Order of Business.

Wednesday, 23 October 2002

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 556 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 27, statements on Iraq; No.1, Data Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2002 [Seanad]– Second Stage (resumed); No. 26, Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 2002 – Second Stage (resumed); No. 15a, motion re Lindsay tribunal report, to be taken not later than immediately following the announcement of matters on the Adjournment under Standing Order 21 and the order shall resume thereafter.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on No. 27 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. today and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the technical group and the Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; the statements of each other Member called upon, who may share his or her time, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; and the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes.

The proceedings on No. 15a shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of the Minister for Health and Children and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the technical group and the Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; and the statements of each other Member called upon, who may share time, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case.

Question Time tomorrow shall be taken 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.

Private Members' Business shall be No. 36, motion re organ retention and disposal, resumed – to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

[4]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are three proposals before the House. Is the proposal to deal with No. 27, statements on Iraq agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Before agreeing to the Order of Business, I would like clarification of reports that the Taoiseach is to absent himself from the House every Thursday.

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

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I want clarification on whether we will have an executive Government without any responsibility to the House and the people.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This proposal deals specifically with statements on Iraq.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  We cannot have a situation where the Taoiseach absents himself deliberately when there are questions to be answered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the Deputy opposed to taking statements on Iraq?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am if I do not get clarification on these reports. Since I was elected to the House during the period of office of former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, every Taoiseach has answered questions on Thursdays.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy Trevor Sargent.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Does the Taoiseach expect to come to the House on Tuesday afternoons and to leave for the rest of the week on Wednesday at 4 o'clock? This is disgraceful carry on.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Can we discuss this in the morning or can it be discussed at all?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It can be discussed at another time but it has nothing to do with Iraq. I call Deputy Trevor Sargent.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  It appears that we do not count anymore. There is no respect for this House outside here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I have noticed that is the case when Deputies do not keep order in the House.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  We are objecting to the proposal on the basis that this is not just a case of statements about a despot in Iraq. Not unlike Deputy Kenny's point, this is about Ireland deciding whether or not to take part in a war and the Dáil needs to vote on the matter.

[5]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The proposal is on how we debate the matter rather than its content.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I object to the fact that it is only statements. We need to vote on the matter and recognise that other despots, like Hitler, tried to remove accountability from parliament and that the Taoiseach is trying to remove accountability from the Dáil and wants a one and a half day week. How does that go down with the workers of the country?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Sargent is out of order.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  How does that go down with the workers of this country? He wants a one and a half day week so that he can open pubs in Mostar and Hungary and all around Europe. That is what he is at.

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach advise and confirm if this Government has entered into a sordid little deal with the Labour Party in the House in order to allow this Taoiseach absent himself—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise. We are debating proposals for discussing Iraq.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  —from the business of this House on a Thursday? We have here a proposal to allow the Taoiseach a one and a half day week and—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is out of order. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat while the Chair is on its feet.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The quid pro quo for this is that the Labour Party will get the numbers—-

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Does Deputy Ó Caoláin wish to leave the House? I call Deputy Michael Higgins.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Make up your numbers with Mr. Lowry.

(Interruptions.)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Labour Opposition would let the Taoiseach stay away all the time.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I presume the Deputy would like to take over himself.

[6]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Can we have order please Deputies Stagg and Ó Caoláin. Will Deputy Stagg allow his party colleague to speak?

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Who is taking the statements on Iraq on behalf of the Government? Would it be possible to have the documentation that affects the matter we will be discussing placed in the Library? The full text of Ambassador Ryan's statement to the Security Council has not been made available nor have the draft texts which will be put before the Security Council which would have been invaluable to Members making statements. I find it hard to understand the lack of these basic preparations for a debate on a serious topic. There has been no discussion either as to where these statements will lead. I do not wish to delay matters but I point out that the committee on foreign affairs is not in existence nor are there any other mechanisms to proceed. We will not discuss foreign affairs questions until 6 November and a series of bland statements will not answer any of the questions which will be posed by those who wish to speak on the issue. Who is handling the matter on behalf of the Government? Will questions posed in the statements be answered and will the necessary documentation to which we wish to address questions be made available in the Library?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  President Bush is handling it on behalf of the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I answered questions both last week and this on Iraq to the extent of the information available to me to date. I was asked to give time for a debate this week and we are doing so.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  There were just two pages for 36 questions.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  It is not a debate, just statements.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will bring to the attention of the Minister the points made by Deputy Michael Higgins.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On a point of order, I sought clarification from the Taoiseach on his creating a personal minefield here if he is not to be responsible to this House and the people for answering questions. Therefore, I object to this Order of Business without such—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy, that is not a point of order. The Chair is now responsible for the answer to the question, “Is the proposal for dealing with item No. 27 agreed?“

Question put, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 27 be agreed to.”

