Order of Business.

Thursday, 23 March 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 516 No. 5

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is proposed to take No. 16, motion re Memorandum of Understanding for a Framework of Co-operation between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the State of Israel, and No. 39, Planning and Development Bill, 1999 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 16 shall be decided without debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There is one question arising from the Order of Business. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 16 agreed to? Agreed.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  As a Deputy representing Dublin, does the Tánaiste agree this bus dispute is the last straw for commuters?

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

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Minister has indicated on several occasions that the proposed reform of the Transport Acts is under consideration. However, like everything else the Minister has touched regarding Dublin transport, this has been marred by procrastination. There are QBCs but no park-and-ride; there is no integrated ticketing and now the bus service will be withheld from 200,000 people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy cannot make a speech on this. On transport legislation.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  What are the Minister's intentions regarding these Acts? Will she outline her latest much vaunted tough stance when yesterday the Leader of the Seanad indicated this dispute was entirely understandable?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Tánaiste on promised transport legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister for Public Enterprise is currently reviewing that legislation and she will bring proposals to Cabinet in early April.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  Three years.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Deputy did nothing about it.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  What did Deputy Yates do about it? Nothing – he funked everything.

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  Three years.

[1029]Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Deputy Yates was in two places at once.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Is that the best the Minister can do?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I hope there will be an opportunity to deal with the important issue of the imminent Dublin Bus dispute during Private Notice Questions. Has the Government or the Attorney General made any contact with the Taxing Master concerning the tenor of his extraordinary remarks on current tribunals?

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

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I think the Tánaiste has indicated she wishes to reply.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Sargent.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, will you allow the Tánaiste to reply to a simple question?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Unfortunately the question is not appropriate to the Order of Business. Therefore, I will not allow the Tánaiste to reply.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  The Tánaiste wants to reply. It was in the newspapers this morning.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is a simple question – has the Government made any contact with the Taxing Master?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Government shares the concern expressed by Deputy Rabbitte; the remarks were unwarranted. The Attorney General, who returned from abroad yesterday, has been in contact with the President of the High Court to express his concern. The Taxing Master is an officer of the High Court and a public servant. His remarks were clearly offensive to the Oireachtas, the judges presiding over the tribunals and previous members of the Judiciary who presided over them. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has contacted the Chief Justice to suggest that the new judicial ethics regime should cover officers other than members of the Judiciary.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  The Chair ruled a question on that issue out of order.

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

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Look how constructive the Tánaiste was. It makes a vast difference.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Dublin Chamber of Commerce is under the impression that legislation is proposed to privatise the bus service. In view of the [1030] impending strike, where is this legislation listed or is a page missing from the list of promised legislation circulated to Members?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister for Public Enterprise will bring proposals to Government in April in relation to competition in this area.

Mrs. O'Rourke: Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  Competition, not privatisation.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Where is it?

Mr. Yates: Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates  The Chair has disallowed my request to adjourn the House under Standing Order 31 but I have tabled Private Notice questions on this matter. Before the Dáil sits again on Tuesday, there will be significant disruption if the strike is not averted. I ask the Chair to consider the Private Notice questions favourably.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins   (Dublin West): Will the Tánaiste be more specific as to whether it is intended to amend the Road Transport Act, 1932 to give Dublin Bus routes to a privatised service? Instead of sending belligerent messages attacking Dublin Bus drivers from a five star hotel in Lisbon, would it not be better if the Taoiseach—

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

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West):—paid a greater subsidy to Dublin Bus so it can pay a realistic wage to its workers and maintain the service?

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Will the Tánaiste give a reassurance that the activity centres safety legislation will be enacted before the summer recess? This legislation has been promised for some time on foot of a Private Members' Bill produced by Fine Gael.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The legislation will be published by the middle of this year.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Today we read that there are 100 homeless children sleeping rough in Dublin. Every day we read reports of Mr. Justice Kelly remarking that there are no facilities for children who have serious behavioural problems. What is the reason for the huge delay in the child justice Bill and the children's ombudsman Bill? Both are key measures in establishing proper rights for children but they appear to be bogged down in the system.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Children Bill is due to commence Second Stage within the next fortnight.

Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  The Taoiseach said that three years ago.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The children's ombudsman legislation will be ready later this year.

[1031]Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Does the Tánaiste not accept that it is wholly unacceptable that every day—

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Bruton, we cannot have a discussion on it now.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  —we read about the position of children being undermined? Nothing is happening.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  In light of the EPA figures on waste which were released yesterday and which the Minister for the Environment and Local Government described as “a wake up call”, when will the promised environmental measures, such as tax on plastic bags and the new EPA legislation, be introduced? Does she agree that it is also a wake up call for the Minister and the Government about the harm being done to the environment?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The heads of the environmental protection agency (amendment) Bill will go the Cabinet in April and will be published later this year. The issue of waste, charges and so forth is largely a matter for local authorities.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Where is the plastic bags legislation?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Connaughton.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  On a point of order, I asked about tax on plastic bags which is a simple matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The legislation is promised.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  The Minister is away at a public relations event.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Yes. We have had PR events and spin doctors but little action from this Minister.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Deputy will not vote for anything on the environment.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Minister for Health and Children should handle it.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Will the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Rural Development bring the details of the new milk quota regime to the Dáil before 1 April when the system comes into effect?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Deputy can submit a parliamentary question.

[1032]

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I am told it must be underpinned by legislation. Is there legislation promised in this area?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  No.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  That is not what the Minister says.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Will the Tánaiste accede to a request from the Oireachtas committee on agriculture to defer these proposals from April 1 until such time as the committee has concluded its deliberations?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Deputy can submit a question.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Will the Tánaiste accede to that request?

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  The Tánaiste has forecast that we may need 240,000 immigrants to sustain growth in the economy. Can she give a precise date for the introduction of legislation dealing with refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants so these important matters can be debated?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Many of these matters were raised on the Order of Business yesterday. It is true that an economic study carried out of behalf of Forfás predicts that we will need 200,000 additional workers to implement the national development plan. It is envisaged that at least half of them should be returning Irish emigrants.

Mr. Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  What about the 150,000 unemployed?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Next Tuesday the Government will consider proposals for a pro-active immigration policy together with other matters in relation to refugees and asylum seekers.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Can I pursue that?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No. The question on the legislation has been answered.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  I asked the Tánaiste for a date. We heard a woman on the radio this morning explaining why she had to close her restaurant.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Tánaiste has answered the question. I call Deputy Joe Higgins.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): For the second time in the recent past, a member of a health board has made disgraceful remarks branding the Traveller community as criminal.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not [1033] arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to find another means of raising it. I call Deputy Currie.

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  (Dublin West): The Dáil should not let this go.

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

Mr. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins   (Dublin West): It is a disgusting attack by Fianna Fáil on the Traveller community.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Currie has been called.

Mr. Currie: Information on Austin Currie  Zoom on Austin Currie  I am reluctant to interrupt my constituency colleague. In view of the recent decision of An Bord Pleanála to turn down an application for an extension to the Liffey Valley Centre, largely on the grounds of traffic, will there be a statement from the Minister for the Environment and Local Government on the implications it might have for the new national stadium at Abbotstown? If the same criteria are applied, there will not be a national stadium there.

Ms Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  There is increasing concern about the cost of compensation which the State is obliged to pay. Two legislative measures are important in this regard. Is the Government serious about establishing a State claims agency and when will the legislation be introduced? The second measure is the legislation to establish a tribunal to deal with deafness compensation claims from the Defence Forces. I understand there is a change in Government policy and that the Government now intends to introduce legislation where previously it had stated it would not. What is the timetable for that legislation?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The heads of the Defence Forces (hearing losses compensation) Bill are expected to go to Government in the next week or two and April is the publication date. The national treasury management agency Bill will be ready in the summer.

Mr. Finucane: Information on Michael Finucane  Zoom on Michael Finucane  Is there a change in the policy of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform with regard to the provision of telephones for people who are guilty of murder?

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


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