Domestic Refuse Charges: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 16 February 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 597 No. 6

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Gilmore on Tuesday, 15 February 2005:

—calls on the Government to introduce a uniform national waiver scheme for domestic refuse charges in view of:

—the way in which the decision of the Government in 2003 to transfer responsibility for setting waste charges from democratically elected councillors to local authority managers has led to a very significant increase in the level of charges;

—the fact that these charges can result in financial difficulties for pensioners and others on low incomes, or those who have large families or exceptional household circumstances; and

—the great variation in waste charges and existing waiver schemes operated by local authorities and the total absence of any waiver scheme in some areas.

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

—that the operational details of waste management services have never been the responsibility of central Government;

—that local authorities have received record levels of discretionary general purpose grants from the local government fund in the current year;

—the very significant investment which has been made by the Government in developing modern integrated waste management infrastructure and services;

—that the costs of maintaining these services must be met;

—that many local authorities have availed of the existing statutory provisions which allow for the operation of waste waiver schemes; and

—that the introduction of use based charges is a more equitable way of meeting these costs and encouraging waste reduction and recycling;

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I thank the Members who participated in this debate, including those with whom I do not agree. I particularly thank Deputy McHugh who, at an appropriate time, reminded the House of the intent of the motion. This motion is about pensioners, people on social welfare, workers who are on low income and people who cannot afford the waste charges bills they are getting from either their local authority or the private bin collectors. The motion simply asks the Government to introduce a national waiver scheme on their behalf.

When I proposed this motion last night, I did so without political rancour and with the minimum of political comment in the hope of persuading the Government to introduce a national waiver scheme. I did not seek to blame the Government or to engage in political confrontation. The pensioners, the people on low income, low income workers and the people who are worried about the bill they have received from their local authority or private bin collector deserve better than the type of smart ass speech the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government gave last night.

The Minister, Deputy Roche, might consider it clever to send a political assistant or perhaps a media consultant, at taxpayers’ expense, into the archives to discover a speech made 22 years ago by the former Deputy, Mr. Dick Spring, in the hope that it will somehow cause embarrassment to the Labour Party. I can respond with two facts. The Labour Party is proud of Dick Spring’s record in public life and there are few who can hold a candle to it. Second, if we wanted to get into the embarrassment game, we would not have to go back 22 years to find something to embarrass Fianna Fáil.

The most serious aspect of the Minister’s speech last night is the degree to which it was dishonest and inaccurate. He told the House, for example, that Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, on the basis of a motion supported by former Labour Party Minister, Niamh Bhreathnach, opted to support the estimates. He effectively said that the Labour Party’s support for the estimates introduced the charging regime in that local authority. The estimates meeting in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council took place on 11 January. The county manager signed the order introducing the waste charges in that local authority on 17 December 2004. This clearly shows that the decision to introduce waste charges and make waiver schemes is made by county managers on the basis of legislation introduced by the previous Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Cullen. Deputy Roche, Deputy Andrews, Deputy Fiona O’Malley and other Deputies who [1728]spoke in those sleeveen terms about this issue all voted for it.

Deputy Fiona O’Malley spoke about the need for consistency. She concluded her speech by saying she opposes a national waiver scheme for waste charges. That does not surprise me. Deputy O’Malley and her party do not have a particularly good record of supporting measures, tax breaks or reliefs that affect poor people, as distinct from people at the other end of the social scale whom they support. However, if she wishes to discuss consistency, she could at least have made a contribution that was consistent with her party’s policy. The Progressive Democrats election manifesto for the local elections in 2004 states: “We support exemption from waste charges for lower income households, including where bin services are privatised.” The next time Deputy O’Malley wishes to lecture me about consistency, she might check her facts first.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Even the Minister is smiling.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It was interesting that Government Deputies, such as Deputy Nolan, Deputy Carey, Deputy O’Connor, Deputy Callanan and Deputy Devins, could effectively agree with the motion in their contributions. They were arguing the case and discussing the difficulties for pensioners. Their arguments were similar to those of Deputy Morgan, Deputy McHugh and Deputy Boyle. They were, at least, prepared to use the time available to them to make a case on behalf of pensioners and people on low incomes. It is interesting that they could do that and that Deputy Gregory and Deputy Joe Higgins, in the course of their entire contributions, had nothing to say about pensioners or the people who are affected by this.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  There would be no charges except that the former leader of the Deputy’s party, Deputy Spring, brought them in with Fine Gael. Let us have some honesty. Who brought them in? Dick Spring brought them in.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  That is rubbish.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Who gave them the weapons to use? Dick Spring gave them the weapons.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Rubbish.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Deputy Gilmore was in the Workers Party when it denounced Dick Spring, and he comes in here tonight and lauds Mr. Spring, whereas he hated him as a member of the Workers Party.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Deputy is a liar.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Deputy Joe Higgins has been found out.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  He is a liar.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  In the 1980s he voted against everything.


Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Deputy Joe Higgins should vote against the motion.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Vote for bringing in waste charges. Come on.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Order, Deputy Gilmore, without interruption.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  When the Labour Party comes here to make a case on behalf of the poorest [1730]people in this society it is bad enough that we have to deal with the Government without being stabbed in the back by Deputy Joe Higgins.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Who stabbed whom in the back? Deputy Gilmore cannot lecture anyone on stabbing people in the back.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Deputy Joe Higgins should vote against the motion tonight.

Amendment put.

[1729]The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 58.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. 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 Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
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 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 Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, 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 Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael.
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 John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, 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 Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Liz O'Donnell  Zoom on Liz O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Liz.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Dennis O'Donovan  Zoom on Dennis O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Denis.
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 Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. 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 Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe.
Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.  

Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan.
Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
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 Marian Harkin  Zoom on Marian Harkin  Harkin, Marian. Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe.
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 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 Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  McHugh, Paddy.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Gay Mitchell  Zoom on Gay Mitchell  Mitchell, Gay.
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 Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard. 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 Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  [1731]O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
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 Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. 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.

[1731]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Kehoe.

[1731]Amendment declared carried.

Motion, as amended, put and declared carried.

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