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Niall.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Séamus.
Browne, John.
Callanan, Joe.
Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.
Carty, John.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cregan, John.
Cullen, Martin.
Curran, John.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Dennehy, John.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Finneran, Michael.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fox, Mildred.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim.
Grealish, Noel.
Hanafin, Mary.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Hoctor, Máire.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
[8]Kelly, Peter.
Killeen, Tony.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Tom.
Lenihan, Brian.
Lenihan, Conor.
McCreevy, Charlie.
McDaid, James.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
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.
Parlon, Tom.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
Ryan, Eoin.
Sexton, Mae.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G.V.

Allen, Bernard.
Boyle, Dan.
Breen, James.
Breen, Pat.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Bruton, Richard.
Burton, Joan.
Connaughton, Paul.
Connolly, Paudge.
Coveney, Simon.
Cowley, Jerry.
Crawford, Seymour.
Cuffe, Ciarán.
Deasy, John.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Ferris, Martin.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Gregory, Tony.
Harkin, Marian.
Hayes, Tom.
Healy, Séamus.
Higgins, Joe.
Hogan, Phil.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kenny, Enda.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Finian.
McGrath, Paul.
McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Morgan, Arthur.
Murphy, Gerard.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Pattison, Séamus.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Eamon.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Twomey, Liam.
Upton, Mary.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15a, motion re Lindsay tribunal report, agreed to?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I asked for clarification on reports that the Taoiseach is to absent himself from the House from Wednesday afternoons and refuse to answer questions and take business that is in the people's interest. We need clarification on this. Is the Taoiseach going to allow his party numbers to railroad this proposal through whereby the people will not be able to have questions answered?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We are dealing with the arrangement for the debate on the Lindsay tribunal report.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What is to happen on a Thursday when a major issue must be responded to and there is no Taoiseach to answer it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise at this stage. There will be an opportunity to debate this if and when such a proposal comes before the House.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  We cannot have this. Will the Taoiseach clarify whether reports that he is going to absent himself from the House are true?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That does not arise at this point. We are dealing with arrangements for the debate on the Lindsay tribunal report.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Can we have clarification from the Taoiseach? Is he going to allow his party numbers to railroad this through?

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

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I want clarification.

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

Mr. Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  It arises if we object to the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is not in order. We are discussing arrangements for debating the Lindsay tribunal.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  It is an issue of accountability.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Before deciding on No. 15a, I seek a point of clarification as to how the speaking time will be allocated. We have a precedent in previous statements being made in the House, but due to the formation of a technical group and the diverse nature of that group that slot has been divided between the constituent parts.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Very divided.

(Interruptions.)[9][10]

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Given the existence of that precedent and the fact that the Government has not been prepared to change but is prepared to do so for others in this House who are more amenable and corruptible, can I ask—

Mr. M. Smith: Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Withdraw that.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  The cheek of that. What about Deputy Michael Lowry?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Will the precedent be maintained?

