfy all reasonable demands for comprehensive and efficient telecommunications services throughout the State.

In light of the full liberalisation of the telecommunications sector with effect from last [171] December, I recently made new regulations to replace this requirement with more up-to-date and specific provisions in relation to what is known as a universal service obligation. The European Communities (Voice Telephony and Universal Service) Regulations, 1999 (S.I. No. 71 of 1999) require the director of telecommunications regulation to designate one or more fixed telecommunications operators to meet all reasonable requests for access to the fixed public telephone network and the provision of a specified minimum set of telecommunications services, involving the ability to make and receive national and international calls, enabling speech, facsimile and data communications, as well as ensuing access to directory services and the provision of public pay telephones. The director has recently designated Telecom Éireann to comply with this universal service obligation.

This obligation applies irrespective of the forthcoming public offering of shares in Telecom Éireann.

  32.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the policy position in regard to the future of television deflectors; the plans, if any, she has to make legislative changes or otherwise with the objective of ensuring the availability of the widest possible television coverage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13035/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  My policy in regard to delivery systems for television systems is to encourage competition among the various delivery platforms consistent with the optimum use of available spectrum.

Deputies will be aware from previous replies to questions on this topic that the licensing of television deflector systems is a matter for the director of telecommunications regulation who, I understand, intends shortly to initiate a consultation process on the issue.

The objective of that process will be to invite and examine comments from any interested parties or individuals and to formulate proposals and recommendations in respect of the future operation of deflector systems. Until that has been completed, it would be inappropriate for me to speculate on the outcome.

In the event that the director determines that there should be a change to the current licensing regime, it will be necessary for her to draft legislative proposals to which my consent will be necessary. It would be premature for me to comment as to whether I will give such consent in advance of receiving proposals from the director.

[172]

  33.  Mr. Penrose    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    her views on the recommendations and identified sources of new equity contained in the report from Aer Lingus on the future strategic direction of the airline; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12986/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The Aer Lingus report to which the Deputy refers is being examined by an international firm of advisers – Salomon Smith Barney – who have been engaged by myself and the Minister for Finance to assess the suitability of the strategic alliance proposal recommended by the airline. This assessment will include an examination of Aer Lingus' future capital needs and how these can best be funded.

I expect to be in a position to report to Government in July on the future of Aer Lingus and possible sources of funding for the airline. It would not, therefore, be appropriate for me to anticipate the outcome of the evaluation process and eventual Government decisions regarding the future of Aer Lingus.

  34.  Mr. Ferris    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if the study on gas demand to 2025 has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12994/99]

  45.  Mr. Allen    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the discussion, if any, she has had with Bord Gáis regarding the options currently being examined by it for its future gas supply; and if she will make a statement on the negotiations currently under way between Bord Gáis and Keyspan regarding the proposal to build a gas pipeline between here and Northern Ireland at a total cost of £510 million at no cost to Bord Gáis but which would involve it placing its assets in a joint venture with Keyspan which would include the gas pipeline infrastructure. [9684/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 34 and 45 together.

As I stated in response to questions on 18 February and 9 March 1999, there are parties other than Bord Gáis interested in future gas infrastructure needs and supply possibilities. The interests of such parties together, of course, with the interests of both current and future gas consumers have to be taken into account in developing policy for the future.

I understand that Bord Gáis is preparing a document for early publication about future gas demand scenarios. A separate report appraising alternative arrangements for all-island gas supply was recently completed and it is being examined from the point of view of releasing it for general consumption following the deletion of commercially sensitive information. Work on the study of gas demand to the year 2025 should be completed in a few months and my disposition is to publish as much of the information as possible.

[173] There is, of course, ongoing regular contact between my Department and Bord Gáis about all of these matters. As regards the particular matter of joint ownership of gas infrastructure both to and within the island of Ireland, which is referred to in Deputy Allen's question, I am generally aware that there have been exploratory contacts between the parties, initiated by Keyspan/British Gas. Those discussions are at a very early stage and I have not, therefore, received a proposal from Bord Gáis. I cannot confirm the cash figure mentioned in the question. I would have to be convinced that the type of arrangement referred to by the Deputy would be in the long-term interest of gas consumers and the economy generally before I could give it serious consideration. I also expect that it would require EU clearance.

  35.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if she will report on the first peer review meeting under the International Convention on Nuclear Safety; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13003/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  The first review meeting of the Nuclear Safety Convention was held at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency – IAEA – in Vienna on 12-23 April 1999. In advance of the meeting, each contracting party was obliged to submit a national report setting out how it is complying with the obligations of the convention. Other contracting parties were then invited to submit written queries on the reports.

To date, 65 countries have ratified the convention. Of these, 45 contracting parties, including Ireland, participated in the meeting. For the purposes of the review meeting, the participating countries were divided into six country groups. Each group comprised countries with nuclear power programmes of different sizes, as well as countries not having nuclear power reactors.

The country groups discussed in depth each national report and its compliance with the obligations of the convention. The areas discussed included: legislative and regulatory frameworks; safety of nuclear installations; financial and human resources; assessment and verification of safety; radiation protection and emergency preparedness. The output from each country group was a confidential draft working document which formed the basis of a report to the plenary session.

In addition to the deliberations within the country group, the Irish delegation had an opportunity to participate in discussions within other country groups. During this process, Ireland raised a number of questions on the national reports of other countries, including the UK. According to the rules and procedures of the convention, the proceedings of the review meeting and the documentation received, apart from the [174] summary report and national reports, are confidential.

Overall, the review process demonstrated a strong commitment by all contracting parties to the safety objectives of the convention. It was generally recognised that the self assessment process, starting with the ratification of the convention and the preparation of national reports, has been a catalyst for initiating steps and measures by many participating countries to improve implementation of their obligations under the convention.

Being a contracting party to this convention entails a commitment to a continuous learning and improving process. This is a key element in terms of assuring a high quality safety culture. This first review meeting could, therefore, be regarded as a base-line for observations on the implementation of the convention obligations. Further improvements as a result of this meeting should be evident at the next review meeting to be held in three years' time.

  36.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if the independent review of the scope for revenue generation from CIÉ's property portfolio has been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12990/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  A consultant has been selected to undertake the independent review and the formal approval and appointment procedures should be completed shortly. The review is expected to take about six weeks to complete from the date of appointment.

  37.  Mr. Howlin    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if she will cap the opening of the electricity market to competition at 32 per cent by 2003; her views on whether any further opening up of the market should require primary legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12984/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The requirements for market opening in the electricity directive are the minimum requirements, set at 28 per cent on implementation on 19 February 2000 and 33 per cent three years later in 2003. The figure of 33 per cent for 2003 is calculated on an EU wide basis on foot of the directive as the proportion of all consumers using more than nine giga watt hours per year. The EU Commission calculates this figure each year based on statistics received from each member state.

Under the Bill as published, the Minister of the day may by order vary the figure of four giga watt hours on which the 28 per cent figure is based and will give notice of any intention to make such an order by publishing it in a newspaper circulat[175] ing in the State at least 28 days before the making of such an order.

As the Bill implements the requirements of the directive in full, and as further opening of the market may be effected by ministerial order as I have already outlined, I do not consider it appropriate or necessary that any further opening of the market should require primary legislation.

  38.  Mr. O'Shea    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals, if any, she has to ensure that there will be worker participation at board level on all public enterprises which are privatised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12923/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I refer the Deputy to my reply to a question on 18 May 1998, a copy of which has been forwarded to the Deputy.

  39.  Ms Fitzgerald    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals, if any, she has received in relation to the use of Gormanston Aerodrome; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12694/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  Proposals have been made to my Department for the establishment of a pilot training school at Gormanston aerodrome. Such a school would need to be approved by the Irish Aviation Authority as the air safety and aviation technical regulatory body. However, section 3 of the Aviation Authority Act, 1993 excludes aerodromes under the control of the Minister of Defence from the scope of that Act.

Legislation to amend section 3 of the 1993 Act and other air safety regulatory provisions is at present under preparation in my Department. I am committed to bringing this legislation forward as speedily as possible but given the extent of the Government's legislative programme this will take some time.

In the meantime, my Department is exploring with the Department of Defence the possibility of finding a solution which would enable the Gormanston training school proposals to go ahead in advance of the amending legislation.

  40.  Mr. Deasy    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the progress, if any, being made in relation to the Luas project; the length of time it will take to deal with objections and acquisitions of property; when the project will commence; and the completion date in this regard. [13042/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I am pleased to say that progress on [176] the light rail project has been satisfactory. It is proceeding broadly in line with, and in some cases ahead of, the indicative timetable that I outlined in May 1998.

I made a light railway order in respect of the Tallaght to Abbey Street line last March. As I informed the Dáil recently, no application for a judicial review was received within the two months specified in the legislation and CIE can now proceed with securing tenders to allow construction to commence. The target date for the commencement of construction is spring 2000 and the line is expected to be completed in winter 2002. I understand that some preliminary work will get under way within the coming months.

The Government has approved funding for the purchase of the first 20 trams which will operate on the Tallaght to Abbey Street line and this contract was, I understand, signed by CIE last week. The public inquiry into the Sandyford to St. Stephen's Green line is expected to finish today. CIE expects to be in a position to submit an application to me for a light railway order for the Abbey Street to Connolly Station line in August. The public consultation process for the Broadstone to Ballymun and Dublin Airport line began last December.

CIE will appoint consultants shortly to undertake borehole drilling and carry out a geotechnical study of the underground section of the project. This is later than I had expected and, while I have been advised that it will not significantly affect the overall timetable, I have asked that there be no delay in progressing this aspect of the work. I expect that these geotechnical studies will be completed about end year.

  42.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    Ireland's position in relation to Directive 96/29/EURATOM which will set radiation protection standards throughout Europe and which all member states must adopt by May 2000; if she will propose means of labelling consumer goods such as cans, toys and saucepans which contain re-used radioactive material; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13039/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  My Department, in conjunction with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, has recently released a consultation document on this directive. The document, in respect of which comments have been invited from interested parties, contains proposals for a revised ministerial order which would transpose the directive into Irish law.

The directive includes a provision whereby the disposal, recycling or reuse of materials containing very low levels of radioactive contamination may be released from the requirements of the directive subject to compliance with clearance levels established by the national competent authorities in the member states and based on cri[177] teria specified in Annex 1 to the directive. The RPII, which was closely involved in the EU negotiations on this directive, has indicated that the criteria set out in the directive will ensure that members of the public are adequately protected.

As to the question of labelling of consumer goods mentioned by the Deputy, I am advised by the RPII that they are not aware of any radiological risk to consumers from such products on sale in Ireland. Accordingly, there is no need to label such products at present.

  43.  Mr. J. Bruton    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    her views on comments in a newspaper article (details supplied) by the chief executive officer of An Post that profits must increase fourfold in the next three years for the postal service to survive and the agreement with the 6,000 postal workers on radical new work practices will be an essential part of achieving profit targets. [11925/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The Deputy will appreciate that the views expressed by the chief executive officer of An Post in the newspaper article to which he refers are not a matter for which I have responsibility.

It is for the board and management of An Post to determine the targets which the company must achieve in the coming years if it is to equip itself to meet the challenges posed by the increasingly competitive environment in which it must operate. An Post recognises that there is an urgent need for the company to undertake change if it is to prosper and grow in the future. It also recognises that if a programme of change is to be successful, it will be necessary to have the support and commitment of its employees.

I understand consultations on the introduction of new work practices and other measures are ongoing at present between management and employees' representatives in the company on the basis of a partnership approach to the issues involved.

  44.  Ms Fitzgerald    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals, if any, she has for the use of Baldonnell as a non-military aviation service area. [12695/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The question of using Baldonnel as an aerodrome for civil aviation purposes is one which falls to be considered by me, following consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Defence, against the backdrop of an overall strategy for the airports sector in Ireland.

As the Deputy is aware, the board of Aer Rianta submitted a report to me on 15 April last on the future strategic direction of the company. The question of introducing commercial airport [178] facilities at Baldonnel will be considered within the overall context of that strategic review.

The Minister for Finance and I have jointly appointed a team of advisers, led by Warburg Dillon Read, to assist us both in our examination of the Aer Rianta report and to advise on the full range of recommendations made in it. It is expected that the consultants will take about two months to complete their work.

I intend, in the light of my own scrutiny of Aer Rianta's report, to give full consideration to all aspects of airport policy, including the question of how best to ensure the provision of adequate airport infrastructure in the areas of greatest demand.

  46.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if her attention has been drawn to the public concern over the lack of public transport to service the requirements of the northside of Dublin city; the improvements, if any, she has over the coming months and years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12948/99]

  47.  Mr. Sargent    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if her attention has been drawn to the impediments to greater use of the northern suburban rail line caused by inadequate parking at the greater Dublin stations and inadequate capacity on rolling stock; the plans, if any, she has to fund the urgently required improvements pending extra demands caused by the extension of DART services to Malahide; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13036/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 47 together.

Improvements in the Northern suburban rail service have already been introduced. Of the 25 new diesel rail cars delivered this year, eight have been commissioned and are already in service on the Northern suburban line. The remaining 17 are currently being commissioned and are expected to be in service by November 1999 and will be used on the Dublin suburban services.

With regard to the DART, ten new carriages will be supplied in September 1999 and a further 16 will be delivered in September 2000. These carriages will be used to enhance existing services and to operate six car train sets. They will also cater for the extended DART network to Malahide which is scheduled to commence in mid-2000.

A new station was opened at Fairview and there are ongoing improvements at stations along the line. Real time passenger information has also been installed at selected stations.

Over £2 million of Exchequer funds has been made available in 1999 to provide over 1,900 car parking spaces at a number of railway stations on the Dublin suburban rail network, including Portmarnock and Laytown.

[179] Bus services on the northside are being improved with the introduction of quality bus corridors and additional and extended bus services. The first 32 of the additional 150 buses, funded by the Exchequer and the EU, have been delivered and the balance will be delivered on a phased basis to the end of the year. Some of these buses will be deployed on northside services. New “Expresso” limited stop cross-city rush hour services were introduced in April by Bus Átha Cliath, including routes serving the northside from Clare Hall and Malahide to Belfield and from Dún Laoghaire and Shankill to DCU and Dublin Airport. Services from Swords Manor and Poppintree to Belfield will be introduced in September.

Consultation on the development of a light rail line to serve Ballymun and the airport is also under way.

In addition to the improvements already planned I have secured Government approval to undertake an evaluation of further short and longer term enhancements which have been identified. CIE is in the process of engaging consultants to carry out the feasibility and costing studies on the longer term proposals for suburban rail and I expect these to be completed by year end.

The Dublin Transportation Office is currently considering public transport investment requirements for the greater Dublin area for the period to 2006 and I expect to receive its proposals by the end of this month. These will be considered in the context of the preparation of the national development plan.

  48.  Mr. J. Bruton    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if she will report on the recent meeting between officials of her Department and Telecom Éireann union leaders; the reason officials from the Department of the Taoiseach were involved in this meeting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11323/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  Officials of the Department of the Taoiseach met Mr. Peter Cassells, General Secretary, Irish Congress of Trade Unions and with representatives of the unions in Telecom Éireann on 27 April 1999 under Partnership 2000 to discuss the issue of employee representation on the boards of State companies in situations where the State would reduce its ownership of such companies through strategic alliances, joint ventures, flotations and other mechanisms. With the forthcoming initial public offering of shares in Telecom Éireann, that case was the one most immediately relevant to the trade union delegation.

This was the second such meeting to discuss the issues involved, which arose out of a letter sent to me in March by Peter Cassells. I accepted a suggestion by Peter Cassells for a meeting between congress and the Department of the [180] Taoiseach under Partnership 2000. No officials from my Department were present.

Under Statutory Instrument No. 87 of 1999 made pursuant to the Postal and Telecommunications (Amendment) Act, 1999, Telecom Éireann was removed from the scope of the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Acts as the obligations imposed by those Acts would not be appropriate to the company's status as a publicly quoted company following the initial public offering. Under the 1999 Act, the terms of office of the existing employee representatives on the board will continue until such date as I may specify.

Under the employee share ownership plan, ESOP, for Telecom Éireann, the employee trust company is entitled to nominate a director for appointment to the board of Telecom Éireann. The unions have already indicated that Deputy Spring, will be their nominee for appointment to the board as ESOP director and he will replace one of the existing employee directors on the board.

The Department of the Taoiseach, in conjunction with the Departments of Public Enterprise, Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, is considering suggestions put forward by the trade unions concerning the role of employee representatives in the evolving ownership structure of State companies.

  49.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13178/99]

  50.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13193/99]

  51.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13208/99]

[181]The Taoiseach:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 49, 50 and 51 together.

There are no international multilateral agreements under the auspices of my Department being negotiated or prepared at present, which have not been signed by the State; or which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State.

  52.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13223/99]

The Taoiseach:  There are no EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of my Department, which are not fully implemented.

  53.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13238/99]

The Taoiseach:  The British-Irish Agreement Act, 1999, is not yet in force. The commencement order will be made on entry into force of the Good Friday Agreement.

  54.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13253/99]

The Taoiseach:  There is one statutory instrument currently in preparation in my Department which is to clarify the role of the CSO on the collection of statistical information by the European Central Bank under Council Regulation (EC) No. 2533/98 of 23 November 1998.

  55.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13268/99]

[182]

  56.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Taoiseach    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13284/99]

The Taoiseach:  I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 56 together.

One piece of legislation where heads have been approved by Government is in preparation – the Bill to place the National Economic and Social Council and the National Economic and Social Forum on a statutory footing. It is anticipated that the Bill will be published in late 1999.

The declaration under Article 29.7 of the Constitution (Extension of Time) Bill, 1999, was approved by Government yesterday and will be published this week.

There are no further proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of my Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government.

  57.  Mr. McGrath    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the regulations by which roadside petrol filling stations are being forced to close down; if she has satisfied herself that these regulations are being enforced uniformly across the EU; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that enforcement of these regulations may leave large areas of rural Ireland without fuel supplies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13067/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Mr. T. Kitt):  The operation of all petrol retail outlets is covered by the Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) Regulations, 1979 (S.I. No. 311 of 1979) as amended by the Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) (Amendment) Regulations, 1988 (S.I. No. 303 of 1988). These regulations outline the licensing arrangements for petroleum stations as required under the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972. This national legislation is not related to specific EU legislation. There is no harmonised approach throughout the EU on the licensing of petrol stations although I understand that most EU countries enforce national legislation of their own in this area.

The 1979 regulations laid down national licensing requirements for retail and private petroleum stores. These regulations were developed to address the potential dangers which exist in relation to the operation of such stores. At the time of the introduction of the regulations a considerable number of petrol retailing stations did not meet the necessary safety standards. The 1988 regulations provided an exemption until 31 December 1999 from a number of the requirements of the 1979 regulations for stations which, due to limitations relating to construction and space, could not reasonably be expected to com[183] ply with the 1979 regulations. The lead-in time of 11 years was chosen to avoid the imposition of undue hardship on the owners of stations which did not meet the requirements of the 1979 regulations and to enable station owners to plan for alternatives.

In recognising the serious effect such closures could have on both family businesses and local communities, the changing nature of the sector and developments in safety practice, the Health and Safety Authority, in conjunction with my Department, has undertaken a major review of the eligibility requirements under the licensing system. In line with the general approach in occupational health and safety legislation, the situation regarding the licensing of kerbside petrol stations was assessed in relation to the risk presented to persons and property by their continued operation.

As a result of this review, I now propose to repeal the existing regulations and replace them with a new set of regulations. These will be risk assessment based in nature imposing general duties on all petrol station operators to store and dispense petrol in a safe manner and providing for risk assessments. The new regulations will be supported by codes of practice developed by the Health and Safety Authority in conjunction with the petroleum industry.

The proposed new regulations should allow for the licensing of a significant number of existing kerbside petrol stations, reflecting an equivalent level of safety based on enhanced site management controls being put in place in conjunction with an assessment of the risks from storing and dispensing petrol.

The drafting of the new regulations and the codes of practice to support them are well advanced. It is my intention to have the regulations finalised before the end of the year and to also issue the associated codes of practice.

  58.  Mr. Power    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the cost of the report (details supplied) on community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13082/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The cost of the Deloitte & Touche report on community employment schemes amounted to £16,169, which includes an amount for VAT of £2,717.

I am currently engaged in a thorough consultation with the social partners in regard to the recommendations of the Deloitte & Touche [184] report on the future of the community employment programme. I hope to conclude this process shortly. However, I fully recognise the value of community employment generally throughout the country. I am particularly conscious of its value at local level, where it assists schools and community and voluntary bodies and I am not proposing to make any changes to the eligibility of these organisations for CE.

In parallel to the process of consultation currently ongoing the Government in the 1999 Estimates reduced the number of community employment places by 2,500 but introduced a number of new initiatives to provide training and other supports for the unemployed and long-term unemployed in particular. Details of these new initiatives, providing a total of 10,275 places at a cost of almost £23 million are set out in a tabular statement which I will circulate in the Official Report. The additional places include 1,000 additional specific skills training places for under 25s, 800 software-electronics training places, 4,800 job club places, 1,500 bridging training places for long-term unemployed, 800 flexible training place provision for lone parents and 400 job club places for lone parents.

New initiatives in 1999

Places Provision
1,000 additional specific skills training places for under 25 stock of unemployed (majority likely to be LTU) £5m
100+ IT mainstreaming training places for LTU £0.900
800 Software/electronics training places £3.2m
4,800 Job Club provision £2.5m
1,500 LTU Bridging training places £4.35m
800 Flexible training place provision for Lone Parents £1.8m
875 Job Initiative places £4.9m
400 Job Club places for Lone Parents £0.20m
Value £22.85m

  59.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13179/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The details are set out in the table below.

[185]

International Multilateral Agreement being negotiated / prepared International Organisation Ratification / Accession Legislation Required
Patent Law Treaty World Intellectual Property Organisation It is proposed to ratify the Treaty Primary Legislation will be required
Proposed new Act and Regulations of the Hague Agreement concerning the international deposit of Industrial Designs World Intellectual Property Organisation A Diplomatic Conference to negotiate this proposed new Act and Regulations is taking place in June/July 1999. Ireland will be attending this Conference with a view to considering the appropriateness of ratification of the new Act / Regulations if adopted. Primary Legislation will be required

[186]

  60.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was nego tiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13194/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The details are set out in the following table.

International Multilateral Agreement Date and Place adopted or open for signature Organisation responsible When it is proposed to sign
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works – Paris Act. 24 July 1971, amended on 2 October 1979, Geneva World Intellectual Property Organisation It is the Government's intention to sign up to this Convention as soon as possible, Signature will take place following the enactment of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill, 1999. This Bill was published in April 1999. It completed S Stage in the Seanad on 12 May. Enactment of the Bill is expected by end 1999.
The Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Micro-organisms for the purposes of Patent Procedure Adopted at Budapest, 28 April 1977 World Intellectual Property Organisation The Budapest Treaty is no longer open to signature but is still open to accession. The Government has approved Ireland's accession to this Treaty and the Dail will be asked to pass a motion on this matter as soon as is practicable.
Trademarks Law Treaty Adopted at Geneva on 27 October 1994 World Intellectual Property Organisation The Trademarks Law Treaty is no longer open to signature but is still open to accession. The provisions of the Treaty are included in the Trade Marks Act, 1996. Arrangements are now being made to accede to the Treaty. It is intended that these arrangements will be completed before the end of the year.
Convention on Insider Dealing 20 April 1989 Strasbourg Council of Europe Designed to co-ordinate endeavours among the member states of the Council of Europe to tackle the problem of insider dealing. Part V of the Companies Act, 1990 introduced statutory provisions to tackle these problems in Ireland and in so doing implemented the EU Directive of 13 November 1989 co-ordinating regulations on insider dealing. No decision to sign or ratify has been taken.
[187] International Multilateral Agreement Date and Place adopted or open for signature Organisation responsible When it is proposed to sign
Establishment of
Companies
1996 Strasbourg Council of Europe Designed to provide common rules for the treatment to be accorded to companies and other bodies of each ratifying State in the territories of the other ratifying States. While the introduction of a unified code for the treatment to be accorded to companies proposed in the Convention might have certain advantages, a substantial revision of Irish Company law would clearly be involved. The EU Programme of harmonising Company Law governing the formation and operation of limited liability companies addresses many of the areas covered by the Convention. Ireland has concentrated its resources on negotiating and implementing the relevant EU Directives and Regulations. At this point in time, it is not proposed to pursue the question of signing and ratifying this convention.

[188]

  61.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13209/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The details are set out in the following table.

International Multilateral Agreement Date and Place adopted or open for signature Organisation responsible When it is proposed to ratify
WIPO Copyright Treaty 20 December 1996
Geneva
World Intellectual Property Organisation Signed by Ireland on 23 December 1997. Ratification will take place following the enactment of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill, 1999. This Bill was published in April 1999 and completed Second Stage in the Seanad on 12 May. Enactment of the Bill is expected by end 1999.
WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty 20 December 1996
Geneva
World Intellectual Property Organisation Signed by Ireland on 23 December 1997. Ratification will take place following the enactment of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill, 1999. (see above)
Protocol relating to the Madrid Agreement concerning International Registration of Marks 27 June 1989
Madrid
World Intellectual Property Organisation Ireland intends to ratify the Protocol before the end of 1999. Regulations will be required to bring it into operation after ratification.
Agreement relating to Community Patents 15 December 1989 Luxembourg None Ireland does not intend to ratify this Agreement as the EU proposes to bring forward an EU Regulation in this area.
Agreements concerning the adoption of uniform technical regulations for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts. 20 March 1958 (amended Agreement entered into force on 16 October 1995) and 25 June 1998. United Nations/Economic Commission for Europe Ireland's position is being considered in the context of accession by the EU.

