Order of Business.

Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 572 No. 3

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. 1, Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill 2003 [Seanad] – Second Stage. Private Members' Business shall be No. 35, motion re equity in Irish society.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are no proposals to put to the House. I call Deputy Kenny.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Some 17 requests have been made to adjourn the Dáil under Standing Order 31, none of which has been successful. Such requests are rarely successful. It is farcical that Deputies from all sides of the House must resort to these tactics to get mention of individual projects or matters of concern. Will the Taoiseach indicate if Government time will be made available to hold a serious debate on effective changes to the way business is conducted in this House, by the committees and throughout the Oireachtas? There is a crying need for the Oireachtas to respond to [542] the concern expressed by the public on the way we conduct business.

At his party's Ard-Fheis in Killarney last weekend, the Taoiseach referred to the acquisition and distribution of further State lands for housing. Will he indicate if this will require legislation or if it is possible within existing structures to transfer State lands to local authorities or whatever for the provision of housing, which is urgently required?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Whips have commenced discussions on the reform programme referred to by the Deputy. I understand it is to be discussed again tomorrow. With regard to the second issue raised by the Deputy, much depends on the organisations. State lands have already been transferred. Legislation is not required, but it may be required in some areas connected with semi-State bodies. However, Departments, such as the Department of Defence, are able to proceed without legislation.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Will the Taoiseach indicate when it is proposed to sign the regulations banning smoking in the workplace and when provision will be made to debate the issue in the House after the worrying betrayal of loyal publicans who have been so helpful to his party? They appear to have been reneged on in Killarney.

Mr. Callely: Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Deputy Rabbitte's party has also reneged on them.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I understand the regulations are to be made available in a few weeks. The legislation has been passed.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  What about the ministerial order?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be ready in early November.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister said two weeks ago it would be signed this week, when he was still creating a smokescreen diverting attention away from the health services.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Will the Taoiseach indicate if further information is available regarding the publication date of the proposed infrastructure Bill? Will the legislation address corruption relating to rezoning decisions that have caused many of the problems occupying the Taoiseach? Will a more comprehensive infrastructure Bill be introduced to deal with the root causes of the problems?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill will be available prior to Christmas and the legislation will be taken in the session after Christmas.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Over the weekend, rather embarrassingly, a Minister of State announced the introduction of a regulation that was in place. [543] I refer to promised secondary legislation to appoint a children's ombudsman. Primary legislation was passed in April 2002. Fianna Fáil's election manifesto stated this office would be fully operational during 2002. As the end of 2003 approaches—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call the Taoiseach on the legislation.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  It appears the Government will go to the last legal moment on this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on the legislation.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  This is not a trivial matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Of course it is not. That is why it is the subject of a parliamentary question to the Minister responsible.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  We have spent a great deal of time discussing the wrongs of the past. A greater effort should be made to put in place a children's ombudsman to deal with issues for the future.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It took approximately five years for the Bill to be passed and we know where the blame for that lies. The office must be set up within two years under the legislation. If the Deputy wants further details, he should table a parliamentary question.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Will I receive a communication as to when the office will be established?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  No, it has to be set up within two years of the passage of the legislation.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Fianna Fáil stated that would happen in 2002.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If the Deputy tables a parliamentary question, he will find out details about the position of the office.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  It must not be a high priority.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I refer to two related Bills. In light of another fatality at a building site in Limerick last week, the introduction of the safety, health and welfare at work Bill is urgent and necessary. The Law Reform Commission's report published yesterday recommended the introduction of legislation to make corporate manslaughter an offence. Will such legislation be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The second matter is under examination but it is too early to say what the legal situation will be. The heads of the safety, health and welfare at work Bill have been approved and the legislation should be available early in the new year.

[544]Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Government will publish the Hanly report on the health services tomorrow. It is a long-awaited and important report. However, it will only be made available to the media at the press centre in Government Buildings and not to Members.

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  There is no provision in the schedule of business for the House to discuss the Hanly report. Will the Taoiseach provide time this week for Members to have the opportunity to discuss the report fully rather than wait until a future week when the report will have been thrashed out in the media and every other forum throughout the jurisdiction?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy has made his point.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The discussion should be happening here.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I ask the Taoiseach to respond on this important matter. Many Bills have been deferred pending the publication of the reports into the health services. A debate on the Hanly report in the House is needed and Members should not have to read about it in newspapers. How soon can the debate take place? Publication of legislation that will make statutory provision for entitlement to health and personal social services was promised in 2002 and the recommendations in the Hanly report will have relevance to people's statutory rights.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on it. The Deputy should ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  What happened to the legislation? I am not surprised the Taoiseach looks puzzled. The Bill was “to provide for clear statutory provision on entitlement to health and personal social services in the health service”.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Will the Taoiseach ensure, at the very least, that the relevant spokespersons are invited to the launch of the report if there will not be a debate in the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Olivia Mitchell. I apologise to the Deputy as I should have called her earlier.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  I am so quiet the Ceann Comhairle would hardly notice me. One of the crises galloping towards the Government in regard to the health service is the implementation of the European working time directive for junior doctors in hospitals. Plans to implement it before next August have been left perilously late, endangering both the continuity and quality of the health service. When will the health and [545] social care professionals regulatory Bill be published? The Hanly report should be discussed in the House and not dismissed, as it was by the Taoiseach on radio last week, before the rest of us know what is in it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The health and social care professionals regulatory Bill will be published this session. The Hanly report will be published tomorrow and I am sure when Members have had an opportunity to read it, we can have a debate. It would be a good idea if people read it first. The scheduling of the debate should be taken up with the Whips.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Will the Taoiseach make sure spokespersons are invited?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Say it to the Minister.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  There has been no clarification—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is out of order. I call Deputy Rabbitte.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach confirm that there will be a debate?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy cannot jump up and down in his seat without being called by the Chair. He asked three supplementary questions on this during Taoiseach's questions, which is without precedent in the House.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I only ask the Taoiseach to confirm that we will have the discussion here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Rabbitte has been called.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is outrageous that a simple question can be repeatedly ignored—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair has no control over replies to questions. The Deputy is well aware of that.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Is there anybody in the Chair?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Rabbitte, without interruption.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I note Deputy Healy-Rae is not in the House, Sir. To lose one Kerryman to Mountjoy Prison is serious but to lose two would be a tragedy. Could I ask the Taoiseach, on mature reflection, why the smoking regulations will not be ready until November, given that they were due to be published this week? Are the terms still being negotiated?