(Interruptions.)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I seek clarification about the new composition of Government in this House, namely the Fianna Fáil, Progressive Democrats and Labour Party coalition.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  We are discussing arrangements for debating the Lindsay tribunal report.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  In the recent Nice campaign the Labour Party posters said, “A different kind of Yes”. We are seeing an example of that here this morning. The Labour Party is presenting itself as a different kind of Fianna Fáil.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Did the Deputy get the transcript?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  For five months the Government has steadfastly refused to amend Standing Order 114 to recognise the integrity of smaller political parties in the House, but it is quite prepared to—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputy Ó Caoláin, I ask you to resume your seat.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  —diminish the opportunity of the technical group.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  A Cheann Comhairle, I am sure you will agree that the issues relating to the Lindsay tribunal are absolutely central to the lives and indeed deaths of many people. Your experience and our experience has been that the State failed to protect people in need of medical treatment. This afternoon we will have a debate that will last two and three quarter hours. When the Dáil resumed earlier this month, we spent two days debating another report, that of the Flood tribunal, which was important but did not impact in such a crucial way on the lives of people. Will the Taoiseach consider extending this debate, coming back to it on another date if necessary, so that we can look at the issues that were raised in the tribunal report and which sadly were not dealt with adequately in the report? In other countries people were sent to jail as a result of the blood contamination scandal. We have a tribunal report that is grossly inadequate in meeting the needs of those who have suffered so dreadfully. Will the Taoiseach consider having a follow on to this [11]debate at an appropriate time so that we in this House can show we are keeping in mind the people who have suffered and died?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Deputy is requesting that we have the debate today, but that perhaps at another time we would give more time to it. I have no difficulty with that.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I asked earlier whether the interpretation of the precedent that originally stood still stands.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is a matter for the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  In response to Deputy McManus, I ask the Taoiseach whether the statements on the Lindsay tribunal will conclude today or will we leave them over.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The statements will take place today, but we can come back to the subject on another occasion as well.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On a point of order, I have now asked twice for the Taoiseach to clarify—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There is no provision in Standing Orders for a representative of any party to come in a second time when opposing the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Taoiseach is sitting in the House but is refusing to answer the question.

[12]Question “That the proposal for dealing with No. 15a, motion re Lindsay tribunal report be agreed to,” put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal in relation to taking Question Time tomorrow agreed to?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  If this proposal is agreed to and if a special notice question is taken, it will eat into the time available to scrutinise the accountability of the Minister in charge because such a special notice question would take up 30 minutes. In that event, and given that the Taoiseach may not be here to answer questions and be accountable through this House to the people, I find this entirely objectionable. I again ask the Taoiseach to clarify reports that he is to be absent from this House from Wednesday at 12 o'clock. It is not good enough.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Are you opposing the proposal in relation to Question Time?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Taoiseach wants to answer that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  This is the normal Thursday arrangement that we always have and we have always dealt with it this way.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  No it is not. It is only a recent development.

Question put: “That the proposals for taking Question Time tomorrow be agreed to”.

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Noel.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Blaney, Niall.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Séamus.
Browne, John.
Callanan, Joe.
Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.
Carty, John.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Cowen, Brian.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cregan, John.
Cullen, Martin.
Curran, John.
de Valera, Síle.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dempsey, Tony.
Dennehy, John.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Finneran, Michael.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fleming, Sean.
Fox, Mildred.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim.
Grealish, Noel.
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.
McDaid, James.
McDowell, Michael.
McEllistrim, Thomas.
McGuinness, John.
Martin, Micheál.
Moloney, John.
Moynihan, Donal.
Moynihan, Michael.
Mulcahy, Michael.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
O'Dea, Willie. O'Donnell, Liz.[13]

O'Donoghue, John.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Flynn, Noel.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Malley, Fiona.
O'Malley, Tim.
Parlon, Tom.
Power, Seán.
Roche, Dick.
[14]Sexton, Mae.
Smith, Brendan.
Smith, Michael.
Treacy, Noel.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.
Wright, G.V.

Boyle, Dan.
Breen, James.
Breen, Pat.
Connaughton, Paul.
Connolly, Paudge.
Coveney, Simon.
Cowley, Jerry.
Crawford, Seymour.
Cuffe, Ciarán.
Deasy, John.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
Durkan, Bernard J.
English, Damien.
Enright, Olwyn.
Ferris, Martin.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Gregory, Tony.
Harkin, Marian.
Hayes, Tom.
Healy, Seamus.
Higgins, Joe.
Kehoe, Paul.
Kenny, Enda.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
McGrath, Finian.
McGrath, Paul.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Olivia.
Morgan, Arthur.
Murphy, Gerard.
Naughten, Denis.
Neville, Dan.
Noonan, Michael.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
O'Dowd, Fergus.
Ring, Michael.
Ryan, Eamon.
Sargent, Trevor.
Stanton, David.
Timmins, Billy.
Twomey, Liam.

