Order of Business.

Tuesday, 23 November 2004

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 593 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 385 Next Page Last Page

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. 10, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the amendments to the Convention establishing the European Telecommunications Satellite Organisation (back from committee); No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the amendments to the Convention for the establishment of the European Radiocommunications Office and the ratification of the instrument amending the ERO Convention (back from committee); No. 20, Council of Europe Development Bank Bill 2004 — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; and No. 3, Health Bill 2004 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; and (2) Nos. 10 and 11 shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ Business shall be No. 43, motion re roads infrastructure

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Fine Gael will not accept a guillotine of the Health Bill 2004. This is a fundamental Bill which will reform the health services and every Member will want to contribute to the debate.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I must oppose the late sitting because it is the only mechanism available to me to ask the Taoiseach to explain why he switched the Health Bill and the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill. The Government has been promising the Health Bill for 18 months. It is supposed to provide for major reform of the health service. The Bill was published on Friday, most Deputies will have received it in their pigeon holes yesterday and it has been brought forward from Wednesday to Tuesday. Why is that happening?

The Minister for Health and Children, when she was on this side of the House, would have worked herself up into incredible lucidity if this kind of thing had happened. She is now bringing forward yellow pack medical cards. Patients will soon be expected to make do with half a bed; or will the Minister put two patients into one bed? This Bill is her major effort. She is the one who [47]pledged that there should be two weeks between publication of a Bill and its being debated in the House. Why the change?

The first schedule for this week had the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Bill for debate today, on which there would have been a number of votes. That schedule was agreed by the Whips at the Whips’ meeting. Then, without any notice, the Government changed the schedule to bring forward the Health Bill, on which there will not be any vote. The least the House is entitled to know is why the Government made that change and why one of the most major pieces of legislation being advanced by the Government, on its own claim, is to be guillotined on Friday.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  It is alarming to hear the Health Bill is to be guillotined. The late sitting notwithstanding, this decision must be reversed. The Bill, apart from being brought quite suddenly to our attention for debate with limited time to prepare, is an issue which reaches far beyond the Minister for Health and Children. It relates to the way the Government has forced an economic policy which has disimproved the health of the people of the country. God help those who need hospital attention on the back of that. There is a need to address the Government’s responsibility for so much of the deteriorating health of the country and the way that deterioration is compounded by the Government’s failure to provide the facilities to address the health problems when they arise. The debate will not be given the breadth and length it needs. The Government is trying to close down the debate because it would be damning for it to hear the facts of this matter. Recent research shows ever more clearly how the Government has disimproved the health of the country. This matter needs further debate and action.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I object to the guillotining of the Second Stage of the Health Bill on Friday. I do not know whether it is an accident or can be attributed to the change in Chief Whip, but there have been very few votes on the Order of Business in this sitting. This is because there has been an acceptance by the Government that guillotines are not appropriate and are not acceptable to the House, particularly of substantial and substantive legislation such as the Health Bill. The Bill is the wrong remedy for the wrong problem because it seeks merely to make bureaucratic changes to the health service and does not deal with the real reforms the public need and for which they are crying out.

I join colleagues in opposing the Order of Business as presented. The Government is reintroducing the guillotine and making a totally inappropriate proposal.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Government published its health reform programme 18 months ago. The changes of the Health Service Executive have been in the public domain since then.

[48]Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, may I raise a point of order?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I call Deputy McManus on a point of order.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  It is wrong for the Taoiseach to mislead the House. He has misled the House and he will continue to do so unless he is stopped. He has no right to say what he has——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  He has no right to say what he has said because it is not true.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a point of order.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  If it is not a point of order I am not sure what I am doing here. It is wrong for the Taoiseach to say what he has just said.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is a lie.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The word “lie” should not be used.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Members received the Bill yesterday morning and 36 hours later we are to debate it in the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  As I have pointed out, that is not a point of order.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  On behalf of the people I represent, I ask why the Bill has been brought forward to today.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Chair has called on the Deputy to resume her seat. I call the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will try to answer the questions put by Deputies Rabbitte and Sargent. May I do so without interruption?

Over the past 18 months, however, the Government has indicated that it is a major priority to implement the health service reform programme. Therefore, it intends that, on 1 January 2005, the Health Service Executive will take over the management of the health service from the health boards and the Eastern Regional Health Authority. The Government discussed this legislation last week and I understand that Deputy McManus received a copy of it after the Government meeting last week.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Yes, I got it but none of my colleagues received it until yesterday.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I understand you got a copy of it last Tuesday.