[189] The information given in this reply does not include the 110 or so Conventions of the International Labour Organisation, ILO, dating from 1919, which have not been and, in the case of the great majority of them, are unlikely to be ratified by Ireland. Signature does not arise in the case of ILO Conventions. A list of conventions concerned can be made available, if required, to the Deputy.

[190]

  62.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of her Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13224/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The information requested is contained in the following table.

Title of Directive Due date for implementation Proposed mode of Implementation Expected date of Implementation
93/98/EEC of 29 October 1993 on harmonising the term of protection of copyright and certain related rights. Articles 2.1 provides that the Principal Director of a cinematographic or audiovisual work shall be considered as its Author or one of its Authors. The other Articles of 93/98/EEC are implemented vis-à-vis S.I. No. 158 of 1995 – European Communities (Term of Protection of Copyright Regulations 1995. 01-07-97 Primary Legislation as part of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill. End 1999
97/4/EC of 27 January 1997 and 99/10/EC of 8 March 1999 on quantitative ingredient listing (amends Principal Food Labelling Directive 79/112/EEC). 14-02-2000 at latest Secondary Legislation Early 2000
97/56/EC of 20 October 1997 on approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations. 04-12-98 Secondary Legislation Late 1999
95/63/EC of 5 December 1995 on minimum health and safety requirements for use of work equipment by workers at work. 05-12-98 Secondary Legislation Late 1999
98/90/EC of 30 November 1998 adapting to technical progress Council Directive 70/38/EEC relating to doors of motor vehicles and their trailers. 31-12-98 Secondary Legislation June 1999
92/100/EEC of 19 November 1992 on rental and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property. 01-07-94 Primary Legislation as part of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill End 1999
93/83/EEC of 27 September 1993 on the co-ordination of certain rules concerning copyright and rights related to copyright applicable to satellite broadcasting and cable retransmission. 01-01-95 Primary Legislation as part of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill End 1999
93/103/EC of 23 November 1993 on minimum safety and health requirements on board fishing vessels. 23-11-95 Secondary Legislation Mid-1999
94/55/EC of 21 November 1994 on approximation of the laws of the member states with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by road. 01-01-97 Secondary Legislation Summer 1999
95/50/EC of 6 October 1995 on uniform procedures for checks on the transport of dangerous goods by road. 01-01-97 Secondary Legislation Summer 1999
96/86/EC of 13 December 1996 adapting to technical progress Council Directive 94/55/EC on the approximation of the laws of the member states with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by road. 01-01-97 Secondary Legislation Summer 1999
96/82/EC of 9 December 1996 on control of major accidents hazards involving dangerous substances. 03-02-99 Secondary Legislation Late 1999
[191] Title of Directive Due date for implementation Proposed mode of Implementation Expected date of Implementation
98/29/EC of 7 May 1998 on harmonisation of the main provisions concerning export credit insurance for transactions with medium and long-term cover. 01-04-99 Secondary Legislation Clarification on Draft S.I. awaited from EU Council Secretariat
97/23/EC of 29 May 1997 on pressure equipment 29-05-99 Secondary Legislation Mid-1999
1999/7/EC of 26 January 1999 adapting to technical progress Council Directive 70/311/EEC relating to the steering equipment for motor vehicles and their trailers. 30-06-99 Secondary Legislation June 1999
98/48/EC of 20 July 1998 amending Directive No. 98/34/EC and lays down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations. 08-99 No legislation is required Summer 1999
98/73/EC of 18 September 1998 on approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labeling of dangerous substances (24th ATP of Directive 67/548/EEC). 31-10-99 Secondary Legislation October 1999
96/71/EC of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services. 16-12-99 Primary Legislation December 1999
96/35/EC of 3 June 1996 on appointment and vocational training of safety advisers for the transportation of dangerous goods by road, rail or inland waterway. 31-12-99 Secondary Legislation December 1999
97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 on the framework agreement on part-time work concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC. 20-01-2000 Primary Legislation Early 2000
98/6/EC of 16 February 1998 on indication of the prices of products offered to consumers (Unit Pricing) 18-03-2000 To be decided Early 2000
98/7/EC of 16 February 1998 on methods of which annual percentage rates (APR) shall be calculated (amends Directive 87/102/EEC on consumer credit). 01-04-2000 Primary Legislation Amendment to Consumer Credit Act 1995 Early 2000
97/55/EC of 6 October 1997 on comparative advertising (amends Directive 84/450/EEC on misleading advertising). 23-04-2000 To be decided Early 2000
97/7/EC of 20 May 1997 on protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts (distance selling). 04-06-2000 To be decided Mid-2000
98/78/EC of 27 October 1998 on supplementary supervision of insurance undertakings in an insurance group. 05-06-2000 Secondary Legislation December 1999
97/42/EC of 27 June 1997 on protection of workers from risks to exposure to carcinogens. 27-06-2000 Secondary Legislation June 2000
98/98/EC of 15 December 1998 on classification, packaging and labeling of dangerous substances (25th ATP of Directive 67/548/EEC). 01-07-2000 Secondary Legislation July 2000
98/44/EC of 6 July 1998 on legal protection of biotechnological inventions. 31-07-2000 Secondary Legislation July 2000
98/27/EC of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests 31-12-2000 To be decided End 2000
94/27/EC of 30 June 1994 on restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations (nickel). Not yet known Secondary Legislation Dependent on publication of test methods by the European Commission
[192][193] Title of Directive Due date for implementation Proposed mode of Implementation Expected date of Implementation
94/48/EC of 7 December 1994 on restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations (aerosol generators). Not yet known Secondary Legislation Dependent on publication of test methods by the European Commission
98/24/EC of 7 April 1998 on protection of workers from risks related to chemical agents at work. 05-05-2001 Secondary Legislation May 2001
98/50/EC of 29 June 1998 amending Directive 77/187/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the member states relating to the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfer of undertakings, business or parts of business. 17-07-2001 To be decided July 2001
98/71/EC of 13 October 1998 on legal protection of designs. 28-10-2001 Primary Legislation Industrial Designs Bill End 2000
Directive of 29 April 1999 on the liability for defective products (product liability). This Directive amends Directive 85/374/EEC but has not yet been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. 1 year after publication in Official Journal To be decided Early 2000
Directive of 17 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees. Directive has not yet been published in the Official Journal of the European Communities. 01-01-2002 To be decided Early 2002
Directive 94/8/EC of 21 March 1994 on revision of thresholds for small and medium sized companies. Directive is optional To be decided To be decided
96/9/EC of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases. 01-01-98 Primary Legislation as part of the Copyright and Related Rights Bill End 1999

  63.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13239/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The following is a list of the sections of Acts relevant to my Department which have not yet been brought into force:

Companies Act, 1963 – section 195(8), as inserted by section 51 of the Companies Act, 1990.

Following enactment of this particular provision, it was realised that its commencement could give rise to situations where no particulars of directors would be recorded on company files in the Companies Registration Office, in respect of some registered companies. Section 47(a) of the Companies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill proposes the repeal, without commencement of the above subsection. – Section 47(b) and 48 provides for alternative mechanisms.

Companies Act, 1990 – sections 248 and 249

These sections deal with the delivery to the Registrar of Companies of documents in legible [194] form, or in a form other than legible form, respectively. The particular sections make provision for the making of regulations. Until such time as the appropriate regulations are prepared, it is not proposed to commence these sections.

Companies (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, 1999

Work is in hand in relation to the preparation of a commencement order for the Companies (Amendment) (No. 3) Act, which was recently passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and is awaiting signature by the President.

Credit Union Act, 1997 – sections 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 68 (1)(c), 120(5), and 122(f).

It is not proposed to commence section 68 (1) (c), section 120 (5), and section 122 (f) at present. Section 46 to 52 are the subject of ongoing correspondence between the Registrar and the credit union movement. Commencement of these sections had been scheduled for October 1999 and this date is now under review.

Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998: sections 18, 19, 20, 36, 37, 38 and 50.

A number of factors remain to be considered before a final decision is made on the timing and commencement of these sections.

Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act, 1998

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act, 1998, which was sponsored by the Minister for Public Enterprise, was signed into law by the [195] President on 2 December 1998. Detailed regulations, which are necessary to give operational effect to the provisions of the Act, are currently being prepared by the Health and Safety Authority in co-operation with my Department and in consultation with all relevant and interested parties. The regulations are complex and involve roles and responsibilities for a number of Departments and other public bodies in order to ensure their adequate implementation and enforcement. The preparatory work is well advanced and as soon as the regulations are finalised the necessary order to bring the Act into operation will be made.

Section 54(3) of the Consumer Credit Act, 1995

The Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (Commencement) Order, 1996 (S.I. No. 121 of 1996) brought the Consumer Credit Act, 1995 (No. 24 of 1995) into force, other than section 54(3) of the Act, which was not implemented because of the possible implications of the provision for other legislation, notably the Companies Act, 1963-90. The question of repealing section 54(3) is being considered as part of the ongoing review of the Consumer Credit Act.

  64.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, her Department; the proposed effect of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13254/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  Statutory instruments are being prepared, or will be prepared, to transpose the EU Directives due for implementation by secondary legislation which are referred to in my reply today to an earlier question. Details of other statutory instruments being prepared are set out as follows:

A draft statutory instrument has been prepared in order to introduce penalties for breaches of the recent extension of the EU-UN trade embargo against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This draft S.I. is currently with the parliamentary draftsman's office.

Draft statutory instruments are currently being prepared to repeal a number of statutory instruments which introduced penalties for breaches of the EU-UN trade embargoes against Libya, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro, and the Serb controlled areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina, all of which have been lifted.

A draft statutory instrument has been prepared to replace the Control of Exports Order, 1966, in order to fully reflect the munitions control list of the Wassenaar Arrangement and to reduce the level of export control on other items listed in the 1966 Order, such as shotguns. This draft S.I. is currently with the parliamentary draftsman's office.

[196] I recently signed regulations entitled “Competition Authority (Witness Summons) Regulations, 1999” in exercise of my powers under S23(1) of the Competition Act, 1991. The regulations will be assigned a statutory instrument number and will shortly be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The purpose of the regulations is to prescribe a procedure to allow the Competition Authority to summons witnesses, under the Competition Act, 1991, and the Competition (Amendment) Act, 1996.

The Dangerous Substances (Petrol Stations) Regulations, 1999 are being prepared to amend the regulations governing petrol stations, that is, Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) Regulations, 1979 as amended by the Dangerous Substances (Retail and Private Petroleum Stores) (Amendment) Regulations, 1988 (S.I. No. 303 of 1988).

Regulations under section 25 of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, entitled Organisation of Working Time (Records) (Prescribed Form and Exemptions) Regulations, 1999, are at present in course of preparation. The purpose of these regulations will be to prescribe the form of the records to be kept by employers under section 25 of the Act in order to show that they are complying with the requirements of the Act, and, to provide for exemptions from the requirement under section 25 of the Act to keep such records.

A S.I. is being prepared under section 121(1) of the Companies Act, 1990, regarding the naming of certain companies the object of insider dealing in the annual report of the Irish Stock Exchange.

A S.I. is being prepared under section 22(1) of the Irish Takeover Panel Act, 1997 to provide for inclusion of takeover panel supervision of Irish registered public limited companies whose securities are not listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

Draft life assurance disclosure regulations are currently undergoing legal drafting in the parliamentary draftsman's office. They will be based on a specific enabling provision in the Insurance Bill, 1999, which is due to be published later this year. The essential rationale behind the proposals is to rectify the failure within the market as a whole to provide adequate information to the consumer in the marketing and selling of life assurance products and, as a by-product, to generate more competition among suppliers of insurance.

The draft Hallmarking (Irish Standards of Fineness) (Amendment) Regulations have been settled by the parliamentary draftsman. The regulations will designate new standards of fineness for precious metals. The Hallmarking (Approved Hallmarks) (Amendment) Regulations are being prepared to designate new approved hallmarks for the new standards created by the Hallmarking (Irish Standards of Fineness) (Amendment) Regulations. In addition to introducing new standards of fineness and new approved hallmarks, the combined effect of both sets of regulations, which will be made simultaneously, will be to provide for a system of mutual recognition in the pre[197] cious metals sector between Ireland and the other member states of the EU on the basis of equivalence. A statutory instrument will also be prepared to give legal effect to an amendment to the Annexes to the Convention on the Control and Marking of Articles of Precious Metals, which was implemented in Ireland under the Hallmarking (Approved Hallmarks) Regulations 1983 (S.I. No. 327 of 1983). Drafting of the regulations has not yet begun.

Regulations are being prepared to amend the European Communities (Contracts for Time Sharing of Immovable Property – Protection of Purchasers) Regulations, 1997 (S.I. No. 204 of 1997), which gave effect to Directive 94/47/EC on the protection of purchases in respect of certain aspects of contracts relating to the purchase of the right to use immovable properties on a timeshare basis. The amending regulations are being introduced to enable Ireland to comply more fully with the Directive.

The Schedule to the Prompt Payment of Accounts Act, 1997, contains a list of public bodies which are covered by the Act. Following completion of a review of the Schedule which my Department is currently carrying out, in conjunction with all other Departments, I will be making regulations updating the Schedule.

The Trade Marks (Provisions in Connection With Community Trade Marks) Regulations are being prepared. These regulations relate to certain provisions in connection with community trade marks, namely, determination a posteriori of invalidity and liability to revocation; privilege for communication with professional representatives; infringing goods, materials or articles, power of seizure and search; designation of community trade mark courts and; conversion of a community trade mark or an application for a community trade mark.

The Trade Marks (Madrid Protocol) Regulations will implement the provisions of the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Mark once the protocol is ratified.

  65.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of her Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13269/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The following Bills, the Heads of which have not yet been approved by Government, are currently being prepared by my Department:

[198]

Title of Bill Expected date of Publication
Industrial and Provident Societies (Amendment) Bill Late 1999
National Minimum Wage Bill Late 1999
Implementation of Posting of Workers Directive Bill Late 1999
Part-time Workers Directive Bill Early 2000
Industrial Designs Bill Early 2000
Company Law Enforcement Bill Early 2000
Work Permits Bill Early 2000

A review of the Consumer Credit Act, 1995, is currently under way in my Department in conjunction with the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs. The purpose of the review is to examine the workings of this important piece of legislation in the light of experience since it came into effect in 1996. The review may be followed by implementation legislation.

  66.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of her Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13285/99]

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (Ms Harney):  The details requested are set out in the following table:

Title of Bill Expected date of Publication
Insurance Bill, 1998 Mid-1999
Nitrigin Éireann Teoranta Bill, 1999 Late 1999
Patents Act Amendment Bill, 1998 Late 1999

  67.  Mr. O'Shea    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources if his Department has reached a decision regarding the application of Waterford County Council for a foreshore licence for the proposed new sewerage system for Tramore, County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13387/99]

  83.  Mr. Kenneally    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources when he will approve the granting of a foreshore licence to Waterford County Council for the out-flow pipe to be used in connection with the new sewage treatment plant for Tramore, County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13329/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 83 together.

[199] My Department received on 16 March 1999 a revised application from Waterford County Council for a licence under the Foreshore Acts to allow for the development of a new sewerage scheme at Tramore. My Department has been in contact with consultants for the council on aspects of the revised application which have already been identified as requiring some modification.

The environmental impact statement submitted with the application is also being examined within the Department as a prelude to publication for public comment.

My Department will progress its examination of the application and related documentation as quickly as possible in consultation with the county council.

  68.  Mr. Bradford    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources his views on whether the introduction of by-law 756 by his Department is a cause of serious concern to salmon angling clubs; his further views on correspondence (details supplied) concerning this matter; if he will review the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13075/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  This year a ban on the use of prawn and shrimp as bait applies to 31 May. The measure has been introduced in the interests of protecting vulnerable spring salmon stocks and as part of stringent conservation measures for salmon generally including restrictions on commercial fishing. I have already received requests to extend the application of this measure to the full season next year.

The ban on prawn and shrimp was one of a number of measures recommended to me following a seminar held in September 1998 to address and advise on measures to tackle the decline in spring salmon stocks. The attendance at the seminar included representatives of a wide spectrum of fishing interests, including anglers.

I have arranged for officials of my Department to meet with representatives of the angling club in question to review salmon conservation generally and to clarify their concerns.

  69.  Mr. Sargent    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the information, if any, he has regarding the annual catch in various fish types from Skerries and Balbriggan harbours respectively over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13103/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  The following are the estimated seafish landings relating to the ports in question for the past ten years. There were [200] no landings of pelagic species into either port over the period.

Demersal(tonnes) Shellfish(tonnes) Total(tonnes)
Balbriggan
1997 54 275 329
1996 80 258 338
1995 62 409 471
1994 74 382 456
1993 132 389 521
1992 72 236 308
1991 128 282 410
1990 165 149 314
1989 170 110 280
1988 292 140 432
Skerries
1997 107 613 720
1996 158 556 714
1995 122 911 1,033
1994 144 740 884
1993 276 948 1,224
1992 140 510 650
1991 249 571 820
1990 301 290 591
1989 328 214 542
1988 567 272 839

  70.  Mr. Sargent    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources if it was his Department's policy to delay the development of sustainable forest management standards in view of the fact the Convention on Native Bio-diversity was signed seven years ago in Rio; the provisions, if any, his Department has made for non-governmental organisations to consult with the forest service prior to finalising the standard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13104/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  My Department is developing a national forest standard, incorporating a code of best forest practice, new and revised environmental guidelines and revised legislation. The new standard is taking into account, not only the outcome of UN Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, but also European ministerial conferences in Strasbourg, Helsinki and most importantly, Lisbon. At the Lisbon conference in June 1998, sustainable forest management criteria and indicators relating to European forests were agreed. The development of the new standard is being managed through the national forest standard committee which is, inter alia, addressing all aspects of sustainable forest management. Representatives of all forestry stakeholders are included on the committee, including non-governmental organisations. Coillte's new framework document on sustainable forest management, launched last week, is a very useful input to work on the national forest standard.

[201]

  71.  Mr. Ring    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources to ascertain from the Western Fisheries Board the up to date position with the part-time employees on the Robe River; if the part-time employees will be re-employed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13140/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  The western lakes development project, of which the River Robe is a part, has been receiving funding under the tourism angling measure, TAM, of the operational programme for tourism 1994-99, to rehabilitate the Corrib, Mask and Cara Lakes as prime brown trout fisheries for tourism angling. The project has received approval for three phases of funding, totalling investment of over £2 million, which is nearly 12 per cent of the total funding available under the tourism angling measure.

As with all such projects, contract staff are employed on a project-specific basis. The staff taken on by the Western Regional Fisheries Board for the western lakes project, including those on the Robe, are employed for the duration of the project.

I understand that an application has been submitted under TAM for a further £1.8 million for the western lakes project. This will be considered along with other applications by the TAM man[202] agement committee. Almost all available funding under the TAM has been committed at this stage. The extent to which the western lakes project or other projects might receive funding this year depends on the level of any funding decommitted before end 1999.

  72.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the amount of money paid to date in the evaluation of the Operational Programme for Fisheries 1994-99; and to whom payment was made. [13151/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  Idecon International Economic Consultants are employed on a contract basis as external evaluator to the Operational Programme for Fisheries 1994-99. Payments to the evaluator from 1994 to date amount to £253,492 (357,039 euros).

  73.  Mr. Sheehan    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources if he will give details of all feasibility studies associated with the Operational Programme for Fisheries 1994 to 1999; and the cost of these to date. [13152/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  Feasability studies funded out of the fisheries operational programme for fisheries 1994-99 are listed in the following table.

Consultant Purpose Expenditure
£million
Kirk McClure Morton Survey and site investigations at Tory Island, County Donegal 78,000
Mouchel/McCullagh Structural assessment of quays, Killybegs 40,081
Irish Geotechnical Services Limited Site investigations for slipway, Killybegs 19,187
Coopers & Lybrand Report on harbour development, Killybegs 39,023
KPMG Study on the Whitefish Fleet 23,18311,592
Supervisory Working Group with representatives from Irish Fish Processors & Exporters Association, Enterprise Ireland, Údarás na Gaeltachta and BIM Research Study on Wastewater Disposal 15,325

  74.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13180/99]

  75.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13195/99]

[203]

  76.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13210/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 to 76, inclusive, together.

[204] In response to the Deputy's questions regarding international agreements under the auspices of my Department the relevant material is set out in the following tables.

1. International Multilateral Agreements Signed but NOT RATIFIED

International Agreement Title and Date & Place it was opened for Signature International Org. through whose machinery it was negotiated Is it proposed to ratify the Agreement When will it be ratified Is legislation required
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)
Conservation and management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. 4 December 1995, New York. U.N. Agreement Ratification will take place as soon as legal and other requirements inherent in ratification have been identified. As per column (3). Need for legislation being examined at present.
Protocol to the London Dumping Convention. 8 November 1996, London. International Maritime Organisation Yes Later this year. No.
1988 Protocol to Safety of Life at Sea Convention, 1976. 1 March 1989-28 February 1990, London. International Maritime Organisation Yes Ireland expects to ratify this year. Statutory Instrument.
1988 Protocol to Loadline Convention, 1966. 1 March 1989-28 February 1990, London. International Maritime Organisation Yes Ireland expects to ratify this year. Statutory Instrument
1993 Torremolinos Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the safety of fishing vessels. 1 July 1993-30 June 1994, London. International Maritime Organisation Yes Ireland expects to ratify this year. No
International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1995. January 1996-30 September 1996, London. International Maritime Organisation Yes Ireland expects to ratify this year. No.

2. International Agreements NOT SIGNED

Date & Place it was opened for Signature International Org. through whose machinery it was negotiated Is it proposed to sign the Agreement When will it be signed Is legislation required
Oil Pollution, Response & Co-operation Convention. 30 October 1990-29 November 1991. London. International Maritime Organisation To be ratified. As soon as possible. Yes (Bill is before Oireachtas)
Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996 (HNS Convention. 1 October 1996-30 September 1997, London. International Maritime Organisation To be ratified As soon as possible. Yes (Bill is being drafted)

[205] In relation to international multilateral agreements under the auspices of my Department being negotiated or prepared, there are none at present.

  77.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13225/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  One directive is currently outstand[206] ing within my Department. This is EC Directive No. 97/61 amending EC Directive No. 91/492 regarding the production and placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs. The deadline for implementation was 1 July 1998. Consideration is being given to the necessity for an S.I. to implement this directive.

  78.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13240/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  In response to the Deputy's query the relevant material is set out in the following table.

Acts not in force Provisions not in force Will Commencement Order be made When will order be made
(1) (2) (3) (4)
Section 13 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997. Section 13 only (rest of Act in force in 1998) Question of commencing section will be considered next year in light of experience in dealing with backlog of approx. 600 applications. See column (3).

  79.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13255/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  Apart from ongoing routine statutory instruments relating to the day to day management of sea fisheries, consideration is currently being given to the possible requirement for a statutory instrument to implement EC Directive No. 97/61, amending EC Directive No. 91/492 regarding the production and placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs; and an instrument to give effect to the technical amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974 Convention.

The first instrument, if necessary, would merely confirm the application of existing standards while the second provides for the updating of SOLAS which governs the safety standards to be applied in the construction and operation of sea-going ships.

  80.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13270/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  In response to the Deputy's query the following is a list of legislative proposals being prepared within my Department, the heads of which have not been approved by Government.

Title Purpose of Legislation
Fisheries (Amendment) Bill To reform inland fisheries institutions and management.
Alginate Industries Bill To provide a framework to develop the seaweed industry to full potential.
Coastal Zone Management Bill To establish new legal framework for the management of the coastal zone and to replace Foreshore Acts.
Minerals Development Bill (No. 2) To give effect to unimplemented recommendations of the National Minerals Policy Review Group
Marine Emergency Service To develop marine emergency capabilities.
Fishery Harbours (Amendment) Bill To establish new management structures for the Fishery Harbour Centres.

[207]

  81.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13286/99]

[208]Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  In response to the DeputyWP extended char 4,28s query regarding legislation in preparation and the expected date of publication the requested information is set out in the following table:

Title Purpose of Bill Data of Publication
Foyle Fisheries Commission Bill To update legislation in agreement with Northern Ireland authorities. Subject to development Autumn, 1999.
Marine Casulty Investigation Bill To provide for new arrangements for the investigation and reporting of accidents at sea. Late 1999.
Pollution of the Sea by Hazardous and Noxious Substances (Civil Liability and Compensation) Bill. To give effect to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in connection with the carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea, 1996; and to give effect to the Protocol to the International Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims, 1996. End, 1999.

  82.  Mr. Kenneally    asked the Minister for the Marine    and Natural Resources the status of a grant in respect of repairs to a fishing vessel (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13328/99]

Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Dr. Woods):  The application in question was submitted to BIM under the fleet modernisation scheme of the Fisheries Operational Programme 1994-1999. I understand that additional information required by BIM from the applicant has now been provided. A decision on the grant application will be announced shortly.

  84.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    if his attention has been drawn to reports that paramilitaries entered the village of Barrancabermeja in Colombia in May 1998 and kidnapped and killed over 25 people without being challenged by army or police and, following the failure of the authorities to release the bodies of those kidnapped and killed, a number of community groups have set up a public inquiry to investigate whether there was collusion between the paramilitaries and the army; if he will make representations to ensure that the inquiry into the events can go ahead without interference and to express his concern regarding the human rights situation in Colombia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13102/99]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews):  The Government is deeply concerned by the widespread and systematic abuse of human rights in Colombia.

I am aware of the paramilitary incursion on 16 May 1998 into Barrancabermeja in the department of Santander, in which over 30 people were reported to have been killed or “disappeared” and that the perpetrators have not been apprehended.

This murderous attack, and the impunity of those responsible, is only one of many similar atrocities carried out by paramilitaries linked to the security forces as well as by guerrillas in Colombias long running and devastating civil war. Over the past five years, several thousand civilians have been killed by paramilitary groups throughout the country. Rural communities in disputed zones have repeatedly suffered attacks, as neither the armed forces and their associated paramilitaries, nor the armed left-wing insurgents, have recognised the civilian population's neutrality or immunity in the conflict.

