Order of Business.

Wednesday, 8 October 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 572 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Order of Business shall be: No. 21a, motion of referral to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights of the proposed approval of Dáil Éireann of a Council regulation (EC) on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II); No. 1 the Dumping at Sea (Amendment) Bill 2000 [Seanad] – Second Stage (resumed); No. 5, Aer Lingus Bill 2003 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 2, the Criminal Justice (Joint Investigation Teams) Bill 2003 [Seanad] – Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on No. 21a should be decided without debate, Private Members' Business shall be No. 32, the [29] Planning and Development (Acquisition of Development Land) (Assessment of Compensation) Bill 2003 – Second State (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There is one proposal to be put to the House. It is the proposal for dealing with No. 21a without debate.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  We are not objecting.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I wish to object to—

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What is that law applicable to the non-contractual obligation of Rome II?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I wish to object to the way we are being asked once again to adopt a very important element of EU law, without full scrutiny of this House. The referral to committee in my view is absolutely unacceptable, given the major implications for judicial harmonisation between this State and other member states. I believe that during the course of the Nice treaty debates the Taoiseach gave a commitment in this House that such important EU matters would not be deflected into committee – where following deliberation this House gets no report back. There is no report back procedure whatsoever. It will return to the Order Paper in a number of weeks and we will be asked to rubber-stamp it without any indication to the membership of this House of the import, concern, reservations or whatever of the participating committee members. This may be a motion which, with the full detail and exposure, my colleagues and I would support. It is the procedure to which I am objecting. This point has been validly addressed here before and in line with the commitment already given, I am asking that this approach not to be adopted in this instance or in any other such instance in the future.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I support the point made by Deputy Ó Caoláin. This has been discussed at Whips' meetings and with the agreement of the chairs of the committees we are seeking to introduce a system to ensure a report will be made to the Dáil. I ask the Taoiseach to address that point and perfect the procedure we are proposing.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Like other speakers, I would be interested to know what we are being asked to approve. In endeavouring to find that out, what is contained in the Order Paper is mysterious. We are being asked to approve an option, provided by Article 3 of the fourth Protocol set out in the Treaty of Amsterdam, to notify the President of the Council of the European Union that it wishes to take part in the adoption and application of proposed measures such as a proposal for a Council Regulation (EC) on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations.

[30]It could have been phrased in a way that would make sense. This is a legal paraphrase designed to be as inaccessible as possible. I ask that we be given the basic information and that the report be placed before us before we approve it rather than afterwards in the hope that it might not be as damaging as we might fear.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I agree with what Deputy Stagg has stated. It is important that we try to get the workings of the procedure right whereby we can get reports back from committees. I know the view has been held that we have conveners at these committees and these conveners should report back. I know this issue has been looked at by the Whips. While there are conveners, they do a job of trying to ensure attendance and other issues, but to get reports from conveners does not seem easy to achieve given their parliamentary position. Maybe it should be so in theory, but I do not think it is likely in practice. The Whips are pursuing that so we will continue to try to find a satisfactory outcome on that point.

In reply to Deputy Kenny and others, the objective of the regulation is to harmonise the rules on the applicable law for non-contractual obligations, both civil and commercial. The Commission argues this will ensure that courts in all member states will apply the same law to cross-border disputes involving non-contractual obligations, thereby facilitating mutual recognition of court rulings in the European Parliament. Apparently the reason for all this is the initial focus on the question of civil liability for damage caused to others by for example defective products, unfair competition, violation of privacy or violation of the environment. Member states do not at present have common rules for deciding which law should apply in cases concerning non-contractual obligations so each court applies its own national rules. This is an effort to have one ruling for all cases.

As regards dealing with issues in the full House, not just this issue but others also, they are technical issues. They are legalistic – I do not disagree with Deputy Sargent's point. At many times it is difficult reading these, but then that applies to most legal matters wherever they come from. I accept that is a difficulty. It is necessary to read them three or four times, but the idea of putting these kinds of technical issues on to the floor of the House would not do much for the House and certainly would not help attendance in the House. I do not agree with the concept that they should not go to committees. I say to Deputy Ó Caoláin that people have the right to speak on these issues at committees, but that is not the difficulty we are having.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 21a be agreed to.”

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Andrews, Barry.
Ardagh, Seán.
Aylward, Liam.
Brady, Johnny.
Brady, Martin.
Brennan, Seamus.
Callanan, Joe.
Carey, Pat.
Carty, John.
Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Coughlan, Mary.
Cowen, Brian.
Cregan, John.
Cullen, Martin.
Curran, John.
Dennehy, John.
Ellis, John.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Fleming, Seán.
Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Glennon, Jim.
Grealish, Noel.
Hanafin, Mary.
Haughey, Seán.
Hoctor, Máire.
Jacob, Joe.
Keaveney, Cecilia.
Kelleher, Billy.
Kelly, Peter.
[32]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.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
O'Donnell, Liz.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Donovan, Denis.
O'Malley, Fiona.
O'Malley, Tim.
Parlon, Tom.
Power, Peter.
Ryan, Eoin.
Sexton, Mae.
Smith, Brendan.
Treacy, Noel.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilkinson, Ollie.
Woods, Michael.

