Order of Business.

Wednesday, 9 October 2002

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 554 No. 5

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 17, motion re Second Interim Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments; No. 26, European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, 2001, changed from European Union Bill, 2001 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages, to be taken [501] not later than 8.30 p.m., and the order shall resume thereafter. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in the 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. The proceedings on No. 17 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. tomorrow and the following arrangements shall apply: first, the speeches of the Minister for the Environment and Local Government and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case, and the speeches of the main spokespersons for the Green Party and Sinn Féin shall not exceed ten minutes in each case. Second, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; and third, Members may share time. The proceedings on No. 26 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 9.30 p.m. with one question which will be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Private Members' business shall be No. 37: motion re Management of Public Finances and shall take place tomorrow after the Order of Business and be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes. Question Time tomorrow shall be at 3.30 p.m. until 4.45 p.m. and in the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken at 4.15 p.m. and the Order shall not resume thereafter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are five proposals to be put to the House. The first proposal deals with the late sitting.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I object to the Order of Business. This House gathers today for the first session of the autumn to discuss a report from Mr. Justice Flood which has been six years in preparation. I find it absolutely astonishing that neither the Taoiseach nor the Tánaiste intends to answer questions at the end of this debate. The Taoiseach says he is not party to this report and that he is hardly mentioned in it, but he is absolutely central to the entire Flood report because there are questions about his judgment and leadership, the acid test of which was the appointment of Mr. Ray Burke as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I propose that we have a two-hour question and answer session at the end of this debate so that the Taoiseach and Tánaiste may answer questions—

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy, that does not arise under this proposal.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A Cheann Comhairle, 100,000 people have acquired this report. They want [502] answers and I need to know that the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste will answer their questions.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I move amendment No. 1:

In proposal No. 1, to delete “10.30 p.m.” and substitute “12 midnight”.

This is a shabby proposal. Most of us in the House are astonished that the second interim report of the Flood tribunal, which has shocked the country and become a best-seller, such is the interest in it—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Howlin, proposal No. 2 deals with the arrangements for discussing the Flood tribunal report.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I have an amendment to the first item which deals with the inadequacy of the time provided. We sought, and understood that we were to get, two days of debate on this issue. We will in fact get something under six hours and, as it turns out, the Labour Party, with 21 Deputies, will get approximately two slots. That is wholly inadequate. I will keep my comments on the questioning that is required until we deal with the second item.

In terms of item No. 1, I have already given notice in the name of the Labour Party Whip that we seek to amend this proposal so that we may begin the process of accountability by giving at least an extra one and a half hours tonight, up to 12 midnight. I ask that the amendment submitted by the Labour Party be accepted by the Taoiseach so that more Deputies may participate in this critical debate. The people are watching and will reconsider the relevance of this House if we cannot at least debate issues such as this and get meaningful answers from the Government. We will make ourselves irrelevant. At the end of the debate tomorrow I will seek to ensure that this other time be made up in proper questions.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I add my voice to the fears that have been expressed and agree that this Order of Business is completely unacceptable and not worthy of our Parliament or the job we are here to do.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We are discussing the late sitting.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Late sitting or not, this will be about as meaningful as expressions of sympathy for the Flood report. It is totally unbecoming of all the work done over the years by Mr. Justice Flood and his team for us to wring our hands at what is in that report, without looking ahead—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It does arise when people are looking for time.

[503]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We are discussing the hours of the sitting. The Deputy will have an opportunity to discuss this during proposal No. 2.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  We need more time and we also need the Taoiseach to answer questions to make this process meaningful.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I have had to accept your ruling, a Cheann Comhairle, in relation to my request under Standing Order 31 earlier, but given the importance of the issue I wanted us to address, I would like clarification from the Taoiseach on whether he and the Government will provide time to address the very serious crisis in the peace process. I and my colleagues have a proposal, No. 48, on the Order Paper today which seeks to reaffirm support for the Good Friday Agreement and strongly opposes any suggestion of a suspension of the institutions by the British Government. I want the Taoiseach to clarify whether he will allow for discussion to take place here either on the basis of that proposal or a Government motion. The issue of the day demands it.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  On the question of the late sitting, we are seeing the greatest scandal since the Arms Trial, when this House sat throughout the night and on Saturdays. To suggest that we should put a time limit on this debate and have no questions and answers at the end is unacceptable and does not meet the requirements of the public. Around 100,000 people bought this report. The reason we are having tribunals at all is that questions were not answered in this House. It is imperative that the points made by Deputy Kenny be accommodated by the Taoiseach and the Government, and we will not accept anything less.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will answer the questions.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  He will answer a question now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will answer the two questions together as it will save me repeating myself later. The reports of all previous tribunals presented to the Dáil were dealt with in a similar way. As no individual Minister is responsible for the establishment of the tribunals, no question and answer session has ever been taken. That is the precedent in the House.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle, you are allowing the Taoiseach to answer a question you would not allow.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Howlin, I ask you to resume your seat and hear the Taoiseach and then I will take your point of order.

[504]Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  He is answering a question that you would not allow to be put. I tabled an amendment about this.

Mr. Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  This is about the late sitting.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Taoiseach, perhaps we will wait until the next item.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is a question on a time motion and it is as easy for me to answer the two together, but I could just—

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  It is not as easy for us to ask.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Would Deputies like me to be helpful on the time motion, or do they just want to make noise generally?