Question declared carried.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I ask the Taoiseach to clarify again the difference between State law and canon law in the matter of clerical sexual abuse. This morning relevant sections of canon law were quoted in the media to the effect that paedophilia was a disease and, according to canon law, clerics thus afflicted should not be removed from active ministries. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has given some clarification on this matter, which I welcome, but the Taoiseach should clarify that irrespective of who the person is, nobody is above the law of the State when it comes to criminal charges and prosecutions being followed through. This is a matter of grave concern to a great number of people.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Does the Taoiseach agree that whereas primary culpability for the appalling litany of abuse over decades rests with the Catholic Church, the State carries a heavy responsibility also for facilitating an atmosphere and regime whereby the church was allowed to have inordinate influence on matters of State? The mother and child scheme is one of the most blatant examples. By facilitating and bending the knee on matters, the State and successive Governments, preceding that of this Taoiseach, were culpable in allowing such an atmosphere of secrecy and unparalleled power to develop by which this appalling regime of abuse continued. Will the Taoiseach agree and re-affirm that the Church is indeed a private institution in this State and that as such its rules cannot take precedence over what every other citizen must abide by in terms of laws and of how people should be treated in interpersonal communication in their daily lives?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I agree with the questions asked by the previous speakers. I raised this matter with the Taoiseach yesterday. I ask if he has reflected on the suggestion I put to him that the report conducted by Mr. George Birmingham, SC, into the Diocese of Ferns, could now be extended by the Government to examine the matter on a nation-wide basis? Mr. Birmingham has dealt with the matter very successfully and those directly affected and others involved in the Diocese of Ferns have expressed their satisfaction. Given the sensitive nature of the matter this may be the best approach in the first instance in order to restore trust between the citizens and the State.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will answer the questions in reverse order. In reply to Deputy Quinn's question, I spoke to the Minister for Health and Children this morning. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Minister for Health and Children are having a meeting today with the group representing the victims of child abuse in the Dublin area and with representatives from the Diocese of Ferns. We will await the out[15]come of that meeting and further discussions with the Attorney General when he returns later in the week from The Hague.

In response to Deputy Higgins, I do not wish to comment on the laws and practices of the past because there is not much I can do about the past, I can only attempt to deal with the present and the future. Much good work was done in the past even though these matters are abhorrent.

I wish to make it absolutely clear, in answer to Deputy Kenny's question, that the law of the land applies to everybody no matter who or what one is or what a person's status is or what they think it is. The law applies to me, to the Deputy and to everybody. I appeal to anyone with information regarding any of these issues, in particular clerical sexual abuse, to give that information to the Garda and it will be dealt with under the criminal justice system without fear or favour.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I welcome the announcement by the Government of the non-statutory inquiry into allegations of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Ferns. I understand that there is another television programme in the can which relates to sexual abuse in the north-west and that this programme is due to be broadcast soon. In view of the claims in today's newspapers that the Hussey inquiry will be able to name names, has the Government given consideration as to whether they can be linked back to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the event of criminal charges being brought if warranted? Has the Government given any consideration to the possibility that it may be necessary to set up a permanent commission to deal with allegations of sexual abuse as it now appears these allegations may well stray into other sectors of society?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There has been much discussion on this issue over a number of years. We have introduced legislation and procedures to deal with it, such as the Children's Act, 1998. In relation to clerical sexual abuse, I replied to Deputy Quinn's question yesterday. We must reflect on that. The system used in the Diocese of Ferns has been useful, helpful and reassuring. The next stage of that work will consist of a panel of three persons chaired by Mr. Justice Frank Murphy, a former Supreme Court judge. The other members of the team will consist of a specialist in the area of child protection and a human resources and management specialist. That inquiry follows from the report prepared by Mr. George Bermingham SC. We will consider his report when it comes to dealing with what happened in Dublin and elsewhere. No decision has yet been made.