The new Government of President Pastrana, which took office in August 1998, is well aware of the concerns of the Irish Government and our EU partners – we deplore violations of human rights by state agents and the failure to investigate crimes such as those mentioned by the Deputy, or to act against perpetrators.

In December 1998, the Pastrana government launched a major initiative against endemic impunity by the establishment of a Special Committee to Expedite Investigations into Human Rights Violations, as part of an Integrated Human Rights Strategy.

President Pastrana has gone further by welcoming an offer by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Robinson, of assistance in setting up a national plan for human rights which will also have the aim of promoting dialogue between Colombians.

Evidence of the Pastrana government's serious intentions regarding the dismantlement of the paramilitary groups was shown by the recent dismissal of the two army generals most notoriously associated with these murderous entities.

The Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights in Colombia intends, in cooperation with other UN agencies and local partners, to focus for the next year on strengthening national human rights institutions and building local expertise. Particular support will be provided to the Office of the Ombudsman which has [209] a constitutional mandate to protect and promote human rights.

At the recent annual session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, the EU, while welcoming and supporting the Colombian Governments search for a solution to the conflict, called upon the Bogota authorities to proceed urgently towards adoption of vital legislation on enforced disappearances.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is in touch with the UNHCR regarding the inquiry by community groups into the events at Barrancabermeja. I share the Deputy's concern and I will appraise him of the current situation as soon as I have a report.

  85.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13181/99]

  86.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13196/99]

  87.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13211/99]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 to 87, inclusive, together.

As I have pointed out in previous replies to similar questions on this subject, there is a very large number and variety of international agreements, both bilateral and multilateral, already in existence going back over many years. New proposals for draft international agreements are constantly being put forward for discussion and negotiation.

Consideration is given on an ongoing basis to the desirability of Ireland signing, or becoming a [210] party to, those agreements which it has not already signed. In addition, it is often the case that the subject matter of an international agreement relates to the area of work of other Departments whose views must be taken into consideration in deciding whether or not Ireland should sign or become party to a particular international agreement. In many cases it will be necessary for other Departments to introduce new domestic legislation or put in place new administrative arrangements in order to allow Ireland to fulfil its obligations under an international agreement. In some cases an amendment to the Constitution may be required.

Given the large number and range of international agreements in existence or under negotiation, signature or accession may not necessarily be under active consideration in respect of all such agreements at any given time. The situation is kept under review in the context of the ongoing assessment and prioritisation of Irelands international commitments.

If the Deputy has a query concerning Ireland's position with regard to a particular international agreement, or proposed international agreement, I will be happy to provide him with more detailed information.

  88.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13226/99]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews):  The Department of Foreign Affairs does not have responsibility for the implementation of any EC, ECSC or EURATOM Directives and none are awaiting implementation by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

  89.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13241/99]

  90.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13256/99]

[211]

  91.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13271/99]

  92.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13287/99]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 to 92, inclusive, together.

There are no Acts or provisions of Acts not in force because of a commencement order not having been made by me.

A draft statutory instrument, the Diplomatic and Consular Fees (Amendment) Regulations, 1999, is in the course of preparation. The purposes of this order are to simplify the structure for processing visa applications by introducing standard fees of £8, £20 and £40 for applications for transit, single-journey and multiple-entry visas similar to those charged by the Schengen countries; to redefine what a visa is in terms consistent with EC Council Regulation No. 1683/95 of 29 May 1995 which lays down a uniform format for visas; and to introduce a charge of £29 for processing applications for work permits from Australian and New Zealand citizens coming to Ireland on working holidays. There are no proposals for legislation being prepared in the Department where heads have not been approved by Government.

The only legislation being prepared where heads have been approved by Government is the Geneva Conventions Bill which is required in order to enable Ireland to become a party to the Geneva Conventions. It is not possible at this stage to give an indication of the expected date of publication.

  93.  Ms Fitzgerald    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the role of her Department in relation to the national emergency plan for nuclear accidents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12692/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob):  My Department, in conjunction with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, has primary responsibility for emergency planning for nuclear accidents. A national emergency plan for nuclear accidents is in place to ensure a rapid and effective response to accidents involving the release or potential release of radioactive substances into the environment which could give rise to radiation exposure of the public.

My Department has overall responsibility for the Plan and for ensuring the co-ordination of the [212] responsibilities and functions of the relevant Departments and statutory organisations.

The relevant Departments and statutory organisations have responsibilities under the plan to establish procedures to implement measures within their particular fields of competence, including integration, where appropriate, with emergency services already provided for other civil emergencies. My Department's role is to ensure that the sub-plans of the relevant Departments, the RPII and other statutory organisations, including local authorities, are fully operational and regularly updated. My Department, in conjunction with the RPII, is also responsible for organising tests of the emergency plan.

Following a review of the plan by my Department and the RPII in consultation with the relevant key Government Departments, a number of procedural and practical improvements to the plan were identified and these were approved by Government in December last. The revised arrangements are in the process of being implemented. It is my intention to update, as soon as possible, the existing 1992 booklet entitled National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents to take account of these changes and to have a test of the revised plan later this year or early next year.

  94.  Ms Fitzgerald    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    when the results of the investigation into the accident at Dublin Port during the Tall Ships race will be made available by her Department. [12693/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The report of the investigation carried out under the Air Navigation (Notification and Investigation of accidents and incidents) Regulation 1997 S.I. No. 205 of 1997 into the air accident at Dublin Port, during the Tall Ships Race, was made public by the air accident investigation unit of my Department on 19 April 1999, in the Series 1/99 collection of aircraft accidents-incidents reports.

This publication is widely distributed within the aviation industry, and is also sent to members of the public on request. It is also available on the air accident investigation unit internet web site, which is part of my Department's web site. The address of the web site is http://www.irlgov.ie/tec/aaiu/aaiumain.htm.

I have arranged that copies of the reports of investigations carried out under the 1997 regulation are placed in the Dáil Library.

  95.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the early response to the Telecom Éireann share offer; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13076/99]

[213]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The response to the registration phase of the Telecom Éireann initial public offering as at 17 May 1999 is 1,032,600. When the registration phase ends we will know exactly how many members of the public have expressed an interest in the process. After that, when application forms are sent out, people can decide whether and to what extent to which they will commit to the purchase of shares based on the information available to them including the prospectus and the mini-prospectus.

  97.  Mr. Callely    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if applicants for Telecom Éireann shares will be allocated their requested number of shares; if the mechanism on allocation of shares has been worked out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13078/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  At this stage it is not possible to anticipate the level of response to the application phase of the Telecom Éireann initial public offering. However, if the offering is over subscribed, [214] then applicants who have already registered their interest during the registration phase will receive priority in allocation. The mechanism on allocation of shares will be worked out, and agreed, by the Government closer to the time, but I have made it clear that there will be a significant tranche of shares for retail investors and that I intend to structure the retail offer with the small investor in mind.

  98.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13182/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following schedule.

Department of Public Enterprise

International Multilateral Agreements under Negotiation

No. Agreement International Organisation Responsible Current Status
1 Negotiations between the European Union and the United States of America in the field of air transport. EU Ultimate objective is for a common aviation area between the EU and the US. Negotiations between the EU and the US are ongoing. Adoption of the Agreement is ultimately a matter for the EU Council of Ministers. Implementing legislation will not be required.
2 European Aviation Safety Authority EU Ireland is a signatory to arrangements concerning the development, acceptance and implementation of Joint Aviation Requirements of the Joint Aviation Authorities of Europe (JAA) being the associated body of the European Civil Aviation Conference concluded in Cyprus on 11 September, 1990. Formalisation of these arrangements by means of an international convention has been put on hold in view of proposals put forward by the EU Commission for the establishment of a European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA). The EU Transport Council approved a mandate in June 1998 for the negotiation of the EASA Convention with 15 non-EU European States and discussions on the establishment of such an Authority are ongoing at EU level. Legislation will be required to enable Ireland to ratify the convention for the establishment of the proposed Authority.
3 Negotiations on air transport market access agreements between the European Union and Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in the field of air transport. EU Ultimate objective is for a common aviation area between the EU and these countries. Agreements are being negotiated by the European Commission with the individual States. Negotiations are ongoing. Implementing legislation will not be required.
4 Transport negotiations with Switzerland. EU Ultimate objective is for a common transport area between the EU and Switzerland. Agreement deals with land and air transport. Agreement is being negotiated by the EU Commission. Implementing legislation will not be required.
[215] No. Agreement International Organisation Responsible Current Status
5 Draft Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment Unidroit Ultimate aim is the creation of Uniform Rules on International Interest in Mobile Equipment. Negotiations are ongoing. Implementing legislation may be required.
6 Draft Convention to amend and update the Warsaw Convention of 1929. International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO) Diplomatic Conference in progress (10-28 May, 1999) to finalise text. Government permission for Ireland's signature will be sought in due course. Implementing legislation will be required.

[216]

  99.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13197/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following schedule.

Department of Public Enterprise

International Multilateral Agreements Not Signed

No. Agreement International Organisation Responsible Place and Date of Adoption Ireland's Position
1 European Agreement on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Geneva, 30 September 1957 The Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Act, 1998 and Regulations made under Section 17 of that Act, which are at an advanced stage of drafting, will allow Ireland to accede to the ADR during 1999.
2 Paris Convention on Third Party Liability in the Field of Nuclear Energy OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) Paris, 29 July 1960 To date, this Agreement has not been considered appropriate for signature, having regard to some aspects of the content. However, this matter falls to be reconsidered, following consultation with the Attorney General, in the light of on-going discussions on revisions to the Convention.
3 Brussels Supplementary Convention (Supplementary to Paris Convention) OECD (NEA) Brussels, 21 May 1963 To date, this Agreement has not been considered appropriate for signature, having regard to some aspects of the content. However, this matter falls to be reconsidered, following consultation with the Attorney General, in the light of on-going discussions on revisions to the Convention.
4 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna, 21 May 1963 To date, this Agreement has not been considered appropriate for signature, having regard to some aspects of the content. However, this matter falls to be reconsidered, following consultation with the Attorney General, in the light of recent revisions to the Convention.
5 Joint Protocol relating to the application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna, 21 September 1988 To date, this Agreement has not been considered appropriate for signature, having regard to some aspects of the content. However, this matter falls to be reconsidered, following consultation with the Attorney General, in the light of on-going discussions on revisions to the Paris Convention.
6 Convention for the Establishment of the European Telecommunications Office European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) Copy to be signed in each CEPT State, 1 September, 1996 Being examined.
7 Protocol to Amend the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna, 12 September 1997 The question of signature is being considered in consultation with the Attorney General.
[217] No. Agreement International Organisation Responsible Place and Date of Adoption Ireland's Position
8 Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Vienna, 12 September 1997 The question of signature is being considered in consultation with the Attorney General.
9 Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunications Resources for Disaster and Mitigation and Relief Operations United Nations United Nations H.Q., New York, 18 June, 1998 Signature process in train.

[218]

  100.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13212/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the attached schedule.

Department of Public Enterprise

International Multilateral Agreements Signed but Not Ratified or Acceded To

No. Agreement International Organisation Responsible Place and Date of Signature Ireland's Position
1 1994 Congress of the Universal Postal Union (certain Acts thereof) UPU Seoul, Korea, 14 September 1994 Ratification is proposed during 1999. No legislation is required.
2 Eurocontrol Convention on co-operation in air navigation. Eurocontrol Brussels, 27 June 1997 Legislation will be required to ratify. Heads being prepared in Department.
3 Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. IAEA Vienna, 29 September 1997 Signed by Ireland on 1 October 1997. Legislation measures necessary to ratify being considered.
4 Strengthened Safeguards Systems: Additional Protocols (93 + 2) IAEA Vienna, 22 September 1998 Legislation will be required to ratify Protocols. Aim to ratify by end 2000.

  101.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of her Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13227/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The information requested by the Deputy is in the following schedule.

Department of Public Enterprise

EU Directives Awaiting Transposition

Directive Deadline For Implementation Expected Date Of Implementation Method Of Implementation
1 Council Directive 96/49/EC of 23 July, 1996 on the approximation of the laws of Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by rail. 11 January 1997 31 August 1999 Statutory Instrument
2 Commission Directive 96/87/EC of 13 December, 1996 adapting to technical progress Council Directive 96/49/EC of 23 July, 1996 on the approximation of the laws of Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by rail. 11 January 1997 31 August 1999 Statutory Instrument
3 Council Directive 95/18/EC of 19 June, 1995 on the licensing of railway undertakings. 27 June 1997 31 July 1999 Statutory Instrument
[219] Directive Deadline For Implementation Expected Date Of Implementation Method Of Implementation
4 Council Directive 95/19/EC of 19 June 1995 on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the charging of infrastructure fees. 27 June 1997 31 August 1999 Statutory Instrument
5 Directive 97/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December, 1997 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector. 24 October 1998 Latter half 1999 Statutory Instrument
6 Directive 98/61/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September, 1998 amending Directive 97/33 with regard to operator number portability and carrier pre-selection. 31 December 1998 June 1999 Statutory Instrument
7 Directive 97/67/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December, 1997 on Common Rules for the Development of the Internal Market of Community Postal Services and the Improvement of Quality of Service. 10 February 1999 31 October 1999 Statutory Instrument
8 Council Directive 98/20/EC of 30 March, 1998 amending Directive 92/14/EEC on the limitation of the operation of aeroplanes covered by Part II, Chapter 2, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, second edition (1988) 1 March 1999 1 July 1999 Statutory Instrument
9 Council Directive 96/48/EC of 23 July, 1996 on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system 7 April 1999 31 December 1999 Statutory Instrument
10 Commission Directive 98/11/EC of 27 January 1998 implementing Council Directive 92/75/EEC with regard to energy labelling of household lamps. 15 June 1999 15 June 1999 Statutory Instrument
11 Council Directive 98/76/EC which amends Council Directive 96/26/EC relating to Access to the profession of road haulage and passenger transport operator. 1 October 1999 September 1999 Statutory Instrument
12 Council Directive 98/93/EC of 14 December 1998 amending Council Directive 68/414/EEC relating to minimum stocks of crude oil and/or petroleum products. January 2000 January 2000 Statutory Instrument
13 Directive 96/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity. 19 February 2000 19 February 2000 Bill and Statutory Instrument
14 Directive 99/5/EC of 9 March 1999 concerning radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment and the mutual recognition of their conformity 31 March 2000 2000 Statutory Instrument
15 Council Directive 96/29/EURATOM of 13 May, 1996 laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionizing radiation. 13 May 2000 13 May 2000 Statutory Instrument
16 Directive 98/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June, 1998 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas. 10 August 2000 10 August 2000 Bill
17 Commission Directive 99/9/EC of 26 February, 1999 amending Directive 97/17/EEC implementing Council Directive 92/75/EEC with regard to energy labelling of household dishwashers. As soon as possible May 1999 Statutory Instrument

  102.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13242/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  Commencement Orders for the following provisions of the Postal and Telecommunications Services (Amendment) Act, No. 5 of 1999 have not yet been made:

[220] Section 10

First Schedule – Provisions not yet repealed

Section 8(1)(a) of the Act of 1996

Section 8(3) of the Act of 1996

Second Schedule – Provisions not yet repealed

Section 19(3) of the Act of 1983

Section 22 of the Act of 1983

Section 24 of the Act of 1983

Section 28 of the Act of 1983

Section 30 of the Act of 1983

Section 32 of the Act of 1983

Section 33 of the Act of 1983

Section 37 of the Act of 1983

Section 46(9) and (11) of the Act of 1983

[221] The repeal of these sections will be commenced at the appropriate time during the Telecom Éireann IPO process.

[222]

  103.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, her Department; the proposed effect of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13257/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The Statutory Instruments currently in preparation in my Department are set out in the following schedule.

Title of S.I. Purpose
European Communities (Approximation of laws of Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous Goods by Rail and adapting to technical progress) Regulations. To transpose Council Directive 96/49/EC of 23 July 1996 on the approximation of laws of the Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by rail; and Commission Directive 96/87/EC of 13 December 1996 adapting to technical progress Council Directive 96/49/EC of 13 December 1996 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by rail.
European Communities (Licensing of Railway Undertakings) Regulations To transpose Council Directive 95/18/EC of 19 June 1995 on the licensing of railway undertakings.
European Communities (Allocation of Railway Infrastructure and charging of infrastructure fees) Regulations To transpose Council Directive 95/19/EC of 19 June 1995 on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the charging of infrastructure fees.
European Communities (Processing of Personal Data and the Protection of Privacy in the Telecommunications Sector) Regulations Transposition of the European Parliament and the Council Directive 97/66/EC of 15/12/1997 into Irish law.
European Communities (International Carriage of Passengers) Regulations To transpose Council Regulation EC No. 11/98 of 11 December 1997 amending Regulation (EEC) No. 684/92 on common rules for the international carriage of passengers by coach and bus.
European Communities (Interconnection in Telecommunications) (Amendment) Regulations Transposition of the European Parliament and the Council Directive 98/61/EC of 24/9/1998 (“Number Portability Directive”) into Irish law.
European Communities (Common rules for the development of the internal market of community postal services and the improvement of quality of service) Regulations. To transpose Directive 97/67 on common rules for the development of the internal market of community postal services and the improvement of quality of service.
European Communities (Interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system) Regulations To transpose Council Directive 96/48/EC of 23 July, 1996 on the interoperability of the trans-European high-speed rail system.
European Communities (Carriage by non-resident Carriers of National Passenger Road Transport Services) Regulations To transpose Council Regulation 12/98 of 11 December 1997 laying down the conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate national road passenger services within a Member State.
European Communities (Energy Labelling of Household Lamps) Regulations To give legal effect to Commission Directive 98/11/EC and Council Directive 92/75/EEC with regard to energy labelling of household lamps.
European Communities (Merchandise and Road Passenger Transport) Regulations. To transpose elements of Directive 98/76/EC which amends Directive 96/26/EC relating to access to the profession of road haulage and road passenger transport operator.
European Communities (Energy Labelling of Household Dishwashers) Regulations. Commission Directive 99/9/EC of 26 February 1999 amending Directive 97/17/EC implementing Council Directive 92/75/EEC with regard to energy labelling of household dishwashers.
European Communities (Radio Equipment and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment and the Mutual Recognition of their Conformity) Regulations To give effect in Ireland to Directive 99/5/EC relating to radio equipment, and telecommunications terminal equipment, and the mutual recognition of their conformity.
European Communities (Aircraft Noise) Regulations To give effect to Council Directive 98/20/EC of 30 March 1998 amending Directive 92/14/EEC on the limitation of the operation of aeroplanes covered by Part II, Chapter 2, Volume 1 of Annex 16 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, second edition (1988).
Permit for Electricity Generation under Section 37 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1927 To give effect to Regulation to be made by the Board of the ESB setting out a standard form of permit for electricity generation.
European Communities (Merchandise Road Transport) Regulations To implement measures arising from the enactment of the Road Transport Bill, 1998.
European Communities (Road Passenger Transport) Regulations To implement measures arising from the enactment of the Road Transport Bill, 1998.
Ionising Radiation Order To transpose Council Directive 96/29/EURATOM of 13 May 1996 laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation.

[223] In addition, the Office of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation has advised that it is [224] preparing the following statutory instruments, which will require the consent of the Minister for Public Enterprise:

Wireless Telegraphy (Experimenter's Licence) (Amendment) Regulations To update provisions regarding the licensing of radio experimenters.
Regulations under the Wireless Telegraphy Acts To provide for the licensing of the provision of fixed wireless point to multi-point access using wireless telegraphy.
Regulations under the Wireless Telegraphy Acts To provide for the licensing of a television programme retransmission operation in the UHF band.

  104.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of her Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13272/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The legislative proposals, currently in preparation in my Department which have not yet been approved by Government are set out in the following table.

Item Purpose
1.Air Navigation Eurocontrol Bill To give effect of the revised Eurocontrol convention signed by Ireland in 1997.
2.Electronic Signatures Bill To provide a legal basis for electronic commerce.
3.Electricity Bill (i)To give effect to restructured electricity industry.
(ii)Re-organisation of ESB as a Company under the Companies Acts.
4.Irish Energy Centre Bill To establish the Irish Energy Centre as an agency under the aegis of the Department.
5.Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) Bill Updating of GSI Legislation, 1845.
6.Gas Regulation Bill To give effect to the restructuring of the natural gas industry.
7.Bord Gáis Éireann Bill Restructuring of Bord Gáis
Éireann.
8.Telecommunications (Regulation) Bill To provide for the extension of certain powers of the Director of Telecommunications Regulation; and to update the regulatory framework in the light of the full liberalisation of the sector.
9.Transport Bill To allow light rail run on-street in Dublin.
10.Nuclear Non-proliferation Bill Ratification of Protocol to 1977 Agreement between the European Atomic Energy Community, Member States of the Community and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

  105.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of her Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13288/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The legislative proposals currently in preparation in my Department have not yet reached a stage where the heads have been approved by Government.

  106.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the extent to which she has identified the need for further investment in telecommunications with particular reference to current developments in the industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13320/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The Deputy is aware that the provision of telecommunications infrastructure is primarily a matter for operators in the newly liberalised telecommunications market.

Recognising that in certain regions of the country, competition alone will not provide the required broadband telecommunications infrastructural investment, I recently sought proposals for the development of advanced communications networks and services which might be co-funded by the European Union. A number of proposals have been received and are currently being independently evaluated.

In addition, my Department, together with Forfás, is currently preparing estimates of further funding requirements to ensure nation-wide broadband connectivity. All regions will be considered in this review.

[225]

  107.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    if her attention has been drawn to plans for the utilisation of the Enfield-Dublin rail link for the carriage of waste to a proposed incinerator at Kilcock, County Kildare; when she awarded the funding for the upgrading of this line; the indication, if any, she received for these plans from any quarter before she authorised the provision of the funds for line improvements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13322/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I am not aware of any plans to carry waste by rail to any proposed incinerator at Kilcock, County Kildare. In June last year, I announced an investment package of £63 million in combined EU and Exchequer funding for improvements on the Dublin suburban rail and DART network. The measures include the doubling of the track between Maynooth and Clonsilla, the lengthening of station platforms and the provision of extra suburban rail cars on the Maynooth line.

  108.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the full extent of the proposed upgrading of the Enfield-Dublin commuter line; if these works are in accord with her understanding of these proposals prior to her decision to allocate the necessary capital funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13324/99]

  109.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the extent to which she has been informed of the increased commuter and commercial traffic potential of the Enfield-Dublin rail link arising from her award of capital funding toward the improvement of the line; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13325/99]

  110.  Mr. Durkan    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the total daily passenger capacity of the Enfield-Dublin rail link; the projected capacity following her award of capital funding to upgrade the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13326/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 to 110, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware, there is considerable investment in improvements to the Maynooth line. These are progressing in accordance with the proposals put forward to me. The measures include the doubling of the track between Maynooth and Clonsilla, the lengthening of station platforms and the provision of extra carriages to increase passenger capacity. Funding was also allocated to improve track and signalling to Mullingar. This work is progressing satisfactorily.

In response to the recent publication of the regional planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area, I secured Government approval to undertake costings and feasibility work for a new suburban rail commuter development plan. I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that Enfield will be considered as part of these evaluations.

[226]

  111.  Mr. Yates    asked the Minister for Public Enterprise    the decision, if any, the Government has taken in relation to the proceeds of the initial public offering for Telecom Éireann; and if she will commit resources to direct additional Exchequer capital investment into public transport in 1999. [12547/99]

Minister for Public Enterprise (Mrs. O'Rourke):  The proceeds from the Telecom Éireann IPO will accrue to the Exchequer. They will be treated as a normal Exchequer receipt and will therefore not be earmarked for any particular purpose.

I recognise that there will be a very substantial medium term investment requirement for public transport. Funding for this investment will obviously have to come from a number of sources.

I expect that a very substantial proportion of the investment requirement will be generated from CIE's own internal resources. Earlier this year the CIE chairman indicated that in certain circumstances CIE would be able to provide up to £700 million from its own resources, including property, in the eight year period up to 2006 to fund investment. While the level of EU funding will diminish over the coming years, I will be arguing for the maximum possible EU contribution for public transport projects.

There may also be scope for some private funding through public-private partnerships. I have already published a consultancy paper on a PPP approach to Luas and have invited comments on it before I put proposals to Government. It is also clear that there will be a need for a significant Exchequer contribution to fund this investment requirement.

The overall funding provision for public transport, and the sources of that funding, will be decided by Government during its consideration of the national development plan.

There is already a very substantial public transport investment programme under way in 1999, accelerated by the timely reallocation of the Luas EU aid last June. The Exchequer is providing £56 million in capital grants this year, including for the first time Exchequer assistance for bus and rail investment totalling £36 million.

  112.  Mr. G. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Defence    if he will supply information of the current rate of pension paid to the estranged husband of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 as a matter of justice. [13157/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith):  The details of an individual's pension are regarded as confidential to the individual concerned and are not disclosed to other parties except with the individual's consent or as required by law.

[227] The Deputy will be interested to know that the basic pension payable to a retired sergeant ranges from £122.65 a week for 21 years' service, increasing by a standard £4.11 for each further year of service, to a maximum of £163.75 after 31 years' service.

  113.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13183/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith):  The question does not arise in so far as my Department is concerned.

  114.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13198/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith):  The question does not arise in so far as my Department is concerned.

  115.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13213/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith):  The question does not arise in so far as my Department is concerned.

[228]

  116.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13228/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith):  The question does not arise in so far as my Department is concerned.

  117.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13243/99]

  118.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13258/99]

  119.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13273/99]

  120.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Defence    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13289/99]

Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 to 120, inclusive, together.

There is no legislation in my Department awaiting the making of a commencement order.

