Order of Business.

Thursday, 5 February 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 579 No. 3

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Order of Business today shall be No. 2, the Immigration Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Order for Committee, Committee and Remaining Stages; and No. 1, Maternity Protection (Amendment) Bill 2003 [Seanad] — Second Stage. It is proposed that, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages of No. 2 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall only include the amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There is one proposal to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 2 agreed?

[758]Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I thank the Government for extending the time allocated to Committee Stage to allow a more detailed debate on this important issue. I continue to raise my doubts to roll Committee and Report Stages together for a Bill of such importance. Normally, there would be time for reflection between Committee and Report Stages. The Bill was struck down by the High Court on the grounds of insufficient consideration of the issues involved. I question the Government on whether it is wise to adopt this approach of guillotining the Stages.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  While I welcome the additional two hours for debate, it is inadequate to deal with a measure of this significance. There are 113 amendments on the green list and the Minister has introduced a further three this morning. If we have dealt with the Order of Business by 11 a.m. — I know that is the Chair's desire — we will have 270 minutes to deal with 116 amendments, or 2.3 minutes per amendment, provided there are no divisions. We cannot deal with a matter of this importance in this fashion.

The Minister is rapidly earning the title of the rubber stamp Minister. He sought to put this Bill through the House last Thursday. He has tabled three amendments today on top of the 20 he tabled yesterday to a Bill he would have enacted if he had his way last Thursday. This is not the way to do business.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  While I welcome the additional time, this is rushed legislation. This is not the way to process legislation. My constituency colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, has taken grave umbrage at the description in the Seanad of the Bill as Nazism at its worst. While it may be inaccurate to describe the Government as fascists, it is becoming more apparent each day that normal democratic principles are being abandoned in this House. The normal courtesy extended to the Opposition is being arrogantly done away with.

The Government must listen to the Opposition. This is an important Bill that will have a profound influence on the way people lead their lives, particularly those coming to this country. I ask that the Tánaiste reconsider the arrangements for taking this Bill. The Minister has submitted 20 amendments after he wanted to rush it through last Thursday. It is not the way to conduct business in this House. My colleague, Deputy Cuffe, has tabled a number of amendments and has expressed real concern about aspects of this Bill. The main problem is how business is conducted in this House. Things will have to change. We need Dáil reform and more respect for the House.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I appeal to the Tánaiste not to impose a guillotine on Committee and Remaining Stages of the Immigration Bill. [759]Bad law is bad enough, but rushed bad law is a mark of gross irresponsibility. What we are seeing is gross irresponsibility, because unquestionably this matter will be revisited. This law will be challenged and elements of it will, without question, be brought through the courts. This is altogether apart from the draconian effect it will have on individuals who hope to find a future on our shores.

As the Taoiseach yesterday indicated a willingness to change the hours scheduled for the Second Stage debate, I ask again that a guillotine would not be imposed and that time would be allowed for a full and detailed debate on all the amendments. Members have worked hard and considered the amendments carefully in a very short period. It is an effort to ensure that this Bill [760]is not a follow-on to the mess that has already been created by the previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It is not too late; I urge the Minister to reconsider the matter.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  As the Deputies are aware, we are in a very unsatisfactory position as a result of the High Court decision in that there are huge doubts about the conditions under which non-nationals remain in the State and there are difficulties with entry controls to the State. In such situations in the past, the Oireachtas has always shown its capacity to introduce legislation quickly and efficiently and we want to do so in this case. We need the legislation urgently, so unfortunately I am not in a position to accede to the requests of the Opposition.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 2 be agreed to.”

[759]The Dáil divided: Tá, 69; Níl, 54.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Liam Aylward  Zoom on Liam Aylward  Aylward, Liam.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Séamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Séamus.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James. Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O'Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O'Dea, Willie.
Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O'Donnell, Liz. Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O'Donoghue, John.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O'Flynn, Noel. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O'Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O'Malley, Fiona. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Eoin Ryan  Zoom on Eoin Ryan  Ryan, Eoin. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G.V.  


[759]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Séamus. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  [761]McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul.
Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  McHugh, Paddy. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O'Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O'Keeffe, Jim.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O'Sullivan, Jan. Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Séamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairi.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán. Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.

[761]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Hanafin and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Durkan and Stagg.

[761]Question declared carried.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Before asking a question on the Order of Business, I take this opportunity to wish John Hume well on his recently announced retirement. John Hume has been at the heart of change on these islands for a generation. His dedication to pursuing peaceful forms of reconciliation has been exemplary. He is probably the most popular politician in the Republic, as well as in the North, although he never had the opportunity of putting that to the test in the South. I wish him well.

Will the Tánaiste clarify the position on electronic voting in the European and local elections? Yesterday, the Taoiseach indicated that it was not clear whether an order or regulation was required. It seems that under the legislation there is a requirement to have a change in the European Parliament Acts to introduce electronic voting. Will this be done by way of primary legislation or regulation? If it is not to be done by primary legislation, does the Tánaiste believe that secondary legislation will be sufficiently robust, given that the High Court recently struck down as unconstitutional an attempt to amend an Act by ministerial order?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I received a letter this morning from the Taoiseach in respect of the exchanges that took place here yesterday, pointing out that he was incorrect and that an order is, indeed, required. I want to raise the point, as did Deputy Richard Bruton, about the impact, if any, of the Carrickmines decision on this matter. Apparently, it is not possible to alter primary legislation by ministerial order. Does the Tánaiste have any advice that this may now proceed?