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Questions and answers.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  The Taoiseach should come on and answer the question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  At least Deputy Timmins is honest. The Deputies do not really care about the tribunal and they do not really care about the time and they want answers to questions I answered before, so they can forget about it.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I ask the Deputies to resume their seats until the Taoiseach responds on the time motion.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I have noted what the Opposition has said and that the Deputies are not really interested in the time motion and they are less interested in the Flood tribunal. They want to ask questions about things that were answered already. If it helps, if there are people that want to speak, the Government has no problem sitting until 12 o'clock.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We have asked a question of the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I am not allowed to answer that.

Amendment agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We will now move on to proposal No. 2. Is the proposal for dealing with the Flood tribunal agreed to? I call Deputy Kenny.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I thank the Taoiseach for his agreement to allocate extra time. We are discussing the Flood tribunal without a question and answer session where questions will be answered by both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste about the central issue of this tribunal report which is not just about Mr. Ray Burke but about the Taoiseach's [505] judgment, leadership and action in appointing him in the first instance. That was the acid test of his leadership. The public wish to know why that appointment was made in the light of information given to both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste which were contradictory.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should comment briefly on the arrangements that are being made.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The issues that flow from that central point have denigrated politics, lessened our integrity and weakened the credibility of democratic politics in this country. We will not agree to business until there is consent to a question and answer session with the two principal personalities involved, namely, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am trying to remain in order in presenting these cases which is why I have tabled two separate amendments. It is unconscionable that we would go through this debate and not have an opportunity to pose questions to the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, all of whom have questions to answer, questions that will be posed legitimately during the course of the debate. I hope the Taoiseach will accept this amendment as he accepted the last amendment.

I move amendment No. 2:

On the proposal for dealing with No. 17, after “the following arrangements shall apply” to insert “the final 90 minutes prior to 1.30 p.m. shall be set aside for questions to be taken by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform”.

Any suggestion that Ministers or the Taoiseach will not make themselves available to answer straightforward questions in this House would constitute an act of political cowardice.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It is important to point out that the inadequacy of the debate is compounded by the fact that beyond what is written here, there is no further provision for time for any member of my party. For that reason, there is a greater case that the order be amended and that the question and answer session gives facility to speak to any Member, as happened when Ray Burke was a Deputy and Minister and had to answer questions. This is no more than the accountability which the Taoiseach talks about so often being shown to actually work, the facility to ask questions and have them answered. That is what we are asking for, no more and no less and I ask that it be facilitated.

[506]Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  While I understand and appreciate the importance of the focus of other colleagues in addressing the Taoiseach at this point on the Order of Business in regard to the interim report of the Flood tribunal, I still wish to have a response from him in regard to what is in my opinion the most pressing matter of the day, that is, the ongoing crisis in the peace process and my request of the Taoiseach to provide an opportunity for this issue to be addressed comprehensively in this House and at this time. I have offered a vehicle in terms of motion No. 48 or any other such that the Taoiseach would choose. To ignore this issue is a very worrying position for him to adopt.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Before hearing any other Deputies I am going to hear the Taoiseach. Standing Order No. 26 (2) is quite specific. It states:

The Taoiseach shall have the right to determine the order in which Government business shall appear on the Order Paper and, by announcement at the commencement of public business, the order in which it shall be taken each day; and may propose, on motion made without notice at the commencement of public business, arrangements for sittings and for the taking of such business until such business has been disposed of; save [this is the important part in the current context] where any such proposal is opposed, the Ceann Comhairle shall permit a brief statement from a representative from each party in opposition and the Taoiseach before he or she puts the question thereon.

Having heard a representative of each of the parties I now call on the Taoiseach.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On a point of order, before proceeding in that fashion and in the interest of good relations between the parties in Government and the Opposition parties, I appeal to the Ceann Comhairle to allow the Taoiseach an opportunity to respond to the valid questions raised by the Opposition in anticipation of a positive reply.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy, that is not a point of order.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It may not be—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is not. I call the Taoiseach.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It may not be, but if you were standing here, a Cheann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Durkan, I have called the Taoiseach.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  May I finish?

[507]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is out of order. He is setting a bad example for new Deputies.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  If we are to determine one thing, I would sincerely hope that the relationship which has always existed between the Government and the Opposition—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I ask Deputy Durkan to resume his seat.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should resume his seat. I call the Taoiseach.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  On a point of order—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I am not hearing another point of order. We are on the Order of Business and the Taoiseach is entitled to respond.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  It is not reasonable that the Taoiseach should reply under Standing Orders. Members should have a right—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order. If the Deputy is not happy with the Standing Order, he knows how to change it. The Standing Order is quite specific.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  No wonder the tribunals—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There will be other opportunities for the Deputy. The Chair is obliged to implement Standing Orders. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. He is out of order.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Does the Deputy wish to leave the House?

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  I want an opportunity to put questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  If the Deputy wishes to leave the House, the Chair will oblige him.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  On a point of order—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  No more points of order. I am calling the Taoiseach. We are moving on with the business.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will be brief but I will also try to be helpful. I apologise if I was taking two questions together when I should not have.

When presented to the Dáil, the reports of all previous tribunals were dealt with in a similar way. This is a long established practice and precedent in the House. As no individual Minister is responsible for the establishment of tribunals – the Houses of the Oireachtas are – no question and answer session has ever taken place.