A statutory instrument entitled “The Air Raid Precautions Services (Compensation for Personal Injuries) (Fifth Amendment) Scheme, 1999” is currently being prepared in my Department. The purpose of the instrument is to increase the rates of compensation payable to civil defence members who suffer a qualifying injury while on civil defence activity in line with the movements in the relevant social welfare allowances.

Defence Force regulations are required to be made pursuant to many of the provisions of the Defence Act 1954. The regulations are constantly under review in my Department and where necessary are amended to take account of changing circumstances.

My Department has no proposed legislation awaiting formulation where the heads have been approved by Government. At present my Department is in the process of preparing a draft of the proposed heads of a proposed civil defence Bill which will be submitted for the approval of Government in due course.

[229]

  121.  Ms Cooper-Flynn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    if persons (details supplied) in County Mayo were forwarded 1998 area aid applications. [13059/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  Pre-printed forms were issued in 1998 to all farmers including the persons named who had been applicants in 1997.

  122.  Mr. Higgins (Mayo)    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the reason for the non-payment of 1998 headage and a ewe premium to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [13060/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  The area aid application in the name of the person concerned has been fully processed. The applicant claimed a total of 5.26 hectares whereas the area determined after processing is 2.04 hectares which is an overclaim of some 157 per cent. EU regulations stipulate that where an applicant overclaims by more than 20 per cent, a 100 per cent penalty must be imposed. To afford this applicant a final opportunity to ensure that his lands have been accurately entered into the Departments electronic database, the person concerned has been written to and supplied with a copy of the maps concerned.

  123.  Mr. U. Burke    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 170 of 5 May 1999, an area aid grant application for a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be re-investigated; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his Department acknowledged receipt of this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13061/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  I have arranged for officials of my Department to make contact with the person named with a view to examining all aspects of the case.

  124.  Mr. U. Burke    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the environmental gain on commonage lands in west Connemara being farmed by a person (details supplied) in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13062/99]

  125.  Mr. U. Burke    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    further to Parliamentary Question No. 112 of 12 May 1999 the reason it was necessary for a person (details supplied) to obtain a flock number before being approved for the REP scheme in view of the fact she is not in receipt of livestock grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13063/99]

[230]Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 124 and 125 together.

I am satisfied that the person referred to has met the terms and conditions applicable to any participant in the REP scheme. The persons participation in the REP scheme will be subject to compliance and other checks on the same basis as all other participants and she will be expected to comply fully with the requirements of the scheme to secure the payment of REP scheme grants.

It is not my Department's policy to reveal details of the farming operations of applicants.

  126.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    when the new farm pollution grant scheme forms will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13088/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  The European Commission has raised a number of issues in relation to the proposals submitted by my Department. My Department responded to the Commission and subsequently officials met with the Commission to deal with outstanding points. Some further clarifications were provided to the Commission following that meeting. As a result, I am confident of getting agreement on the measure within the next few weeks.

Application forms will be available in my Department's local offices as soon as possible after the commission's approval is received.

  127.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    when the new dairy hygiene grant scheme forms will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13089/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  Application forms for this scheme are currently being distributed to all farm development service offices of my Department.

  128.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will receive his fodder aid payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13090/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  A cheque for £300 was issued to the person named on 7 May 1999, in respect of the special fodder hardship fund scheme. This is his full entitlement under the scheme.

[231]

  129.  Mr. Perry    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    if an additional fodder payment on suckler cows will be released for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13091/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  The person named is one of a small number of herdowners who were paid fodder aid on their sheep but not on their cows. Arrangements are being put in place to make any outstanding fodder payments as soon as possible.

  130.  Mr. Penrose    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 221 of 23 February 1999, his Department has had written communication with a person (details supplied) informing him of the need for a current tax clearance certificate to be submitted; if the required form for completion by the Revenue Commissioners was forwarded to him; the measures, if any, he will take to expedite the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13092/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  On 17 February 1999 an official of the farm development services office, Tullamore informed the Teagasc consultant who prepared the application in question, by telephone, of the necessity for the applicant to provide a current tax clearance certificate. To date this document has not been furnished to my Department's local FDS office in Tullamore.

Application forms for tax clearance certificates are available in the local office of my Department. To expedite this case, I will arrange to have a form forwarded to the applicant.

  131.  Mr. McGrath    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the reason for the delay in processing area aid for a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath which is causing delays in all subsidy payments. [13145/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  No 1998 area aid application was received from the person named and she was requested to submit a certificate of postage. This certificate has now been received and any payments due will be made as soon as possible.

  132.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13184/99]

[232]

  133.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13199/99]

  134.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13214/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 132 to 134, inclusive, together.

There are five international conventions for which my Department has responsibility currently being processed. Details are as follows:

The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedures for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade which was negotiated through the United Nations Environment Programme – Food and Agriculture Organisation is open for signature between 11 September 1998 and 10 September 1999. It is intended that Ireland will sign the convention by September next. The convention is a mandatory system to prevent the dumping on under-developed countries of chemicals which have been banned or considered unsafe for use in developed countries and replaces a voluntary system in operation for a number of years. The European Union operates a mandatory system under Council Regulation EEC No. 2455/92.

My Department's responsibilities in this area relate to the chemical substances in pesticides only and implementation will be my means of amendment of the European Communities (Export and Import of Certain Dangerous Chemicals) (Pesticides) (Enforcement) Regulations, 1995.

The International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of 19 March 1991 was negotiated through the International Union of New Varieties of Plants, Geneva and was signed by Ireland, subject to ratification, in February 1992. The Plant Varieties (Proprietary Rights) (Amendment) Act, 1998, gives effect to the provisions of that convention. The implementing regulations are in preparation and are expected to be place by 31 August 1999.

Negotiations on the 1999 Food Aid Convention were completed last month and it was opened for signature on 1 May. It is intended to sign the con[233] vention before the 30 June next, following which a motion will be brought before the Dáil, to enable ratification.

The objectives of the Food Aid Convention, 1999 are to contribute to world food security and to improve the ability of the international community to respond to emergency food situations and other food needs of developing countries.

The European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals opened for signature on 13 November 1987. A recommendation by my Department in relation to signature must await the resolution of questions requiring consultation with representative bodies on pets.

The Protocol of Amendment to the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes opened for signature on 6 February 1992. Consultation has been initiated by my Department with the Attorney General's office on the question of legislation preparatory to signature and ratification by Ireland.

[234]

  135.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13229/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

While every effort is made to implement directives by the due implementation date, the demands on staff and other resources as well as specific legal difficulties have led to delays in certain cases.

Title of Directive Date by which Directive is to be Implemented Implement-ation by Actor Statutory Instruments (S.I.) Expected date of statutory implementation
Council Directive 95/53/EC of 25 October 1995 fixing the principles governing the organisation of official inspections in the field of animal nutrition 30 April 1998 S.I. July 1999
Council Directive 96/24/EC of 29 April 1996 amending Directive 79/373/EC on the marketing of compound feedingstuffs 1 July 1998 S.I. July 1999
Council Directive 96/25/EC of 29 April 1996 on the circulation of feed materials 30 June 1998 S.I. July 1999
Council Directive 96/43/EC of 26 June 1996 amending and consolidating Directive 85/73/EEC in order to ensure financing of veterinary inspections and controls on live animals and certain animal product 1 July 1996
1 January 1997
1 July 1997
S.I. Major part implemented 15/6/98–remainder May 1999
Council Directive 96/51/EC of 23 July 1996 amending Directive 70/524/EEC concerening additives in feedingstuffs 1 April 1998
1 October 1999
S.I. July 1999
Council Directive 96/93/EC of 17 December 1996 on the certification of animals and animal products 1 January 1998 S.I. June 1999
Council Directive 97/12/EC of 17 March 1997 (as amended by Council Directive 98/99/EC of 14 December 1998) amending and updating Directive 64/432/EEC on health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine 1 January 1999
1 July 1999
S.I. June 1999
Council Directive 97/76/EC of 16 December 1997 amending Directive 77/99/EEC and Directive 72/462/EEC with regard to the rules applicable to minced meat, meat preparations and certain other products of animal origin 1 January 1999 S.I. September 1999
Council Directive 97/78/EC of 18 December 1997 laying down the principles govening the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from third countries 1 July 1999 S.I. September 1999
Council Directive 97/79/EC of 18 December 1997 amending Directives 71/118/EEC, 72/462/EEC, 85/73/EEC, 91/67/EEC as regards the organisation of veterinary checks on products entering the Community from third countries 1 July 1999 S.I. September 1999
Council Directive 98/46/EC of 24 June 1998 amending Annexes A, D (Chapter I) and F to Directive 64/432/EEC on health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine 1 July 1999 S.I. June 1999
Council Directive 98/47/EC of 25 June 1998 including an active substance (azoxystrobin) in Annex 1 to the Council Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market 1 January 1999 S.I. July 1999
Council Directive 98/56/EC of 20 July 1998 on the marketing of propagating material of ornamental plants 1 July 1999 S.I. June 1999
Council Directive 98/57/EC of 20 July 1998 on the control of Ralstonia solanacearum (Smith) Yabuuchi et al 21 August 1999 S.I. August 1999
Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes 31 December 1999 Not yetdecided December 1999
[235] Title of Directive Date by which Directive is to be Implemented Implement-ation by Actor Statutory Instruments (S.I.) Expected date of statutory implementation
Commission Directive 98/64/EC of 3 September 1998 establishing Community methods of analysis for the determination of amino-acids, crude oils and fats, and olaquindox in feedingstuffs and amending Directive 71/393/EC 31 December 1998 S.I. July 1999
Commission Directive 98/67/EC of 7 September 1998 amending Directives 80/511/EEC, 82/475/EEC and Council Directive 96/25/EC and repealing Directive 92/87/EEC (Animal feedingstuffs) 31 December 1998 S.I. July 1999
Commission Directive 98/68/EC of 10 September 1998 laying down the standard document refered to in Article 9 (1) of Council Directive 95/53/EC and certain rules for checks at the introduction into the Community of feedingstuffs from third countries 31 March 1999 S.I. July 1999
Commission Directive 98/82/EC of 27 October 1998 amending the Annexes to Council Directives 86/362/EEC, 86/363/EEC and 90/642/EEC on the fixing of maximum levels for pesticide residues in and on cereals, foodstuffs of animal origin and certain products of plant origin, including fruit and vegetables respectively 30 April 1999 S.I. June 1999
Commission Directive 98/87/EC of 13 November 1998 amending Council Directive 79/373/EEC on the marketing of compound feedingstuffs 30 June 1999 S.I. July 1999
Commission Directive 98/88/EC of 13 November 1998 establishing guidelines for the microscopic identification and estimation of constituents of animal origin for the official control of feedingstuffs 1 September 1999 S.I. July 1999
Council Directive 98/92/EC of 14 December 1998 amending Directive 70/524/EEC concerning additives in feedingstuffs and Directive 95/69/EC laying down the conditions and arrangements for approving and registering certain establishments and intermediaries operating in the animal feed sector 31 March 1999 S.I. Part implemented 7/4/99 – remainder July 1999
Council Directive 98/99/EC of 14 December 1998 amending Directive 97/12/EC amending and updating Directive 64/432/EC on health problems affecting intra-Community trade in bovine animals and swine 1 January 1999
1 July 1999
S.I. June 1999
Commission Directive 1999/1/EC of 21 January 1999 including an active substance (kresoxim-methyl) in Annex 1 to Council Directive 91/414/EEC concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market 31 July 1999 S.I. July 1999
Directive 1999/4/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 relating to coffee extracts and chicory extracts 13 September 2000 S.I. September 2000
Commission Directive 1999/8/EC of 18 February 1999 amending Council Directive 66/402/EEC on the marketing of cereal seed 1 February 2000 S.I. February 2000
Directive 1999/20/EC of 22 March 1999 amending Directives 70/524/EEC concerning additives in feedingstuffs, 82/471/EEC concerning certain products used in animal nutrition, 95/53/EC fixing the principles govening the organisation of official inspections in the field of animal nutrition and 95/69/EC laying down the conditions and arrangements for approving and registering certain establishments and intermediaries operating in the animal feed sector 30 September 1999 S.I. September 2000
Commission Directive 1999/27/EC of 20 April 1999 establishing Community methods of analysis for the determination of amprolium, dicalzuril and carbadox in feedingstuffs and amending Directives 71/250/EEC, 73/46/EEC and repealing Directive 74/203/EEC 31 October 1999 S.I. October 1999

  136.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13244/99]

  137.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13259/99]

[236]Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.

Details of the information sought by the Deputy are as follows:

The Plant Varieties (Proprietary Rights) Amendment Act, 1998, is not in force by reason that the commencement order has not been made. An order will be made when all the implementing regulations are in place. These are being prepared and are expected to be in place by the 31 August next.

The Bovine Tuberculosis (Attestation of the State and General Provisions) Order, 1999, will provide for revised arrangements for the identification of bovine animals.

[237] The European Communities (Identification and Registration of Bovine Animals) Regulations 1999 will give effect to council regulation (EC) No 820/97 and related Commission regulations concerning the identification and registration of bovine animals. In particular, the regulations will make specific provisions relating to passport documents for bovine animals and in respect of on-farm bovine herd registers.

The European Communities (Designation of Milk and Milk Products and Standards for Spreadable Fats) Regulations provide for penalties for breaches of EU regulations in this area and for powers of inspection.

The following Council Regulations (EC) No 535/97 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and feedstuffs will give effect to new developments in the area of plant breeders rights are being prepared under the Plant Varieties (Proprietary Rights) (Amendment) of 1998:

The Plant Varieties (Proprietary Rights) (Amendment) Regulations.

The Plant Varieties (Farm Saved Seed) Regulations.

The Plant Varieties (Proprietary Rights) (Amendment) Act 1998 (Contracting Parties) Order.

The Plant Breeders Rights (Form of Certificate) (Amendment) Regulation.

The following regulations prohibit the putting into circulation of cereals, or any foodstuffs of animal or plant origin which contain levels of pesticides residue over specified levels and provide for new maximum residue levels:

The European Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Cereals) Regulations.

The European Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Foodstuffs of Animal Origin) Regulations.

The European Communities (Pesticide Residues) (Products of Plant Origin, including Fruit and Vegetables) Regulations.

  138.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13274/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Title of Proposed Legislation Purpose of Proposed Legislation Expected Date of Publication
National Beef Assurance Scheme Bill To give full statutory backing to the National Beef Assurance Scheme June 1999
[238] Title of Proposed Legislation Purpose of Proposed Legislation Expected Date of Publication
Land Commission Bill To regularise the position relating to land annuities and amend the Land Acts. Early 2000
Greyhound Industry Bill To provide for the restructuring and development of the Greyhound Industry including coursing. Early 2000

  139.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13290/99]

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh):  The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Title of Proposed Legislation Purpose of Proposed Legislation Expected Date of Publication
Horse and Greyhound Racing Betting Charges and Levies Bill, 1999 To restructure the method by which the Irish Horseracing Authority and Bord na gCon are financed from bookmaker betting revenues and to introduce other miscellaneous provisions to the Irish Horseracing Industry Act, 1994 and the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958 June 1999

  140.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Finance    his response, if any, to the submission by the blind car owners and users seeking relief. [13069/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  For the Deputy's information, my response to the blind car owners and users seeking relief under the disabled drivers and disabled passengers scheme is set out in the reply to the Adjournment Debate held on 2 March 1999 and in my reply to Parliamentary Question Nos. 141 and 145 dated 27 April 1999.

The present medical criteria for access to the scheme relate essentially to disabilities which seriously and permanently impair the physical mobility of the person concerned. This reflects the origins of the scheme as a relief for disabled [239] persons who were confined to wheelchairs but nevertheless were capable of driving suitably adapted motor cars.

A review of the scheme is being undertaken by an interdepartmental group chaired by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The existing medical criteria for qualification is one of the issues that have been raised with that group. I await their report.

However, the current scheme is costly and opening it up to wider ranges of disabilities would significantly add to this cost. I must caution, therefore, against an expectation that a broader range of persons who suffer from some form of disability or disablement will be admitted to the scheme as a result of this review.

  141.  Mr. McGrath    asked the Minister for Finance    the revenue collected from motorists in County Westmeath in 1998; and the breakdown of this figure under the appropriate headings of VRT, VAT, taxes on fuel and other taxes. [13074/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  I am [240] informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the amount of VRT collected in respect of vehicles registered in County Westmeath in 1998 is £7.8 million. VAT returns are not completed in a manner which would enable VAT receipts to be analysed on a county by county basis. However, based on the VRT figures, the VAT yield is estimated at £4.2 million. The amount of excise duty on fuel used by motorists or sold by garages in Westmeath is not known since excise duty is charged at the time of delivery in bulk from tax warehouse and for this reason the VAT yield cannot be estimated either.

  142.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13185/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  The following is the reply to the Deputy's question.

Title International Organisation Involved Whether it is proposed to ratify/accede Legislation required
Revision of the International Convention on the simplification and harmonisation of Customs procedures (Kyoto Convention) World Customs Organisation Yes No

  143.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13200/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  The following agreement is being concluded between Ireland and the EU Commission.

A framework agreement concerning the provision of national experts under twinning covenants applied to institution building, funded by the PHARE programme.

This agreement will be between Ireland and the EU Commission. The agreement has not been signed by Ireland to date, although the final draft of the agreement has been agreed between both parties. It is expected that this agreement will be signed in the near future. Similar agreements are being concluded between the EU Commission and the other EU member states.

No further legislation will be required to enable the enactment of the provisions of this agreement.

  144.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13215/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  The following is a table of the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of my Department as requested.

Agreement has been reached on the 12th replenishment of the International Development Association, IDA, and the Government will be introducing legislation in due course to enable Ireland to contribute £20 million over the period 2000-2005.[241]

Title Date and Place of Signature International Organisation Involved Whether it is proposed to ratify If so, when
Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on the use of information technology for customs purposes 26 July 1995 at Brussels Council of the European Union Yes By end 1999
Agreement on the provisional application between certain member states of the European Union of the convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on the use of information technology for customs purposes 26 July 1995 at Brussels Council of the European Union Yes By end 1999
Protocol drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on the interpretation by way of preliminary rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Communities of the Convention on the use of information technology for customs purposes 29 November 1996 at Brussels Council of the European Union Yes By end 1999
Protocol drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on the scope of the laundering of proceeds in the Convention on the use of information technology for customs purposes and the inclusion of the registration number of the means of transport in the Convention 12 March 1999 at Brussels Council of the European Union Yes By end 1999
Convention drawn up on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union on mutual assistance and co-operation between customs administrations 18 December 1997 at Brussels Council of the European Union Yes By end 1999

  145.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the EU, EUSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13230/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  Directive 98/80/EC of 12 October 1998 supplementing the common system of value added tax and amending Directive 77/388/EEC – special scheme for investment gold – primary legislation was enacted in the Finance Act, 1999. Secondary legislation to implement some provisions will be required by 1 January 2000. The date of coming into force of the directive is 1 January 2000.

Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit guarantee schemes broadly provides for a scheme to protect the deposits of small investors, up to an amount of 15,000 euro, which is to rise to 20,000 euro by the end of 1999. The directive, which was due for implementation by 1 July 1995, was implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) Regulations, 1995, SI No. 168 of 29 June 1995, as amended by the Central Bank Act, 1997. Under the Irish scheme, the maximum level of cover to any eligible depositor is 90 per cent of aggregate qualifying deposits held by that depositor subject to a maximum compensation of 15,000 euro. As mentioned above, the directive provides that the maximum level of cover must be increased to 20,000 euro by 31 December 1999. It is intended [242] that this be done by secondary legislation under the European Communities Act, 1972.

Directive 95/26/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 June 1995, known as the BCCI directive, amends a number of directives in the financial regulation area. The provisions provide for communication between regulatory authorities. This directive was due to be transposed by 18 July 1996. The mandatory provisions of this directive were transposed by SI No. 267 of 9 September 1996. Consideration is being, given as to whether to implement the non-mandatory provisions by primary legislation.

Directive 97/5/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 27 January 1997 on cross border credit transfers provides for transparency in charges relating to cross border credit transfers, the avoidance of double charging, and specific performance in relation to the time taken to complete a transfer. In the event of failure, a credit institution is obliged to refund the amount of the transfer plus a penalty interest rate. It must be implemented by member states before 14 August 1999. It is intended that the directive will be implemented by statutory order made under section 22 of the Central Bank Act, 1997, which gives the Minister for Finance the power to make regulations providing for the regulation of cross-border credit transfers.

Directive 98/26/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 19 May 1998 on settlement finality in payment and securities settlement systems aims to reduce the legal risks associated with participation in settlement systems, in particular as regards the legality of netting agreements and the enforceability of collateral security. The directive's provisions apply to any EU payment or securities settlements system operating in any currency or the euro, any EU [243] institution which participates in such a system, collateral security provided in connection with participation in such a system, and collateral security provided in connection with monetary policy operations.

The final date for transposition of the directive is 11 December 1999. The European Communities (Finality of Settlement in Payment and Securities Settlement Systems) Regulations, 1998, SI No. 539 of 31 December 1998, made under section 3 of the European Communities Act, 1972, give effect to the mandatory provisions of the directive. Article 4 of the directive provides that the opening of insolvency proceedings against a participant in a payment system shall not prevent funds or securities available on the settlement account of that participant from being used to fulfil that participant's obligations in the system on the day of the opening of the insolvency proceedings. This is not a mandatory provision and it has not yet been decided whether to transpose it.

Directive 98/31/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 22 June 1998 amends Directive 93/6/EEC on capital adequacy of investment firms and credit institutions. Directive 98/32/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 22 June 1998, as regards in particular mortgages, amends directive 89/647/EEC on solvency ratio for credit institutions.

Directive 98/33/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 22 June 1998 amends Directives 77/780/EEC on credit institutions, 89/647/EEC on solvency ratio for credit institutions and 93/6/EEC on capital adequacy of investment firms and credit institutions. The provisions mainly relate to prudential regulation of credit institutions, that is, ensuring they follow sound business practices, particularly in relation to valuation of mortgages and other balance sheet items, so as to avoid the collapse of credit institutions. Implementation of all three directives is due by 22 June 2000. It is proposed that they will be implemented by administrative orders made under the statutory powers of the Central Bank.

Council Regulation – EC, EURATOM – 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Union's financial interests is a general framework regulation allowing for the application of control procedures and administrative penalties to irregularities arising in the use of Union funds.

The substantial implementation of the regulation is awaiting the specification, in further regulations to be tabled by the Commission, of actual fines and penalties to be applied in particular sectoral fields. Further legislative action at national level must await the adoption of these sectoral regulations.

In one respect – the provision of sectoral arrangements for on-the-spot checks by Commission inspectors – statutory arrangements have been put in place, viz. SI No. 168 of 1998.

[244]

  146.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13245/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  Section 11 of the Superannuation and Pensions Act, 1976, which will repeal enactments mentioned in the Second Schedule to that Act has not been brought into force. Commencement of the section is dependent on the making of the principal Civil Service pension scheme.

Section 11(2) of the Economic and Monetary Union Act, 1998, has not yet been commenced. This provides for the issue of euro coins by the Minister for Finance and a commencement order in respect of it will be made closer to their introduction on 1 January 2002.

Section 45 of the Finance Act, 1996, has not come into force. It will on the enactment of the Greyhound Industry Bill.

Section 45 of the Finance Act, 1998, provides for a number of changes to the self assessment system, including changes in the return filing date. Commencement orders are needed before these changes take effect. No orders have yet been made pending consultation with the professional bodies and the development of proposals to alien the tax year with the calendar year.

Chapter 1 of Part 2 and sections 112 and 113 of the Finance Act, 1999, dealing with mineral oil tax, have not come into operation. A commencement order will be made as soon as the necessary secondary legislation is ready. It is hoped that the Revenue Commissioners will have made regulations to implement the above provisions, which consolidate and modernise the existing excise duty legislation in relation to mineral oil products, by the end of 1999. The process involves the consolidation and modernisation of a large body of regulations dealing with those products.

Section 117 of the Finance Act, 1999, regarding the reduction in betting tax has not come into operation. An order is being drafted and it will be made before 1 July 1999.

The business tax incentives for the urban renewal scheme provided for in section 372B of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, have not yet commenced as the necessary EU Commission approval has not been obtained. When this approval is given, the appropriate commencement order will be made as soon as possible thereafter. Discussions with the EU Commission are still in progress and it is expected that the commencement order will be made in a few months time.

The same applies to section 372L of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 – business tax incentives for the rural renewal scheme.

On section 367(1) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 – tax reliefs for the Dublin docklands area, no areas have yet been designated so the [245] question of a commencement order does not arise. EU Commission approval would be needed for any business tax incentives but not for residential tax incentives.

On section 340(2) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 – regional airport enterprise areas, the EU Commission has been formally notified of one such regional airport enterprise area. When EU Commission approval is obtained, the necessary designation order for the tax relief for the scheme for this particular area to commence will be made, which should be in a few months time.

On section 24(1)(c)(ii) and (2) of the Finance Act, 1998 – freight forwarding and logistical services in regional airport enterprise areas, EU Commission approval is needed to add freight forwarding and logistical services to the list of qualifying services for the tax relief for the regional airport enterprise areas. If this approval is given for a qualifying project, the necessary commencement order to add these activities will be made. No such order is envisaged in the absence of a definite qualifying project.

Section 42 of the 1999 Finance Act – tax reliefs for the custom house docks area, extends various tax reliefs in the Custom House docks area beyond 24 January 1999 to 31 December 1999 or, in certain cases, to 30 June 2000. The order implementing these new termination dates will be made as soon as EU Commission approval is obtained for the double rent and rates reliefs for the buildings in that area. Discussions are still continuing with the Commission on this matter and the issue is expected to be finalised in the next few months.

The above list contains all the items currently under consideration. In the time available it has not been possible to carry out an exhaustive examination of the entire taxation code for this purpose.

