Tuesday, 5 November 2002
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 13 – motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the EU and Egypt, the EU and Lebanon and the EU and Algeria; No. 14 – motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Freedom of Information Act, 1997 (Prescribed Bodies) (No. 2) Regulations, 2002; No. 15 – motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern  Ireland on Police Co-operation; No. 16 – motion re referral to select committee of Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Bill, 2002; No. 17 – motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimate [Vote 34] and, subject to the agreement of No. 17, to take Supplementary Estimate [Vote 34]; No. 3, Criminal Justice (Illicit Traffic by Sea) Bill, 2000 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.
It is proposed notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 13, 14, 15 and 16 shall be decided without debate. No. 17 shall be decided without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith and, subject to the agreement of No. 17, Supplementary Estimate [Vote 34] shall be moved and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 75 minutes or by 7.00 p.m., whichever is the earlier, and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith and the following arrangements shall apply: the Minister for Agriculture and Food and the main spokesperson for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the technical group shall be called on in that order and shall not exceed ten minutes in each case. The speeches of each Member called on shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time and the Minister for Agriculture and Food shall be called on to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members' business shall be No. 40, motion re registration charge for third level students.
Mr. G. Mitchell: The motions do not say to which committees these matters are to be referred. Since there could be confusion as to the role of different committees, the order should state the committees being referred to. I presume No. 13 is to be referred to the Select Committee on European Affairs.
Mr. Sargent: We object to No. 15 being hived off to a committee given that it is a vital matter which should be dealt with in the House. We understood that there would be statements on Northern Ireland, particularly as this item deals with policing, and that statements were to address the subversion of policing implied by reports of the Government's secret deal with the Real IRA. Given that the issue of policing is vital in terms of the peace process, I ask the Ceann Comhairle to accept that this matter should be dealt with in the Dáil.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: We on the Sinn Féin team cannot agree with the proposal to refer the motion on the policing agreement between the Irish and British Governments to committee without debate. This is one of the crucial issues facing the country and it is central to the peace process. We want to see a new beginning to policing as envisaged in the Good Friday Agreement and we want to see the Patten proposals implemented in full. There needs to be all-Ireland co-operation as the basis for future policing on this island, but it must be in the context of a new police service in the North, which we do not have yet. We would support the measures in the agreement on policing if the Patten proposals were already in place north of the Border, but they are not. It is unacceptable for this motion to be passed along to by-pass the opportunity for debate in this Chamber and, accordingly, I record an objection to that formula.
The Taoiseach: If the motions go to committee and people feel that is not enough they can take up some time here as well. We discuss the issue of policing in Northern Ireland here all the time. Along with the number of requests for special debates and the way we structure business – Leaders' Questions, Question Time, notices under Standing Order 31, Private Members' Business and Matters on the Adjournment – this House also has to discuss legislation.
de Valera, Síle.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Ryan, Eoin. Sexton, Mae.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Higgins, Michael D.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Mr. Howlin: In light of the statements by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions this week on racism in the workplace, is it intended to proceed with the Work Permits Bill and when will it be before the House?
The Taoiseach: The Work Permits Bill is designed to put the employment permit regime on a comprehensive and sound structural footing. The heads of the Bill have been approved by Government and the Bill has been drafted and should be introduced in the spring session.
Mr. Boyle: Given the renewed concerns of adopted people and organisations representing them regarding access to birth information and searching for birth parents, will the Government give further consideration to bringing forward the promised legislation on amending adoption law?
Mr. O'Connor: I was keener than ever to come here today to join in what I suspect is a joyful day for the Labour Party. I have known Pat Rabbitte for a long time. I recall that in the local elections of 1985 he had 90 votes more than me, I am glad to say that we have both improved a lot since then. I wish to congratulate him and in doing so, paraphrase what he said to me and Deputy Crowe 171 days ago when we were elected to this House: I wish Deputy Rabbitte well, but after today he is on his own.
Mr. Allen: Two weeks ago the Taoiseach said the whole question of the dual mandate was under review. Since then we have had a posse of Government backbenchers discussing it on local radio. What is the current position of that legislation?
