Order of Business.

Wednesday, 13 October 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 590 No. 2

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  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: 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. 19a, motion re membership of committee, [334]and No. 19b, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate, agreed to?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should confine himself to legislation. First of all, is there legislation promised?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I cannot interfere in any way with the way the people vote. The Taoiseach says the president of Sinn Féin is a liar.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This matter does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to find another way of raising it.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform says the IRA and Sinn Féin are involved in criminal activity in Dublin port.

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

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Kenny should allow the Tánaiste to answer his question on legislation.

[335]Mr. N. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Deputy Kenny is talking about a cosy alliance on that side with Sinn Féin.

Mr. C. Lenihan: Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Deputy Kenny had the Wolfe Tones at his party.

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

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  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. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Where is Deputy Ring this morning?

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Tánaiste will not be in that coalition.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Deputy Ó Caoláin will be the Minister for Justice.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  And Deputy Ferris will be the Minister for Defence.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask Members on the Government side to allow Deputy Rabbitte to speak without interruption.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat 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: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  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: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor 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 [336]fishing of razor shellfish, which have all gone now.

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

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor 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?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The legislation will the taken in this session.

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

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The alcohol products (control of advertising) Bill will be introduced early next year, as will the forestry (amendment) Bill.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Will the Tánaiste indicate when the building control Bill is likely to be taken? It has been promised for a long time.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I dealt with the matter yesterday. It will be the middle of next year.

  11 o’clock

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on 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?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I checked the matter and I understand that, when answering questions on 29 September, the Taoiseach indicated the report was imminent and would go to the committee.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay 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?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Is it the O’Hare report?

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  I am not sure because the report has not been published.

[337]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am not aware of a report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should submit his question to the appropriate Minister.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. A report on the issue was drawn up by the former president of Dublin City University.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Does the Tánaiste intend publishing the report?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister said he will publish it.

Ms Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín 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: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  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: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín 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?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  On the second Bill, it is a matter for the Whips to provide the time. I will inquire why the other Bill cannot move to Report Stage.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe 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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  A question appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe 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: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is not possible to say when the Diplomatic Relations and Immunities (Amendment) Bill will be taken. I suggest the [338]word “handbagging” is not compatible with a Bill of that kind. It is rather sexist.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  I did not say that.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What is the intention in regard to the Bill to replace the Official Secrets Act or will it remain a secret?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Late next year.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I want to draw the Tánaiste’s attention to the fact that the Abbotstown centre Bill has been promised each session since 2002. When will the Bill be brought before the House?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I will inquire about ground rents, Deputy Quinn, to see whether it can be kept going. I am told this session.

Mr. J. Breen: Information on James Breen  Zoom on James 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?

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

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  No.

Mr. J. Breen: Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Legislation is not required.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  A constitutional referendum is not necessary.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen 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?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Legislation in that area is not envisaged.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Will the Tánaiste live by her commitments that employees will be paid in full?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should submit a question to the appropriate Minister.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  People received their statutory redundancy in full and the remainder depends on the proceeds from the liquidation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We can only discuss matters appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan 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 [339]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: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Whistleblowers Protection Bill, a Labour Party Bill, is at Committee Stage.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is nowhere.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  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——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The content of the Bill cannot be discussed. I call Deputy Cowley.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I asked a second question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  To what did the second question relate?

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  A Cheann Comhairle, on a point of order, is it new practice that you actually interrupt the Taoiseach or Tánaiste when they are trying to reply.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If a question is out of order, the Chair must intervene and treat both sides of the House equally. If the Tánaiste is out of order, the Chair must intervene.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  A new practice has been introduced of interrupting the Minister.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Cowley.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Tánaiste is answering my question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I do not believe legislation was promised on the matter.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The previous Minister announced it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  There is nothing here about it.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Is there impending legislation to outlaw the ceiling on the recruitment of nurses? It appears that four nurses cannot be employed [340]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.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The question is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  As the National Roads Authority is an agent of the State, is there provision in this House to raise matters relating to the plans or programme of the authority?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not appropriate to raise matters that are the responsibility of the National Roads Authority in regard to its day-to-day operations.

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Is there provision for legislation or is there any provision in legislation to deal with the matter?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  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: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz 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——

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

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  There is evidence of children being sent home with serious cardiac conditions——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy must allow the Tánaiste to answer her question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The recruitment of nurses does not require legislation but that Bill will be ready next year.


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