Boyle, Dan.
Broughan, Thomas P.
Burton, Joan.
Costello, Joe.
Cowley, Jerry.
Cuffe, Ciarán.
Ferris, Martin.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gogarty, Paul.
Gormley, John.
Gregory, Tony.
Harkin, Marian.
Higgins, Michael D.
Lynch, Kathleen.
McManus, Liz.
Morgan, Arthur.
Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Jan.
Pattison, Seamus.
Penrose, Willie.
Quinn, Ruairi.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Ryan, Eamon.
Ryan, Seán.
Sargent, Trevor.
Shortall, Róisín.
Stagg, Emmet.
Twomey, Liam.
Upton, Mary.
Wall, Jack.

Question declared carried.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will time be made available for discussion of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the health services following publication of the Hanly report?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We will have a debate on the Hanly report.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will the Hanly report be published in the next week?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I do not have a date but certainly it will be in the next few weeks.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  In time for the Christmas market.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  We read today that the Minister for Health and Children will next week sign the regulations to ban smoking in enclosed places. Will the Taoiseach assure the House that time will be made available to debate this issue, given the widespread support for it in the House, before it is signed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I hope there is widespread support in the House.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I have no doubt that Deputy Rabbitte and his party will give it total support in January.

[33]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Will the Taoiseach provide time in the House to debate the regulation on tobacco?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is no problem whatsoever in that regard. Time can be arranged through the Whips.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  My party Whip is agreeable. Do I take the Taoiseach's reply to mean there will be time provided to debate this issue before the order is signed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is a matter for the Whips to discuss.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  May I remind Deputy Rabbitte that we have debated and passed the legislation? However, if time is required to discuss the regulations, we can do that also. I believe it is useful to reiterate, once again, that 8,500 people die from cancer in this country each year. We have spent considerable time discussing the fact that about 400 people per year die as a result of motor accidents, which is an enormous tragedy, but I believe we should give more focus to the fact that 8,500 people die from causes directly related to smoking.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I agree with the Taoiseach. The Green Party would also welcome a debate, if only to help publicans avoid legal cases down the road when their employees may take them to task for non-compliance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Has the Deputy a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  On promised legislation, in relation to the Department of Education and Science, given that the Government is at sixes and sevens on the issue of indemnity for victims of abuse in institutions, when will we see the register of persons who are considered unsafe to work with children? It is mentioned in the list we have that it is not possible to indicate when it will happen. Will the Taoiseach state whether there is an intention on the Government's part to bring forward this legislation and when it might be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Is the Deputy referring to the legislation concerning people with disabilities?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  No. I am referring to the register of persons who are considered unsafe to work with children.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Department of Justice, Equality and Law reform has established a working group on Garda vetting of people who have significant unsupervised access to children and vulnerable persons. The work of that group is aimed at the enhancement of services provided [34] by the Garda central vetting unit. Accordingly, the issues being discussed have considerably wider impact than in the education sector alone and the group is representative of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Office of the Attorney General. I am not in a position to specify a date at this stage. However, the working group is operating with a view to giving effect to the recommendations of the child protection group. There is also legislation arising from issues in the context of the North-South Ministerial Council.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I have two questions in relation to legislation. First, however, I congratulate the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children on their strong stance on the smoking ban. Will they display the same grit with regard to the reopening of Monaghan General Hospital?

On legislation, what is the position with regard to the driving tests and standards authority Bill, in view of the long waiting list? Second, having regard to the difficulty in obtaining death certificates, when will the Coroners (Amendment) Bill be discussed with a view to easing that situation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the driving tests and standards authority Bill have been approved recently, the legislation is being drafted and should be available next spring.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  What is the position with regard to the Coroners (Amendment) Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is hoped to circulate the heads of that Bill before Christmas and the legislation will be available next year.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  My question refers to the Hanly report. According to media reports, this report is currently being printed and bound and will be—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Sorry, Deputy. That matter was raised yesterday.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I know that, a Cheann Comhairle. Is it possible for the Taoiseach to give a commitment on a specific date for the debate? Next week the report will be published after months of waiting.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is a matter for the Whips.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  In relation to the report and the legislation which will inevitably arise from it, will the Taoiseach arrange for a debate before the House rises for a week at the end of October?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I understand the report will be published within the next few weeks, following which it will be debated here. The legislation will not be ready for a long time afterwards; there is no possibility of that.