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  I wish to be associated with the remarks that have been made about John Hume. Mr. Hume has been a great servant of this country. He is a man of peace and has taken risks for peace. I wish him and his wife, Pat, well in the future. I had the privilege of meeting him when I was Lord Mayor of Dublin, and we travelled together on an official visit to the United States. [762]All of us in the House recognise the contribution he has made to the peace process. He has been the pivotal figure in that process.

On the question of electronic voting, if an order is laid before the House, will we get an opportunity to vote on it?

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Electronically.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  We want to make it clear that we are opposed to electronic voting without a proper paper trail. We think the system is flawed and the Opposition deserves an opportunity to make its views known on this matter.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I join my colleagues in expressing good wishes to John Hume on his retirement from politics. I acknowledge his very important and major contribution to Irish political life. My colleagues, North and South, have registered their appreciation and respect for his contribution on many occasions and I am happy to re-echo their remarks.

  11 o'clock

It is important to recognise that this Chamber has not had an opportunity to debate, in a substantive way, the detail of what is entailed in the introduction of electronic voting for the local and European elections. The absence of a verifiable record of the votes cast makes the system most unsatisfactory. Sinn Féin is not opposed to the introduction of electronic voting but to the system that will be employed. It is imperative, in the interests of public confidence and that of all participants, both parties and independent candidates, that we have a transparent scrutiny procedure inbuilt in the system, particularly in the initial stages and electoral endeavours. I hope the Tánaiste will accommodate this and recognise the reasonableness of the arguments presented by the Opposition.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I join the Opposition Deputies in paying tribute to John Hume. He has genuinely been acknowledged as the architect of the peace process. If it was not for his courage and vision in defence of constitutional politics on this island for so many years, and that of his party, many more [763]people would have been victims of violence. Everybody wishes him and his wife Pat well in his retirement from politics.

It is correct to say that an order under section 48 of the Electoral (Amendment) Act 2001 will be required to provide for electronic voting. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government already made such an order in October 2002, in respect of seven constituencies, for the second Nice referendum campaign and he intends to do the same again. The constitutional status of such an order will be subject to the advice of the Attorney General. Therefore, I am not in a position to respond today to Deputy Rabbitte's suggestion.

Clearly, before the Minister would make such an order, and in light of the recent High Court decision, we would have to consult the Attorney General to ensure it has the required constitutional status. Like all orders, the order can be debated in the House and a motion annulling it could be put before the House. If Deputies want a debate on it, I will discuss the matter with the Whip and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I rose only on the point of the electronic voting system. I want to be associated with the remarks made by the Tánaiste, Deputy Bruton and other colleagues in respect of the retirement from politics of John Hume. He has been a singular and consistent voice in Irish politics since the civil rights movement, of which he was one of the leaders. It is probably one of the great tragedies of Irish history that a movement that had the capacity to deliver equality for citizens in Northern Ireland, as a condition precedent to any political settlement, was hijacked at the time by the men of violence. John Hume's outstanding contribution has been as a consistent voice in opposition to violence and in favour of constitutional politics over the intervening 35 years. I regret to see him leaving the political stage. He has done the State much service.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  With regard to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, will the Government, even at this late stage, refer all aspects of the electronic voting system to the Electoral Commission because of the serious division on the matter at the present time?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest the Deputy submit a question on that issue to the Minister.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Will the Tánaiste instruct the PR company to withdraw the leaflets and the website which are so misleading and highly political? The company was set up by buddies of Fianna Fáil who are State funded and misleading the people.

[764]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to find another way to raise the matter.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  They are misusing taxpayers’ money and are seriously misleading the people. This matter should be referred to the Electoral Commission.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should resume his seat. If he wishes to leave the House the Chair will facilitate him. The Deputy should resume his seat or he will leave the House.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Since it is now established that orders have to be made and laid before the House ——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Sorry, Deputy, we must move on to another issue. As the Deputy's leader rightly pointed out, we should move on to debate this Bill with all the amendments at 11 a.m.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have a question about ——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We have already discussed the matter and the Tánaiste has responded.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have a question about secondary legislation which I am entitled to ask. With respect, it is not at the Chair's discretion to decide what issues are raised, provided they are in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot allow repetition.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am raising a question about secondary legislation. It has now been established, contrary to what we were told last week, that orders are required to be laid before the House to enable the European and local elections next June to be conducted by way of electronic voting. The present position, therefore, is that there is no statutory basis ——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Has the Deputy a question for the Tánaiste that has not already been dealt with?

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Yes. As there is no statutory basis, as yet, for those elections to be conducted by electronic voting, on what authority is the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government spending public money advertising electronic voting for those elections?

