Order of Business.

Wednesday, 13 October 1999

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 509 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 8 – Motion re: Fourth Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam (A Proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) regarding the establishment of “Eurodac”); No. 27 – the Broadcasting (Major Events Television Coverage) Bill, 1999, Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 9 – Motion re: Partnership for Peace and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the proceedings on No. 8, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion after two hours and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; (iii) Members may share time; and (iv) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; and (2) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 9; (i) the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; (iii) Members may share time; and (iv) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes.

Private Members' Business shall be No. 73 – Motion re: Nurses (resumed – to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8 agreed?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Before we agree to that, is the Taoiseach in a position to indicate whether it is [282] the intention of the Minister for Health and Children to give the House some details tomorrow on the emergency arrangements?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise on No. 8.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It does. I just want to know, before we agree to this—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I will allow the Deputy to ask a brief question.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I just want to know whether the Taoiseach has considered this request and whether he will make a statement on the matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I have allowed the Deputy to ask a brief question. Can we deal with No. 8?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  A Cheann Comhairle, I am trying to be helpful. We are ordering the business of the House and I want to know in that context, of which this is just one part to which we have to give our explicit agreement, will the Minister for Health and Children at some stage between today and tomorrow afternoon indicate to the public, through this House, what standby arrangements there are to provide—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  As the Deputy is aware there is a Private Members' motion scheduled for tonight.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  He does not have the information yet because the health service employees and unions—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not in order at this stage. I have to put the proposal. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9 agreed?

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I understand Deputy Noonan has already proposed, on behalf of Fine Gael, and I suggest here, that the Standing Orders be amended to allow people to speak for up to 40 minutes on this subject. This is an issue upon which a referendum was promised to the people. We believe that since the Government is denying such a referendum, which it is legally entitled to do, the least it should do is allow a more full debate in the House than would occur on another issue. For that reason, I suggest the current time limit of 15 minutes per speaker should be amended to allow people to speak for up to 40 minutes on this subject.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): The key point here is the amount of time that is provided for the overall debate so that there is adequate time for Members to contribute on this crucial subject. Will the Government say it is not intended to put a guillotine on the debate tomorrow evening and [283] that it will continue next week and for as long as is necessary?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not accept Deputy Bruton's motion, but I will reply to Deputy Higgins. There will be no guillotine. The debate will continue next week if there are sufficient speakers.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the Taoiseach saying he will not accept my proposal?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is what I am saying.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I have to oppose this then because, if the Government promised a referendum, it is unreasonable, that it should force the debate through here without adequate time being allowed to individual speakers.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Let me correct Deputy Bruton. The Government did not promise a referendum.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Fianna Fáil promised a referendum.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Fianna Fáil promised a referendum and deliberately misled the people.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  In relation to the proposals—

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Is the Taoiseach suffering from amnesia again?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  —for No. 9, I understand the time allocation arrangements are the standard and the norm. However, everybody in the House would agree this is not a normal debate, bearing in mind the promise of a referendum and the U-turn that has taken place. In those circumstances, the suggestion by the leader of Fine Gael to reverse the normal time allocations in this debate without reference to any future debate, should be followed. I can understand why the Government Whip's office has tabled these time constraints. I am asking, in the light of the controversy surrounding the handling of this entire issue, that these normal time constraints should not prevail and that the Whips be asked to construct an alternative form based on the Fine Gael Party's suggestion or any other suggestion that might be made by the Taoiseach's Department and the Chief Whip.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The parties that are most opposed to PfP will have 15 minutes under these Standing Orders. That is not adequate. That is [284] why I support Deputy Bruton. We need at least 40 minutes to explore the issues involved. It is an extremely important issue. The Taoiseach has, unfortunately, done a U-turn on this issue. I ask him, on that account, to make provision for us to have a real debate.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  A Cheann Comhairle, I share the views of Deputy Gormley that the core argument here is to ensure that those who genuinely wish to present the alternative to the proposal to join PfP are afforded that chance here in this Chamber. I do not know the real agenda behind the proposition for giving speakers 40 minutes across the board in an open-ended debate. Certainly I would not be interested in participating in a filibuster. It is very important Members in the House recognise that there is a fundamental flaw in determining time on such debates. It is either—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  A question to the Taoiseach.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I seek clarification and an assurance from the Taoiseach that Members who have a contribution to make will be afforded adequate time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is engaged in repetition. He has put his question and I ask the Taoiseach to respond.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I ask the Taoiseach to answer that question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I was asked yesterday not to impose a guillotine or a fixed time to complete this debate and I accepted that. I was also asked that there be no time limit on the vote and I accepted that. Deputy John Bruton then asked that as many Members as possible be allowed to speak and I have accepted that. It is now being asked that Members should have a longer time to speak. I do not see the necessity for that. Every Member can speak on the debate. If some of the smaller parties are concerned because they have fewer members they can put their case to the Whips and perhaps arrangements could be agreed tonight. I see the sense in that, but I am not prepared to make other changes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9 agreed to?

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 9 be agreed to.”