[35]Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Last week the Taoiseach stated in this House that consultation was still ongoing in relation to the disabilities Bill. However, I understand that the disability legislation consultation group has actually concluded its work and that the disability sector has clearly stated that the consultation process has concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Has the Deputy a question on promised legislation?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Given that this Bill is eagerly awaited, will the Taoiseach ensure that the Government's previous commitment to publish it in this session will be honoured and that we will have a full and frank debate in this House before Christmas?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is the intention – it is on the list. However, it is an enormous Bill. Not alone do the disability groups want the legislation, they also want the frameworks. That is an enormous task on which a large number of officials are working. It is very easy to suggest what should be done but a substantial amount of time is being given to this matter by senior officials as well as those in the middle and junior ranks. I am not aware of any previous Bill on which such a large number of people have worked so hard.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  I understand that, in the week beginning 22 September, Iarnród Éireann placed an advertisement with local radio stations outlining the line closures over the next 18 months, but that, on the evening of 26 September, the advertisement was withdrawn. Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for Transport the reason for this?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Has the Deputy a question on promised legislation?

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  When will the transport reform Bill be published? Will the Taoiseach arrange for the Minister for Agriculture and Food to go to Libya, now that UN sanctions have been lifted, with a view to opening up the live cattle trade? Egypt has been reopened for the tenth time in recent weeks.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Deputy's question on the transport Bill is in order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill will not be ready until next year.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  What is the situation with regard to the Iarnród Éireann advertisement?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I know nothing about it.

(Interruptions).[36]

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am aware that the Cory report was raised yesterday. However, now that the Taoiseach has received the report, has he had an opportunity of reading it? Is it his intention to refer the Cory and Nally reports to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Law Reform, as well as publishing them? One report refers to collusion by gardaí with the IRA; the other relates to prior information the Garda would have in relation to the Omagh bombing.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I commented at length on this yesterday. I received the reports last night but have not read them. This morning, I have referred them to the Attorney General, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for their consideration. When there is a comprehensive response, we will publish the reports in so far as we can do so. As I said yesterday, having regard to security issues, it may not be possible to publish the full reports, which include many names. As I also pointed out, we only have the Buchanan and Breen reports and that in relation to Lord and Lady Gibson. The other reports were presented to the British Government and it will be some time before it examines them. I hope all of the reports, or at least as much of them as possible, will eventually reach the public domain.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I wish to refer again to the medical practitioners Bill. When does the Taoiseach expect the heads of the Bill to come before the Cabinet?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill are expected within the next month and the Bill should be ready next year.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I refer to a subject in which I know the Ceann Comhairle, as a medical practitioner, will have a keen interest.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise at this juncture.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  All will be revealed in due course, a Cheann Comhairle. A piece of information which was handed out to commuters on the DART this morning came as a shock to them, as the Fine Gael Party leader has already indicated. Is there a hidden message on the reverse of that information which depicts a saw? Since the Taoiseach, the Minister for Transport and the Government were unaware of the intentions of Iarnród Éireann, the message might even be hidden. Does the Ceann Comhairle think there is a hidden message there?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Ceann Comhairle has no views on the matter.

[37]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  They are getting their teeth into it.

Mr. O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  The Saw Doctors with “N17”.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Intergovernmental Conference on the Constitution treaty commenced work last week. The Labour Party Whip had agreed in principle with the Government Whip that there would be an early debate on the matter. Will the Taoiseach indicate now when the debate will take place in this House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The debate will take place in the House next week.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  In light of the defeat of the Twenty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) Bill 2001 in the referendum in early 2002, when will the Government legislate to deal with the X case decision?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is no proposed legislation for this.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  So it will not happen?

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Today's Order Paper includes the Criminal Justice (Joint Investigation Teams) Bill 2003. Without wanting to prejudice any trial that may ensue, it has been reported that one of those arrested for the shooting of a prominent publican—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy must ask a question on the legislation itself, which was raised yesterday by Deputy Naughten.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  —was out on release. Will the Taoiseach guarantee that the revolving door system is now at an end?

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

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Taoiseach reminded us yesterday about the famous RAPID programme. On the north side of Dublin we have been waiting for RAPID for over three years. Areas are—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  It does not need legislation but I wonder if the Taoiseach will discuss when it will be put in place.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Then we cannot discuss it. The Deputy should submit a question to the appropriate Minister.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The programme is gone. It is like the DART.

[38]Mr. M. Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Does the Opposition not want an extra €170 million to be spent on the DART?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Check with the commuters on the DART.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Will the Taoiseach tell the House why the greater Dublin land use and transport authority Bill is back on the legislative programme when it was proved in the last session that neither the Minister for Transport nor the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government believes in an authority to plan transport in our city?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Minister for Transport and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government are looking at the policy issues in this area and will bring forward new proposals.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Government does not believe in transport.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  In view of the statement by Dr. Michael Somers last week that it costs the State 4.5% to borrow, as opposed to the private sector investors in PPPs seeking a 15% return, what is the Taoiseach's view of the development of the Dublin Institute of Technology at Grangegorman? In the last session the Taoiseach promised that the Bill to provide for it was almost ready but there is no sign of it yet.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be ready during this session.


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