[49]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Taoiseach should address his remarks through the Chair.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I got it but nobody else in my party did, and I only got a draft, I did not get a copy of the Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Deputy McManus is the spokesperson so I presume she briefed her party’s Deputies.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There are several Deputies to contribute.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I ask the Taoiseach to recognise what is happening here. Members of the House other than Opposition spokespeople did not receive the Bill until yesterday. I only got a copy of the full Bill yesterday. Before that I got a draft, a photocopy

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy has made her point. She should resume her seat and allow the Taoiseach to continue his reply.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  We are being asked to debate this Bill today. We were promised it would be on the Order of Business for tomorrow. Why has it been scheduled for today?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Taoiseach should be allowed to proceed with his reply.

Mr. J. Brady: Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  They all want to see change.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I thought the last thing I would have to do is defend starting discussion on the Bill today, so that we would deal with it today, tomorrow and Friday.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  No, we can deal with it tomorrow.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Do people want less time to debate the Bill?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Taoiseach should tell the House why he switched it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is why we are having it today, tomorrow and Friday.

[50]Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  That is not the reason.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Whips were informed.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  They were not informed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  They were informed yesterday.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Taoiseach should tell us the truth.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is our responsibility——

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  It is leading to a dictatorship.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If giving more time to a Bill is dictatorship, that is a new type of dictatorship.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Taoiseach is not giving more time for the Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Taoiseach is in possession.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I am not much in possession as this is the third time Deputy McManus has interrupted me. However, at least it is giving me an opportunity to state that the Deputy has had the Bill for over a week and she has had the proposals for 18 months. If Deputies are asking me to withdraw the Bill today and to take it only tomorrow and Friday, we can look at that.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  The Taoiseach withdrew Bills before.

  5 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If, however, Deputies want to have it debated today, tomorrow and Friday, we will go on to Committee Stage next week and Report and Final Stages the following week, and it will be in the Seanad right up to the Christmas recess. I have repeatedly explained to the House that this is an urgent Bill and, so that it would not be complex, we took out the entire section on the information and quality issues. We undertook to take those in a separate Bill in the spring session. How many concessions on a Bill do I have to make?

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with the late sitting be agreed.”

[49]The Dáil divided: Tá, 66; Níl, 56.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. 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 Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
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, Seamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. 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  [51]Finneran, Michael. Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred.
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 Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghail, 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 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 Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Ned.
Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona. Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim.
Information on Tom Parlon  Zoom on Tom Parlon  Parlon, Tom. 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 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 Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
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.



[51]Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
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 Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
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 Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John. Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
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 Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. 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 Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. 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 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 Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. 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 Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
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 Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

[51]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.

[51]Question declared carried.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 10 and 11 without debate agreed to? Agreed.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I hope the Taoiseach and his fellow Ministers will achieve further progress in tomorrow’s discussions with the leader of the DUP, the Reverend Ian Paisley, and the British Prime Minister in London. While I am somewhat disappointed that we did not have the opportunity to have a debate on the matter beforehand, I can understand its sensitivity. I hope all goes well at that meeting.

I take the words of the Minister for Transport to heart, when he said yesterday that, following [52]the meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee dealing with the Aer Lingus issue, he wished everybody here would become involved in as inclusive a debate as possible. In that sense the representatives of the rest of the House, including those from the Fianna Fáil Party, do not have sight of the Goldman Sachs report with its ten recommendations. If we are to have an inclusive debate, in which all stakeholders in this business are to involve themselves, could the report not be published or at least its recommendations made available to us? This will allow everybody with an interest in the matter to understand the options being discussed by the Cabinet sub-committee.

In respect of the announcement being made today by the absent Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform about the new traffic corps, can [53]we take it that adequate facilities will be made available to train these people and that they will be sufficiently resourced both in communications equipment and high visibility vehicles to allow them to do their jobs? Will this require legislation and if so when will we see it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I thank the Deputy for his comments on the talks. I still cannot be certain how this will move into a debate. As the Deputy has said, our difficulty is that we are in different levels of the debate. However, I have tried to brief all the parties over the weekend. I had a long meeting yesterday with the SDLP and we have also talked to the other parties. While we have not given them the documents we have tried to brief them as much as we can. There is not much to say beyond what I said here during Question Time. Depending on what happens in coming days, I will keep the issue of the debate under review. I again confirm I will meet Dr. Paisley, the DUP and Sinn Féin before we have the meeting and then we will see where we move, but I do not expect tomorrow to bring a conclusion to this issue. It will move on from there.