  147.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13260/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  The following statutory instruments are being prepared in my Department and in the Office of the Revenue Commissioners:

Civil Service spouses' and children's contributory pension scheme: to give statutory effect to revisions to the scheme which were introduced following agreed recommendations under the scheme of conciliation and arbitration for the Civil Service. The revised scheme provides pension benefits for the spouse of a member of the scheme who marries after retirement and for all children of the member, and raises the age limit for eligible children in full-time education to age 22.

Spouses' and children's contributory pension scheme for members of the Judiciary: to give [246] statutory effect to revisions to the scheme which were introduced in 1998. The revised scheme provides pension benefits for the spouse of a member of the scheme who marries after retirement and for all children of the member.

Voluntary Early Retirement Scheme: to give statutory effect to certain voluntary redundancy-early retirement arrangements in the Civil Service.

Professional Added Years: to give statutory effect to arrangements which provide for certain additions of service for established civil servants appointed to professional, technical or specialist posts.

Purchase of service: to give statutory effect to purchase of service schemes for civil servants.

Superannuation Scheme for Established Civil Servants: to provide for consolidation of the principal superannuation arrangements for established civil servants into a single scheme.

Prison Officers: to give statutory effect to revised early retirement arrangements for certain grades of prison officer which were introduced following an agreed recommendation under the scheme of conciliation and arbitration for the Civil Service.

Transfer of service: to give statutory effect to transfer of service arrangements within the public sector.

Pensions increases: to give statutory effect to pension increases which have been awarded to civil servants.

Pension arrangements for MEPS: to give statutory effect to certain revisions to the scheme.

Regulations to update the Ethics in Public Office (Prescribed Public Body, Designated Directorships and Designated Positions in Public Bodies) Regulations, 1997, SI No. 32 of 1997, are in preparation.

Betting Act (Revenue forms) Regulations, 1999: the purpose of the instruments is to change the wording on the certificate of registration of bookmaking premises to include the new opening hours set out in section 85 of the Finance Act 1998.

Mineral Oil Consolidation: the Revenue Commissioners are preparing regulations to implement the provisions of Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Finance Act, 1999, which concerns the consolidation and modernisation of the law in relation to excise duties on mineral oil products. The proposed regulations will contain provisions for managing, securing and collecting mineral oil tax and for protecting the revenue derived from that tax.

Vehicle registration tax: the format of vehicle identification marks – registration plates – is governed by SI No. 318 of 1992. Registration levels in particular counties are such that the existing numbering sequence will shortly be exhausted. It is proposed to amend the SI to add an extra digit to the existing eight digit sequence.

Type-approval is a regulatory system applied to all new motor vehicles bought into use in the EU which imposes certain specified technical stan[247] dards regarding safety and exhaust and noise emissions. EU directives require the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of the Environment and Local Government to obtain a certificate of conformity for a vehicle before it can be registered and used on the road. In addition to the SI prepared by the Department of the Environment and Local Government to give effect to the directives, the Revenue Commissioners will also need to amend SI No. 318 of 1992.

VAT: a statutory instrument is being prepared to regulate certain aspects of the EU VAT directive on the special scheme for investment gold, due to come into effect on 1 January 2000, in accordance with section 122 of the Finance Act, 1999.

A statutory instrument is being prepared to regulate the invoicing aspects of the special scheme for agricultural machinery, in accordance with section 134 of the Finance Act, 1999.

A statutory instrument will be prepared under the European Communities Act, 1972, to impose a VAT charge on supplies which are sold to travellers on intra-EU journeys after 1 July 1999, if tax free shopping is not retained by EU action.

An order under section 361 of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, has been prepared and will be put before the Dáil as soon as possible. This is an order to ratify the convention, signed in December 1995, covering the accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the Arbitration Convention, that is the convention on the elimination of double taxation in connection with the adjustment of profits of associated enterprises.

The purpose of the arbitration convention was the elimination of double taxation in connection with certain adjustments of profit by the tax authorities of member states. This could arise where the taxable profits of a company in one member state were increased by the tax authorities in that state because, the profits in that member state were considered to be understated arising from transactions by that company with an associated company in another member state. This upward adjustment of profits would result in double taxation unless the other member state made a corresponding downward adjustment in the profits of the associated company in that member state. The arbitration convention provides for the procedures for consultations and arbitration between the parties so as to eliminate any double taxation.

Following the enactment of section 18 of the Finance Act 1999, which amended sections 530 and 531 of the Taxes Consolidated Act, 1997, which deals with payments to subcontractors in certain industries, the following amendments by the Revenue Commissioners are necessary to the Income Tax (Relevant Contracts) Regulations: the deletion of regulation 10 dealing with payment of tax by principal contractors – regulation 10 has been replaced by section 18(1)(b)(i); the making of provision for the raising and notification of monthly estimates and the right to [248] appeal such estimates, and the making of provision for the issue of computer generated estimates.

Statutory instruments are being prepared to apply the urban renewal tax reliefs to particular local areas in accordance with the relevant Finance Acts provisions.

Statutory instrument to implement provisions of Directive 94/19/EC of 30 May 1994 on deposit guarantee schemes: this directive broadly provides for a scheme to protect the deposits of small investors, up to an amount of 15,000 euro, which is to rise to 20,000 euro by the end of 1999. The directive has been implemented in Ireland by the European Communities (Deposit Guarantee Schemes) Regulations, 1995, SI No. 168 of 29 June 1995, as amended by the Central Bank Act, 1997. Under the Irish scheme, the maximum level of cover to any eligible depositor is 90 per cent of aggregate qualifying deposits held by that depositor subject to a maximum compensation of 15,000 euro. As mentioned above, the directive provides that the maximum level of cover must be increased to 20,000 euro by 31 December 1999. It is intended that this be done by secondary legislation under the European Communities Act, 1972.

Statutory instrument to implement provisions of Directive 97/5/EC of 27 January 1997 on cross-border credit transfers: this provides for transparency in charges relating to cross-border credit transfers, the avoidance of double charging and specific performance in relation to the time taken to complete a transfer. In the event of failure, a credit institution is obliged to refund the amount of the transfer plus a penalty interest rate. It must be implemented by the member states before 14 August 1999. It is intended that the directive will be implemented by statutory order made under section 22 of the Central Bank Act, 1997, which gives that Minister for Finance the power to make regulations providing for the regulation of cross-border credit transfers.

Proposed Statutory Instrument – Financial Transfers (Angola) (No 2) Order: this will provide for the application in Ireland of United Nations financial sanctions against Angola in accordance with Council Regulation No. 1705/98 of 28 July 1998 in order to induce UNITA to fulfil its obligations in the peace process. This will repeal and replace Financial Transfers (Angola) Order, 1998, SI No. 141 of 1998.

The following statutory instruments fall to be prepared under the Freedom of Information Act, 1997:

Designation of health professionals for the purposes of the Act: section 28(4) of the Act allows for public bodies to grant access to certain personal information via a health professional. Section 28(7) prescribes medical practitioners and registered dentists as health professionals for this purpose. My Department is in consultation with the Department of Health and Children on this matter with a view to preparing regulations which [249] will prescribe other health professionals for this purpose.

Amendment of the First Schedule to the Act: Paragraph 1(5) of the First Schedule to the Act provides for any publicly-funded body to be made subject to the Act by regulation. I have agreed with my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, that voluntary hospitals and certain publicly funded voluntary organisations in the health sector will be subject to the Act from 21 October next, and I will prepare regulations to this end.

Following consultation with the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, I also propose to prepare regulations to ensure the new statutory Irish Sports Council will be subject to the Act.

  148.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13275/99]

  149.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Finance    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13293/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 149 together.

On 15 April 1999 the Government Chief Whip issued a press release announcing details of the Government's legislation programme. Some of the Bills referred to in the press release are at an initial stage of preparation and may not be published before the end of the year.

My Department is working on the following legislation in respect of which heads have been approved by the Government: Valuation Bill, Standards in Public Office Bill, Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill, Central Bank Bill, Customs and Excise Mutual Assistance Bill, and Stamp Duty Consolidation Bill.

My Department is also working on the following legislation in respect of which the Government has not yet approved heads: Ordnance Survey Bill, ICC Bill, ACC/TSB Bank Bill, Central Treasury Bill, Appropriation Bill, National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Bill, and International Development Association Bill.

My Department is examining the issue of dormant accounts and preparing proposals designed to resolve the legal issues involved. I expect to be in a position shortly to submit a proposal to Government to deal with sums of money left dormant in accounts for long periods of time.

A number of amendments are being considered to legislation dealing with financial regulation: Investor Compensation Act, 1998, Investment Intermediaries Act, 1995, Central Bank [250] Act, 1989. These include chances proposed by the Central Bank and by the Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Consideration is being given to implementing the non-mandatory provisions of Directive 95/26/EC – the so-called BCCI directive – and Directive 98/26/EC on settlement finality in payment and security settlement systems, within this possible legislation.

I expect to receive the report of the SRA implementation advisory group shortly and the question of implementing its recommendations via primary legislation will have to be considered.

A technical amendment to the British-Irish Agreement Act, 1999 will be necessary because of the change in the status of the peace programme which will no longer be a Community initiative in the new round of EU Structural Funds.

  150.  Mr. R. Bruton    asked the Minister for Finance    if redundancy packages offered by Dublin Corporation are subject to a ceiling set by his Department; if so; the terms of that ceiling; and the way in which it compares with packages which have been offered to other workers in the public service. [13316/99]

Minister for Finance (Mr. McCreevy):  While the terms of redundancy arrangements in the public service are, in general, determined in consultation with my Department, the specific details and management of any redundancy package in Dublin Corporation would be a matter between the corporation and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government. It would be my Department's view, however, that the terms of any redundancy packages offered by Dublin Corporation should be broadly in line with the terms offered in previous general voluntary early retirement situations in the Civil Service and local authorities.

  151.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if he will adopt the Children in Hospital, Ireland's charter and guidelines for the care of children and adolescents in hospital, in the absence of such a charter. [13398/99]

  152.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if his Department is undertaking a review of the manner in which the care of children and adolescents in hospital is provided; and if it will assess accurately the number of children receiving hospital care to facilitate planning of services. [13399/99]

  153.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if his Department is undertaking a review of the manner in which the care of children and adolescents in hospital is provided. [13400/99]

[251]

  154.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    his views on whether all children in hospitals should be cared for in appropriately staffed and supervised units, whether medical or surgical. [13401/99]

  155.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    his views on whether there should be separate adolescent units with appropriate staffing and facilities in our hospitals. [13402/99]

  156.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Health and Children    his views on the lack of provision for parents to visit hospitalised children at certain times; the action, if any, he is taking in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13070/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 to 156, inclusive, together.

My Department recently received a copy of Children in Hospital, Ireland's report entitled “Children being cared for in adult wards”. This report has raised a number of issues, which are under review by officials in my Department.

I am supportive of the suggestion that in circumstances where children have to share facilities with adults in an acute hospital setting the hospital management should establish protocols which take account of the sensitivities and needs of all patients concerned, particularly in relation to the children. I am committed to providing acute care in an environment appropriate to the needs of all patients in line with established best practice. I am conscious that where emergency treatment is required the provision of the treatment is the priority rather than the location in which it is provided.

A charter of rights for hospitals patients was introduced in August 1992. The charter provides guidelines for good standards of practice in acute hospitals for all patients, including children, be they in acute general hospitals or in specialist acute paediatric units.

My officials are reviewing the report and will be in contact with representatives of Children in Hospital, Ireland in the near future to discuss the content of their report and any issues which arise in the course of the review.

  157.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the cost of the new wing at St. Patrick's Hospital, Fermoy, County Cork; the amount of money sanctioned by his Department; and the number of extra beds to be provided for long stay care and respite care. [13071/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The cost of this 30 bed replacement block at St. Patrick's Hospital, Fermoy, is £2.2 million, including construction costs, fees and equipping. A donation of £300,000 has been made by a local [252] benefactor, leaving a net cost to the Department of £1.9 million.

The mix of beds to be provided in the new unit includes long-stay, respite, convalescent care, rehabilitation and terminal care. The new unit replaces a building which was constructed in 1857 and, although there will be no overall increase in bed numbers, the extra space made available will permit better living conditions for all patients in the hospital, including better sanitation and more day space.

  158.  Mr. Shatter    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the hospital waiting lists at 31 March 1999 compared with 31 March 1997 in respect of each hospital and each speciality in each hospital; and the total number on the waiting list in respect of 31 March 1999 in comparison with 31 March 1997 in relation to each speciality and each hospital. [13072/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  My Department is collating the waiting list figures for the end of March 1999 and I hope to be in a position to supply the information the Deputy is looking for shortly.

  159.  Mr. G. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if the case will be examined for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who had a hip replaced in October 1998, requires a further operation and has been informed that the hospital is booked up. [13085/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The provision of orthopaedic treatment in this case is the responsibility, in the first instance, of the Adelaide and Meath Hospitals, Dublin, incorporating the National Children's Hospital. I have therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the hospital to investigate the matter and reply directly to the Deputy.

  160.  Mr. G. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 has been waiting for admission to hospital since 1996 and, following a recent visit to the hospital, is still no clearer on when she might be admitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13086/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The provision of orthopaedic treatment in this case is a matter, in the first instance, for the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, incorporating the National Children's Hospital. I have therefore, asked the chief executive officer of the hospital to investigate this matter and reply directly to the Deputy.

[253]

  161.  Mr. Perry    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing difficulties a person (details supplied) is encountering obtaining her birth certificate; if all outstanding problems will be immediately resolved; if her birth certificate will be immediately released; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13087/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The administration of the registration system is a matter for an t-Árd Chláraitheoir, the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and for local registrars who operate under his general direction.

An t-Árd Chláraitheoir had advised that a search in the birth records, including the adopted children register, on the basis of the information furnished, has failed to disclose a birth registration in respect of the person referred to by the Deputy. An application for authority for the late registration of the birth in question has been received by An t-Árd Chláraitheoir. However, because of the lack of information necessary, it is unlikely that the procedure for the late registration of the birth can be completed. The person seeking the registration has been advised with regard to the further information required to register the birth.

  162.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the reason for the discrepancies in funding for persons with a mental disability in the different health boards; the measures, if any, his Department envisages to counteract this imbalance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13134/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to services to persons with an intellectual disability-mental handicap. While I am unclear as to the specific discrepancies referred to by the Deputy, I am aware that in addition to the need for the development of new services, there are also needs which must be met within existing services.

With reference to the new services which have been put in place in recent years, these have been developed in line with the priority needs which have been identified for the various health board regions. The full cost of those services has been provided to both statutory and voluntary service providers. The costs associated with the various elements of the services are dependent on many factors including level of disability, whether a full or part-time service is being provided and the type of care setting required. These factors are taken into account when the funding is being allocated by the health boards.

In relation to existing services, issues related to historic base funding arrangements, the ageing client profile and reduction in income from other sources are amongst the principal reasons which give rise to financial problems for health boards and voluntary agencies.

[254] In recent years, my Department has been working with the health boards and voluntary agencies to address both the need for new services and identified needs within existing services. In the period between 1993 and 1999, additional revenue and capital funding amounted to £112.8 million, increasing to £118.8 million in 2000. It is my intention to continue to address these issues in the context of the resources allocated to my Department over the coming years.

  163.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if his attention has been drawn to the differences in capitation to people with mental disability attending training schemes in the different health boards; the measures, if any, he intends to implement to ensure an equal level of capitation for those who are eligible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13135/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  Currently two rates of annual capitation payments for persons with a disability are provided by my Department, through the health boards. A capitation payment, amounting to £1,284 is available to support training activities, and a capitation payment amounting to £1,167 supports non-training activities. These rates do not discriminate between the category of disability to which they are applied. If the Deputy has a particular case in mind he may wish to furnish me with the details and I will endeavour to have it investigated.

  164.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the reason for the worsening waiting list for rheumatolgoy clinic appointments in south Tipperary which is now at 15 months; the steps, if any, he will take to resolve this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13136/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The provision of rheumatology services in the South-Eastern Health Board area is a matter for the health board in the first instance. A regional rheumatology service was introduced at Waterford Regional Hospital in 1997 when a new consultant rheumatologist took up appointment. The service has been developed through the provision of additional funding by my Department amounting to £637,000 since 1997. The continued development of the service will be considered in consultation with the South-Eastern Health Board in the context of competing priorities and the availability of additional resources for 2000.

[255]

  165.  Mr. Gormley    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if he agrees with an organisation (details supplied) in County Dublin that the allocation of £252,500 to cover south east Dublin and east Wicklow regions for provision of ser vices for people with learning disabilities is inadequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13137/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  Since my appointment as Minister for Health and Children, and despite the many competing demands which are made on the resources available to my Department, I have consistently identified as one of my priorities the provision of the additional residential, respite and day services outlined in the document, Services to Persons with a Mental Handicap – An Assessment of Need 1997-2001. This year I was pleased to be in a position to provide additional funding of £12 million, with a full year cost of £18 million in 2000, for the further development of new services in line with the needs identified in the assessment of need document. At least £10 million capital funding from the national capital programme will also be allocated to support the development of these new services.

From the additional revenue funding, £3.635 million has been allocated to the Eastern Health Board, with a full year cost of £4.61 million in 2000. Details of the precise services to be put in place in the eastern region from this additional funding, including services in south east Dublin and east Wicklow, and the individuals who will benefit from these services, are agreed by the Central Mental Handicap Planning Committee. This committee is representative of the Eastern Health Board, the voluntary mental handicap service providers and parents-families of persons with a mental handicap.

As a result of this committee's deliberative process, I understand that services in the south Dublin and Wicklow area are to receive additional funding of £585,000 in respect of 21 new residential-respite places and an initial allocation of £310,000 in respect of 31 day places. While the funding for day places has been allocated to the various agencies, the final position regarding the overall number of day places which are to be put in place in 1999 is still under discussion. I understand from the board that these proposals are to include St. John of God Services, Cheeverstown House, Stewart's Hospital and Sunbeam House.

In addition to the funding mentioned above, £1 million has also been set aside by the Eastern Health Board for the management of emergency cases which will arise during the year. This will give the board flexibility in dealing with crisis situations as the need arises.

  166.  Mr. Creed    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if any of the health boards have funded surgery abroad for persons suffering from gender identity disorder; and the Department's policy in this regard. [13147/99]

[256]

  167.  Mr. Creed    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if his Department has carried out an assessment of the number of patients requiring medical care for gender identity disorder; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are only two doctors in the State treating this condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13148/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The provision of resources for the treatment of individuals suffering from gender identity disorder or for the referral abroad of patients for gender realignment surgery is a matter for individual health boards. My Department has not carried out any assessment of the number of patients involved. I have asked the chief executive officer of each board to respond directly to the Deputy.

  168.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13186/99]

  169.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13201/99]

  170.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13216/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  There are no international multilateral agreements under the auspices of my Department currently being negotiated or prepared.

In regard to international agreements signed by the State but not ratified, the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of Intercountry Adoption was signed by Ireland on 19 June 1996. Before the convention can be ratified in Ireland, it will be necessary to give it the force of law in the State. Legislation [257] for this purpose is being prepared in my Department at present.

[258]

  171.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary legislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13231/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The position regarding implementation of EC, ECSC or EURATOM Directives which fall under the responsibility of the Minister for Health and Children is as follows:

Reference Number, Date and Subject of Directive Due Date for Implementation Timetable for Implementation Mode of Implementation
Council Directive 96/85/EC of 19 December 1996 amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners 28 June 1997 July 1999 StatutoryInstrument(S.I.)
Directive 96/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996 amending Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs 31 December 1997 July 1999 S.I.
Commission Directive 98/28/EC of 29 April 1998 granting a derogation from certain provisions of Directive 93/43/EEC on the hygiene of foodstuffs as regards the transport by sea of bulk raw sugar 1 August 1998 July 1999 S.I.
Directive 97/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 1997 amending for the third time Directive 88/344/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the member states on extraction solvents used in the production of foodstuffs and food ingredients 27 October 1998 July 1999 S.I.
Commission Directive 98/36/EC of 2 June 1998 amending Directive 96/5/EC on proposed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children 31 December 1998 July 1999 S.I.
Commission Directive 98/66/EC of 4 September 1998 amending Directive 95/31/EC laying down specific criteria of purity concerning sweeteners for use in foodstuffs 1 July 1999 1 July 1999 S.I.
Commission Directive 98/86/EC of 11 November 1998 amending Commission Directive 96/77/EC laying down specific purity criteria on food additives other than colours and sweeteners 1 July 1999 1 July 1999 S.I.
Commission Directive 1992/21/EC of 25 March 1999 on dietary foods for special medical purposes 30 April 2000 30 April 2000 S.I.
Directive 98/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 October 1998 amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners 4 May 2000 4 May 2000 S.I.
Directive 1999/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 on the approximation of the laws of the member states concerning foods and food ingredients treated with ionising radiation 20 September 2000 20 September 2000 S.I.
Directive 1999/3/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 on the establishment of a Community list of foods and food ingredients treated with ionising radiation 20 September 2000 20 September 2000 S.I.
Commission Directive 98/53/EC of 16 July 1998 laying down the sampling methods and the methods of analysis for the official control of the levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs 31 December 2000 31 December 2000 S.I.
Council Directive 97/43/EURATOM of 30 June 1997 on the health protection of individuals against the dangers of ionising radiation in relation to medical exposure May 2000 May 2000 S.I.
Directive 98/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 1998 on the approximatioin of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the member states relating to advertising and sponsorship of tobacco products July 2001 July 2001 No decision taken yet on method of transposition
Council Directive 86/609/EC of 24 November 1986 regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes Already transposed but further
amendment required
October 1999 S.I.
Commission Directive 98/62/EC of 3 September 1998 adapting to technical progress Annexes II, VI and VII to Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the member states relating to cosmetic products 30 June 1999 30 June 1999 S.I.

[259]

  172.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13246/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act, which was enacted in July 1998, came into force on 1 January 1999. A commencement order is required for Part IV of the Act which deals with the enforcement of food safety standards. Negotiations are ongoing between the FSAI and the official agencies listed in the Second Schedule of the Act on entering into service contracts. Following agreement, a commencement order will be made.

The Health (Mental Services) Act, 1981, was not brought into force as its provisions were overtaken by provisions in international law which [260] require different safeguards against improper detention than those provided under the Act. The general thrust of the Act has been superseded by developments in the psychiatric services.

The provisions of section 47 (1) of the Health Act, 1970, regarding appeals were not brought formally into effect but procedures have been operating informally in all health boards. Proposals for the amendment of these procedures in order to provide for a more customer focused service are currently being examined.

  173.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13261/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  Statutory instruments being prepared under the auspices of my Department are:

Title of Statutory Instrument Effect
European Communities (Food Additives Other Than Colours and Sweeteners) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Council Directive 96/85/EC of 19 December 1996 amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners
European Communities (Additives, Colours and Sweeteners in Foodstuffs) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Directive 96/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 December 1996 amending Directive 94/35/EC on sweeteners for use in foodstuffs
European Communities (Hygiene of Foodstuffs) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Commission Directive 98/28/EC of 29 April 1998 granting a derogation from certain provisions of Directive 93/43/EEC on the hygiene of foodstuffs as regards the transport by sea of bulk raw sugar
European Communities (Extraction Solvents in Foodstuffs) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Directive 97/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 1997 amending for the third time Directive 88/344/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the member states on extraction solvents used in the production of foodstuffs and food ingredients
European Communities (Processed Cereal-Based Foods and Baby Foods for Infants and Young Children) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Commission Directive 98/36/EC of 2 June 1998 amending Directive 96/5/EC on processed cereal-based foods and baby foods for infants and young children
European Communities (Additives, Colours and Sweeteners in Foodstuffs) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Commission Directive 98/66/EC of 4 September 1998 amending Directive 95/31/EC laying down specific criteria of purity concerning sweeteners for use in foodstuffs
European Communities (Purity criteria on Food Additives Other Than Colours and Sweeteners) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Commission Directive 98/86/EC of 11 November 1998 amending Commission Directive 96/77/EC laying down specific purity criteria on food additives other than colours and sweeteners
European Communities (Dietary Foods for Special Medical Purposes) Regulations, 2000 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Commission Directive 1999/21/EC of 25 March 1999 on dietary foods for special medical purposes
European Communities (Food Additives Other Than Colours and Sweeteners) (Amendment) Regulations, 2000 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Directive 98/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 October 1998 amending Directive 95/2/EC on food additives other than colours and sweeteners
[261] Title of Statutory Instrument Effect
European Communities (Foods and Food Ingredients Treated With Ionising Radiation) Regulations, 2000 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Directive 1999/2/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 on the approximation of the laws of the member states concerning foods and food ingredients treated with ionising radiation
European Communities (Foods and Food Ingredients Treated With Ionising Radiation) Regulations, 2000 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Directive 1999/3/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 February 1999 on the establishment of a Community list of foods and food ingredients treated with ionising radiation
European Communities (Sampling Methods and Methods of Analysis for the Official Control of the Levels for Certain Contaminants in Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2000 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Commission Directive 98/53/EC of July 16 1998 laying down the sampling methods and the methods of analysis for the official control of the levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs
European Communities (Health Protection of Individuals Against the Dangers of Ionising Radiation in Relation to Medical Exposure) Regulations, 2000 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Council Directive 97/43/EURATOM Health protection of individuals against the dangers of ionising radiation in relation to medical exposure
European Communities (Protection of Animals Used for Experimental and other Scientific Purposes) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Council Directive 86/609/EC regarding the protection of animals used for experimental and other scientific purposes
European Communities (Radiological and Nuclear Medicine Installations) Regulations, 1999 Harmonisation of the laws of the member states i.e. Internal Market by giving effect to Council Directive 97/43/EURATOM Health protection of individuals against the dangers of ionising radiation in relation to medical exposure
Amendment to the Blood Transfusion Service Board (Establishment) Order, 1965. To establish on a statutory basis a national haemovigilance function within the BTSB. The proposed amendment will underpin the importance of this function, the development of which is recommended in the Finlay Report.
Health (Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreement) Regulations, 1999. To revoke the Health (Community Pharmacy Contractor Agreement) Regulations, 1996 and will specify the criteria and procedures to be followed by chief executive officers of Health Boards when determining the issue of community pharmacy contractor agreements for the provision of community pharmacy services unde the Health Act, 1970.
Untitled Statutory Instrument being prepared to transpose EU Directive 98/70 into Irish law. The purpose of the statutory instrument is to regulate the placing on the Irish market and putting into service of in vitro diagnostic medical devices.
Medicinal Products (Sale of Paracetamol) Regulations The purpose of these regulations is to restrict the sale of medicinal products containing paracetamol in line with recommendations made by the Irish Medicines Board.
Medicinal Products (Labelling and Package Leaflet) (Amendment) Regulations The purpose is to give powers of enforcement under the principal regulations to the Irish Medicines Board.
Medicines Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) (Amendment) Regulations The purpose being to update the schedules to the principal regulations setting those medicinal products subject to prescription control.
Medicinal Products (Amendment) Regulations The purpose of these regulations is to substitute the term “medicinal product” for the term “medicinal preparation” in the number of existing statutory instruments relating to the licensing and control of medicinal products in line with current accepted terminology.
European Communities (Cosmetics Products) (Amendment) Regulations The purpose is to give effect to 23rd Commission Directive 98/62/EC of 3 September 19998 adapting to technical progress Annexes II, III, IV, and VII to Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of laws of the member states relating to cosmetic products.
Untitled The purpose will be to add a number of potentially misusable substances to the Schedules covered by the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 and 1984. The effect of the Regulations will be to make it an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 to possess these substances without an appropriate licence or authority.
[262][263] Title of Statutory Instrument Effect
Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Fees and Allowances) Regulations The purpose is to effect an increase in fees paid to Registrars of Births Deaths and Marriages, Superintendent Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Registrars of Marriages. The fees in question include fees for the registration of events, fees for certified copies of entries, fees for marriage before the registrar and fees for searches in the General Register Office.
Untitled To transfer the functions of the Tallaght Hospital Board to the Adelaide and Meath Hospital Dublin incorporating the National Children's Hospital
St. Luke's and St. Anne's Hospital Board (Revocation) Order To revoke the existing St. Luke's and St. Anne's Hospital Board (Establishment) Order, 1988
St. Luke's Hospital Board (Establishment) Order To set up new Establishment Order following the revocation of the previous St. Luke's and St. Anne's Hospital Board (Establishment) Order, 1988 as a consequence of a development programme.