[508](Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Taoiseach without interruption.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I have listened carefully to what a number of Deputies said. This was the case in regard to the Kerry babies, Stardust, beef, building and McCracken tribunals, all of which were very serious. The legal issue is extremely important. Many people named in this report are now the subject of criminal investigation. In view of the comment of Mr. Justice Haugh and other justices, it is essential nothing is said which might prejudice a fair trial.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Taoiseach without interruption.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  While I know Deputies will disagree with me, they should listen to me for a moment. This issue is relevant in two respects. In a debate which is not structured, comments may be made which may affect pre-trial publicity. This happened here recently and it has happened in the past. This has been pointed out by at least two eminent members of the Judiciary. Any questions about corruption of a wider nature than that referred to in the report would also be prejudicial. That is quite clear. Mr. Justice Haugh specifically referred to publicity given to proceedings in Dáil Éireann regarding the Haughey trial.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There is no criminal investigation of the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will answer that point. There is no criticism of me in this report and I have no questions to answer in regard to issues in the report. In regard to questions raised in recent days the reply is the same as it was in September 1997 and in May 1998. A few issues have been raised repeatedly in the past few days and I will do my utmost to address these tomorrow in my contribution. If other questions are raised in regard to me, I will also try to deal with these in my contribution. The debate today is on the interim report of the Flood tribunal. I have no questions to answer about the contents of that report. The other questions—

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We decided—

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I am afraid Mr. Justice Flood wrote the report. The Deputy did not.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We cannot decide what question to put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Howlin, allow the Taoiseach to speak without interruption.

[509]Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  We cannot decide what question to put.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If there are related questions that Deputies want to raise, and two have been raised by the leaders of the Opposition parties, I will answer those tomorrow as fully as I can. If there are others, I will also try to answer those.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  When?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Tomorrow, in my contribution.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  But provide for the questions—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Howlin.

[510]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  In respect of what is before the House, which is the completion of one interim report, maybe more, of Mr. Justice Flood, I cannot answer those questions. I am not party to those proceedings. I am not involved in those proceedings. I was not there for those proceedings. It would be impossible for me or any other Member of the Government to answer questions regarding five years' work by a tribunal. That is the factual position.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Ceann Comhairle, before—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I am putting the question.

Amendment put.

Allen, Bernard.
Boyle, Dan.
Breen, Pat.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burton, Joan.
Connaughton, Paul.
Costello, Joe.
Coveney, Simon.
Cowley, Jerry.
Crawford, Seymour.
Crowe, Seán.
Cuffe, Ciarán.
Deasy, John.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard J.
English, Damien.
Enright, Olwyn.
Ferris, Martin.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Gregory, Tony.
Harkin, Marian.
Hayes, Tom.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael D.
Hogan, Phil.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kenny, Enda.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Padraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Finian.
McGrath, Paul.
McHugh, Paddy.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Murphy, Gerard.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
O'Dowd, Fergus.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Pattison, Seamus.
Penrose, Willie.
Perry, John.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Sherlock, Joe.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Twomey, Liam.
Upton, Mary.

Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, Barry
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Niall.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Seamus.
Browne, John.
Callanan, Joe.
Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.
Carty, John.
Cassidy, Donie.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cowen, Brian.
Cregan, John.
Cullen, Martin.
Curran, John.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Dennehy, John.
Devins, Jimmy.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Finneran, Michael.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fleming, Seán.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim. Hanafin, Mary.[511]

Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Hoctor, Máire.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kelly, Peter.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Seamus.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
[512]Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
O'Connor, Charlie.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Malley, Fiona.
O'Malley, Tim.
Power, Peter.
Power, Seán.
Ryan, Eoin.
Sexton, Mae.
Smith, Brendan.
Treacy, Noel.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Amendment declared lost.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17 agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  May I ask, Sir—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We cannot have another debate on the matter. If it is not agreed, I will put the question.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I understand that.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I object to that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This issue has been discussed and I am now putting the question.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On a point of order—

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  That is a disgraceful, wrong and partisan decision. It undermines what you have said, Sir.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I ask Deputy Stagg to withdraw that remark.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I find it extremely difficult to withdraw the remark because of your outrageous behaviour, but in accordance with the rules of the House I do so reluctantly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Stagg, you will withdraw the remark unequivocally.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I do so.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Taoiseach has said the tradition has been—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We are creating a new precedent, Deputy. The matter has been debated, the amendment was put and was defeated. I will now put the question.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am not setting a precedent. The Taoiseach has said the amendment applies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Kenny, that issue has been disposed of. I am putting the question again.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with item 17 be agreed.”

Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Niall.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Seamus.
Browne, John.
Callanan, Joe.
Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.
Carty, John.
Cassidy, Donie.
Collins, Michael.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cowen, Brian.
Cregan, John.
Cullen, Martin. Curran, John.[513]

Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Dennehy, John.
Devins, Jimmy.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Finneran, Michael.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fleming, Seán.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Hoctor, Máire.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kelly, Peter.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Seamus.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
[514]McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
O'Connor, Charlie.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Malley, Fiona.
O'Malley, Tim.
Power, Peter.
Power, Seán.
Ryan, Eoin.
Sexton, Mae.
Smith, Brendan.
Treacy, Noel.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Allen, Bernard.
Boyle, Dan.
Breen, James.
Breen, Pat.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burton, Joan.
Connaughton, Paul.
Costello, Joe.
Coveney, Simon.
Cowley, Jerry.
Crawford, Seymour.
Crowe, Seán.
Cuffe, Ciarán.
Deasy, John.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard J.
English, Damien.
Enright, Olwyn.
Ferris, Martin.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Gregory, Tony.
Harkin, Marian.
Hayes, Tom.
Higgins, Joe.
Higgins, Michael D.
Hogan, Phil.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kenny, Enda.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Padraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Finian.
McGrath, Paul.
McHugh, Paddy.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Murphy, Gerard.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
O'Dowd, Fergus.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Pattison, Seamus.
Penrose, Willie.
Perry, John.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Sherlock, Joe.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Upton, Mary.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We now move to proposal No. 3 for dealing with item No. 26, the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, 2001. Is that agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have already objected to the Order of Business. We now know that Cabinet decisions were taken on foot of corrupt payments. I am appalled the Progressive Democrats who act as the public watchdog can sit in the benches [515] opposite and not be moved from the moral mountain—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the Deputy opposing the arrangements for the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, 2001?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  —and refuse to allow questions to be answered. We need to have questions answered.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Howlin. Deputy Kenny, that does not arise under this proposal. We have heard one representative of your party, Deputy Deasy, in accordance with Standing Orders.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am reluctant to oppose the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, 2001, which is a Labour Party proposal to bring transparency into the operation of the European Union. However, it is unacceptable to the House that the Taoiseach would feign an interest in answering questions while voting against a proposal which would allow questions to be put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise with this proposal. I call Deputy Gormley.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Rather than divide the House again, will the Ceann Comhairle allow the Taoiseach to reflect further on his blanket refusal—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise on this proposal. I have called Deputy Gormley but I will first call Deputy Deasy on a point of order.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  —to accept a question and answer session?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Deasy has raised a point of order. Deputy Howlin is being disorderly. I have called Deputy Deasy on a point of order.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Ceann Comhairle not allow the Taoiseach to do that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Howlin should allow Deputy Deasy speak.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  The Taoiseach is making the House irrelevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise. I call Deputy Gormley.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  There is no point in being in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Deasy should resume his seat.

[516]Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  There is no point in being here anymore.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I have called Deputy Gormley on the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Why will the Taoiseach not answer questions?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I have called Deputy Gormley. Deputy Deasy is out of order.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Of what is the Taoiseach afraid?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Deasy should resume his seat.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  The Taoiseach is making the Chamber irrelevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should resume his seat because he is out of order.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  No I will not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  If the Deputy does not do so, he will have to leave the House. He should resume his seat.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  There is no point being in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should resume his seat. If he does not, he should leave the House. Does he wish to leave the House?

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  There is no point in being here.

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  He should resign his seat in that case.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Deasy must leave the House.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Deasy had an opportunity to resume his seat.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We are dealing with a matter, Deputy.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am aware of that. I appeal to the Ceann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I propose that Deputy Deasy leave the House.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  —in the interests of transparency and fair play—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I have already decided on the matter.

[517]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  He is one of the young generation and he is appalled by what he has seen.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  If Members obeyed the Chair, they might not be so appalled.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Deasy must leave the House.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Decisions were taken by a Minister on foot of corrupt payments.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I appeal to Members to obey the Standing Orders they put in place. I call Deputy Gormley on the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle—

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  If Deputy Durkan could sit down for one second—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  If the Deputy resumes his seat, I will hear his point of order in a moment.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I regret that the Green Party will have to oppose this proposal. This is about democracy. This is Dáil Éireann in 2002 and not the Reichstag in 1933. We want democracy and accountability and the Taoiseach to answer questions in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise under this proposal.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  What is the Taoiseach trying to hide? What are the Progressive Democrats trying to hide?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Ó Snodaigh.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Does the Deputy oppose the Labour Party Bill?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Yes, I do.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Gormley should resume his seat.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Measaim nach cóir dúinn an Bille an Aontais Eorpaigh (Grinnscrúdú) agus an chaoi ina bhfuil sé leasaithe a chur os comhair na Dála arís de bharr go bhfuil athrú iomlán agus uile déanta air ón uair a bhí sé sa Dáil i mí Meitheamh. Rinneadh slad iomlán air ar Chéim an Choiste. The Government tabled motions on Committee Stage which gutted the Bill and it is now very different from that which was in front of us in June. I appeal for us not to proceed and for the Bill to be reinstated on Second Stage and debated properly. It appears to have been rushed [518] through to suit a “Yes” campaign backroom deal. It is of national importance that we get this Bill right. By pushing it through, we are suiting one side in a debate outside the House.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  In the interests of orderliness, will the Taoiseach allow the Whips to meet at this late stage to pursue the issue of having questions and answers, which was the original and fundamental request from the Opposition?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order. I call Deputy Gay Mitchell on a point of order.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Can I ask—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy cannot ask the Taoiseach at this late stage.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  —that discussions take place to allow those questions to be put?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  No, the Deputy is out of order. I call Deputy Gay Mitchell on a point of order and then I will put the question.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  The European Union (Scrutiny) Bill is not as Deputy Ó Snodaigh said. Some very good amendments have been made to the Bill and it is worthwhile legislation. My difficulty is not with the Bill, on which we had a good debate. It deals with scrutiny and closing the democratic deficit between here and the European Union. We want to close the democratic deficit between the Government and the people by getting answers to the questions we demand as parliamentarians to have answered on the floor of the House. Some 100,000 people bought the interim report last week and we, as an Opposition, cannot allow ourselves to be swept aside in this way. There are questions for the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Dermot Ahern, and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  A representative of the Deputy's party has already spoken on this. I call Deputy Ring on a point of order.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  This is our problem. We do not have a problem with the Bill. If this were any other European country, these questions would be answered.