Ms McManus: A Health Insurance Bill and the VHI Board Corporate Status Bill are due to be published in the next year. What is going to happen to the VHI regarding privatisation? Many questions are now being raised—
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy did the same two weeks ago in the House. If he does not resume his seat immediately I will ask him to leave the House. The Deputy should resume his seat when the Chair is on its feet.
Mr. Hayes: The dispute has been resolved and it is a major concern to the farming community that this has happened. The Minister for Agriculture and Food sits beside the Taoiseach week in and week out and nothing is happening. The farmers I represent—
Mr. Durkan: I ask the Ceann Comhairle to bear with me for just a moment. Are we to have a situation where every Member who raises a valid subject which is of concern to the public will be asked to leave the House?
Mr. Durkan: It is a departure from what has happened in my time in this House and I have been here almost as long as the Ceann Comhairle. I find it objectionable that when a Member of the Opposition raises a valid subject—
An Ceann Comhairle: —and the Order of Business is not the way to raise that matter. If we were to allow that we would be here until midnight. Every Deputy would be entitled to raise any issue they liked. Standing Order 26 is quite specific and if the Deputies are not happy with Standing Orders they know how to change them.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Tonight I will attend the launch of a new service for those who suffer from domestic violence. I would like to be able to give the people there some reassurance regarding the decision of the Supreme Court that found interim barring orders unconstitutional. Has legal advice to redress this been received and when are we likely to see the legislation?
The Taoiseach: The full judgment of the court had to be delivered; that has now been presented and the matter is under consideration. Amending legislation may be required, but that decision will not be made until the findings of the court have been dealt with. As soon as that happens, I will inform the Deputy.
Ms Enright: When does the Government intend to bring legislation before the Dáil to establish an inquiry into clerical child sexual abuse and the handling of same by church authorities? Will the Government be laying an order before the Dáil with the terms of reference for the Ferns inquiry?
The Taoiseach: I do not believe legislation is required. The inquiry is to begin in the new year. I am not sure if an order is required, but legislation is certainly not required as the inquiry is non-statutory.
Ms O'Sullivan: I wish to refer to the matter Deputy Gogarty raised, namely, the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill. Is this a  redrafted Bill or is it the same legislation which was introduced in the Seanad before the election and which was put on ice at the request of disability organisations because they were dissatisfied with it?
Mr. Coveney: When will the two promised amendments relating to the Broadcasting (Major Events Television Coverage) Act be forthcoming? The Taoiseach promised these amendments a number of weeks ago. Are we likely to see them before the commencement of the Six Nations Rugby Championship?
The Taoiseach: That announcement was made some weeks ago and the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Dermot Ahern, is obliged to bring the relevant orders to the House. I do not have a date for this, but the intention is to make the orders.
Mr. Gormley: I notice from the list of proposed legislation, that one item has changed its name from the control of road openings Bill to the Roads (Control of Road Works) Bill since the previous session. Will the Taoiseach indicate why this matter, which I have raised repeatedly, has been put on the long finger?
Mr. Crawford: Is the Taoiseach aware that, as a result of insurance difficulties, 40 jobs have been lost in CPV in Clones? Is it intended to bring forward legislation to curtail the cost of insurance?
The Taoiseach: The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Harney, has announced a list of proposals, some of which may, in due course, require the introduction of legislation. In the meantime, however, she is proceeding to implement the procedures she has outlined.
Mr. Naughten: Tomorrow the CIE board is going to rubber-stamp a decision regarding rail freight. In light of the fact that this decision will mean there will be an additional 82 accidents and six fatalities on Irish roads because two million extra tonnes of freight will have to be transported by road, will the Taoiseach bring forward amending secondary legislation in respect of the Road Traffic Acts to ensure that spray suppression systems are installed on heavy goods vehicles because spray can severely limit visibility on wet roads?
Mr. Naughten: My query related to secondary legislation and I would like a reply. The current secondary legislation is not being enforced and there were 81 fatalities on our roads last year which were caused by heavy goods vehicles. This issue must be addressed.
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