  174.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13276/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  Proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of my Department, where heads have not been approved by Government are as follows:

(a) Parts of the revised Children's Bill which deals primarily with juvenile justice;

(b) Proposed amendments to the Opticians Act, 1956;

(c) Proposed amendments to the Health Act, 1970;

(d) Proposed amendments to the Dentists Act, 1985;

(e) Proposed legislation necessary to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption;

(f) Proposed legislation on post-adoption contract;

(g) Proposed amendment to the Nurses Act, 1985;

(h) Legislation to amend-repeal the Meath Hospital Act, 1951, and the Hospitals Federation and Amalgamation Act, 1961;

(i) Statutory registration of certain designated health and social professions and

(j) Amendment of the Medical Practitioners Act, 1978.

  175.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Health and Children    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13294/99]

[264]Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  Proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of my Department where heads have been approved by Government are as follows: A Bill to amend section 59 of the Health Act, 1970, which deals with the supply of drugs under the GMS and community drugs schemes. The Bill will be published in the current Dáil session.

A new Mental Health Bill is currently being prepared in the Office of the Attorney General. It is envisaged that the Bill will be published in the current Dáil session.

  176.  Mr. Kenneally    asked the Minister for Health and Children    if, in relation to the need to expand the dialysis service at Waterford Regional Hospital, his attention has been drawn to the fact that it is costing up to £30,000 on an annualised basis to provide transport for a patient to and from Dublin; his views on whether this is value for money; if this money could be better spent on expanding the service within the region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13327/99]

Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen):  The provision of renal dialysis at Waterford Regional Hospital is a matter for the South Eastern Health Board in the first instance. A new dialysis unit was opened there in March 1997, catering for 32 patients per week as part of the major capital development at the hospital. In 1998, I approved additional funding of £200,000 to enable the hospital to provide a service to further patients that required dialysis as demand for the service grew. As a result, a total of 42 patients are now attending the unit each week.

I am aware that further demand for access to this service exists and my Department will continue to work with the South Eastern Health Board in identifying and addressing the board's overall service development needs. In this regard, expansion of dialysis services will continue to be considered in the context of the board's competing priorities.

[265]

  177.  Mr. Deasy    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    further to Parliamentary Question No. 8 of 19 November 1998, the progress, if any, made on the application submitted by Waterford County Council for the proposed Dungarvan sewerage scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13068/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  This scheme is included in my Department's 1999 water and sewerage services investment programme to advance to construction. The local authority's proposals for the appointment of consultants to prepare contract documents were approved on 26 March 1999.

  178.  Mr. D. Carey    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    if he has received an application from Clare County Council for permission to advertise Quilty sewerage scheme during 1999; the current status in view of the fact substantial local infrastructural development is being delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13094/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  I have not received such an application.

I approved Clare County Council's proposals to update the preliminary report for this scheme last year and the scheme is included in this year's water and sewerage services investment programme to be advanced through planning. The updated preliminary report is awaited from the council.

  179.  Mr. D. Carey    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    if he has received an application from Clare County Council for permission to advertise Feakle sewerage scheme during 1999; the current status in view of the fact substantial local infrastructural developments are being delayed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13095/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  Contract documents for the proposed sewerage scheme are with my Department and, last November, the local authority sought approval to renew the appointment of the consulting engineers in order to review the scheme and prepare an up-to-date preliminary report.

As the scheme is not included in the 1999 water and sewerage services investment programme, it comes within the terms of my Department's circular letter L9/98 of 22 October 1998. This circular asked each local authority to undertake a fresh assessment of the needs for capital works in its area and to prepare a prioritised list of projects based on the assessment. The priority lists will be taken into consideration by my Department in [266] framing future water and sewerage services investment programmes under the next National Development Plan 2000-2006. In the meanwhile, the scheme will be considered along with all the other competing proposals under the rural towns and villages initiative. Details of the schemes in Clare to be funded under this initiative will be announced as soon as possible.

  180.  Mr. Stagg    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    if he has received a submission from Kildare County Council in relation to the development of a new library, civic offices, community centre and Garda station at Newtown, Leixlip; when a decision will be made on the submission; the capital funding available to assist the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13130/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  The capital allocation for library projects was increased from £2.76 million in 1998 to £7.2 million this year.

Against this background, I wrote to all local authorities recently, requesting them to update and, where appropriate, prioritise all their library proposals. The local authoritiesWP extended char 4,28 responses, including that of Kildare County Council, are currently being evaluated in my Department.

  181.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13187/99]

  182.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13202/99]

[267]

  183.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13217/99]

[268]Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 181 to 183, inclusive, together.

The information requested is set out in the following tables:

International Agreements under negotiation:

Agreement International Organisation Proposed Action
Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Signature of these agreements, including possible legislative requirements, will be considered on completion of the negotiations
Draft Protocol on Nox, SO2, Ammonia and VOCs to the Geneva Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution UN/ECE
Instrument for implementing international action on certain persistent organic pollutants (POPs) UNEP

International Agreements signed but not ratified

Agreement Date and Place Opened for Signature International Organisation Proposed Action
Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo) 25 February 1991
Espoo, Finland
UN/ECE It is intended to ratify in 1999. Secondary legislation will be required.
European Charter of Local Self Government 15 October 1985
Strasbourg
Council of Europe It is intended to ratify. Dail approval to ratification will be sought as part of the renewal programme for Local Government.
Agreement concerning the adoption of Uniform conditions for Periodical Technical Inspections of Wheeled Vehicles and the Reciprocal Recognition of Such Inspections 13 November 1997
Vienna
UN/ECE Ratification and necessary legislation (if any) under consideration.
Protocol (Kyoto) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 16 March 1998
New York
United Nations Arrangements for ratification will be made in conjunction with ratification by the EU and its member states. Need for legislation is under consideration.
Draft Protocol on Persistent Organic Pollutants to the Geneva Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution 25 June 1998
Aarhus
UN/ECE Ratification and necessary legislation (if any) under consideration.
Draft Protocol on Heavy Metals to the Geneva Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution 25 June 1998
Aarhus
UN/ECE Ratification and necessary legislation (if any) under consideration.
Convention on Access to Environmental Information and Public Participation in Environmental Decision-making 25 June 1998
Aarhus
UN/ECE Ratification and necessary legislation (if any) under consideration.
Montreal Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone Layer Signature was not required UNEP Ratification and necessary legislation (if any) under consideration.

International Agreements not signed

Agreement Date and Place Opened for Signature International Organisation Proposed Action
Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes 17 March 1992
Helsinki
UN/ECE It is intended to sign. The need for legislation is under consideration.
[269] Agreement Date and Place Opened for Signature International Organisation Proposed Action
Protocol to the 1979 Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution concerning the control of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or their transboundary fluxes 18 November 1991
New York
UN/ECE Signature is contingent on the implementation of a number of EU Directives in relation to VOCs.
Assessment of any additional legislative requirements will be undertaken.
Convention on Civil Liability for Damage resulting from activities dangerous to the environment. 21 June 1993
Lugano
Council of Europe While there are no current proposals for Irish participation, the matter is being kept under review.

I am aware of a number of other international agreements (1949-75), primarily in the road traffic area, in which Ireland has not participated.

[270]

  184.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13232/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  The directives in question are set out in the following table:

Ref No Subject Date of Adoption Deadline for Implementtation Mode of Implementtation Current Position
76/464/EEC Establishment of water quality standards for certain dangerous substances under the Dangerous Substances Directive 4/5/76 No deadline specified in Directive S.I. Water quality standards for phosphorus were made in July, 1998 and statutory provision will shortly be made for water quality standards for a range of other dangerous substances.
91/439/EEC Driving Licences 29/7/91 1/7/96 S.I. Majority of provisions already implemented; balance to be implemented in 1999.
91/676/EEC Designation of vulnerable zones under the Nitrates Directives and related issues 12/12/91 19/12/93 S.I. Specific statutory provision to be made and vulnerable zones to be designated in 1999 if applicable.
96/53/EC (consolidated text) Plating of certain vehicles with their maximum weights and dimensions 25/7/96 17/9/97 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999
96/53/EC
(consolidated text)
Increased weight limits for certain vehicles circulating in international traffic 25/7/96 31/12/98 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999.
96/61/EC Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control 24/9/96 29/10/99 Primary Legislation Will be implemented in 1999 by means of amendment to EPA Act, 1992
97/26/EC Driving Licences 2/6/97 1/1/98 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999
97/68/EC Emission of gaseous and particulate pollutants from engines in non-road mobile machinery 16/12/97 30/6/98 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999.
98/15/EC Urban Waste Water Treatment 27/2/98 30/9/98 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999.
98/69/EC Standards for new vehicles 13/10/98 01/01/2001 S.I. Regulations will be made to meet implementation date of 1/1/2001.
98/70/EC Quality of petrol and diesel fuels 13/10/98 1/1/00 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999.
98/77/EC Standards for new vehicles 2/10/98 1/10/99 S.I. Regulations to be made in 1999.
98/81/EC Contained use of genetically modified micro-organisms 26/10/98 5/6/00 S.I. Regulations to be made to meet implementation date.
98/83/EC Drinking Water 31/11/98 25/12/00 S.I. Regulations will be made in 2000.
[271] Ref No Subject Date of Adoption Deadline for Implementtation Mode of Implementtation Current Position
99/13/EC Limitation of Emissions of VOC compounds 11/3/99 April 2001 S.I. Regulations to be made to meet implementation date of April 2001.

[272]

  185.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13247/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  The information requested is set out in the following table:

Details of Act Relevant Sections not Commenced Proposals to Make CommencementOrder(s)
Housing Act, 1966 Section 115 There are no plans to commence this section as there are broader provisions in relation to voting by local authority elected members in the Local Government Acts.
Housing Act, 1988 Section 8 None
Electoral Act, 1997 Sections 78 and 79 Section 78 will not be commenced until consultations with An Post have taken place on implications of the operation of the arrangements for An Post.
Section 79 will not be commenced until consultations with returning officers enables an assessment to be made of operational implications of that provision.
Local Government Act, 1955 Section 5 for the purpose of the repeal of Section 26 of the Local Government Act, 1941, and Section 39 of the Local Government Act, 1946 None
Local Government Act, 1991 Part VI and associated repeals. These provisions, adapted as necessary to take account of the local government reform programme, will be restated and included in the legislation to modernise local government law generally to be published later this year.
Section 54(a) Overtaken by Local Government Act, 1994, will not be commenced.
Local Government Act, 1994 Sections 18, 59 and 68(2). These provisions will be repealed in the context of legislation to be published later this year to modernise local government law generally and underpin the programme of renewal.
Local Government Act, 1998 Section 11 It's hoped to commence this Section before the end of the year
Road Traffic Acts, 1961 and 1968. Section 93 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961 as amended by section 61 of the Road Traffic Act, 1968.
Section 58 of the Road Traffic Act, 1968 (which amends Section 86 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961)
It is intended to commence this Section by mid-2000.
None.
Road Traffic Act, 1994 Section 25 It is intended to commence this Section in association with the development of the proposed Penalty Points System.
Finance Act, 1976 Section 68, 69, 70, 72 and 75. None.
Environmental Protection Act, 1992. Sections 93,102 and 103 and parts of the First Schedule. No immediate plans to commence the three sections. The First Schedule is being commenced on a phased basis. the process is complete for new activities. It is ongoing for existing activities and will be completed as soon as possible.
[273] Details of Act Relevant Sections not Commenced Proposals to Make CommencementOrder(s)
Local Government (Water Pollution) Act, 1977. Section 25 None.
Air Pollution Act, 1987 Sections 9 (part of), 20, 21, 22, 23 and 25. Under consideration.
Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act, 1998 Section 25 It is intended to commence the section following the drawing up of a loan scheme which is currently being considered.

  186.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13262/99]

  187.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13277/99]

  188.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13295/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  I propose to take Question Nos. 186 to 188, inclusive, together.

The following Statutory Instruments are under preparation in my Department: regulations to set water quality standards for a range of dangerous substances on foot of obligations arising under the Dangerous Substances Directive (76/464/EEC); regulations to provide for the designation of vulnerable zones under the Nitrates Directive (91/676/EEC); regulations to give effect to Directive 98/15/EC on urban waste water treatment; Irish Water Safety Association (Establishment) Order – to establish a separate body to provide water safety in Ireland; Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Bill, 1999 (Section 6) Order 1999 – to specify a local authority as a specified local authority for the purposes of the Bill; Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Bill, 1999 (Section 25) Order 1999 – to enable research relating to the electronic methods of recording votes on ballot papers by electors and counting of such votes; Local Elections (Forms) Regulations, 1999 – to prescribe forms for furnishing election expenditure statements under the Local Elections (Disclosure of Donations and Expenditure) Bill, 1999; Electoral Act, 1992 (Section 165) Regulations, 1999 – to make pro[274] vision in relation to holding the referendum, European elections and local elections on the same day; regulations to provide for local authority licensing commercial waste collectors; regulations to provide for licensing of mobile waste recovery plant; regulations to provide for the authorisation of specified waste recovery activities involving beneficial use of dredge and construction spoils; regulations to prohibit the marketing of specified batteries and accumulators; regulations dealing with the emissions of gaseous and particulate pollutants from engines in non-road mobile machines-transposing Directive 97/68/EC; regulations dealing with the quality of petrol and diesel fuels – transposing Directive 98/70/EC; regulations to provide for the payment of grants in respect of the provision or improvement of individual water supplies to houses and group water and sewerage schemes; regulations to implement recommendations addressed directly to the Department in the report of the Dublin Taxi Forum; regulations to implement requirements of Directives 91/439/EEC and 97/26/EC dealing with driver licensing; regulations to provide for the entry into service requirements for new vehicles in accordance with Directive 98/69/EC and Directive 98/77/EC; regulations to provide for an increase in the fees chargeable by authorised testers for carrying out tests under the commercial vehicle testing scheme; regulations to provide for additional provisions in relation to the car testing scheme to be introduced in January 2000; regulations to provide for the compulsory plating of certain vehicles with their maximum weights and dimensions; regulations to provide for increases in the maximum permitted weight of certain vehicles in international traffic and to amend the national vehicle height limit; regulations to provide for the administrative arrangements relating to the plating of certain vehicles with their maximum weights and dimensions; regulations to permit the use of flashing amber warning lights on agricultural tractors and certain slow moving vehicles; regulations to provide for the inclusion of Slovenia and Croatia in the definition of the “designated territories” by virtue of both countries becoming parties to the Multilateral Guarantee Agreement Between National Insurers' Bureaux.

The information requested regarding primary legislation is set out in the following tables:

[275] Proposals for Legislation not yet published – Heads approved by Government

Title Purpose of Bill Expected Publication Date
Local Government Bill, 1999 To modernise local government legislation and implement a range of reform measures (four tranches of Heads approved by Government, one tranche yet to be approved) Autumn 1999
Planning and Development Bill, 1999. Revision Bill including the results of the review of Planning Acts, consolidated with all other provisions of the Planning Acts 1963 to 1998. Mid 1999

Proposals for Legislation not yet published – Heads not yet approved by Government

Title Purposes of Bill
Environmental Protection Agency (Amendment) Bill To update legislation in relation to the Environmental Protection Agency
Registration of Building Professions Bill To provide for the registration of the title of “Architect” and “Surveyor“
Road Traffic Bill, To provide for changes in road traffic legislation to implement aspects of the Road Safety Strategy and certain other matters.
Water Services Bill To consolidate and update water services legislation.

  189.  Mr. McGrath    asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government    the revenue collected from motorists in County Westmeath in relation to motor tax in 1998. [13074/99]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey):  The gross motor tax receipts collected from motorists in County Westmeath during 1998 amounted to £5,824,435 – unaudited figures.

  190.  Ms O. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the reason a 17 year old autistic boy (details supplied) in Dublin 18 in the care of the Eastern Health Board has been refused even a partial disability allowance, thereby depriving him of any income; and when the policy on the payment of disability allowance in these cases was changed. [13113/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  Disability allowance is not payable where a person is resident in full-time institutional care where the cost of their care and maintenance is being met in whole or in part by or on behalf of a health board.

This provision has been a feature of the disability allowance scheme since its introduction and previously of the disabled person's maintenance allowance which it replaced.

Regulations introduced in 1997, however, provide for the first time, for payment of disability allowance at half-rate to persons who spend two to three consecutive days a week outside an institution.

The person concerned is resident in an institution and does not currently satisfy the minimum periods of residence outside institutional care which are specified in the regulations to qualify for payment of disability allowance. His appli[276] cation was, accordingly, refused by a deciding officer and he was notified of this decision and the reasons for it on 24 February 1999. He was also notified of his right to appeal this decision.

The provision for payment of half-rate disability allowance, in the circumstances outlined, was one of a number of improvements which have been made in the disability allowance scheme since responsibility for the scheme was taken on by my Department. The possibility of further improvement of the scheme is a matter for consideration in a budgetary context.

  191.  Ms Shortall    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    if he will address the discrepancy in the operation of free schemes highlighted in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 whereby, in spite of satisfying all other conditions, she is denied the benefit due to the fact she is not considered dependent on her husband; if both spouses would qualify for the scheme if either spouse in the case cited had the other's payment; his views on whether many households with substantially far greater income and potentially less social insurance contributions than in the case cited may qualify under the scheme; his further views on whether this is fair on these couples; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13114/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  The person concerned, who is in receipt of a retirement pension from my Department, applied for a free electricity allowance/television licence on 16 July 1998 and a free telephone rental allowance on 19 August 1998.

One of the conditions for receipt of a free electricity allowance/television licence is that the applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying payment and be living alone or only with certain excepted persons. In this case the applicant is residing with her husband who is not an excepted person as he is not a dependant on her retirement [277] pension or in receipt of a qualifying payment in his own right or does not require constant care and attention. In relation to the free telephone rental allowance where an applicant is not living alone the person with whom they reside must be so incapacitated as to be unable to summon assistance in an emergency. The medical evidence supplied was insufficient to allow the spouse to satisfy this condition. Accordingly, both applications were refused.

However, it is possible for the spouse in this case to qualify for a free electricity allowance/television licence if he satisfies a means test. He would also have to be the registered consumer of electricity. The excepted person condition would be satisfied by virtue of the fact that the person concerned is in receipt of a qualifying payment. I have arranged for the appropriate application form to issue directly to him.

The person concerned can reapply for a free telephone rental allowance and submit additional medical evidence for a decision as to whether either she or her spouse are so incapacitated as to be unable to summon help in an emergency. An application form has issued to the couple to allow them to reapply for the allowance.

Should the couple reapply for the allowances, a decision will be made on their applications as quickly as possible and they will be informed of the outcome.

It should be noted that entitlement to the free schemes is not dependent on social insurance. The general issues raised by the Deputy are being addressed in the context of a fundamental review of the free schemes which has commenced recently. This review, which is being undertaken by the policy institute in TCD, will be published later this year.

  192.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13188/99]

  193.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13203/99]

[278]

  194.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13218/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 192 to 194, inclusive, together.

There are a series of international agreements and conventions relating to social security which it is open to Ireland to become a party to or to ratify. Details relating to the main such instruments follow.

The European code of social security, drawn up by the Council of Europe, lays down minimum standards in this field. The code was opened for signature on 16 April 1964. Ireland has ratified the code and accepted five parts relating to sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, old-age benefit, family benefit and survivor's benefit, respectively. It has not been possible to date to ratify the remaining four parts dealing with medical care, employment injury benefit, maternity benefit and invalidity benefit, but these parts are subject to review to establish whether ratification has become possible. A revised code was opened for signature by member states of the Council of Europe on 6 November 1990. Ireland has not signed nor ratified this revised code to date.

Ireland has ratified a similar ILO Convention No. 102 concerning minimum standards of social security on 17 June 1968 and accepted parts of the convention relating to sickness benefit, unemployment benefit and survivor's benefit. A similar review procedure in relation to its unratified parts, medical care, old age benefit, employment injury benefit, family benefit, maternity benefit and invalidity benefit, applies as in the case of the European code.

Detailed provisions for the co-ordination of social security schemes throughout the European Union and European economic area are contained in Council Regulations (EEC) Nos. 1408/71 and 574/72. These regulations provide for the co-ordination of social security schemes for employed and self-employed persons, students and members of the families of such persons moving throughout the European Union and the European economic area. The regulations also cover refugees and stateless persons who are residing in an EU/EEA member state as well as members of their family, regardless of their nationality, and their survivors.

The Council of Europe's European Convention on Social Security was opened for signature by the member states of the Council of Europe on 14 December 1972, and was signed by Ireland on 23 February 1979.

[279] The convention is designed to ensure, in each ratifying country, equality of treatment in social security for nationals of other ratifying countries and for refugees and stateless persons and also to ensure that entitlement to social security benefits is maintained despite changes of residence within such countries.

To date, eight of the member states of the Council of Europe viz. Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Turkey, have ratified the convention.

All, except Turkey, are members of the European Union and, accordingly, the social security entitlements of persons moving between Ireland and those countries are already protected by the EU regulations on social security.

Consideration will be given to the signing and ratification of a protocol to this convention, which was opened for signature on 11 May 1994, in the context of any future review as to whether Ireland should ratify the main convention. The protocol has been signed by three countries – Austria, Greece and Luxembourg – but has not been ratified by any of them.

Information sought in relation to other multilateral agreements is being provided by my Government colleagues who have primary responsibility.

  195.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13233/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  There is currently one directive relating to my Department which [280] remains to be transposed into Irish law. This is Council Directive 98/49/EC on the safeguarding of the supplementary pension rights of employed and self employed persons moving within the European Community, which was adopted on 29 June 1998.

The directive primarily deals with the preservation of benefits, disclosure of information and payment of occupational pensions across borders for workers who move from one member state to another. It also provides for workers who are posted abroad to be allowed to stay in their occupational schemes and to be exempt from joining such a scheme in the country to which they are posted.

Member states are required to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative arrangements necessary to comply with the directive not later than 25 July 2001.

As I stated in my reply to Question No. 263 of 30 March 1999, my Department is actively engaged with the pensions board in bringing forward the legislative changes that will be required to implement the directive. It is expected at this stage that some changes to primary legislation will be necessary and these will be incorporated into a new Pensions Bill to be published later this year or early in 2000.