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

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Does the Ceann Comhairle think it is in order that every television and local radio station can discuss this issue and we cannot in a House of Parliament?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order. I call the Taoiseach.

[519]Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Does the Ceann Comhairle think that is acceptable? I do not think it is in order. I do not know why the Taoiseach will not answer questions.

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

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I would like to resume my seat but I have questions I want answered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy will have to resume his seat.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  On a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I will not hear any more points of order. They have all been frivolous. I call the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  On the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, we worked extremely hard to ensure it deals in a structured way with what was a major difficulty. A Bill was moved in Private Members' time and we spent a great deal of time dealing with it with the result that the democratic deficit is eliminated and there is openness, transparency and accountability in its best form.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  No there is not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill should be supported.

On the second matter, Deputies Kenny and Howlin asked the same question. As I said earlier, I will answer that in my reply tomorrow. For those Members who are anxious to know what my answer will be tomorrow morning, they should read the Dáil debates from September 1997 and the long question and answer session I held on 28 May 1998.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  That was then; this is now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Unfortunately, the circumstances did not change because the event happened back in the summer—

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Taoiseach appointed Ray Burke.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Deputy's party congratu[520] lated me that night for doing it, as did all the other parties.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Taoiseach should refer to what he said about Ray Burke.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Bruton should allow the Taoiseach continue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If a few questions are asked, I will answer them in my reply tomorrow. The precedent of a report still applies.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  The Taoiseach tried to silence those who criticised him. He said he was an honourable man who had been hounded out of office.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy Bruton was fulsome in his praise of him on that occasion.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Allow the Taoiseach to conclude his response.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy Bruton said on that occasion that he was fit to be appointed to any office.

Mr. J. Bruton: Information on John Bruton  Zoom on John Bruton  I did not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will remind the House tomorrow what Deputy Bruton said on that occasion. There are precedents which must be maintained. If any reasonable questions are asked which can be answered, I will do so in my reply tomorrow. We should not waste the time of the House.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 26, the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, 2001, agreed?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I wish to raise a point of order.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Chair is ignoring the legitimate request of the Opposition of this House.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with the Report and Final Stages of the European Union (Scrutiny) Bill, 2001, be agreed to”.

Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Noel.
Allen, Bernard.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Breen, James.
Breen, Pat.
Brennan, Seamus.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Browne, John.
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Burton, Joan.
Callanan, Joe. Callely, Ivor.[521]

Carey, Pat.
Carty, John.
Cassidy, Donie.
Collins, Michael.
Connaughton, Paul.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Costello, Joe.
Coughlan, Mary.
Coveney, Simon.
Cowen, Brian.
Crawford, Seymour.
Cregan, John.
Cullen, Martin.
Curran, John.
Davern, Noel.
de Valera, Síle.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Dennehy, John.
Devins, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Ellis, John.
English, Damien.
Enright Olwyn.
Fahey, Frank.
Finneran, Michael.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fleming, Seán.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Glennon, Jim.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Hayes, Tom.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Higgins, Michael D.
Hoctor, Máire.
Hogan, Phil.
Howlin, Brendan.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kelly, Peter.
Kenny, Enda.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Seamus.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Padraic.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
[522]McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Paul.
McGuinness, John.
McHugh, Paddy.
McManus, Liz.
Martin, Micheál.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Murphy, Gerard.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
O'Connor, Charlie.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Dowd, Fergus.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Batt.
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Malley, Fiona.
O'Malley, Tim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Pattison, Seamus.
Penrose, Willie.
Perry, John.
Power, Peter.
Power, Seán.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Eoin.
Ryan, Seán.
Sexton, Mae.
Sherlock, Joe.
Shortall, Róisín.
Smith, Brendan.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Treacy, Noel.
Upton, Mary.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G. V.

Boyle, Dan.
Cowley, Jerry.
Crowe, Seán.
Cuffe, Ciarán.
Ferris, Martin.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Higgins, Joe.
McGrath, Finian.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Twomey, Liam.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' Business tomorrow agreed to?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  We are unhappy with the proposal as currently constituted. I do not know if there have been further discussions but there have been discussions among others in the House who are excluded by the original proposal in relation to [523] the allocation of Private Members' time. I ask the House to reconsider not having a vote on this item until it is discussed again by the Whips.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Does the Deputy oppose this?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I have made a mistake. This is about the allocation of Private Members' time tonight and I thought it was about the allocation of that time for the rest of the session – my mistake.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal in relation to the taking of Question Time tomorrow agreed? Agreed. We now move on to Leaders Questions.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  In all my years in this House I have never been as outraged as I was by what happened today. The Taoiseach has said it is not for him to answer questions on the Flood report, but I can suggest a few reasons he should. First, the Taoiseach has collective responsibility for decisions taken by various Cabinets and Governments in which he served; second, he has been a major influence in shaping Fianna Fáil over the past decade; third, he lives and works in north Dublin; and, fourth, he knew all the players very well. Regarding the questions the Taoiseach will answer tomorrow—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  A question, please, Deputy.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Given the public interest, public opinion and public duty, will the Taoiseach take supplementary questions when he replies tomorrow?