Deputy Kenny's second question refers to the broader issue of abuse. That will be examined in relation to other legislation. Current issues and the television programmes and newspaper articles mean we will have to reflect on that. We do not wish to make a hasty decision on this matter. We [16]must make a careful analysis and decide what is the best way to deal with it.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  A few years ago baggage handlers employed by Ryanair at Dublin Airport were forced out on strike. So blatant was that company's anti-trade union stance that the Taoiseach in a speech referred to capitalism that was red in tooth and claw. Is the Taoiseach concerned by recent press reports that another group of workers at Dublin Airport who are members of SIPTU, in the employment of CityJet Handling, have been forced out on strike for the past two months; that their employer located in the airport two years ago with the stated and express intention of capturing 30% of the airport's baggage and other handling activities and set about doing so by undercutting existing companies and contracts, by paying an average wage one-third less than other airport employers doing similar business, insisting on draconian working conditions and refusing to negotiate with the trade union? Is the Taoiseach aware that as a result, hundreds of other jobs in similar employments in the airport are now threatened? Will the Taoiseach state that Ireland's premier airport which handles 14 million passengers per year, should not be home to anti-trade union, anti-worker companies and that the Government and the State, as the owner of Aer Rianta which controls the airport, has a responsibility to state very clearly that every employer should respect their employees, pay decent wages and not introduce repressive regimes? Will he call on CityJet to desist immediately from its current course?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Arising from that question I ask the Taoiseach for clarification on the longer-term view regarding Dublin Airport. If this kind of activity is allowed to fester, will it not lead to a complete privatisation of Dublin Airport or is that the Government's long-term intention?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Deputy Joe Higgins raised a very pertinent question on behalf of the technical group. Does the Taoiseach agree that employers have benefited from successive Governments, including Governments in which I served, from the most benign rate of corporation tax and probably the most pro-business environment in terms of our collective desire to promote employment, which has been remarkably successful? Yet, at the heart of the employers' group there is a Taliban of employers who are denying the right of workers to be represented. There is an ongoing dispute in Spring Valley nursing home in Enniscorthy over the right of workers to be represented by whom they so choose and so participate in social partnership. Will the Taoiseach give an undertaking that if he values social partnership, as he frequently says he does, he will confront this Taliban of people who want to enjoy the lowest rate of corporation tax and the most pro-business environment in the European Union which has been constructed on the foundation of social [17]partnership? Will the Taoiseach say to them that they cannot pick and choose but they must take the collective? Will he tell them that part of that collective is the right of workers to be organised and recognised as trade unions?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The industrial relations machinery for all these cases should be pursued and unions and their representatives should be allowed to use it where employers do not allow workers to exercise their rights. Deputy Joe Higgins raised one case but there have been many examples over the years, and not only in recent years. People have the right to organise and to deal with issues. There are mechanisms in place.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  They are not working.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Labour Court and the Labour Relations Commission have spent an endless amount of time dealing with cases. In the case referred to by the Deputy – the case at Dublin Airport some years ago – the chairman of the Labour Relations Commission worked extremely hard to bring about a resolution. While it may not have been entirely to the satisfaction of everyone concerned, it was helpful.

There are also codes in place which should be followed. Employers and trade unions in social partnership, and with the benefits they have been given, have responsibilities which they should assume. I am not up to date on the latest position in the dispute raised by the Deputy – he should raise it with the relevant Ministers – but as a general rule, the industrial relations machinery and the industrial relations mechanisms in place, which have worked successfully in many cases, should be used.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Airport workers will take note of the supplementary questions put in support of my question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  A question, Deputy. We want to move on with the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I have not delayed it so far, a Cheann Comhairle. Does the Taoiseach agree that when an employer blatantly refuses to use the industrial relations machinery and, in fact, flouts it, it puts workers in an impossible position? Does he agree that airport workers should not be subject to these kinds of predatory employers who come to this State to explicitly capture business by implementing “yellow packery” at its worst and to capture business by introducing a regime of low pay, anti-trade union practices and repression? Will the Taoiseach make a clear and unambiguous statement to Cityjet to get real with its workers or to get out?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The industrial relations mechanisms of the State insist that employers treat their workers fairly. In terms of pay, this is one of the few countries with a minimum rate of pay; we have the highest minimum rate of pay. We [18]have clear and explicit regulations about conditions of employment. We have probably introduced more legislation than most countries concerning the rights of workers – legislative, statutory rights – and employers should adhere fully to it. Companies which flout it, whether this company or any other, are in breach of statutory regulations. If they are in breach of such regulations, it is a matter for the industrial relations mechanisms of the State to determine that. Workers, even those who are not recognised, may still use the industrial relations machinery of the State, and they should do so. Companies and workers, including organised or unorganised workers and those represented by trade unions or others, should follow that route.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  On numerous occasions – at least 20 I suspect – one of which included an attempt to publish a Bill which was denied as it was deemed that it would pose a charge on the taxpayer, although it would have been funded from the social insurance fund, my party, including Deputy Rabbitte and many others, have attempted to raise with the Taoiseach and Tánaiste the issue of amending the redundancy legislation to give effect to what has been the Labour Court recommendation in practice in recent times, either two or three weeks' pay per year worked and the abolition of the age differentiation.