  196.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13248/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  The Social Welfare Act, 1999, was passed on 1 April 1999 and the sections listed below have yet to be commenced. The remaining provisions of earlier social welfare Acts in respect of which commencement orders have not been made are also set out in the following table:

Relevant Provision General Outline
Social Welfare Act, 1999 Section 10 provides for the extension of carer's allowance to cover carers of children in respect of whom domiciliary care allowance is payable, and carers of people aged between 16 and 65 years not in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment but requiring full-time care and attention.
It further provides for modification of the residency condition, and for the relaxation of the requirement to provide full-time care and attention. It is planned to bring these provisions into effect from August 1999.
Section 11 provides for the introduction of an annual respite care grant of £200 to qualified carers as a contribution towards the cost of respite care. This section will be brought into effect from the beginning of June 1999.
Section 12 provides for the application of the current £150 weekly disregard in respect of the spouse of a carer to the couple's joint income, and the provision of a £75 disregard to a single carer's income. This provision will be brought into effect from August 1999.
Section 13 contains a number of amendments to the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993, consequent on the provisions in section 10 outlined above and will also come into effect from August 1999.
[281] Relevant Provision General Outline
Section 20 provides for a change in the arrangements for payment of disability allowance for recipients admitted to hospital or institutional care. It will be brought into effect from 1 August 1999.
Section 29 introduces a time limit of 21 days for the submission of appeals in relation to social welfare entitlements to the Circuit Court in certain circumstances (in line with arrangements for appeals made to the Social Welfare Appeals Office).
Section 30 empowers officers of my Department assigned to the Criminal Assets Bureau to determine or to revise a decision on entitlement to supplementary welfare allowance in certain cases.
Both sections 29 and 30 will be brought into effect later this year.
Social Welfare Act, 1998 Section 17 provides for actuarial reviews of the social insurance fund to be undertaken on a five yearly basis and will be commenced later this year.
Social Welfare Act, 1997 Section 29 provides regulatory powers which will be used to determine the amount which a liable relative is required to contribute. It is planned to introduce the relevant regulations under this section later this year.
Part IV provides for the introduction of a new sickness allowance scheme. The overall purppose of the proposed sickness allowance scheme will be reviewed this year as part of the review of the income maintenance schemes for people with illness/disability. All those who would have qualified for sickness allowance are currently being catered for through other payments, such as supplementary welfare allowance.
Section 26 (1) (b) contains regulatory powers to prescribe the provisions to benefit and privilege in the context of means assessment. The relevant regulations will be introduced later this year.
Social Welfare (No. 2) Act, 1995 Section 10 (4) provides regulatory social welfare powers under which a divorced person may receive a qualified adult allowance in respect of more than one person.
An interdepartmental working group is currently examining the treatment of different types of households under both the tax and social welfare systems. In the context of that group's report which I expect to receive shortly, I will be examining the whole area of qualified adult allowances, including the commencement of this provision.
Social Welfare Act, 1995 Section 22 provides regulatory powers, designed to standardise the arrangements applying to various social welfare schemes, in relation to absence from the State. It is planned to introduce the relevant regulations later this year.
Social Welfare Act, 1994 Section 20 provides for the integration of injury benefit and unemployability supplement, payable under the benefits scheme, with disability benefit.
The overall role of occupational injuries benefit payments will be included in the review of sickness/disability schemes taking place this year. Decisions on the implementation of this section will be taken in the light of the findings of this review.

  197.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13263/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  The following is the information requested by the Deputy.

Social Welfare (Consolildated Payments Provisions) (Amendment) (No. 2) (Increase in Rates) Regulations, 1999 will provide for increases in the rates of maternity and adoptive benefits from June 1999; increases in reduced rates of certain social insurance benefits and of certain qualified adult allowances, from June 1999.

Social Welfare (Occupational Injuries) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 will provide for increases in reduced rates of occupational injury benefits from June 1999.

[282] Social Welfare (Rent Allowance) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 will provide for an increase in the means disregard for entitlement to a rent allowance from June 1999.

Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) (Amendment) (Respite Care Grant) Regulations, 1999 will provide for the payment of the new respite care grant from June 1999.

Carer's Allowance Regulations will provide from August 1999 for the following matters: the relaxation of rules with regard to full-time care and attention; the amendment of the weekly income disregard for carers and their spouses; the conditions under which a carer will be regarded as residing with the caree.

Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 will provide for the following matters: technical amendments in relation to the new farm assist scheme; increase in the upper limit for retention of the qualified adult allowance from £90 to £105 per week from October 1999; provisions relating to the assessment of benefit and privilege for the purposes of entitlement to unemployment assist[283] ance; provisions relating to late claims and claims made on behalf of a deceased person; compensation in respect of loss of purchasing power on claiming social welfare payments.

Social Welfare (Control) Provisions Regulations, 1999 will require emloyers in certain specified industries to keep on-site records of employees.

Social Welfare (Temporary Provisions) Regulations, 1999 will provide for the payment of Christmas bonus in December 1999.

Social Welfare (Contributions and Insurability) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 will provide for changes in the arrangements for refund of employers' PRSI contributions in respect of persons employed on certain EU registered ships.

Occupational Injuries (Consolidated) Regulations, 1999 will consolidate existing provisions relating to occupational injuries scheme.

Social Welfare (Consolidated Payments Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations, 1999 will consolidate the provisions with regard to absence from the State and imprisonment in relation to entitlement to social welfare payments.

Occupational Pension Scheme (Funding Standard) Regulations, 1999 will amend the list of public service occupational pension schemes excluded from the application of the funding standard.

  198.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13278/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  My Department is developing proposals for legislation in two areas: (1) Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths Bill. My Department has taken over responsibility for updating the legislation governing the system of registration of births, deaths and marriages. The existing legislation governing this system dates back to the 1850's and needs to be thoroughly examined and overhauled so that a more modern civil registration system can be put in place to meet current and future needs.

Proposals to underpin the modernisation of the service are currently being formulated and progressed in co-operation with the Department of Health and Children, the General Register Office and other interested parties. Legislative developments will flow directly from this process. It is my intention to bring forward legislation in the form of a new Bill as soon as practicable to provide for the modernisation of the service.

(2) Pensions Bill – Following the publication of the Pensions Board report on the national pen[284] sions policy initiative Securing Retirement Income, in July 1998, I outlined the Government's response to the main recommendations. My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance and the pensions board are currently examining the main recommendations in the report with a view to introducing appropriate legislation later this year. Among the issues to be addressed in the Bill will be the Pensions Board proposals in relation to access, preservation, revaluation and integration issues; the framework to enable the introduction of personal retirement savings accounts; Pensions Board proposals in existing or forthcoming reports to the Minister on a number of issues such as surpluses, compensation fund, minimum funding standards, additional voluntary contributions and the establishment of a Pensions Ombudsman; necessary amendments on foot of the operation/monitoring of the existing Pensions Act currently being considered by the pensions board; changes in relation to occupational pensions which are needed to implement E.U. Directive 98/49/EC on the safeguarding of the supplementary pension rights of employed and self-employed persons moving within the European Union; and necessary amendments in the pensions area on foot of the Employment Equality Act, also being considered by the pensions board at present.

  199.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13296/99]

Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern):  The Government has approved the drafting of legislation to establish a new agency, to be known as Comhairle, which will be responsible for the provision of independent information, advice and advocacy services throughout the country. This new agency, which will operate under the aegis of my Department, will combine the current functions of the National Social Service Board (NSSB) with relevant functions of the National Rehabilitation Board (NRB). The necessary legislation is currently being prepared and I hope to publish it later this year.

This move towards a new integrated agency follows a Government decision to replace the NRB with a new National Disability Authority and to transfer certain functions of the NRB to a number of existing agencies or Government Departments.

The improvement of information and support services for people with disabilities was among the key recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities. The establishment of the new agency, Comhairle, will ensure that services for people with disabilities will become an integral [285] part of an enhanced mainstream information, advice and advocacy service for all citizens, by utilising and building on the resources and expertise of both existing organisations.

The board of Comhairle was appointed in November of last year. In the meantime, pending the enactment of the necessary legislation, the board will act as the board for the National Social Service Board.

  200.  D'fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley    den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta, Gaeltachta agus Oileán    an eol dí nach bhfuil teacht ar Theilifís na Gaeilge i bpáirteanna de Chloich Cheann Fhaola; agus an bhfuil aon phleananna ina Roinn leis an fhadhb a réiteach. [13093/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  Baineann an cheist atá árdaithe ag an Teachta le gnáth-fhreagrachtaí Údarás RTÉ ó lá go lá agus níl aon fheidhm reachtúil agam sa chás.

Mar sin féin, tá mé sásta, i gcomhréir le sean-chleachtais, eolas atá faighte agam ó RTÉ, mar fhreagra ar cheisteanna sonracha a cuireadh orthu i ndáil le feabhas a chur ar an bhfáil atá ar sheirbhísí chraolacháin náisiúnta RTÉ, a chur ar fáil don Teach.

Tuigim ó RTÉ go raibh i gceist, sular cuireadh tús le Teilifís na Gaeilge, tarchuradóir a lonnú ag an bhFál Carrach agus go raibh dhá láithreán aimsithe i gceantar Chloich Cheann Fhaola ach gur diúltaíodh cead pleanála ar dhá ócáid ar leith.

Tuairiscíonn RTÉ anois go bhfuil cead pleanála faighte acu don tríú láithreán agus go gcuirfear tús leis an obair chun an tarchuradóir a lonnú ann go luath. Nuair a bheidh an obair sin críochnaithe deir RTÉ go mbeidh teacht ag lucht féachana Chloich Cheann Fhaola ar chláracha Theilifís na Gaeilge.

  201.  Mr. Ring    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the way in which Údarás na Gaeltachta can sell a State asset without advertising the property on the open market; and if a sale was made to a third party (details supplied) from Údarás in the recent past. [13117/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Éamon Ó Cuív):  I understand from Údarás na Gaeltachta that in the special circumstances of the case in question in which the land has been in the occupancy of the third party for a considerable number of years and in the context of a proposal from another party to establish an undertaking on a portion of the lands in question, the organisation agreed to sell a portion of the land to the third party and the other portion to the company proposing to establish an enterprise thereon.

[286]

  202.  Mr. Ring    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    if a road (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved for Gaeltacht funding in 1999 in view of the fact that it was turned down for funding in the past two consecutive years. [13118/99]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Éamon Ó Cuív):  The application received by my Department under Scéim na mBóithre Áise for the repair of the road referred to by the Deputy will be considered when decisions on the applications to be funded under the scheme are next being made.

  203.  Mr. Aylward    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    if she will arrange with the Office of Public Works to have approval given to FÁS in Kilkenny to allow necessary works be carried out to an old cemetery at Woodsgift in County Kilkenny. [13131/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  There is no record of an application having been received in my Department in relation to works at this cemetery. If a formal written application is made, I can assure the Deputy it will be considered as expeditiously and as favourably as possible in accordance with the guidelines published in my Department's booklet The Care and Conservation of Graveyards and with the operating procedures which are in place between my Department and FÁS.

The Office of Public Works is no longer involved in the vetting of works to graveyards.

  204.  Mr. Aylward    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    if her attention has been drawn to the vandalism of Abbey Castle, Callan, County Kilkenny; and the steps, if any, she proposes to take to prevent the vandalism to this historic site. [13132/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  I assume that the site which the Deputy is referring to is the Augustinian Priory, Callan, County Kilkenny which is, I understand, known locally as the Abbey Castle. The priory is a national monument in the ownership of my Department and it is no longer the responsibility of the Office of Public Works.

I am aware that there have been instances of vandalism at this site. Officials of Dúchas, the heritage service of my Department, are liaising with the gardaí concerning the matter and have reported all incidents that have come to their attention. Grids are being installed at all entrance points to the monument and I am hopeful that [287] these works, together with the assistance of the Garda authorities, will reduce the incidence of vandalism at the site.

  205.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13189/99]

  206.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13204/99]

  207.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of her Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13219/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimhir 205, 206 agus 207 le chéile.

International Agreements currently being negotiated

UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 711 on 28 January 1998.

Ireland has participated in the meetings of governmental experts held to date and it is understood that a further meeting of experts is to be held next year with a view to preparing a text for negotiation at a Diplomatic Conference. While Ireland supports the adoption of this convention, it is likely that legislation would be required to allow for its ratification.

International Agreements not yet signed

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 713 on 28 January 1998.

The European Convention on Transfrontier Television was opened for signature by the Com[288] mittee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1989, in Strasbourg, France. It entered into force on 1 May 1993.

A Protocol to amend the convention was adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 9 September 1998, and opened for acceptance by the parties to the convention on 1 October 1998. The Protocol will enter into force when all parties to the present convention have accepted it or, alternatively, two years after it has been opened for acceptance, i.e. 1 October, 2000, unless a State which is or has become a party to the present convention within three months after the opening for acceptance of the amending Protocol, i.e. before 1 January 1999 at the latest, has notified an objection to this automatic entry into force.

While no proposals have been submitted to Government concerning Ireland signing and ratifying the convention it is my intention for my to initiate contacts with the Department of Foreign Affairs with a view to Ireland signing and ratifying the convention possibly by the year 2000.

The question of signing the Council of Europe – The European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production and developing co-production agreements generally, will be examined in the context of the report of the strategic review group (Think Tank) which I expect to receive very soon.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 269 of 16 June 1998, when the position regarding the Unidroit Convention on the international return of stolen or illegally exported cultural objects was outlined. Legislation is required before ratification can take place and I am currently considering the next steps in this process, having regard to the limited resources at my disposal.

The question of signing the ASCOBANS Agreement under the Bonn Convention (Agreement for the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas) is still under consideration. The agreement was opened for signature in New York in 1992 under the auspices of the United Nations.

I refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 481 of 23 March 1999 in regard to the Council of Europe – The European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and the Council of Europe – The European Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property.

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 713 on 28 January 1998.

International Agreements signed but not ratifiedI refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 712 on 28 January 1998.

My Department is currently reviewing the question of ratification of the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (Hague Convention). Legislation will be necessary to allow for such ratification.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) cannot be ratified until the amendments to the Wildlife Act, 1976, [289] (which I propose to publish during the current parliamentary session) have been enacted.

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds cannot be ratified until the amendments to the Wildlife Act, 1976 – which I propose to publish during the current parliamentary session – have been enacted.

  208.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of her Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13234/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  The following EC Directive under the auspices of my Department is not currently fully implemented:

Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June, 1997, amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the co-ordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in member states concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities.

The deadline for implementing this directive was 31 December 1998.

It is proposed to implement the directive by means of: (a) primary legislation (i.e. the Major Events Television Coverage Bill, 1999, and the soon to be published Broadcasting Bill, 1999); (b) statutory instrument and (c) codes of standards, practice and prohibitions in advertising, sponsorship and other forms of commercial promotion in broadcasting services made by the Minister under section 4 of the Broadcasting Act, 1990.

It is intended that the elements at (b) and (c) above will be effected by the end of September, 1999.

I regard the enactment of the Major Events Television Coverage Bill, 1999, and the Broadcasting Bill, 1999, as an urgent priority.

  209.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13249/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  The only Act for which a commencement order is outstanding [290] is the National Cultural Institutions, Act, 1997, and in that regard I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 44 of 25 November, 1998.

  210.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, her Department; the proposed effect of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13264/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  The statutory instruments are being prepared in my Department for the following purposes: to amend Statutory Instrument No. 251 of 1991, the European Communities (Television Broadcasting) Regulations, 1991 so as to bring into effect in Irish Law some of the provisions of Directive 97/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 June 1997 amending Council Directive 89/552/EEC on the co-ordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in member states concerning the pursuit of television broadcasting activities; to make certain technical amendments to the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, 1997; to update the Údarás na Gaeltachta (Elections) Regulations, 1979 to 1994.

  211.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of her Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13279/99]

  212.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of her Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13297/99]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Miss de Valera):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 211 and 212 together.

Proposals for Legislation where heads are not yet approved by Government.

Heads of the Official Languages Equality Bill are being drafted in my Department. The purpose of this Bill is to define constitutional language rights of citizens and in particular those rights as regards the Irish Language.

The Heads of the Housing (Gaeltacht) (Amendment) Bill are being drafted in my Department. The purpose of this Bill is to review and update the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts.

Work on the preparation of the Heads of a National Parks and Historic Properties Bill has [291] been deferred. While I consider that the provision of a satisfactory legal framework for our national parks and historic properties remains a necessity, I have decided that the issue is one to be developed within the context of the preparation of a National Heritage Plan, on which work is already under way.

Proposals for Legislation where heads have been approved by the Government

The Government has approved the Scheme of Bill in respect of the Broadcasting Bill, 1999, which has as its primary purpose the facilitation of the introduction of digital terrestrial television in Ireland. The Bill is expected to be published later this month.

The Wildlife (Amendment) Bill is at a very advanced stage of preparation and it is expected that it will be published during the current parliamentary session.

The heads of the Údarás na Gaeltachta (No. 2) (Amendment) Bill, 1999, have been approved by Government and it is expected that it will be published in the coming months. This Bill will provide for the restructuring of Údarás na Gaeltachta.

  213.  Mr. McGrath    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    if garda numbers at Castlepollard Garda station, County Westmeath, have been reduced; his views on whether additional Garda manpower is warranted for the area in view of the fact that the town is growing rapidly due to recent housing and commercial developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13073/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The detailed deployment of garda personnel and resources to individual areas is a matter for the Garda authorities who have informed me that the current personnel strength of Castlepollard Garda station as of 18 May 1999, is one sergeant and two gardaí. I am also informed that this number of personnel has remained unchanged for the last six years.

I am further informed that Castlepollard garda station is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday to Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. Outside these hours the sub-district is policed by the district patrol car from Granard station and the divisional traffic corps. There is also one official vehicle, a vanette, allocated to Castlepollard. This vehicle is also utilised by the Multyfarnham sub district.

There is one neighbourhood watch scheme in operation in Castlepollard and one community alert scheme in the sub-district.

The crime situation pertaining to Castlepollard Garda station is as follows:[292]

Year Crimes Detected Percentage Detection Rate
1997* 21 10 48 per cent
1998* 35 21 60 per cent

*Figures are provisional.

The Garda authorities are satisfied that the current policing arrangements in place in Castlepollard are adequate to meet the policing requirements of the area. However, I am assured that the situation will be kept under review and when additional personnel next become available the needs of the Castlepollard sub-district will be considered in the overall context of the needs of other garda districts throughout the country.

  214.  Mr. G. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the status and grade of traffic wardens when first employed by his Department in 1979; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13083/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  Traffic Wardens were appointed by the Garda Commissioner, as ‘authorised persons' under section 103 of the Road Traffic Act, 1961, as amended, by section 64 of the Road Traffic Act, 1968, and are designated as State industrial employees.

  215.  Mr. Higgins (Mayo)    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the facilities which exist at Mountjoy prison for public worship by non-Roman Catholics. [13139/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  A Baptist minister, a Presbyterian minister and a Church of Ireland minister visit Mountjoy prison on a weekly basis and facilities for public worship are provided when required. If a prisoner of any other religion requests a pastoral visit contact is made the religion concerned in order to facilitate this request.

  216.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13190/99]

[293]Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The information requested [294] by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement :

Agreement being negotiated/prepared International organisation involved Whether it is proposed to ratify/accede Will legislation be required
Eurodac EU Yes Legislation may be required.
Optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. UN The Government's decision will be announced in due course. To be examined.
Revision of Brussels Convention on jurisdiction and the enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. EU To be decided in due course. Depends on final form of the instrument.
Revision of Lugano Convention on jurisdiction and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. EU/EFTA To be decided in due course. Yes.
Convention on the Law Applicable to Non-Contractual Obligations. EU To be decided in due course. Depends on final form of the instrument.
Draft International Instrument on Civil Remedies for Compensation for damage resulting from act of corruption. Council of Europe. To be decided in due course. Depends on final form of the instrument.
Draft Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. EU Yes Yes
Draft Convention on Organised Crime. UN It is proposed, depending on the content, to rafity or accede to the agreement if adopted. Likely
Draft Convention on Cyber-Crime. Council of Europe. It is proposed, depending on the content, to ratify or accede to the agreement, if adopted. Probably
A framework for action on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment. EU Yes, if adopted. This will be dependant on the final text.
Draft Joint Action on Asset-Sharing. EU Yes, if adopted. This will be dependant on the final text of the joint action.

  217.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13205/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement:

Agreement Date and place opened for signature International organisation (if any) Whether it is proposed to sign agreement Will legislation be required
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents 14 December 1973, New York United Nations It is intended that Ireland will sign the Convention as soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place Yes
[295] Agreement Date and place opened for signature International organisation (if any) Whether it is proposed to sign agreement Will legislation be required
International Convention against the Taking of Hostages 17 December 1979,
New York
United Nations It is intended that Ireland will sign the Convention as soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place Yes
Convention on the Marking of Plastic Explosives for the Purpose of Detection 1 March 1991, Montreal International Civil Aviation Authority It is intended that Ireland will sign the Convention as soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place Yes
European Convention on Nationality 7 November 1997, Strasbourg Council of Europe Under consideration Under consideration
Second Protocol to the European Convention on Extradition 13 December 1977, Paris Council of Europe It is intended that Ireland will sign the Protocol as soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place
Agreement between the Member States of the European Communities on the Simplification and Modernisation of Methods of transmitting extradition requests 26 May 1989,
San Sebastian
European Union It is intended that Ireland will sign the Agreement as soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place
Agreement on Illicit Traffic by Sea, implementing Article 17 of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances 31 January 1995, Strasbourg Council of Europe It is intended that Ireland sign the Agreement as soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place
Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children 19 October 1996, Hague Hague Conference on Private International Law Signature and ratification is proposed as soon as Protection of Children (Hague Convention) Bill, 1998, is passed Yes

The Deputy will appreciate that signature by Ireland of an international agreement is a matter for decision by Government. There are a considerable number of international multilateral agreements which may impinge, in one form or another, on my Department's areas of responsibilities.

There are other international agreements which have not been signed by Ireland and in respect of which signature has not been proposed or remains under consideration. Many of these agreements are long-standing and vary in their potential application to and interest for the State. should the deputy be concerned to seek the position in relation to any particular international agreement, I shall be glad to furnish him with any available information.

[296]

  218.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13220/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement:[297]

Name of the agreement and date signed Date and place opened for signature International organisation (if any) Whether it is proposed to ratify/accede. If so, when this will occur Will legislation be required
UN Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings.
29 May 1998
New York,
12 January 1998
United Nations Yes: As soon as the necessary implementing legislation is in place Yes
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Signed by Ireland on 21 March 1968
New York,
21 December 1965
United Nations Ratification is proposed as soon as the necesary legislation has been enacted Yes. Further necessary legislation, following the enactment last year of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, is the Equal Status Bill, 1999, which was introduced recently
First Protcol concerning the interpretation by the Court of Justice of the Convention on Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations.
Signed by Ireland: 19 December 1988
Brussles, 19 June 1980 European Union Yes. Measures necessary to ratify the protcol to be reviewed subject to disposal of legisaltive priorities Yes.
Convention on the Accession of Spain and Portugal to the Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations.
Signed by Ireland: 18 May 1992
Funchal, 18 May 1992 European Union Yes. The legislation necessary to ratify the Convention will be dealt with subject to disposal of legislative priorities Yes
European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights.
Signed by Ireland: 25 January 1996
Strasbourg,
25 January 1996
Council of Europe Arrangements to ratify the Convention will be made when certain provisions in the Children Act, 1997, are brought into force Primary legislation will not be required
Convention on Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the Convention on the Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations (as amended) and to the First and Second Protocols on its interpretation by the Court of Justice.
Signed by Ireland: 29 Nember 1996
Brussels, 29 November 1996 European Union Yes. The legislation necessary to enable ratification of convention will be dealt with subject to disposal of legislative priorities Yes
Convention on the Service in the Member States of the European Union of Judicial and Extra Judicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters and the Protocol on the Interpretation of the Convention by the Court of Justice of the European Communities.
Signed by Ireland:
26 May 1997
Brussels, 26 May 1997 European Union Decision deferred pending proposal from Commission on change in form of the Convention This will depend on the outcome of the Commission's proposal
[298][299] Name of the agreement and date signed Date and place opened for signature International organisation (if any) Whether it is proposed to ratify/accede. If so, when this will occur Will legislation be required
Convention on the Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the 1968 Brussels Convention.
Signed by Ireland:
29 November 1996
Brussels, 29 November 1996 European Union Yes. Convention is expected to be ratified shortly Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments Act, 1998, signed on 23 December 1998
Convention on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Matrimonial Matters and the Protocol on its interpretation by the Court of Justice of the European Communities.
Signed by Ireland:
28 May 1998
Brussels, 28 May 1998 European Union Decision deferred pending proposals from Commission on change in form of the Convention This will depend on the outcome of the Commission's proposal
Convention on Simplified Extradition Procedures between the member states of the European Union.
Signed by Ireland:
10 March 1995
Brussels, 10 March 1995 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place
Convention relating to Extradition between the Member States of the European Union.
Signed by Ireland:
27 September 1996
Dublin, 27 September 1996 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place.
United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Signed by Ireland:
28 September 1992
New York, December 1984 United Nations Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, which is before Seanad at present, is in place.
Convention on the Protection of the European Communities Financial Interests
Signed by Ireland:
26 July 1995
Dublin, 26 July 1995 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place
Protocol to the Convention on the Protection of the European Communities Finanicial Interests
Signed by Ireland:
27 September 1996
Brussels, 27 September 1996 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place
Second Protcol to the Convention on the Protection of the European Communities Financial Interests.
Signed by Ireland:
19 June 1997
Brussels, 19 June 1997 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place
[300][301] Name of the agreement and date signed Date and place opened for signature International organisation (if any) Whether it is proposed to ratify/accede. If so, when this will occur Will legislation be required
Protocol to the interpretation, by way of preliminary rulings, by the Court of Justice of the European Communities on the Protection of the European Communities Financial Interests.
Signed by Ireland:
29 November 1996
Brussels, 29 November 1996 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place
Convention on Corruption involving Officials of the EU or of Member States of the EU.
Signed by Ireland:
26 May 1997
Brussels, 26 May 1997 European Union Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place.
Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption.
Signed by Ireland:
7 May 1999
Strasbourg, 27 January 1999 Council of Europe Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is underway is in place
Convention of the Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
Signed by Ireland:
17 December 1997
Paris, 21 November 1997 OECD Yes As soon as the necessary implementing legislation, the preparation of which is under way, is in place
European (Council of Europe) Convention on the Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Firearms by Individuals(1978)
Signed by Ireland:
28 June 1978
Council of Europe Still under consideration No

There are other international agreements which have not been signed by Ireland and in respect of which signature has not been proposed or remains under consideration. Many of these agreements are long-standing and vary in their potential application to and interest for the State. Should the Deputy be concerned to seek the position in relation to any particular international agreement, I shall be glad to furnish him with any available information.