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  They are on the web.

[546]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is puzzling given that they are published on web. What is the problem?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I did not know they were to be available this week but they must be legally drafted first. I presume Deputy Rabbitte would not be against their being drafted. As soon as they are drafted, they will be published.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  My support has always been consistent.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  They will be out soon.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  When will the long-awaited decentralisation programme begin?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Deputy should table a question to the Minister for Finance.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Perhaps the Taoiseach will ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment what she will do about the Dubarry factory in Ballinasloe in the context of decentralisation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Nothing has happened since the Minister arrived in Ballinasloe.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Deputy should wait to see what will happen. It is a long time since I arrived.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  A Cheann Comhairle, I seek your guidance regarding No. 61 on the Order Paper, which relates to Carrickmines Castle. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government laid an order before the House on 3 July that can be annulled within 21 sitting days. Is it correct that the House only has the opportunity to annul the order before 20 November? I am concerned, given the Taoiseach's remarks regarding swans last week, that medieval castles could be next. I hope the House will have an opportunity to debate such a move if the Minister for the protection of heritage decides that a motorway should plough through the heart of a medieval castle.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Swans were never better off. They were delighted and breeding this year was the best ever, according to experts.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  If the Taoiseach had his way, they would flee the country along with the Wild Geese. The swans would not get a look in. They were under more threat as a result of rezoning than anything else.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No. 61 is Private Members' Business.

[547]Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Will we have an opportunity to vote on annulling the order? There is a three week window. How can we raise this business during that period?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It can be raised if it comes before the House during that time.

Mr. Cuffe: Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  It was laid before the House, but it will not necessarily come before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is a matter for yourselves, as is Private Members' Business.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  In view of the fact that search and rescue services have been virtually suspended in the north-west due to crews being reassigned to headquarters at Baldonnel – the north-west coast between Malin Head and County Mayo has been left almost without search and rescue services – will the Taoiseach indicate when the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Bill 2002, which will address this serious matter, will be debated in the House? It has been promised for a few years.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The legislation has been published and is before the House.

Mr. McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  When will it be debated in the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is a matter for the House, but I hope it will be debated shortly.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  In view of the inappropriate behaviour that gave rise to the recent quashing of a murder conviction on appeal, does the Taoiseach propose to introduce statutory regulations governing the behaviour of gardaí who are protecting jurors?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is legislation promised?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The judgment in the case mentioned by the Deputy is being examined.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Although 48 outstanding EU directives, by my count, are due to be transposed into domestic law, the current legislative programme provides for just five of them. This is despite the Taoiseach's statement that he would like all outstanding EU directives to be transposed into domestic law before Ireland assumes the Presidency of the EU next year. Given that there are over 45 outstanding directives, I do not know how he proposes to meet the target he has outlined.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should ask a question.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I have asked a question. I can mention each of the directives on the list. I have asked a number of questions of the relevant Ministers. Will the directives, which are not included in the legislative programme, be dealt [548] with soon? One directive, under the aegis of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, has been outstanding for five years and another, under the aegis of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, has been outstanding for four years. There are 15 outstanding directives under the aegis of the Department of Transport.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair suggests that the Deputy should submit questions to the Ministers who are responsible.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I have submitted questions and I have received replies. I am concerned that the directives are not on the legislative programme.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Deputy's understanding, that the Government is endeavouring to get as many EU directives as possible up to date by the end of the year, is a correct one. Many of the directives can be dealt with by the various Departments by using orders. I do not think we will succeed in transposing all the directives by the end of the year, but we will have dealt with a large number of them by then. The directives will not come up as part of the legislative programme.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  As a medical man, the Ceann Comhairle will have been alarmed by the Taoiseach's statement at the weekend that those in the Fianna Fáil Party will have to develop thicker skins.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair cannot be drawn into debates on any subject.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am sure there are varying opinions as to the condition of their skins already.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy could give us a loan of a layer or two of skin.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  To assist in treating the condition—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not an appropriate matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Perhaps the pharmacy Bill can be expedited with a view to treating this sensitive condition.

Mr. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  It is contagious.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill will be brought forward next year.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister for recreation has a thick skin.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It could not be thicker.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I would like to ask the Taoiseach if the Government will provide time to allow the [549] four Fianna Fáil Deputies and the four Fine Gael Deputies who are engaged in a rugby junket in Australia to report back on their findings.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy will have to find another way of raising that matter.

Mr. Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Will the sum of €5,000 be considered a corporate gift?

A Deputy:  What about the Deputy's American corporate gifts?


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