I raised this matter with the Taoiseach last Wednesday and maybe it was his unique way of communicating in parliamentary language or a deliberate attempt to try to suggest progress had been made but he referred to a report of 16 October which was published on Tuesday, 22 October. In the three key areas, those to which I referred – the amount of money, the age differentiation and so on – no consensus has been reached between the social partners. The Taoiseach did not seek consensus in relation to tax reductions.

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

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I will not be asking more of these.

The Taoiseach did not seek consensus nor is he compelled to reach consensus. In light of the question raised by Deputy Ryan and the doubling of redundancies in recent times, will the Taoiseach in the absence of consensus – there is some agreement in the margins on many of the minor matters, although not on the core matters – amend the redundancy legislation and make it retrospective so that the workers who were in occupation in Peerless Rugs, Irish Glass and many other companies—

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Monaghan Poultry.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  IFI.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Indeed. If the Taoiseach's backbenchers were sitting behind him, they could give a similar litany. Will he act on this basis?

[19]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Arising from Deputy Quinn's question and given the nature of employment these days which can be brought to a sudden end because of economic circumstances outside the control of this country, does the Taoiseach consider that a half week's wages per year worked under the age of 41 and one week's wages per year worked over the age of 41 are appropriate in this day and age? Will he clarify the thrust of Deputy Quinn's question in relation to the statutory redundancy payments?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Is the Taoiseach aware this issue has come to national attention because of the closure of Irish Glass? Does he agree that the State scandalously missed a great opportunity to keep that firm open as a recycling facility with an imaginative approach involving Rehab, for example, the workers and local authorities? Does he agree the priority must be to protect every job in the State because a job lost is a job gone for generations to come? When there is a redundancy, does he agree that a half week's pay per year worked or one week's pay per year worked for older workers is a derisory recompense for workers who have, in many cases, spent decades with the employer? Does he agree it is despicable that certain companies which have fabulously wealthy parent companies from which they are legally separated should plead poverty in trying to get out of paying workers being made redundant a decent recompense?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy Quinn has raised this issue on numerous occasions. Yesterday the Tánaiste published the report of the Redundancy Review Group, to which I referred last week. The group reached agreement on the treatment of older workers, insurability requirements, ceiling wages, qualification period, determination of weekly pay, non-reckonable service, employees working abroad, fines, penalties and the link between redundancy and training. Administrative issues were agreed, including the rounding of years of service and many other matters relating to the administration of the system. We all welcome that and the Tánaiste said in her statement that she would now prepare the necessary legislation to give effect to the policy changes. That was one part of the equation.

On the second issue, as the Tánaiste said yesterday and I said in the House last week, the work of the group has clarified and given the costs involved in increasing the level of statutory redundancy payments. As a result of that, the post-PPF negotiations, which will commence next week, will be to the benefit of informing the costs and looking at this issue. The Tánaiste and I have said on the Order of Business and elsewhere many times that it is an issue on which we are prepared to work but the negotiations must take place to see precisely what improvements we can achieve. On the first issue, we have given a clear commitment, while on the second issue, we have [20]given a clear commitment to negotiate it in the round of post-PPF negotiations.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Does the Taoiseach share the concerns expressed by the outgoing general secretary of SIPTU, John McDonnell, that unless progress is made soon on this matter, prospects for a successful new agreement under social partnership will be greatly diminished, if not entirely undermined? Does he recognise that the areas of the report on which agreement was not reached are the key areas which are causing the dispute? Does he agree the level of redundancy ceiling, the differentiation between those under and over 41 years of age, the multiple of weekly pay, the size of rebate to the employer and the provision of an enhanced statutory amount where employers fail or are unable to make statutory redundancy payments are the core issues in the dispute between employers and workers? Does he agree this is important and will he give an undertaking that the man beside him, the Minister for Finance, Deputy McCreevy, will not raid the social insurance fund in the forthcoming budget? He raided it last year to the tune of €635 million. Could I have it established by the Taoiseach that the reason the Government is not making progress on this issue is not related in any way to the fact that it is holding over so it can raid the social insurance fund in the same grubby way it did last year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  One considerable part of this is set out in the review group which we have agreed. This includes representatives of employers, workers and Departments and it covers a wide range of policy issues. Deputy Quinn is right that there are other issues. The review group in its work has clarified these areas, as well as the costs. As I and the Tánaiste have said many times, many of these arrangements are old, a lot of them I think dating back to 1984, and we will look at them and negotiate with them and see what happens in those negotiations, which will commence next week.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Will the Taoiseach allow time for the Minister for Agriculture and Food to make a statement regarding his failure to assist in the ongoing dispute with farmers and the meat factories? On promised legislation, could the Taoiseach tell me when the proposed land Bill will be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  In 2003.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  I raised the concern the other day that the Government is very slow in bringing forward legislation for the transport planning authority—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy must pose a question on legislation relevant to the Order of Business.