[302]

  219.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13235/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement:

[303]

Directive Subject, date, reference No. Date, implementation due or was due Implementation by Primary or Secondary legislation When it will be implemented
Burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex 97/80/EC. Adopted by Council on 15 December 1997 1 January 2001 Secondary legislation By 1 January 2001
Protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the freedom of movement of such data 94/46/EC 24 October 1998 Bill 1999
To facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained 95/5/EC of 16 February 1998 14 March 2000 To be decided By 14 March 2000

[304]

  220.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13250/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement:

Act (or part of) Whether it is proposed to make a commencement order When commencement order will be made
Employment Equality Act, 1998 Yes The Employment Equality Act, 1998, will be brought into operation as soon as the infrastructure to support it is in place. My Department is working towards a target date of 1 September 1999 for commencement of the Act.
Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments Act, 1998 Yes The Act will be commenced to coincide with Ireland's ratification of the Convention on the Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the 1968 Brussels Convention.
Children Act, 1997: section 11, in so far as it inserts sections 26 and 28 into the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964 Yes As soon as necessary arrangements, in consultation with relevant Departments, are in place.
Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1988, section 47 Under continuing review No date decided upon
Data Protection Act, 1988: sections 6(2) and 10(7)(b) Question of orders to be considered in context of current review of consultative procedures
Refugee Act, 1996, all sections except 1, 2, 5, 22 and 25 Not until amending legislation has been enacted It is not possible to implement the Act as it stands because the structures which the Act envisages would not be capable of handling the level of asylum applications being made in the State. The Minister intends to bring forward amendments to make the Act workable by way of the Immigration Bill, 1999, which is currently at the Select Committee on Justice, Equality and Women's Rights. These amendments are at an advanced stage of preparation and it is expected that they will be published shortly.
[305] Act (or part of) Whether it is proposed to make a commencement order When commencement order will be made
Bail Act, 1997, except section 10 and sections 1 to 4 in respect of the Special Criminal Court Yes Since implementation of the Act has implications for prison accommodation, the position is being kept under review in the light of new accommodation becoming available during the tenure of the present Government, particularly the new remand prison at Cloverhill and the new midlands prison.
Courts Service Act, 1988. All except Parts 1 and 8 and section 36 Yes After a period enabling the Courts Services Transitional Board to prepare for the establishment of the Courts Service.
Section 2 of the Europol Act, 1997, in so far as it applies to the protocol drawn up on the basis of Article K3 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 41 (3) of the Europol Convention (Privileges and Immunities of Europol Employees) Yes A commencement order will be made when all member states have ratified the protocol. It is expected that the two outstanding member states will complete their ratification procedure in the near future
Criminal Justice Location of Victims' Remains) Act, 1999. Yes This order will be made shortly once similar legislation in the United Kindom has been enacted
Sections 15(1) to (3) and 16(1)(b) of the Criminal Evidence Act, 1992, and section 19 of that Act in so far as it relates to the references in it to sections 15(1)(b) and 16(1)(b) Yes The Minister set up a committee in October, 1998, to draw up guidelines for persons video recording out-of-court statements of sexual and physical abuse victims under 14 years of age. The committee expects to report to the Minister later this year when it will be possible to set a timescale for the commencement
Courts and Court Officers Act, 1995 – sections 3(2), 4, 5 and 44 The making of a commencement order is being considered in the context of a review of the position regarding the arrears of appeals before the Supreme Court As soon as possible
Courts (No. 2) Act, 1986 – section 3(2) Under consideration As soon as possible

  221.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13265/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:

Regulations under section 76 of the Employment Equality Act, 1998, prescribing the form to be used to obtain material, information for the purposes of initiating and presenting a case under the Act.

The third and final commencement order under the Europol Act, 1997, will be made as soon as the two EU member states who have not yet ratified the Protocol to the Europol Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of Europol Employees do so. The member states in question are expected to complete the necessary procedures in the near future. Ireland has ratified the Protocol. This S.I. will amend order 51 of the 1997 District Court rules by including in the term “actual and necessary outlay” a sum for mis[306] cellaneous outlay. District Court (Attachment and Committal) Rules, 1998, will introduce a procedure of attachment and committal for contempt of a court order of the District Court. District Court (Custody and Guardianship of Children) Rules, 1999 will amend order 58 of the 1997, District Court rules to include the provisions of the Childrens Act, 1997, and the Guardianship of Children (Statutory Declaration) Regulations, 1998. District Court Districts and Areas (Amendment) and Variation of Days (No.) Order, 1999, will reopen the District Court area of Falcarragh and will include the old District Court area of Dunfanaghy, in County Donegal. District Court Districts and Areas (Amendment) and Variation of Days (No.) Order, 1999, will re-open the District Court area of Dungloe, and will include the old District Court area of Bunbeg, County Donegal.

Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) (Tax Clearance Certificate) Regulations, 1999, will provide for the application of tax clearance procedures to solicitors and barristers who operate under the criminal legal aid scheme. Section 132 of the Finance Act, 1998, amended the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act, 1962, by enabling the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to introduce regulations under the 1962 Act. The regu[307] lations give effect to the requirement that lawyers who wish to be added to or retained on the legal aid panels, which are maintained by the County Registrars and the Minister, furnish a tax clearance certificate, issued by the Collector-General, annually. The Prisons Act, 1970 (Section 7) Order, 1999, will continue in operation section 7 of the Prisons Act, 1970, for a further period of 24 months beginning on 28 June 1999. Section 7 of the Prisons Act, 1970, empowers the Minister to direct the transfer of detainees from St. Patrick's Institution to prison to relieve overcrowding. The Firearms (Temporary Provisions) Act 1998 (Section 4 (5 )) Order, 1999, will provide for the extension of the Act for a final period of 12 months from 14 July 1999. The Explosives Act 1875, (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order, 1999, will transfer functions under the Explosive Act 1875 from the Department of Public Enterprise to my Department. Once commenced, the Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Judgments Act, 1998 (Commencement) Order, 1999, the Act will bring into effect, in Ireland, the Convention on the Accession of Austria, Finland and Sweden to the 1968 Brussels Convention.

Data Protection Act, 1988 (Section 5(1)(d)) (Specification) Regulations, 1999 will update the Data Protection Act, 1988 (Section 5(1)(d) (Specification) Regulations, 1993, (S.I. No. 95 of 1993) in certain respects. The International War Crimes Tribunals Act, 1998 (Section 37) Regulations will enable Ireland to co-operate with an international tribunal as defined in section 2 of the International War Crimes Tribunals Act, 1998. The Criminal Justice Act, 1994 – Regulations under Section 32 of the Act will designate certain professions for the purposes of section 32, relating to measures for the prevention of money laundering. The Criminal Justice (Location of Victims' Remains) Act, 1999 (Independent Commission for the Location of the Victims' Remains) (Privileges and lmmunities) Order, 1999 will make provisions for inviolability, exemptions, facilities and immunities, privileges and rights in relation to the commission.

  222.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13280/99]

  223.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13299/99]

[308]Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 223 together.

I refer the Deputy to the press release on the Government's legislation programme issued by the Office of the Government Chief Whip on 15 April 1999. That programme includes details of Bills in respect of which heads have been approved by the Government and of Bills in respect of which heads are being prepared in the Department and which have yet to be approved by the Government.

Further to that announcement, I would add that the heads of a Bill in relation to certain pension matters are in preparation for submission to Government.

In relation to the Children Bill, 1996, mentioned in section A of the press release, I refer the Deputy to my answer to Questions Nos. 36 and 76 on 5 May 1999.

As respects the sexual offences Bill mentioned in section D of the press release, it is now hoped to publish the Bill in time to enable it to be enacted next session.

  224.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the number of appeals allowed by the Dublin Convention appeals officer in each year since the commencement for Ireland of the convention; the number refused; the number withdrawn; the number on hand; if he will give a breakdown within each year by decisions to allow and refuse appeals in each month; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13304/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The following table sets out the details requested in respect of appeals against determinations of the appointed officer under the Dublin Convention in each of the respective years since commencement of the Dublin Convention in Ireland on 1 September 1997. These were referred to the Dublin Convention appeals officer for decision. The breakdown on a monthly basis within each year is not available.

*1997 1998 1999 Total
Allowed 0 0 0 0
Refused 16 85 35 136
Withdrawn 0 1 0 1
On Hand 0 0 21 21
TOTAL 16 86 56 158

*From 1 September 1997.

[309]

  225.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the instructions given to immigration officers in determining the grant or refusal or leave to land referred to in para graph 2 of the letter from Ms Hope Hanlon of UNHCR; if he will set out a copy of the instructions in his reply or lay a copy before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13305/99]

  226.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the number of persons refused leave to land in each year for the past five years; if he will give a breakdown of the reason for refusal; the number in each year refused under each heading; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13306/99]

  227.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the number of persons invited or required to leave the State upon arrival, though not formally refused leave to land, in each year for the past five years; if he will give a breakdown of the reasons; the number in each year invited or required under each heading; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13308/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 to 227, inclusive, together.

[310] The grounds upon which an immigration officer may refuse leave to land to an alien are set out in Article 5 of the Aliens Order, 1946, (S.R. & 0. No. 395 of 1946) as amended by the Aliens (Amendment) Order, 1975 (S.I. No. 128 of 1975) and the Aliens (Amendment) (No. 2) Order, 1999 (S.I. No. 24 of 1999). The numbers of persons refused leave to land in the years 1994 to 1998 are set out according to the reason for refusal in the following table. This information is not yet available for 1999.

Immigration officers have been provided with written guidelines which set out the statutory definition of a refugee contained in section 2 of the Refugee Act, 1996, and which state that a person should not be returned to a country to which he or she is unable or unwilling to return owing to a fear of persecution nor should he or she be returned to a country where his or her personal safety might be seriously threatened as a result of the political situation there. A copy of these instructions has been forwarded to the Deputy and laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Persons are not invited, nor can they be required, to leave the State upon arrival without being formally refused leave to land.

Breakdown of persons refused leave to land and reason for refusal in last five years

Refusal
Category
Reason for refusal Article # 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994*
A Lack of funds 5 (2) (a) 362 219 110 79 47
B No work permit 5 (2) (b) 93 62 34 22 Nil
C Disease/Illness 5 (2) (c) 2 1 Nil Nil Nil
D Previous Conviction 5 (2) (d) 4 3 Nil 1 Nil
E No Visa 5 (2) (e) 570 489 67 75 7
F Subject of Deportation Order 5 (2) (f) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
G Prohibited by order of the Minister 5 (2) (g) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
H Belongs to class of aliens prohibited by order of the Minister 5 (2) (h) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
I Not in possession of valid passport or other document 5 (2) (i) 1,062 775 96 100 11
J Alien intends to travel to Great Britain or Northern Ireland 5 (2) (j) 334 299 253 120 23
K Alien an airman/seaman who arrived in the course of their employment and remained in the State after departure of the vessel 5 (2) (k) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
L Aliens entry to State would pose a threat to National security or contrary to public policy 5 (2) (l) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
M Intent to deceive 5 (2) (m) Nil Nil Nil Nil Nil
Total 2,427 1,848 560 397 88

#The article referred to is from the Aliens Order, 1946 (as amended).

*All figures are not available for 1994.

  228.  Mr. R. Bruton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    the terms of the Government decision on the transfer of traffic wardens to Dublin Corporation on whether the staff and function was being transferred. [13314/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  The transfer of the traffic warden service to Dublin Corporation will give effect to the Government decision of 26 July 1995, which gives responsibility for traffic management in Dublin to Dublin Corporation. This was recommended to Government by the then Minister for the Environment and Local Government as part of the Dublin Transportation Initiative Plan.

Implicit in the decision to transfer responsibility for the traffic warden service from the Garda Commissioner to Dublin Corporation was [311] that both the staff and function would transfer to the corporation.

  229.  Mr. R. Bruton    asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform    if he will make available a redundancy package for the estimated 120 wardens who are not required by Dublin Corporation in view of the fact that transferring workers directly to a redundancy package is in conflict with the spirit of the directive on transfer of undertakings. [13315/99]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue):  I have no plans to make available a redundancy package as suggested by the Deputy.

However, a voluntary redundancy package is proposed by Dublin Corporation as part of the joint Garda Commissioner-Dublin Corporation PCW pay agreement currently being considered by the unions representing the traffic wardens. This voluntary redundancy package forms part of the proposals which offer enhanced pay and conditions to the traffic wardens on transfer to Dublin Corporation.

  231.  Mr. Creed    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    if he has received an application from a sporting organisation (details supplied); and if an allocation of funding will be made in 1999. [13149/99]

  232.  Mr. Creed    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    if he has received an application for funding from a club (details supplied); and if an allocation will be made in 1999. [13150/99]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 and 232 together.

Applications for financial assistance under the sports capital programme have been received from the clubs in question. These are two of almost 1,900 applications received and they will be considered when the grant allocations for 1999 are being made in accordance with the criteria for awarding such grants as set out in the terms and conditions of the new programme.

Given the large number of applications and the level of work involved in evaluating them, I do not expect to be in a position to make final announcements on the 1999 round of grant allocations for some time yet.

[312]

  233.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13191/99]

  234.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13206/99]

  235.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13221/99]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 to 235, inclusive, together.

There are no multilateral agreements, under the auspices of my Department, which are currently being negotiated or prepared. Similarly, there are no international multilateral agreements which have yet to be signed.

The Council of Europe Anti-Doping Convention, 1989, was concluded on 16 November 1989 and was signed by the State on 25 June 1992. When the national anti-doping programme which I launched last year is firmly established, it is the intention that Ireland ratify the convention. This is expected to be done by the end of this year or early next year. No legislation will be required.

The Council of Europe Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events and in particular at football matches was signed on 3 November 1986. While this convention has not yet been ratified by Ireland, the Department of Education in 1996, published a code of practice for safety at sports grounds and discussions are under way with the Departments of Environment and Local Government and Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the further steps necessary to ratify the convention. No legislation will be required.

[313]

  236.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13236/99]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid):  There are no EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, under the auspices of my Department, which have not been fully implemented.

  237.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the Acts and provisions of Acts not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not been made; if such an order will be made; if so, when it will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13251/99]

  239.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have not yet been approved by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13282/99]

  240.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of his Department where heads have been approved by Government; the expected date of publication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13300/99]

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid):  I propose to take Questions Nos. 237, 239 and 240, inclusive, together.

There are no proposals for legislation being prepared under the auspices of my Department where heads have been approved or have yet to be approved by Government.

There is no Act or provision of an Act not in force by reason of the fact that a commencement order has not being made.

However, the Irish Sports Council Bill, which passed all stages in the Oireachtas on 11 May 1999, although it does not require a commencement order, does require that I make an order appointing the establishment day of the new council. Arrangements have commenced in my Department for the making of the order.

  238.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation    the proposed statutory instruments being prepared in, or under the auspices of, his Department; the proposed effect of each. [13266/99]

[314]Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation (Dr. McDaid):  As the Deputy may be aware, the Irish Sports Council Bill to establish a statutory sport council passed all stages in the Oireachtas on 11 May 1999. Section 4 of the Bill requires that I make an order appointing the establishment day of the new council for the purposes of the Act, which I intend to do as soon as possible after enactment. There are no other statutory instruments in preparation within my Department, or under its aegis, at this time.

  241.  Mr. Wade    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the progress, if any, on the extension to Donoughmore national school, County Limerick. [13065/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  My Department will shortly be making arrangements for the appointment of a design team to undertake the architectural planning of the proposed extension to Donoughmore national school.

  242.  Ms McManus    asked the Minister for Education and Science    if he will appoint a resource teacher for Stratford-on-Slaney national school in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13066/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  I am aware that the school in question has applied to my Department for the appointment of a resource teacher.

I recently announced a major new initiative in the special education area under which all children within the primary system who have been assessed as having special needs arising from a disability will be entitled to an automatic response to those needs.

The level and nature of the response in each case will depend on the assessed needs of the child or group of children involved. The response may take the form of full-time or part-time resource teacher support or child care support, or both, depending on the number of children involved and the nature of their needs.

The case put forward by Stratford-on-Slaney national school in support of its application for a resource teacher posts is being examined by my Department's inspectorate. A response will issue to the school as soon as this examination has been completed.

  243.  Mr. Crawford    asked the Minister for Education and Science    when he will sanction the necessary funding to provide a general purpose room at Edenmore national school, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13084/99]

[315]Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  An application for additional accommodation has been received in respect of Edenmore national school, County Monaghan.

A technical report on facilities at the school is being prepared and when this has been completed, the matter can be given further consideration. My Department is also reviewing the long-term accommodation needs of the school.

  244.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the reason for the delay with the work on the extension to Clerihan national school, Clonmel, County Tipperary; the steps, if any, he will take to ensure the accommodation is ready for September 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13119/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  Construction of an extension to Clerihan national school, Clonmel, County Tipperary is currently in progress.

It is expected that works will be completed prior to September 1999.

  245.  Mrs. T. Ahearn    asked the Minister for Education and Science    when a resource teacher will be provided for Thomastown national school, Golden, County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13120/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  The pupil in question has been offered a place in the speech and language class at Presentation primary school, Clonmel, from September 1999. I understand that the parents of the child are happy with this arrangement.

In the circumstances, the school referred to by the Deputy will not require the services of a resource teacher.

  246.  Mr. Ring    asked the Minister for Education and Science    if teaching hours will be allocated to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the fact that her parents have to pay privately for grinds to assist her educational development. [13121/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  My Department currently funds a range of vocational training centres which deliver programmes on literacy and numeracy to young adults with general learning disabilities under 25 years of age.

No application for such funding has been received from the centre to which the Deputy refers. However, I am arranging for a member of my Department's inspectorate to contact the management of the centre to see if a suitable pro[316] gramme could be developed and supported by my Department.

  247.  Mr. Stagg    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the progress, if any, on the construction of the new St. Wolstans school at Ballymakealy, Celbridge, County Kildare; if he has satisfied himself that the work will be completed in time for the opening of the new school year in September 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13122/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  I am pleased to inform the Deputy that works are on schedule in regard to the completion of the new St. Wolstans school at Ballymakealy, Celbridge, County Kildare. It is anticipated that the school will be ready for occupation in September.

  248.  Mr. Stagg    asked the Minister for Education and Science    if he will sanction the purchase of a site at Lumville, Kildare town, for Gaelscoil Chill Dara, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13123/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  My Department has been investigating the suitability of a site at Lumville, The Curragh as a permanent location for Gaelscoil Chill Dara.

The Department of Defence have indicated that they are not in a position to provide access to the site. My Department has advised the school authorities of this and has requested them to inquire locally regarding alternative access to the site.

It is not possible for my Department to purchase a site which does not have a clearly defined access.

  249.  Mr. Stagg    asked the Minister for Education and Science    when the required extension to St. Mary's college, Naas, County Kildare, will proceed to stage six; the timescale envisaged for seeking tenders and completion of the work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13127/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  The provision of extra facilities at St Mary's college, Naas, County Kildare is currently at architectural planning stage. When this stage is completed officials of the planning and building unit of my Department will be in touch with the school authorities in order to progress the project to tender stage.

I will keep the Deputy informed of developments.

[317]

  250.  Mr. Stagg    asked the Minister for Education and Science    if he will sanction the appointment of a psychologist to cover the remainder of the schools in north County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13128/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  I am aware that my Department does not, as yet, provide a psychological service to all primary schools in County Kildare and I share the Deputy's concern about this matter. However, on 11 February last, I announced the decision by the Government to establish a national educational psychological service agency. The sum of £1.5 million was made available in last December's budget for the initial phase of this measure.

The national educational psychological service will be organised in close consultation with the Department of Health and Children, whose clinical services will also continue to provide help for families and children. Expansion of the psychological service of this Department will start shortly. Twenty-five additional posts for psychologists have now been advertised and further recruitment will take place during the year 2000. It is envisaged that all schools will have access to the psychological service at the end of a five-year period, and it is hoped that there will be the nucleus of a psychological service in every county by the end of 1999.

Decisions on the assignments of the additional psychologists will be made later in the year. Priority for the expansion of the psychological service will be given to those areas with a high incidence of educational disadvantage and with little access to other psychological services. My Department is therefore currently examining the needs and resources in all areas in order to set priorities.

  251.  Mr. Stagg    asked the Minister for Education and Science    if the bill of quantities has been approved in respect of the provision of an extension and physical education hall in Scoil Mhuire, Clane, County Kildare; when tenders will be invited for the project; and if capital funding has been allocated. [13129/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the stage 5 (bill of quantities) submission in respect of the proposed development project at Scoil Mhuire, Clane has been approved in my Department. Tenders are about to be invited for the proposed development.

  252.  Mr. Creed    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the assistance if any available from his Department for primary schools acquiring additional land for the purposes of playing areas. [13146/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  Grant assistance from my Department [318] can only be considered in respect of land required for the purpose of providing an extension to a school building. Grant aid is not given in respect of land acquired solely for the purpose of enlarging the playing areas.

  253.  Mr. G. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the options given to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who is hoping to complete a formal course in Spanish at a recognised Spanish institute. [13153/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  Maintenance grants under the higher education grants scheme are tenable in respect of full-time undergraduate courses of not less than two years duration pursued in a university or third level institution which is maintained or assisted by recurrent grants from public funds in another EU member state, with the exception of the following courses in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and teacher training courses including those leading to the award of bachelor of education; courses in colleges of further and higher education, other than courses which are at higher national diploma level or higher; courses provided in a college which are offered in private commercial third level colleges in the State, and which are validated by that college; courses in colleges akin to private commercial colleges in Ireland.

I understand that the candidate in question has applied to Dublin Corporation for assistance under the higher education grants scheme in respect of his studies in Spain and that the local authority is awaiting further information from the candidate in order to determine his eligibility. He should contact the higher education grants section in Dublin Corporation in order that the assessment of his application may be completed.

  254.  Mr. G. Mitchell    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the way in which a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8 can put his case to the proposed commission on abuse of children; and when he will be able to do this. [13155/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  One of the primary objectives of the commission on childhood abuse is to provide a forum to victims of abuse to tell of the abuse they suffered. As the Taoiseach stated when announcing the establishment of the commission it is proposed that the first task of the commission will be to determine whether it requires alteration to its terms of reference, how it proposes to carry out its work and whether it needs statutory powers and protections. This phase of the commission's work is to be completed within three months of its establishment.

It is not possible therefore for me to set out at this stage the way in which the person concerned [319] can put his case to the commission, as this will be a matter for the commission to decide. I can assure the Deputy however that the person concerned will be afforded an opportunity to put his case to the commission. The precise procedures will be widely advertised when the commission has decided upon them. I am also prepared to refer the name and address of the person to the commission as soon as it is established if that is his wish.

  255.  Mr. M. Higgins    asked the Minister for Education and Science    if phase two of the expansion to accommodation for Castleknock community college will be completed in time for all of the intake of new pupils in September 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13158/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  The building programme for the phase two extension at Castleknock community college has, unfortunately, fallen behind schedule due to the recent scaffolders strike. Consequently, it now appears that the project will not be completed before 1 September 1999.

However, the matter of renting temporary classrooms to ensure that there is adequate accommodation at the school for new pupils presenting in September 1999 is currently under consideration. It is envisaged that rented accommodation will be necessary only for a short period.

  256.  Mr. M. Higgins    asked the Minister for Education and Science    his views on the recent OECD report, particularly recommending the re-introduction of tuition fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13159/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  I am aware of the views expressed in the recently published Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Economic Survey of Ireland 1999 in relation to the reintroduction of tuition fees at third level. As I have explained previously to the House, I believe the initial decision to abolish third level fees was flawed and it was this point which was endorsed by the Minister for Finance in his response to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development report.

However, as I have also outlined at length in the House, I do not intend to reintroduce tuition fees at third level. The Deputy will appreciate that there is no conflict between this position and an honest evaluation of the impact of their abolition. The abolition of third level fees was intended to open up higher education to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is generally [320] accepted that this was not the outcome of the decision.

In any event, I believe the issue is now less important as the effects of the abolition on other sectors has been negated as a result of the willingness of the Minister for Finance to agree to substantial funding improvements in all areas of education. In the third level sector, this Government has funded a major increase in the number of places in public colleges and this continues to be a priority for the Government as evidenced by the recent announcement of a major £75 million investment plan, which will provide for a further additional 5,400 student places.

  257.  Mr. M. Higgins    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the plans, if any, he has to allow colleges to increase the capitation fee in view of the fact students will be leaving colleges soon for the summer holidays and it is unfair that they will not be aware of the capitation charge until they return; the amount of an increase students will have to pay if he does allow an increase for the academic year 1999-2000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13160/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin):  In line with the 4 per cent increase agreed for third level tuition fees for the 1998-99 academic year, I also accepted a similar increase in the level of this charge to £260. The level of the charge is subject to annual review.

I would point out that those students who are eligible for maintenance grants under the means tested student support schemes do not have to pay this charge. In this regard, some 60 per cent of certificate and diploma students in the technological sector and 40 per cent of students in the university sector are eligible for maintenance grants.

  258.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the proposed international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department being negotiated or prepared; the international organisation, if any, in each case through whose machinery the agreement is being negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement if adopted; if so, if legislation will be required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13192/99]

  259.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have not been signed by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to sign the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13207/99]

[321]

  260.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the international multilateral agreements under the auspices of his Department which have been signed but not ratified or acceded to by the State; the date and place it was opened for signature in each case; the international organisation, if any, through whose machinery the agreement was negotiated; if it is proposed to ratify or accede to the agreement; if so, when; if legislation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13222/99]

  261.  Mr. Quinn    asked the Minister for Education and Science    the EC, ECSC or EURATOM directives, wholly or partly under the auspices of his Department, which are not fully implemented; the subject, date and reference number of each; the date on which implementation is or was due; whether the proposed mode of implementation is primary or secondary Iegislation; when each directive will be implemented; and if he will make a