Wednesday, 13 October 2004
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Tánaiste: The Order of Business shall be as follows: No. 19a, motion re membership of committee; No. 19b, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 23, (a) Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Bill 1999 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 3, Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 4, Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 19a and 19b shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ business shall be No. 39, motion re health services (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
An Ceann Comhairle: There is one proposal to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19a, motion re membership of committee, and No. 19b, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate, agreed to?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: First, as regards No. 19b, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, it is indicated in the accompanying missive that the date for rescheduling Education and Science questions is 26 October. However, I understand that the Dáil will not be in session on that date. I am bringing that to the attention of the Tánaiste because it only invites a revisitation of the proposition already before us at this point.
Second, I ask the Tánaiste to raise with the Government Chief Whip the matter of the attachment indicating that all spokespersons of the relevant Departments within this proposition are happy with the proposition. I can affirm that not all the spokespersons have even been consulted. I ask Deputy Kitt, in his role as Chief Whip, to ensure that will not be repeated.
Mr. Kenny: Yesterday evening we had an extraordinary statement from the Minister for Foreign Affairs conditioning the electorate for the association of the Fianna Fáil party with Sinn Féin in Government. Is there a proposal to amend the legislation underpinning the Good Friday Agreement? The Taoiseach is in Vietnam and I do not know whether the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs had the imprimatur of the Government, whether he was speaking for the PDs or on behalf of the Government.
Mr. Kenny: The Government seems to have changed its tune on the release of the killers of Jerry McCabe. I want to know if the statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs has the Government’s imprimatur.
The Tánaiste: No. There is no legislation promised. Deputy Kenny is well aware of my views on Sinn Féin. In addition to its links with the IRA, I think its economic policies would destroy the country. I see, however, that Deputy Ring suggested Fine Gael should go into Government with it. Maybe Deputy Kenny should start with his own house first.
Mr. Rabbitte: Is the Tánaiste aware of a Bill published in 2000 by my colleague, Deputy Quinn, that would enshrine in law the UN target of 0.7% of GNP to be spent on overseas development aid? Given the difficulties she is having keeping Fianna Fáil in line, would she be minded to introduce a Bill to that effect, since the Opposition cannot sponsor legislation that involves a charge on the Exchequer?
On a number of occasions, the Taoiseach has made heavy work of answering whether or not a one-paragraph Bill to revise the constituencies will be brought before the House at an early date. What is the Tánaiste’s disposition in that matter?
The Tánaiste: The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government intends to bring that legislation to Government over the next two or three weeks. I am not familiar with Deputy Quinn’s Bill regarding overseas development aid. I would probably be more positively disposed to that Bill if Deputy Quinn had a better record in this area when he was at the Department of Finance.
Mr. Sargent: I understand that the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources has been sent a Garda file on over fishing, which he will be aware of himself. Off the coast of County Meath there has been considerable over fishing of razor shellfish, which have all gone now.
Mr. Sargent: I do. Will processing the fisheries (amendment) Bill be speeded up? Will legislation be introduced to deal with this urgent matter? It will not be possible to continue benefiting from this resource if it is overfished. Will the Tánaiste indicate whether the legislation will be brought forward, or will it be delayed on the basis of this Garda file? Will we have another investigation?
Mr. Crawford: I wish to raise two items. First, under the Tánaiste’s own remit of health, I wish to inquire about the alcohol products (control of advertising) Bill, with regard to the control, advertising, sponsorship, marketing practice, sale and promotion of alcohol. Second, it will be necessary to speed up the introduction of the forestry (amendment) Bill.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Yesterday the Tánaiste indicated she would be in a position to reply to my question regarding the second report of Justice Henry Barron into the British bombings of Dublin in 1972 and 1973 and whether the matter would be referred to a sub-committee of the justice committee, as the first report from Justice Barron was addressed. Will she advise the House on the position regarding this report?
Mr. G. Mitchell: In regard to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill, will the Tánaiste consider publishing the report she received proposing the setting up of a public safety authority in advance of the Dáil debate in view of my ongoing concerns about the safety of Luas?
Ms Shortall: I asked the Taoiseach last week about two pieces of transport legislation and he said he would check the matter. Has the Tánaiste got the information? The first is the rail safety Bill which was stalled in committee more than 15 months ago. What is the reason for the delay and when can we expect Report Stage? The second Bill is the road traffic Bill which has been published for several months. It is intended to regularise the situation in regard to penalty points. What is the reason for the delay in taking Second Stage of the Bill and when can we expect to see it?
The Tánaiste: The second Bill is a matter for the Whips. The first Bill is before committee and I do not know the reason for the delay. I will inquire whether amendments from the Minister are awaited.
Ms Shortall: I asked these questions last week. The Taoiseach could not answer them but he said he would check the reasons for the delay. Will the Tánaiste undertake to come back to me tomorrow on these issues?
Mr. J. Higgins: On a morning when the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, was probably wishing he was back stalking the deer in Killarney National Park, our spirits were raised by Deputy O’Donnell bagging him all over the developing world.
Mr. J. Higgins: What is the position regarding the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities (Amendment) Bill, which the Minister might need in the next few days, and the third level students support Bill to place all student support schemes on a statutory footing?
The Tánaiste: It is not possible to say when the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities (Amendment) Bill will be taken. I suggest the word “handbagging” is not compatible with a Bill of that kind. It is rather sexist.
Mr. J. Breen: Last week I asked the Taoiseach about the deliberations of the all-party committee on the Constitution in regard to property rights. Will legislation be required to have the report implemented or is it the Government’s intention to implement this important report?
Ms Lynch: Based on the Tánaiste’s commitment, does she envisage that an amendment to the redundancy Act will be necessary in order to ensure the former employees of IFI will be paid all their entitlements? As it appears there is a threat to this, does the Tánaiste envisage amending the redundancy Act?
Mr. Howlin: I want to ask about two different pieces of legislation. The Tánaiste referred to the ground rents Bill. A Bill equally long in gestation has been the Whistleblowers Protection Bill, which was replaced on the Order Paper for this Dáil, having passed Second Stage. Is it the Government’s intention to proceed with the Whistleblowers Protection Bill introduced by my colleague, Deputy Rabbitte, or will it be withdrawn, because otherwise it is pointless having it on the agenda?
On separate legislation, is the declaration of the previous Minister for Transport that legislation would be introduced to change the procedure in regard to speed limits being set nationally as opposed to locally unless local authorities complied with his diktat being proceeded with?
The Tánaiste: It has passed Second Stage and is awaiting Committee Stage. There has not been a decision to remove it but I will speak to the new Minister with responsibility in that area. I said in the House before it ran into serious legal difficulties, and a view was taken that perhaps we should deal with the matter on a sectoral basis because of the implications for global——
Dr. Cowley: Is there impending legislation to outlaw the ceiling on the recruitment of nurses? It appears that four nurses cannot be employed in Mayo General Hospital and people must travel 1,000 miles a week to avail of services. Essential services in hospitals have been discontinued because nurses cannot be recruited.
The Tánaiste: In general operational issues are matters for these authorities. Overall policy can be discussed in committee or in this House with the Minister. The way to deal with specific issues is through inviting the chief executive to one of the committees.
Ms McManus: It is clear the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children is not very well-informed about the nursing situation, where there are 700 vacancies, 20 of which are in Our Lady’s Hospital in Crumlin. Will she consider informing herself of the situation and bringing forward the nursing Bill which has been on the list of legislation for some time and is urgently needed if she is going to address the serious situation where there are so many hundreds of nurses——
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