[21]Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Why is there no provision in the Government's legislative programme for a public transport regulator, on which the consultation paper was issued two and a half years ago?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. Only promised legislation may be discussed.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  This is promised, but the Government is not delivering it. It is a valid question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Which Bill do you want to ask about Deputy?

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  At what stage is the proposed legislation for a public transport regulator?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The legislation the Deputy started talking about was the greater Dublin area land use and transport authority Bill, which is being prepared. The heads are being drafted at present and legislation will hopefully be available by next year.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  In light of the ongoing problems in areas such as Monaghan General Hospital, when will this House have the opportunity of discussing the health, social care and professional regulatory Bill, which will deal with some of the problems we have with professionals and how they operate? We have a crisis coming, and on 1 January we may have no doctors—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  You cannot make a Second Stage speech on the matter Deputy Crawford.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Without doctors the hospital cannot function.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill referred to is designed to provide for the statutory registration of certain professions in health and social care. The heads of the Bill were approved by the Government in July, and the Bill is presently being drafted.

Mr. Healy: Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  In view of the widespread dissatisfaction with the operation of the Environmental Protection Agency in policing environmental matters, including local authority waste water treatment plants, when will the Environmental Protection Agency amendment Bill be discussed in the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Before Christmas.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  On foot of promises made by the Tánaiste, what is the Government planning to do in regard to insurance legislation? The Tánaiste promised legislation in the House last week to deal with the cost of insurance, which is a major problem nationally for companies.

[22]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Tánaiste will be making further announcements on this matter over the next week.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science produced a report on science and education. One of its recommendations was that an Oireachtas committee be established on science and technology and that it include outside members. We have promised legislation in the form of the Industrial Development Science Foundation Ireland Bill. Will the Taoiseach ensure this legislation is published immediately and include, prior to the appointment of the Oireachtas committees, a committee on science and technology?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The legislation is due prior to Christmas.

Mr. Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Will the Taoiseach indicate the timing of two pieces of proposed legislation? The first is the Private Security Services Bill, 2001, which was introduced by Fine Gael initially and is awaiting Second Stage in the House. We have been waiting a considerable time for that Bill, which is designed to regulate the security industry, bouncers and doormen. The second is the transmission planning Bill, which is designed to accelerate the roll-out of energy infrastructure by streamlining the planning process.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Private Security Services Bill, 2001 has been published and I understand it is before the House, on order for Second Stage—

Mr. Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Will it be prioritised?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is a matter for the Whips. Regarding the transmission planning Bill, which is to accelerate the roll-out of ESB infrastructure, the heads are being prepared and the legislation will not be ready until 2003.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Can the Taoiseach tell us whether any legislative changes are proposed to deal more effectively and rapidly with the ongoing issue of child sexual abuse?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not think there is any current legislation other than the full enactment of the Children Act, 2001. Many sections of that have been enacted but there are others still outstanding. The 1998 legislation is in place and I think the remaining section of that was introduced in the summer. Following all the examinations that are presently taking place, and maybe ultimately after Mr. Justice Walsh's report, the issue will have to be looked at again.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  In light of recent court cases in my county, can the Taoiseach tell us when the Bill will come before the Dáil to amend the Equal Status Act, 2000 in order to give publicans control of their own premises again?

[23]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads have been approved of the Equal Status (Amendment) Bill and it is currently being drafted. The work is well advanced and the Bill should be published after Christmas.


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