Order of Business.

Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 590 No. 4

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. 13, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Draft Order entitled Adoptive Leave Act 1995 (Extension of Periods of Leave) Order 2004 (back from committee); No. 14, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 (Additional Institutions) Order 2004 (back from committee); No. 15, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2004 (back from committee); No. 16, Water Services Bill 2003 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 13 and 14 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 15 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 45 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) subject to (ii), the speeches shall be confined to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism and to the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and which shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; (ii) Members may share time; (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members’ business shall be No. 33, motion re Special Needs.

[873]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 13 and 14, motions re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Draft Order entitled Adoptive Leave Act 1995 and the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15, motion re Proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2004, agreed?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  In the context of the wider implications and the needs of this country in terms of accident and emergency shortfalls and the suffering in our hospitals, it is important that the probity of allocating so much money to what effectively is an industry and also an entertainment be dealt with not only by a committee with a narrow remit but in the Dáil by way of debate. For that reason I seek a debate in this House.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 15 be agreed”, put and declared carried.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There is some confusion abroad about the consequences of the statement made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, concerning the possibility of Fianna Fáil negotiating with Sinn Féin to participate in Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business and the matter has already been dealt with.

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

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It cannot be raised on the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Given the concerns expressed by a great number of people, will the Taoiseach arrange a debate on Northern Ireland? All parties support the Good Friday Agreement but the deliberate statement of the Minister for Foreign Affairs has obviously added confusion.

Deputy Neville has consistently highlighted the disastrous funding of the psychiatric services and the high rate of suicides. Will time be made available for a debate on the implementation of the report of the national task force on suicide?

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If the Whips wish to discuss having a debate on the report.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I hoped the Taoiseach would have replied to Deputy Kenny because it is important that he takes the first opportunity since his return from his overseas visit to clear up the confusion in the public domain behind the motivation and purpose of the recent statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern.

[874]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The issue was discussed on Question Time.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  If the Minister was flying a kite and the Taoiseach thinks he has brought him down to earth again——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I would prefer if the Deputy did not continue when he is out of order.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is important that we understand if it was about replacing the Progressive Democrats in Government or a benign gesture in the context of the Northern Ireland discussions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is out of order. He knows there are other ways in which he can raise the matter.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It would be helpful if the leader of Government simply availed——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy not to pursue this course as he is out of order.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I accept the Chair’s ruling. However, the leader of Government as distinct from the Minister for Foreign Affairs should clarify the issue for the public.

Will there be a debate to discuss the implications of yesterday’s report published by the child development initiative on Tallaght?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The report published yesterday was a good one and if we can find time for a short debate on it, it would be useful.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I would like to think the Taoiseach would take the opportunity to clarify the statement of his Minister for Foreign Affairs——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I have already ruled the matter out of order.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I was simply hoping that the Taoiseach might take the opportunity to address the issue when replying. The charities regulation Bill has been promised since before I became a Member of the House. The Costello report goes back to 1990 and even the time of the hospital sweepstakes. Those hospitals that must raise extra funds to meet Exchequer shortfalls want to know when the Bill will be in place.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  An external report on this issue was completed in September. This will now inform the preparation of draft legislation. Matters can proceed now on foot of the availability of this report.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Report Stage of the Railway Safety Bill is scheduled for tomorrow, one and a half years after Committee Stage was taken. Yesterday, Deputies received 50 pages of technical amendments from the Minister for Transport. [875]Will the Taoiseach arrange for the Bill to be returned to Committee Stage as it is a now effectively a new Bill? It is unacceptable that the Minister should bring——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is a matter for the House.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  It is a matter for the Taoiseach to ensure the orderly arrangement of business. It is unacceptable that what is effectively a new Bill is introduced in such a manner.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is a matter for the House when the Bill comes before it.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  With 52 pages of amendments?

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It is off the rails.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Tánaiste promised legislation some considerable time ago to change the work permit system by giving non-national workers a green card that would accrue to them rather than their employers. Will this promise be fulfilled in the work permits Bill, which is on the list of promised legislation, or in a separate Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The employment permits Bill is ready and will be taken in this session.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  In view of the Government’s reiteration of its commitment to increase overseas development assistance spending by 0.7% of gross domestic product will legislation be introduced to ring-fence this money which will befit the capacity of the fourth wealthiest state in the world? Will secondary legislation or a ministerial order be required to facilitate the immediate regularisation of residency rights of non-national parents of some 11,000 children citizens?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  No legislation is required on either issue. The first issue was dealt with by the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs on Question Time.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What is the current intention concerning the broadcasting authority bill which was promised for 2005 but is making very slow progress?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill are expected before Christmas and it will be next year when it is published.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  At the beginning of 2003, the Taoiseach referred the proposal to control the price of building land to the All-Party Committee on the Constitution. It is six months since the committee reported. On Thursday last, I asked the Tánaiste if the Government has any plans to introduce legislation on foot of the report. Will there be a debate on the report?

[876]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  Not at this stage, but it has been dealt with in detail on a number of occasions on Taoiseach’s Question Time. If the Whips can find time for these debates, it is fine with me.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It will be on a Thursday.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Taoiseach will not be here.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  When will legislation on the referendum on the European Constitution be published? What is the likely date for the referendum?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Government has not considered this. Although it must be within the next two years, the Government has not yet set a date.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  In light of the stress parents find themselves under at present, when will the parental leave (amendment) Bill be published? When will the family law Bill, promised for some time, be introduced? When will the Bill to consolidate the Social Welfare Acts be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the parental leave (amendment) Bill have been approved and it will be published in the new year. The heads of the family law Bill, to provide for pension adjustments in the context of separation agreements and other reforms, are expected before Christmas and it will be drafted then. I am informed that it is a very detailed Bill. The social welfare (consolidation) Bill will be introduced after the Social Welfare Bill 2005.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Arising from the recent statements by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, on cracking down on fireworks by giving extra powers to the Garda and increasing penalties for fireworks, will legislation be introduced before Hallowe’en?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  When it is, we can expect plenty of fireworks.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That will be the day.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  We can expect much smoke.

Mr. O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  And noise.

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

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Minister has issued statements to the media that he will clamp down on fireworks by toughening existing legislation so that elderly people will feel more secure during Hallowe’en. Will an amendment to the Explosives Act be introduced?

[877]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister is reading The Wind in the Willows by the banks of the Shannon.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Or A Bridge too Far?

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The relevant legislation is 125 years old. Is any amendment promised in this area? The Minister stated it when he was abroad. When can we expect it?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Costello is firing on all cylinders.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow the Deputy to speak without interruption.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  If you let off fireworks down in Roosky nobody would notice.

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We already have.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  In recent years, most people were surprised to find we had an e-Minister because she was largely invisible in carrying out her duties.

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. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Is the Chief Whip, Deputy Kitt, now the e-Minister? Some people think we do not have one.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  We are all e-Ministers.

Mr. C. Lenihan: Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  What “e” is the Deputy inquiring about?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is the same job.

Mr. O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  I understood there was a commitment from Government to have a debate on the national spatial strategy when it was published, but that was almost two years ago. Can we have that debate as soon as possible, please?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There was a debate at the time it was published. The Deputy should raise the matter with the Minister.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I thought it appropriate that the House would pass on its good wishes to the Clerk of the Dáil who is recuperating.

Has the Taoiseach had any hand, act or part in the discussions to bring Mick O’Dwyer from Laois to become manager of the Dublin Gaelic football team?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I join in the best wishes to the Clerk of the Dáil.


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