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, David.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Harry.
Brady, Johnny. Brady, Martin.[285]

Brennan, Matt.
Brennan, Séamus.
Briscoe, Ben.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Byrne, Hugh.
Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.
Collins, Michael.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullen, Martin.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Doherty, Seán.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fleming, Seán.
Flood, Chris.
Foley, Denis.
Fox, Mildred.
Gildea, Thomas.
Hanafin, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
[286] Kitt, Michael.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
McGennis, Marian.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moffatt, Thomas.
Molloy, Robert.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Malley, Desmond.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Smith, Brendan.
Wade, Eddie.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Allen, Bernard.
Barnes, Monica.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.
Clune, Deirdre.
Connaughton, Paul.
Cosgrave, Michael.
Coveney, Simon.
Crawford, Seymour.
Creed, Michael.
Currie, Austin.
D'Arcy, Michael.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard.
Enright, Thomas.
Farrelly, John.
Finucane, Michael.
Fitzgerald, Frances.
Flanagan, Charles.
Gormley, John.
Hayes, Brian.
Higgins, Jim.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McDowell, Derek.
McGahon, Brendan.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
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.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  On the Order of Business, Deputy John Bruton.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Is the Taoiseach aware that the disaster of the nurses' strike has already happened in that chemotherapy is being cancelled for cancer patients, that brain tumour operations are also being cancelled in Beaumont Hospital and that this disaster is already present this week.

[287]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  As this is a Private Members' motion, we cannot have an extended discussion. The Deputy must ask a brief question.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister to talk to the nursing unions to see if a solution can be found this week?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Quinn, a very brief question on the same matter.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I have been trying to get a response from the Taoiseach in respect of this matter; it is ancillary to the dispute. I think the public at large is entitled—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot have statements, just questions.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I am trying to ask the Taoiseach a question. Will he make time available to enable the Minister for Health and Children to come to this House some time between now and tomorrow afternoon to inform the public what contingency arrangements have been put in place in the hospital services following the negotiations that are ongoing today between the relevant parties in the interests of some sense of understanding of what is going to happen? I suggest there is a precedent for this and I ask the Taoiseach if he is in a position to inform the House that such time will be availed of between now and the end of business tomorrow to enable the Minister for Health and Children to make that announcement? That is not related to the Private Members' motion.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Discussions are taking place today. When the outcome of these discussions are known, procedures of the House will allow Members to raise the matter tomorrow. We will then see what the position is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We must move on.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I remind the House that this is the Order of Business.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I wish to clarify this point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy must be brief.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Obviously the discussions must continue but will the Taoiseach give an indication in principle that if the Minister for Health and Children is in a position tomorrow afternoon to make a statement that such an opportunity will be availed of, that a statement will be issued and that we will not have to ask the same question on the Order of Business tomorrow?

[288]Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I support what Deputy Quinn has said about getting clear agreement on the emergency situation. However, even if this is obtained, chemotherapy treatments and brain tumour operations will still be cancelled and this will result in deaths. It is important that the Government and nursing unions, who have joint and shared responsibility in this area, should get together not just on the emergency plan, but to ensure an agreement is reached which will avoid this strike taking place.

Dr. McDaid: Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  What is the basis for that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Discussions are going ahead today. Hopefully the emergency proposals which the Minister and his representatives in the Health Service Employers Agency have requested will be agreed. There are provisions under Standing Orders if people wish to raise the matter tomorrow and we will see what happens then. We know the proposals and what the Minister is seeking and we will know today whether they are agreed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I am not allowing any further questions. I have allowed the leaders to ask questions and I am not expanding on that. We are on the Order of Business, not Question Time.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Briefly, on a point of order—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  No, the Deputy has had his opportunity and it will be open to him to speak again on the Private Notice Question on the motion tonight.

Mr. Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  On a very brief matter—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  No, will the Deputy resume his seat? Will the Deputy resume his seat?

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  On a point of information—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Chair is on its feet trying to deal with this matter, so there cannot be a point of order until order is restored.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  a Cheann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Chair is still on its feet. Will Deputies resume their seats.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Deputy Shatter is trying to raise a point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There can be no point of order when the Chair is on its feet.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  How can you rule when you have not even heard the Deputy's point of order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Chair is still on its feet.

[289]Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Deputy Shatter is entitled to speak, as is any of the other 165 Members.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This is the Order of Business. The Deputy should resume his seat.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  He should not be silenced.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This is the Order of Business and he cannot speak when he is out of order.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  He was ruled out of order before you heard him, Sir, and that is not acceptable.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Yes, because he wanted to continue a discussion that has been ruled out of order. The Chair allowed the leaders a brief question and answer session. Deputy Shatter had his opportunity last night and will have an opportunity tonight.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  Deputy Shatter is entitled to be heard and I ask the Taoiseach to endorse me on that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Leader of the Opposition should resume his seat. Deputy Bruton is now out of order.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I know that.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  A Cheann Comhairle, on a point of order—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Right, what is the Deputy's point of order?

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Taoiseach has said that there is provision available to us to raise this matter tomorrow to ensure this vital information is transmitted to the public. What provision is there, Sir, because I am not aware that a provision is available to us to ensure that emergency cover—

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  On a point of order, how are you allowing this one and not—

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  —and information, that family doctors—

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  This is not funny.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order. The Deputy should resume her seat.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  It is discrimination and it is not acceptable.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  A Cheann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should resume her seat.

[290]Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  This is an absolutely vital matter. Family doctors must receive the information they need.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should resume her seat. That concludes the Order of Business.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We have other matters which we wish to raise.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Order of Business has concluded.


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