The Cabinet discussed the second matter following the meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee. The Cabinet sub-committee decided we would publish the Goldman Sachs report.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  It will be available on the website.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We will put it on the website as soon as possible and then issue the documents, if we have any documents on the matter. We made a commitment on the traffic corps in An Agreed Programme for Government. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform set out the time-table from the strategic review today, pointing out the changes that will lead to the enforcement of traffic law. The number of gardaí dedicated to this task will rise from 500 today to 1,200, more than doubling the number enforcing road traffic law in every possible way. I will raise the other issues about training with the Minister.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I also wish the Taoiseach well in his discussions in Downing Street tomorrow.

Will primary legislation be necessary to implement the yellow pack medical cards? If so, when will that legislation be brought before the House? Is the interpretation placed at the weekend on the Taoiseach’s denunciation of the Aer Lingus management correct, that the Government has reversed direction and will retain Aer Lingus in public ownership?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The substantial increase in medical cards above the increase in the limit for those currently on medical cards will require legislation.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Taoiseach is misleading the House, they are not medical cards and he knows that, they are yellow pack cards.

[54]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I made no statements at the weekend about Aer Lingus. Last week I thanked the management, the board and the workers in Aer Lingus.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Taoiseach might meet the former management of Aer Lingus since it has arisen that there was not even a meeting between them. That is a strange way to show appreciation for work done. Once the Government has discussed the Goldman Sachs report, will it let us know when we can debate this issue?

I wish the Taoiseach well in his discussions with the parties and the British Prime Minister in Downing Street. On promised legislation and a matter involving the Department of Foreign Affairs, President Lukashenko of Belarus has stated that he will not allow children who have radiation sickness and who have been affected by the Chernobyl disaster to travel to Ireland for the medical treatment and clean food they need. Is the Taoiseach taking any steps to address this matter? It is straightforward from a humanitarian point of view. He could allay the fears of the President of Belarus and ensure these children do not suffer further as a result of that tragedy in 1986. The subject could be discussed under the diplomatic relations and immunities (amendment) Bill but addressing this should not require legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I will bring that matter to the attention of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Will the Bord Gáis Éireann Bill and the electricity Bill be brought before the House or published and circulated as soon as possible, given the recent references to price hikes in energy, to give Members an idea of the Government’s thinking in the area?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bord Gáis Éireann Bill will be before the House next year. I do not have a date for the electricity Bill, although its heads have been approved and it is being drafted.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  What is causing the delay with the introduction of the building control Bill, which deals with radon gas among other things? Can it be prioritised?

Has the Government had a chance to consider the timing of the referendum to ratify the European constitution? The British Government is likely to have that referendum in spring 2006 and it is desirable that we have our referendum before that. There are limited numbers of windows for running it so will the Taoiseach indicate his thoughts on the matter?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the building control Bill have been approved for some time and it is scheduled for mid 2005.

On the referendum, a spring 2006 referendum is the probable preference of the British Government, although it is not final. There will probably be an election before then. It is advisable for us to hold our referendum before then, although we [55]have not decided on a date. We are, however, looking at the steps we must take to ensure everything moves in time. We want to spend as much time as we can ensuring the preparatory work is done

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I join other Members in wishing well all who wish to see a satisfactory and sustainable resolution of the current talks engagement. If agreement is reached, does the Taoiseach envisage a peace dividend for the southern Border counties of Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth, given that over the period since the Good Friday Agreement, the expected peace dividend has not materialised and many of the services and public supports people had have been taken away? Does the Taoiseach envisage a serious package of supports and a keen bent towards those counties in light of any advance in the near future?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  There is no legislation planned for this area and we must wait to see if we can conclude the comprehensive settlement to look at issues that surround it. There are no proposals in the area but the Government continues to put significant resources into the Border, midland and west, BMW, region to help economic development in those regions. In our multi-annual and capital programmes, large amounts of resources are dedicated to assisting in that region.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  When will the criminal justice Bill come before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Criminal Justice (Inter-
national Co-operation) Bill will be taken in this session. The heads of the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill are expected before Christmas and the Bill will be introduced in the new year. We are also working on a criminal justice (protection of confidential information) Bill for next year but the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill will be the first before the House.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  On the Council of Europe Development Bank Bill, which supports Belarus, has there been any communication with the President of Belarus? There is concern at the assertion that children who have come here for treatment will no longer be allowed to do it. Before we debate the Bill, will the Taoiseach indicate the Government view and if it has been made known through the European Union or directly to the Government of Belarus?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Minister for Foreign Affairs was not involved in this issue today but the Department has made contact. I will ask for a note to let Deputies Howlin and Sargent know what progress has been made.


Last Updated: 04/11/2010 09:32:01 First Page Previous Page Page of 385 Next Page Last Page