Tuesday, 22 June 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Defence (Mr. M. Smith): The Order of Business today shall be No. 12, motion re Referral to Joint Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a Council Directive on a specific procedure for admitting third-country nationals for purposes of scientific research; No. 13, motion re Revised Estimates for Public Services 2004 [Votes 1 to 27 and 30 to 38], back from committee; No. 17, National Monuments (Amendment) Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed); and No. 4, Council of Europe Development Bank Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m. Nos. 12 and 13 shall be decided without debate, and in the case of No. 13 [Votes 1 to 27 and 30 to 38] shall be moved together and shall be decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith. The proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 17 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. Private Members’ business shall be No. 39, motion re Nitrates Directive.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal agreed for dealing with Nos. 12 and 13 without debate, motions re Referral to Joint Committee and Revised Estimates?
Mr. Kenny: I have no objection to No. 12. In respect of No. 13 will the Minister for Defence say if Vote No. 20 dealing with the Garda Síochána Revised Estimates includes sufficient moneys for extra recruitment for this year, and can he explain the numbers of the 2000 extra that will include?
Regarding Vote No. 33 for Revised Estimate for the Department of Health and Children, is there sufficient money there, in addition to the salaries and expenses for the office of the Minister, to deal with the matter of opening 3000 hospital beds promised by the Government, and the allocation of 200,000 extra medical cards?
Mr. Rabbitte: Regarding No. 20, it would be prudent to give the House an opportunity to discuss these two Estimates in particular, but not only those. Many Members of the House did not have an opportunity to contribute on Committee Stage. In one of his more recent press releases the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has suggested that he will after all recruit a number of gardaí. I do not know how much money will be permitted for this by the provision, nor do I know why it must be taken without debate.
Mr. Sargent: In common with many people the Green Party also wishes to have this matter debated in the House. The lack of Garda resources is regularly brought to our attention. We are also mindful of the need for a more comprehensive report to come before the House regarding proposals which are not being debated by Government. No. 12 highlights this aspect. It would be interesting to have more details on what is proposed. It paints quite a macabre picture of admitting third country nationals “for the purposes of scientific research” when one does not have the background. It is important that we are aware of what is being proposed here before giving it the go-ahead.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: No. 12 is somewhat regrettably worded. I wonder if it could have been better presented than “third country nationals for purpose of scientific research”. I would not be surprised if this accorded with some of the views current on the Government benches.
Regarding the Revised Estimate proposals, I join colleagues in urging that they be addressed in full and open debate and not passed without debate. The point was made earlier that an insufficient number of Deputies got the opportunity to participate in the recent Private Members business that directed attention regarding the need for further supports for the Garda presence throughout the country. Many local stations, particularly rural stations are under threat, and closures are taking place. I support the views expressed and urge the Government to accede to the request to allow for these proposals to be debated.
Mr. M. Smith: There is a procedure in this House for dealing with these matters in this way. There is an opportunity for every Deputy in the House to contribute in the committee where these matters are fully debated. In Private Members’ business last week the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform reiterated the Government’s commitment to the recruitment of additional gardaí and noted that Garda numbers this year would be at an all-time high of 12,200. I will try to get the details of the numbers to be recruited, but I understand the figure is about 700.
Mr. Kenny: In accordance with long-standing practice in this House I object on behalf of the Fine Gael party to a guillotine in this case. In recent weeks I have had extensive material submitted to my office from concerned persons and organisations regarding matters related to the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill. There is particular reference to the building of a major motorway in County Meath which is of interest to the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Dempsey. It is interesting that prior to the last general election, the National Roads Authority was of the opinion that the N4, the road west, could not be developed because of the national monument site at Rath Crucacháin in Roscommon, whereas there appears to be a very different view regarding the Hill of Tara. In that sense there are matters Deputies would wish to discuss. I object to the use of the guillotine on this matter.
Mr. Gilmore: This is significant legislation under which the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will be given the power to order the demolition, destruction or even export of pieces of our national heritage. It is proposed that we conclude Second Stage of the Bill tonight at 10 p.m. The Select Committee on the Environment and Local Government has scheduled, at the Government’s request as I understand it, the Bill to commence Committee Stage at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow. What is the rush? The Supreme Court decision which gave rise to the Bill was handed down last February. The Bill was concealed before the local elections and published only on the day of those elections. What is the rush to conclude Second Stage by 10 p.m. and to begin Committee Stage little more than 12 hours later without sufficient time for preparation of amendments?