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  According to the record of the House for 7 October 1997, the Taoiseach described Raphael Burke as proud, honourable, loyal, true, persevering, principled, caring and committed. Is that still the Taoiseach's view of former Deputy Burke?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There will have to be some latitude in replying now as we are not discussing the tribunal report. I have been criticised again today for appointing Ray Burke to Cabinet in 1997. Given the information revealed by Justice Flood, the judgment of hindsight is very clear. However, one's judgment at any given time is formed on the basis of what one believes is true at the time and the evidence then available. Of course I would not have appointed Ray Burke to Cabinet if I knew what I know now, five years later.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Did the Taoiseach want to know?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  My decision at the time was a bona fide one based on Mr. Burke's undisputed political abilities, his categorical assurance he had done nothing wrong and a number of inquiries. [524] In my speech to the House tomorrow I intend to outline the investigation carried out in respect of rumours and allegations concerning the payment of money in relation to planning matters – most of these issues are already on the Dáil record.

In reply to Deputy Kenny, it is sufficient to say that I was misled by Ray Burke, as was this House. Since the interim report of the Flood tribunal was published I have made my position clear. I condemn the corrupt activities and I have expressed my sense of betrayal. The obvious reason why anyone is appointed to a position is because of their competence and ability to do the job.

I refer Deputies to what I told the House on 3 June 1998 when I stated:

The first question I am asked is why I appointed Mr. Burke Minister for Foreign Affairs last June. Mr. Burke was an experienced and capable Minister, who had participated in an earlier phase of the talks process and in the work of the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. As Leader of the Opposition, I had worked very well with him on Northern Ireland and European matters, where his judgment was very good. He was eminently qualified for the job of Minister for Foreign Affairs. When we came into office, I remind Deputies that there was no renewed IRA ceasefire and the talks had been stalled and going nowhere for over 12 months. Even in the short time that he was Minister he made his mark and we had arrived at a situation by the end of September where both the Ulster Unionists and Sinn Féin were sitting around the same table with others within weeks of a new IRA ceasefire.

In reply to Deputy Howlin, I made my decision to appoint Ray Burke on the basis of the information that was available to me then—

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Taoiseach knew he was misleading the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  —and the repeated assurance to me. The fact that I called Ray Burke an honourable man underlines the fact that I genuinely believed the assurance he had given me when I questioned him.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  It shows very poor judgment at best.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  In other situations others have taken colleagues at their word. On 3 December 1996, in a debate on the resignation of Michael Lowry, Deputy Kenny stated:

I very much regret the departure of Deputy Michael Lowry from Cabinet. I have known him for many years both as a member of Fine Gael and as a Government colleague and he is a man of the highest integrity and honour.

The then Tánaiste, former Deputy Spring, stated: “I have no difficulty in accepting Deputy Lowry's [525] assertion of integrity and propriety.” Hindsight is not foresight. What I know now is a different situation to what I knew then.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Does the Taoiseach now admit that the questions he asked in respect of the appointment of Raphael Burke to the Cabinet were adequate? Does he admit that he knew that Mr. Burke had received a £30,000 payment? Will he tell the House what information was given to him by former Taoiseach, Mr. Albert Reynolds, before he made that appointment? Will he tell the House what information was given to him by the then Minister for the Environment, Deputy Michael Smith, when he carried out an investigation on this matter? What oral or written evidence was given to him by the former Minister for Justice, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, before he made that appointment? The Tánaiste had received information from the present Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, that these matters were contradictory. Did he not think it fit and appropriate that he should speak to people like Mr. Bailey, Mr. Brennan, Mr. McGowan or, indeed, Mr. Gogarty, the person making the most allegations. With the whiff and the rumour and the swirling doubts that surrounded Ray Burke, it should have been perfectly obvious to the Taoiseach that here was a man who was legitimately held in deep suspicion by the public. As such this was a person not fit to hold high office and the Taoiseach's judgment in appointing him was flawed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If all those things were said at that time we would not have had a debate in this House on the night the Government was appointed. Not one Member of this House—

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  We did not know what the Taoiseach knew.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Máire Geoghegan-Quinn did not tell us.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Taoiseach ought to know. That is all raiméis.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I request Members to allow the Taoiseach the same courtesy that was offered to Deputy Kenny. The Taoiseach is entitled to be heard in silence in this House. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. This is Leaders' questions, Deputy Rabbitte. The Deputy is not the leader yet. I ask him to obey the Standing Orders of the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  May I remind Deputy Rabbitte of two famous occasions in this House when people stood up. Some famous speeches have been made in this House.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I was not one of those people.

[526]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I did not say that the Deputy was one of those people.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Those people were right.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It was not the convention for people to get up and speak. I wish to answer the questions asked by the Deputies. I made whatever investigations I could. They are all documented in the record and I will outline them again tomorrow. Deputy Smith's inquiry in 1993 did not result in any facts or evidence being given to me. In December 1994, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn gave me a report and, as a result, the Mahfouz file was examined by the Minister who took over in the Department of Justice, former Deputy Nora Owen. I was out of office for a period of two and a half years. When I came back into office the tribunals had been set up. All those files are now subject to investigation by the Moriarty tribunal.

