Order of Business.

Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 599 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re leave to withdraw the Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2001 and the Law of the Sea (Repression of Piracy) Bill 2001 [Seanad]; No. 15, Health (Amendment) Bill 2005 — Committee and Remaining Stages; and No. 16, Disability Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed). Private Members’ business will be No. 35, Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2005 — Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the adjournment of Private Members’ business, which shall be taken for 90 minutes at 7 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 15, whichever is the later, and the proceedings on the Second Stage thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 March 2005. No. 9 shall be decided without debate. Committee and Remaining Stages of No. 15 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in respect of amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9 agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I do not agree with it. The notice sent from the Government in respect of the Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2001 makes a valid point about the necessity to discuss sensitive issues. Given that the issue of the postal services is before the Labour Court, I can understand the reason for the request, but will the Taoiseach instruct his Whip to make arrangements to have a full-scale debate in the House on postal services, taking into account An Post’s social responsibility, its future funding arrangements and the employment potential and closure of many hundreds of rural post offices?

We were given no explanation why the withdrawal of the Law of the Sea (Repression of Piracy) Bill 2001 is necessary, other than that it is because of important legal issues that emerged in the international context. What does that mean? It seems that the European committee has challenged the definition of piracy in the Bill. We discussed piracy in respect of the payments taken illegally from hundreds of thousands of patients [287]in long-stay institutions. That is a definition of piracy. I do not agree with the proposal.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  The Deputy’s party started that piracy.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Soft on pirates and the causes of piracy. The postal workers want to know whether the commitment to the ESOP is still Government policy. That is the net issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are discussing whether the motion should be taken without debate. The Deputy’s point does not arise.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am explaining to the Ceann Comhairle why I am opposing its being taken without debate. The considerable problem faced by postal workers is that they do not know where the Government stands on the question of an ESOP for the workers in the industry. To determine whether we should call a vote on this matter, will the Taoiseach state whether the commitment to an ESOP for the postal workers still stands? That question is in order.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Further explanation will be required if we are to accept what is proposed regarding No. 9. The withdrawal of the Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2001 is certainly inexplicable given the great need to debate the post office system and the need for it to be reformed so it will not be shrinking by the week, as is now the case.

In light of an announcement by the United States that it will have more ships containing toxic material crossing the Atlantic to Europe, posing considerable environmental risks, it seems strange that we are withdrawing the Law of the Sea (Repression of Piracy) Bill 2001, which could assist us in preventing possible environmental damage. I do not accept the proposal to withdraw the two Bills because we have been given no adequate explanation therefor.

Have we been given the full list of Bills to be withdrawn? Will the Disability Bill be withdrawn given the ten fundamental flaws?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are dealing with two Bills.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Will the charities regulation Bill be withdrawn given that it seems that it was never intended that it would see the light of day?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I support the other Deputies in the arguments posed for not proceeding as the Taoiseach suggests. We need the opportunity to discuss the Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2001 in full fora. I disagree very much in respect of the ESOP. It should not be a live option in the postal services or any other service. I make that very clear. However, I look forward to the opportunity to debate this properly on the floor of the Dáil. If the Taoiseach [288]indicates, in response to Deputy Kenny’s request, that he will facilitate same through the Whip, I would welcome it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  On the Law of the Sea (Repression of Piracy) Bill 2001, Deputy Kenny has given the reason for its withdrawal. It is because of the possibility, in the international context, of litigation against the State by other member states of the European Union which challenge the definition of piracy. Therefore, it was considered advisable to withdraw the Bill. If we do not do so, we will be challenged on that basis.

A number of questions were asked on the Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2001 and I will answer that of Deputy Rabbitte first. It is the Government’s preferred policy to have an ESOP in An Post. Obviously, we must take into account the position of the company. Its situation has changed fairly dramatically in the past four years. According to the last figure I have seen, it has accumulated losses of over €90 million, close to €100 million. In its published accounts for 2003, its losses for that year amounted to €43 million. Obviously, the accounts for last year are not available.

As I said before in answer to questions, the implementation of the recovery strategy is contingent on agreement with the trade unions to radical restructuring. Negotiations have been ongoing for the past year in an effort to deal with the critical aspects. As I stated on several occasions, I appreciate the effort and commitment of all sides in trying to find a solution. The critical aspects will be moved shortly to the Labour Court for final determination. In light of the industrial relations issues that arose at that delicate and critical stage, it was thought that it would be prudent to defer consideration of the issues provided for in this Bill until a resolution is found to those industrial relations issues.

