Wednesday, 2 March 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. a11, the Finance Bill 2005, financial resolution; No. 3, Health (Amendment) Bill 2005, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 17, Driver Testing and Standards Authority Bill 2004, Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. a11 shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ business shall be No. 44, motion re investigation into the murder of Robert McCartney (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
Mr. Kenny: I intended to raise a matter under the Pharmacy Bill, which is the only way I can raise it. Deputy Neville raised the issue. What arrangements is the Government making in respect of the predicted pandemic of avian flu? This has the potential of a nuclear accident in terms of deaths arising from it and it appears other countries are already stockpiling millions——
Mr. Kenny: The Pharmacy Bill is noted as No. 60, to consolidate and update pharmacy legislation. I cannot raise the matter in any other way and I am only following the instructions given to me by the Ceann Comhairle.
Will the Taoiseach say if this morning’s reports about the Travers report being taken by the Minister on Friday and being taken to the Cabinet next Tuesday are correct? Will it be published after the Cabinet meeting?
The Taoiseach: As Deputy Rabbitte knows, the matter is related to the Supreme Court judgment and we must consider the legal aspects. We have no desire but to proceed with the matter. At any rate it is probably out in the public domain.
Mr. Sargent: The promised legislation I wish to raise ties in closely with the Standing Order 31 issue raised by my colleague, Deputy Gogarty. It relates to the register of persons considered unsafe to work with children which according to the list has no publication date. In view of the fact that there are guidelines already published in Northern Ireland and the fact that my colleague Deputy Boyle was told in January that the cross-departmental working group reporting to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on the proposal is in effect taking action on the matter, is there a need for the legislation, since Northern Ireland seems to have gone ahead without waiting for the legislation? Are we just holding on for the legislation without doing anything? Should we be acting?
The Taoiseach: I am told that the Minister has now appointed an implementation group to advise on implementation and the necessity for legislation. If legislation is not required he will simply move ahead on the matter.
Mr. Deenihan: When will the Abbotstown sports campus development authority Bill be published? When will repairs be carried out on the roof of the National Aquatic Centre? It took a year to build and it will take five months to repair a hole in the roof. The Taoiseach might intervene personally in the matter.
Mr. Howlin: In the light of another potentially calamitous situation surfacing in Letterkenny, will the Taoiseach say when the work permits Bill will be brought before the House? I understand from the line Minister that other legislation will take precedence. Does the Taoiseach accept that the issue needs to be urgently addressed, and that lives are risk if it is not?
Mr. Neville: I want to ask about promised and secondary legislation on the day when President McAleese has a special forum to discuss the rising levels of suicide. I wish to recognise her humane concern on this matter in that she is assisting the interested organisations to focus on it.
Mr. Neville: Despite raising a matter which the Minister of State might describe as “tiresome”, will the Taoiseach say when the Mental Health Act 2001 will be fully implemented and when the promised legislation on the reform of the psychiatric services will be introduced?
Mr. Sherlock: Will the Taoiseach say when the building control Bill will be brought before the House to strengthen the enforcement power of local authorities under the Building Control Act 1970?
Mr. Timmins: Yesterday, during Question Time, the Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea, assured me when questioned on the emergency planning task force that we could deal with all sorts of disasters including nuclear fallout etc. Last night we had a couple of inches of snow and the periphery of Dublin came to a standstill. Can the Taoiseach ensure that Operation Freeflow can be activated at short notice to deal with such situations?
Mr. Timmins: It took three hours to travel 20 miles earlier. It is crazy out there. Perhaps the Taoiseach might pass a comment on it. When he is out for his morning jog, I am sure he encounters traffic difficulties.
Ms O’Sullivan: Following yesterday’s court decision to award an individual a much larger sum than those being awarded by the Residential Institutions Redress Board to victims of child abuse, has the Taoiseach taken advice to amend the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002?
The Taoiseach: Both the Attorney General and the Minister for Education and Science will examine the result of the case but, following a preliminary examination, I do not think there will be any changes.
Mr. Eamon Ryan: The Taoiseach stated last year at a meeting in Dublin Castle during the EU Presidency that the issue discussed most often at Cabinet is climate change. I recently asked for a debate on this issue at a Whips meeting. Can we have the promised debate on climate change?
Mr. Crawford: Given the current debate on criminality, when will the criminal justice (international co-operation) Bill, the criminal justice (protection of confidential information) Bill and the defamation Bill be introduced?
The Taoiseach: The heads of the criminal justice (protection of confidential information) Bill have been approved. The Department has received the first preliminary draft and it is under consideration. The legislation should be possible this year.
The heads of the criminal justice (international co-operation) Bill were approved late last year and the Bill is due in the middle of this year. The Criminal Justice Bill 2004 is due to resume on Second Stage in the House.
Mr. Broughan: I support Deputy Neville’s commendation of the President for focusing on the serious national problem of suicide, particularly among young people. Given the lengthy delays experienced by relatives awaiting post mortems and so on, when will the coroners Bill be brought forward?
Mr. Broughan: I was not present. Did the Taoiseach have an opportunity to visit the accident and emergency departments in the Mater and Beaumont Hospitals, our two local hospitals? Perhaps he could consult the UK Government on ways to expedite the accident and emergency issue.
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