I received a memo from the then Minister, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, prior to my leaving office. I was not in power so it was not for me to examine the files. I did not know anything about Brennan and McGowan. I did not talk to Mr. Gogarty. I made some efforts with Bovale and JMSE. It was not a question that Members of this House did not know that money was received. During the 1997 election campaign I was asked by eminent journalists about Ray Burke and I made it absolutely clear that I was aware he had received money. That was written in several national newspapers. It was not illegal for him to receive that money. He said he had done nothing wrong. I took him at his word—

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  It was an exceptionally large sum of money.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Do not interrupt the Taoiseach, Deputy Ryan.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I took the man's word. I did not have the powers of a major five-year investigation. If I had all the information then that has taken five years to uncover, I would certainly not have appointed him.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Twenty five years of friendship.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Howlin for the second Leaders' question.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  This is the first occasion since June that this House has had the opportunity to hold this Government accountable. Since that time various Ministers have announced €350 million in cuts. Will the Taoiseach accept that the election campaign that brought his Government into office was the most deceitful campaign ever run in the history of this State? Will he accept that the Government that was elected on the basis of that fraudulent campaign of deceit has no validity or legitimacy whatsoever?

[527]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Even at this late stage will the Taoiseach instruct his Ministers to have their freedom of information officers supply the necessary information sought under the Freedom of Information Act by members of Fine Gael before the Nice polling day? The public attitude is being influenced by Government inactivity and misinformation in this matter. I agree with the views expressed by Deputy Howlin.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The freedom of information process takes its own route. The information which the Deputy seeks is outlined in the Department of Finance's report of last week. I am confident that the Minister, Deputy McCreevy, would be glad to facilitate the Deputy and his colleagues. That information is not confidential and most, if not all, of it is in the public domain.

In reply to Deputy Howlin I will summarise the position. Any document put forward by my party during the election campaign was quite clear and all our actions during the campaign were also quite clear. Neither the Minister for Finance nor the Government had information before May which showed that the budget targets would not be met. This is clearly borne out by the Department of Finance's monthly expenditure management reports for Government, the reports from the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Finance and tax receipts, including projections for the remainder of the year, and the briefing notes for the Minister on the monthly Exchequer balance. When the Minister got information in June assessing the end of May position, which showed that the public expenditure targets would not be met, he took steps to remedy it. It has changed every month since.

Unfortunately, the position is deteriorating and that is why the Minister has stated that even the memo which came into the public domain is now out of date. Last week his officials outlined the up-to-date position. It is incorrect, untrue and hypocritical for anyone to say that these figures were not spelled out. I would like those who analyse these issues and financial journalists to look at the profile right through since last December. All those figures are available in the Department. People would then see exactly how the year progressed and that there is no truth in these statements.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Does the Taoiseach accept that the response he has given is incredible and an insult to the intelligence of the electorate? Does he accept the statement by the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, on “Morning Ireland” on 13 May when he described as absolute nonsense the assertion that there might be secret plans for cutbacks? The Minister said there were no secret plans for cutbacks and that there would be no cutbacks. The Minister for Finance, Deputy McCreevy, in a written response to Deputy Noonan on 13 May, wrote above his signature that he could confirm that no secret overruns were projected and no cutbacks were [528] planned, secretly or otherwise. That, in the context of the leaked memo, which was being prepared at the same time to outline a series of cuts, shows the deception with which his party fooled the people and gained office fraudulently.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I totally reject that and I will give some reasons to the House as to why. On the last budget day and more recently in February in the Revised Estimates volume, the Minister stated that there would be a 14% increase in gross public expenditure for the year 2002. It is still of the order of 20%. In areas like social, community and family affairs, it is 25% and in health and education, it is in double digits. The additional expenditure in 2002 over 2001 is €3.6 billion.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  What about inflation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  How an increase of €3.6 billion or, in the case of health, over €1 billion, is a cutback is beyond me and Deputy Howlin might, on another occasion, explain why he considers that to be the case. The Minister stated that the entire expenditure he indicated would be spent in 2002, as per the Revised Estimates volume, would be spent. In some areas like health, although the increase this year is enormous and in double digits, more is required where there are demand-led schemes. The Minister has provided an enormous amount of additional resources to health on top of what he stated in the Revised Estimates and on top of what he said on—

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  That was only when you stole—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Sherlock, please. This is Leaders' questions. Your deputy leader is the only person entitled to participate.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  The health services were rotten—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Sherlock, please allow the Taoiseach to conclude.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not want to go back to the public expenditure of the 1980s but I remember the position then and the national debt being double what it is now. I recall record unemployment and the country being in bits. I remember 1987 when we took over from the Deputy's party and Fine Gael. I remember all of those things but I would rather stick to 2002 because it might be more helpful to the people.

For 2002, public expenditure is about €3.6 billion more than it was last year and is in excess of the projected 14% to which the Minister is still endeavouring to get back. There have been enormous increases in the priority areas of health, education and social, community and family affairs. In areas where the Minister has had to tighten up, it is to create additional money in [529] excess of the figures I stated for those demand-led areas.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Taoiseach should answer the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Howlin has asked his supplementary question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is the success of what the Minister is doing – following prudent and careful management in more difficult times in the Irish economy. That is the reality and I am glad I have had the opportunity to state it because I have been trying to do so for the past five weeks but, unfortunately, nobody has been listening.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Kenny on another issue.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Having been contacted by a number of people about the disability Bill, will the Taoiseach confirm that it will be introduced in this session? Will it be rights-based legislation because this is an issue of genuine concern to several hundred thousand people? After five years' deliberation on the last occasion, the Bill had to be withdrawn. When does the Taoiseach expect the Bill to be introduced?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The first part of the question is in order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will answer that question but, with the agreement of the House, could the remaining legislative questions be taken by the Tánaiste? That legislation is a priority and will be taken before Christmas.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It is a different Bill. It is not the disability Bill which is listed but the Education—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I am sorry Deputy O'Sullivan, but Deputy Kenny is on his feet.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I wish the Taoiseach good luck and every success in his deliberations this evening with the British Prime Minister.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I appreciate that.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  We will, of course, facilitate the Taoiseach in his request.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The disability Bill is listed for publication in 2003. The Education for People with Disabilities Bill is listed for this session and is the one which was already published in draft form several months ago. It is not true to say the disability Bill will be dealt with in this session.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy Kenny asked me a question on the Education for People with Disabilities Bill. That is the one which has been prioritised.