While postal issues have been debated in committee, Deputy Kenny has asked that they be debated in the House. I have no problem with that, but perhaps such a debate should be held after the Labour Court deliberations.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15 agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am opposed to it. It is proposed to conclude Committee and Remaining Stages at 7 p.m.. The Health (Amendment) Bill 2005 is an important Bill which affects a great number of people. The Tánaiste has expressed concern that the Government is losing €2.5 million per week while it is not implemented. That is the basis on which the legislation fell previously. It was rushed through the House, and rushed legislation is bad legislation. I am not saying it should be kept in the House interminably, but speakers from many parties want to have their say on it and, therefore, [289]consideration of the Bill should be extended beyond this evening.

  5 o’clock

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I agree with Deputy Kenny. Part of the reason we are in this mess is the Government’s resorting to the guillotine. The same parties that comprise the Government resorted to the guillotine in 2001 when the universal card was introduced. The Government again resorted to the guillotine at Christmas of last year when the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, compounded the original insult. The Government now wants to use it again because failure to enact the legislation is costing €2.5 million per week. Since Deputy Martin knew about this in 2001 he has cost the taxpayer €600 million. That is based on the Government calculation of €2.5 million per week.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Maybe the guillotine should be used on him.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It is clear from the Supreme Court judgment that he knew about this problem in 2001. If not, he was asleep.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise at this stage.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It certainly does arise. Any Minister who costs the State €600 million——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are discussing the timing of this debate. What might be appropriate to the debate is not appropriate at this stage.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Ceann Comhairle says it does not arise. He wants us to make some errors again.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Deputy Rabbitte should tot up what Deputy Howlin cost the State when he was Minister for Health.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Deputy Martin should do some tots himself. He is either asleep or incompetent.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Deputy should recall where it all began.

[290]Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  The Government has had it too good for too long.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The figure is €2.5 million per week over 52 weeks for four years, which comes to €600 million. That is what Deputy Martin cost us, and that is only from the time we know the Government knew about this. I do not see how the Taoiseach can invite us again to guillotine a measure of which the Government has made such a mess on so many previous occasions.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Deputy Rabbitte should check the record.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I share Deputy Rabbitte’s view that the guillotine is totally unacceptable. The Green Party opposes it on this Bill above all others. The Taoiseach said the Travers report would be available to us on Thursday. It is important that we can take that into account when deliberating on this matter, to avoid repeating by default the problem the Government created. I ask that the matter not be guillotined. We oppose a guillotine.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  There will be very little time remaining between the conclusion of the Order of Business and 7 p.m. to address Committee, Report and Final Stages of this Bill. While the list of amendments, at 19, is not as long as might have been anticipated the time is inadequate to address these substantively on Committee and Report Stages.

I agree with my colleagues that the important issues at the heart of this Bill, namely, GP only medical cards and the introduction of a charge for a stay in a nursing home should not have been addressed in this way. This is particularly true given the Government’s haste in regard to present and future charges for residents in nursing homes. The Government has not indicated how it will reimburse those who were illegally charged over the past three decades. Will the Taoiseach reconsider this proposal?

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 15 be agreed.”

[289]The Dáil divided: Tá, 59; Níl, 43.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
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 Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. 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 Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
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  [291]Kirk, Seamus. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
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 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 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 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 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 Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
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 Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.
Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Wright, G.V.  


[291]Níl
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 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 Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry. Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. 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 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 Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Padraic.
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 Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
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 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 Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Pattison, Seamus.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. 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 Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.  

[291]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Wall.

[291]Question declared carried.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am disappointed the Taoiseach has not been in a position to grant the Leaders of the Opposition parties a copy of the Travers report. He said the Cabinet would require seven hours to read the report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The matter has already been dealt with on two Leaders’ Questions. It does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  First, there is no meeting scheduled tomorrow for the Joint Committee on Health and Children. It normally meets at 9.30 a.m. but is now expected to meet at 11 a.m., half an hour after Taoiseach’s Question Time begins here. The Taoiseach’s move to have himself removed from the House for five weeks and not to have to answer questions is, therefore, valid.