I draw to the attention of the House that Report Stage of the long awaited Residential Tenancies Bill, which I am delighted is restored to the Order Paper, is scheduled to be taken in the House at the same time as Committee Stage of the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill. Clearly those of us dealing with these Bills cannot be in two places at one time. Therefore, could we at least have an assurance from the Government that Committee Stage of the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill, which is due to take place tomorrow, will be deferred until Report Stage of the Residential Tenancies Bill has been dealt with in the House?
Mr. Sargent: While I can understand why the Government would want to guillotine the Bill, that does not mean it is the best thing to do in the interests of the heritage of the country. The Government should reconsider this. After filleting Dúchas and repeatedly demoralising those involved with conservation, the Minister is now taking enormous powers unto himself. His discretion to date has not given great confidence that he would use those powers in any responsible way or in a way that would ensure the long-term interests of our heritage. I ask that Members of the House be allowed the opportunity to speak on this important Bill, which will have serious knock-on effects. It should not be guillotined. Pushing a vote at 10 p.m. would be the ultimate insult to the interests of heritage in this country.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: This Bill, if adopted, will have far-reaching consequences for many heritage sites throughout the country. It is absolutely unacceptable that it should be guillotined. As other speakers have said, a number of important sites of national interest are under direct or indirect threat, and there will be many others as plans unfold in the years ahead. Members, with their local knowledge of the various constituencies throughout the jurisdiction, should be given full opportunity to participate on Second Stage of the Bill. I strongly object to the imposition of a guillotine at this time. The Government should reconsider this. It is not in the interests of proper debate and due attention to the importance and seriousness of what is involved in the proposition within the National Monuments (Amendment) Bill. Again, I record my opposition to the guillotine.
Mr. M. Smith: We have already had four and half hours of debate and I understand there will be three additional hours this evening. It is proposed to take Committee Stage of the Bill tomorrow. The urgency attached to this has already been explained to the House, particularly in the context of the completion of the M50 at Carrickmines.
Mr. M. Smith: It is well known that the resources dedicated to the protection of our heritage and the number of additional personnel employed in recent years have been significant. The House can be assured the Bill will protect that heritage in every way possible.
|Ahern, Noel.||Andrews, Barry.|
|Ardagh, Seán.||Brady, Johnny.|
|Brady, Martin.||Browne, John.|
|Callanan, Joe.||Carey, Pat.|
|Carty, John.||Cassidy, Donie.|
|Coughlan, Mary.||Cregan, John.|
|Cullen, Martin.||Curran, John.|
|de Valera, Síle.||Dempsey, Noel.|
|Dempsey, Tony.||Dennehy, John.|
|Devins, Jimmy.||Ellis, John.|
|Fahey, Frank.||Finneran, Michael.|
|Fitzpatrick, Dermot.||Fleming, Seán.|
|Glennon, Jim.||Grealish, Noel.|
|Hanafin, Mary.||Haughey, Seán.|
|Hoctor, Máire.||Jacob, Joe.|
|Keaveney, Cecilia.||Kelleher, Billy.|
|Kelly, Peter.||Killeen, Tony.|
|Kirk, Séamus.||Lenihan, Brian.|
|Lenihan, Conor.||McDowell, Michael.|
|McEllistrim, Thomas.||McGuinness, John.|
|Martin, Mícheál.||Moloney, John.|
|Moynihan, Donal.||Moynihan, Michael.|
|Mulcahy, Michael.||Nolan, M.J.|
|Ó Cuív, Éamon.||Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.|
|O’Connor, Charlie.||O’Dea, Willie.|
|O’Donnell, Liz.||O’Donovan, Denis.|
|O’Keeffe, Batt.||O’Malley, Fiona.|
|O’Malley, Tim.||Parlon, Tom.|
|Power, Peter.||Power, Seán.|
|Roche, Dick.||Sexton, Mae.|
|Smith, Brendan.||Smith, Michael.|
|Treacy, Noel.||Wallace, Dan.|
|Wilkinson, Ollie.||Woods, Michael.|
|Allen, Bernard.||Breen, Pat.|
|Broughan, Thomas P.||Bruton, Richard.|
|Burton, Joan.||Connaughton, Paul.|
|Costello, Joe.||Coveney, Simon.|
|Cowley, Jerry.||Crawford, Seymour.|
|Crowe, Seán.||Cuffe, Ciarán.|
|Deasy, John.||Deenihan, Jimmy.|
|Durkan, Bernard J.||English, Damien.|
|Enright, Olwyn.||Ferris, Martin.|
|Gilmore, Eamon.||Gormley, John.|
|Gregory, Tony.||Higgins, Joe.|
|Kenny, Enda.||McCormack, Pádraic.|
|McGinley, Dinny.||McGrath, Finian.|
|McGrath, Paul.||McHugh, Paddy.|
|McManus, Liz.||Mitchell, Gay.|
|Mitchell, Olivia.||Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.|
|Murphy, Gerard.||Naughten, Denis.|
|Neville, Dan.||Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.|
|Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.||O’Shea, Brian.|
|O’Sullivan, Jan.||Pattison, Séamus.|