[530]Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I wish the Taoiseach well in the important work he will do later today.

As soon as the Order of Business is concluded, we will embark on an important debate on an important tribunal report, the Flood tribunal report. Another important tribunal also reported in recent months, that is, the Lindsay tribunal, which is a matter of great concern—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  A question please, Deputy. It is 6.05 p.m.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am coming to it, Sir.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We have gone well outside the Order of Business.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Those who are interested in the Lindsay tribunal—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should put a brief question.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I would finish the sentence if allowed to do so.

When will we schedule a debate on the Lindsay tribunal report because it is at least as important as the Flood tribunal report?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I share Deputy Howlin's view that it is very important. Perhaps the Whips can discuss that this evening.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  What plans has the Minister for the Environment and Local Government in relation to the dual mandate? I expected that there would be—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise at this point in time. I call Deputy Michael D. Higgins.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It is promised legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand the Minister for the Environment and Local Government will answer questions tomorrow but all these matters are under review.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  On the last occasion the House met, I asked that time be made available to discuss the threat of war in Iraq and the present position in relation to the United Nations Security Council resolutions. I have received no correspondence from the Government Whip as to any proposals for Government time being allocated. I raise this matter because there will not be foreign affairs questions until 6 November and there is no foreign affairs committee meeting. At the moment we are participating in changes in the text which would illegally allow the bombing of Iraq and, in addition, we are allowing Shannon Airport to be used for preparations in advance of military activity. Will the Tánaiste indicate—

[531]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is really a matter that should be discussed between the Whips but if the Tánaiste wants to—

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I asked on the last occasion for this to be discussed. It is ridiculous – I do not like using that word – and unhelpful to discuss the threat of war after the bombing has commenced.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is well outside the terms of the Order of Business.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Whips could discuss that at their meeting this evening.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Tánaiste will be well aware of the report of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board launched last April and, in particular, a proposal in relation to the personal injuries awards scheme. I noticed it is not in the Government's legislative programme either for this session or for next year. Does the Tánaiste believe that a statute is needed to implement the programme, and what is the status of the board?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We will certainly need legislation to establish a personal injuries assessment board on a proper footing and I intend to bring proposals relating to all these matters before the Cabinet within the next two or three weeks. The idea is to establish it on an interim basis pending the enacting of the legislation as it is a priority.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The Supreme Court has decided today that certain aspects of the domestic violence legislation are unconstitutional, particularly relating to temporary barring orders. Will the Government as a matter of urgency review the Act to address this issue?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Deputy is correct and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform will be in urgent consultations with the Attorney General to ascertain what changes, if any, to the law will be required. It is important to reassure people that other protection afforded under domestic violence legislation, such as safety and barring orders, is still available.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Low paid workers, students and young people are the victims of ferocious rack renting by private landlords who are extorting immoral levels of rent. The text of the Housing (Private Rented Sector) Bill, to give effect to the report of the commission on the private rented sector, more than a full year later is only being drafted. Will the Government speed up this Bill so as to give protection to the victims of rampant landlordism?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  This is complex and major legislation. The heads of the Bill were approved by the Government on 5 February last and the full Bill is expected early next year. The drafting is a major exercise.

[532]Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  The landlords can carry on but the tenants must wait.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Something must be done about rampant landlordism immediately.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  During the summer, the new Minister for Transport ran around the country giving interviews and promised legislation on the reform of the bus sector to allow for deregulation and competition because of the situation in Dublin and other cities. The Tánaiste need not consult her notes because there is no mention of the legislation in the Government's programme. When will the legislation appear? Can Deputy Brennan, the Minister, comment on it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister has been very active and he tells me—

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  He was busy running around the country.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I do not know if he was literally running around the country but he was moving. He informs me that the legislation which is necessary before there can be deregulation will be ready next year.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Six years ago the same Minister promised this legislation and the Tánaiste also said that it would be a priority, yet this Government, now in its second term, has not done anything.

On promised legislation, profiteering occurred in some sections of the service sector during the euro changeover, while the promised action to prevent profiteering did not occur. Has the Tánaiste any legislative proposals to deal with the shocking findings of the Forfás report which was presented to her this summer but about which we have had no debate? We have become the most expensive country for basic services and the Government just sits on its hands.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The most effective legislation in this area relates to competition. We recently enacted strong legislation giving the Competition Authority more power. The Forfás report said there was no evidence that the changeover caused the rise in prices and it gave other reasons, as the Deputy knows.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  That is not so. It did blame the changeover. The Tánaiste is inadvertently misleading the House.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am not.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  The Tánaiste is mistaken. Forfás laid the blame on the changeover.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Tánaiste is misleading the House.

[533]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy must not make a charge like that. We must move on to the next item.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Tánaiste is misleading the House. She could at least read her own reports. This is a serious matter and she ought to correct the record.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is now being disorderly and we must move on.


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