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

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Some €40 million has been spent already without question from anybody.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  What is the position with regard to the Prison Service Bill and the temporary closure of Fort Mitchell education centre in [765]Cobh? What is the meaning of the temporary closure of the Fort Mitchell centre?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The first question is in order.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The heads of the Bill are currently being drafted.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  There is a difficulty with racism in Irish society. Now we also have a difficulty in connection with the enlargement of the European Union. Ireland remains the only country without a policy with regard to restrictions on the movement of persons. However, I understand this may be under examination. Will the Tánaiste make time available for a debate on the report of the Joint Committee on European Affairs so the question of immigration and the need for a proactive policy dealing with immigration issues will be addressed properly in the House rather than in the manner in which it is currently being addressed?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  A Bill was passed in the House last year on this matter. Therefore, it is incorrect to say we do not have a policy. We will give consideration to the Deputy's suggestion and I will revert to him on it.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  In light of the ongoing difficulties in the health services and the obvious need for somebody ——

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. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  My question is extremely appropriate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No preambles.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  We have a health Bill and a health (amendment) Bill. Could a surgeon general or something of that nature be added into those Bills in order to make something work in the health sector?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The health (amendment) Bill is due this session.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill is on the B list of legislation. In view of the conflict of interests identified by the outgoing chairperson of the commission and the failure to adequately respond to the commission's queries and its request for discovery, chronicled in Ms Justice Laffoy's report, will the Government consider transferring the legislation to the Department of the Taoiseach or some other appropriate Department?

[766]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I do not think that is appropriate to the Order of Business. It is not possible to say when we will have the legislation.

Ms O'Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Is it possible for the Tánaiste to indicate if it will be transferred in view of the seriousness——

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

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  When can we expect to see the companies Bill? Can the Tánaiste give any indication of when the IFI creditors will receive payment? This issue has been ongoing for 15 months. Has she any information regarding the liquidator of IFI and payment to creditors in Arklow?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I would point out to Members that questions appropriate to line Ministers should not be asked on the Order of Business. Deputy Rabbitte rightly pointed out this morning that it was important to get on to the legislation and the 100 amendments and that the time ——

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  The Chair has a new adviser.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  —— should not be taken up asking questions that are not appropriate to the Order of Business. The Tánaiste on the companies Bill.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The heads of the Bill will come before the Cabinet shortly.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Will the Tánaiste arrange a special Dáil sitting to discuss the EPA report which has shown that 40% of our rivers and lakes are polluted?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Was a debate promised?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The matter could be raised with the Whips.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Would the Tánaiste arrange a special Dáil sitting?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We might be able to do it during a normal sitting day.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Can the Tánaiste inform the House whether the road traffic (amendment) Bill will address the situation in tunnels as well as on the roads?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Questions should be on the content of legislation. We cannot discuss that matter on the Order of Business.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Will it be safe for the Minister for Transport to venture into these tunnels having regard to the health and safety factors?

[767]Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  That will need ventilation all right.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We will have the legislation later this year.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  As the Minister for Transport would say, that is way above my head.

On 9 January, a spokesman for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform told us the Garda Síochána Bill would be published within three weeks. I know the Minister is very busy, but he announced inadvertently in a radio interview that he had brought forward the Bill. He had not. He had brought forward heads of the Bill. Can the Tánaiste say when the Bill will be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Bill will be before Cabinet next week and I presume it will be published shortly thereafter.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I see the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has 30 Bills on the Order Paper and that a criminal justice Bill is shortly to be published. What progress has been made on these Bills? Was the Minister a little confused when he claimed crime figures were coming down as a result of his intervention in other legislation when we see now that very few actions were taken under any of the legislative measures he claimed resolved crime issues?

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Fairytales.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is true that we have a very reforming Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Tánaiste is allowed to sit down.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Minister is transforming.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Unfortunately, the House is not so anxious for reform and we find it difficult to get some of these Bills on to the floor of the Chamber.

Mr. English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  We have been begging for reform.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is very hard when the Bills are not published.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We tend to waste a lot of time. There are a large number of Bills in the Department and I hope with the co-operation of the Opposition we will be able to enact them speedily.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  How does the Tánaiste propose to bring unpublished Bills to the House?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  There are 13 Bills published.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  What is the reason for the late publication date of the diplomatic relations and immunities Bill, which will amend legislation so [768]old that it dates from 1967 and 1976? When will that Bill be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I understand it is not possible to indicate when that very important Bill will be before the House.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  One could not describe 30 years as indecent haste.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We will have it before the Deputy goes to Áras an Uachtaráin.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  We are dealing with the legislation of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform which the Tánaiste has said it is difficult to get on to the Order Paper. The Private Security Services Bill has been on the Order Paper for two years. The Minister has told us on numerous occasions that it is a priority to put this Bill through.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  As did the previous Minister.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Ours is the only country in Europe in which this industry is unregulated and uncontrolled.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Absolutely. It is uncontrolled.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Costello, what you might like to say on Second Stage is not appropriate on the Order of Business.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  We reached Report Stage six months ago. Can we finish the Bill?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  My informant at the back tells me we are ready to go with Report Stage if the Opposition would facilitate it.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  We are at Report Stage.


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