|Penrose, Willie.||Rabbitte, Pat.|
|Ring, Michael.||Ryan, Eamon.|
|Ryan, Seán.||Sargent, Trevor.|
|Sherlock, Joe.||Shortall, Róisín.|
|Stagg, Emmet.||Timmins, Billy.|
|Twomey, Liam.||Upton, Mary.|
Mr. Kenny: When will the legislation on citizenship arising from the referendum be published and debated? Arising from the Electoral Act, there are reports from throughout the country that, when the counts were being conducted following the recent elections, some ballot boxes had numbers of perfectly valid ballot papers which were not perforated. Should the Government not issue an instruction to all returning officers that the presiding officers in question should not be re-employed in view of the failure to deliver their constitutional rights to citizens who cast their votes properly but whose votes were not counted because the ballot papers were not perforated for whatever reason?
Mr. M. Smith: That legislation will be published in the autumn. I accept the Deputy’s point. It is regrettable that this occurs. All Members have experienced it. There is no acceptable explanation for that type of negligence, and it is negligence. I will undertake to discuss the matter with the appropriate Minister and also discuss the steps that can be taken to eliminate it as far as possible. That is the least that should be done. There are other matters regarding spoilt ballot papers which can be discussed on another day. However, the problem outlined by the Deputy should be avoidable.
Mr. Rabbitte: I earlier voiced my concern that the constant sniping from Fianna Fáil would undermine the self-confidence of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Has the Minister for Defence given any thought to my proposition last week that the House sit late in July to facilitate the clearing out of some of the dead wood in the Cabinet and allow the new Government to be put in place?
Mr. Sargent: Like Deputy Kenny, I am anxious to see an improvement in the voting system. Does the Government plan to publish the report of the commission on electronic voting? It has promised to do so but has a date been set for publication? There is a need to get to the bottom of this faux pas and to put in place a proper voting system that is accountable and transparent.
With regard to the Civil Service regulation (amendment) Bill, there has been a call from IMPACT for the establishment of an independent body to consult stakeholders on decisions about the decentralisation programme. Is there any possibility of acceding to that request in advance of publication of the legislation——
Mr. M. Smith: Some policy issues have been raised and are being examined but the Civil Service regulation (amendment) Bill should be published shortly. There is no legislative provision in connection with the publication or otherwise of the deliberations of the commission. It is a matter for the commission.
Ms Enright: In light of the publication in England today of the report on the Soham murders, when does the Government intend to keep the promise it made on 17 December to publish legislation providing for proper vetting of people working with children?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: My question is about the adoption Bill, which was due to be published in 2004 as stated in the previous legislative programme of Government. Adoption Ireland has called for the Bill to be expedited to give effect to the Hague Convention. The Bill has been postponed for a further 12 months. Is there any possibility that the Bill can be introduced in 2004, as was promised until recently?
Mr. Stanton: I have two questions for the Minister. The disability Bill was promised before last Christmas. Will we see it by next Christmas? Is there any truth in the rumour that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is changing his title to the Minister for Justice, Inequality and Law Reform?
Mr. Crawford: When will the property registration authority of Ireland Bill be brought before the House? Second, in light of the slagging taking place between Ministers, when will the defamation Bill be ready?
Mr. Neville: On secondary legislation, when will all sections of the Children Act be commenced? Since 27 April I have been endeavouring to discover what sections of the Act have been implemented. Perhaps the Minister will communicate with me later on this because the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform just gives rambling answers to my questions. What sections of the Act have been implemented and when will the remaining sections be implemented?
Mr. Broughan: The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources is currently cooling down in Norway. Is it intended to allow the House to discuss the new arrangements for the shrunken Irish Box delivered by the Minister in light of the concerns of the Irish fishing industry, especially east coast fishermen?
|Last Updated: 04/11/2010 13:10:01||Page of 284|