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

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is International Women’s Day and the front pages of the national newspapers carry the story of the release on bail of a con[292]victed rapist. The judge in this case, for his own reasons made his decision. When will a judicial conduct and ethics Bill come before the House? The Taoiseach and everyone else said this House would receive a report on Aer Lingus before Christmas. The Taoiseach has now hounded a good man, Willie Walsh, out of office. Not only has his services been lost to Ireland, but he is now the chief executive of one of the major airlines in the world. When can we expect to see the air navigation Bill and the report from Aer Lingus?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The air navigation Bill will come before the House during this session. On the Aer Lingus report, there have been detailed discussions between the unions and management and the issues discussed should be completed shortly.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Where stands the Mullingar accord on that one?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  We have already seen how the Taoiseach has contrived to evade scrutiny in the House for five weeks on a matter to which taxpayers are exposed to between €500 million——

[293]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The matter has already been discussed on two Leaders’ Questions today. It does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Will the Taoiseach make the report available to the committee tomorrow in this House? He said one will need six and a half to seven hours to read it. The committee will receive it at 10.30 a.m. and sit at 11 a.m., conveniently just after Leaders’ Questions. Notwithstanding that, will the Taoiseach commit to the committee meeting in this House where we can discuss an issue that will impose a charge on taxpayers of up to €2 billion?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The matter has already been dealt with. These questions have been dealt with on Leaders’ Questions.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am asking about the arranging of business. We have heard the excuse that it is costing us €2.5 million for every week. On that basis, the Minister, Deputy Martin, has received €600 million since 2001.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should confine himself to the question at this stage.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That is a big enough issue for this House to discuss in plenary session. I am asking the Taoiseach one last time to commit to it being debated in this Chamber.

What is he fearful of? All his Front Bench have read it but no one on this side of the House has seen sight of it.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  No, we have not.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Some of them have.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister should have read it

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  We only got it this morning. How could we read it before questions were asked today?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister of State, Deputy Callely, may have seen it.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  We have had enough of this Machiavellian manipulation. The Government should release the report and face the music.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  We have a duty to read it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The report was presented to the Cabinet at the start of the meeting this morning at 10.30 a.m. There were 20 items on the agenda this morning. Other than the few people who got the report at the weekend, none of the rest of the Cabinet had read the report. The Cabinet has not yet read the report.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The committee took 20 minutes to read it.

[294]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I said today that the report will be available tomorrow. I answered questions on it today and people have already come to their conclusions on it.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Taoiseach has not answered any questions.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I have said there will be a debate and that can be worked out.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Stonewall Jackson had nothing on the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The idea that a detailed report that took several months to prepare can just be brought in and circulated is not the way to do business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It took 20 minutes at the committee.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The truth is that Opposition Deputies thought last week that I would delay this report. They did not get their way and are irritated that I did not hold back the report.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Taoiseach is delaying the debate now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  They will have it tomorrow. I hope they read it, although they probably will not bother, and then it can be debated.

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

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  On the Taoiseach’s answer——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I have called Deputy Gormley. I will call Deputy Rabbitte again on the Order of Business if he has something appropriate to say.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——can he tell the House why there has been this departure from Cabinet procedure?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is out of order. That does not arise at this stage.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Why was the document not circulated with Cabinet documents in the normal way, not later than 12 p.m. on Friday? Why did that not happen?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I have called Deputy Gormley. I ask Deputy Rabbitte to resume his seat.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Normal procedure is to have it here by 12 p.m. on the Friday, but the report did not arrive until midnight on Friday night. That was the first time I even heard about it. I followed normal practice.

[295]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is a bluff.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  How was the report discussed at Cabinet this morning if it was received too late?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  A Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If Deputy Rabbitte does not resume his seat, the Chair will take action.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  How was the report discussed this morning if it was received too late?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  If I had followed the procedure that Deputy Rabbitte has correctly raised, the report would not have been discussed at the Cabinet meeting until Tuesday week. That is when it would be on.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I bet the Minister, Deputy Martin, read it.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Did the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Martin, see the report?

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  Who leaked it to the Irish Examiner?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If there are continued interruptions in the House, the Chair will adjourn it for five minutes and then move on to the next business.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Chair might as well do that. We are not getting answers. What is the point? The Chair wants a nice Order of Business, but for what purpose if we cannot debate an issue as major as €2 billion of taxpayer’s money?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask Deputy Rabbitte to resume his seat. If he does not do so, he will leave the House.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Chair would love that.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Taoiseach is treating the House with contempt.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  The Taoiseach has confirmed today that he approves of incineration. When will the Government approve the contract for Ringsend that has been submitted by Dublin City Council?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  In the context of promised legislation, when will the strategic national infrastructure Bill be published?

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It is on the back burner.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  I hope by the summer session.

[296]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Woods could bring it back in. He might as well. There will be a few vacancies in the Cabinet tomorrow.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Has it been agreed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We have agreed the terms of the Bill, yes.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Will the Taoiseach raise the question of the undocumented Irish on St. Patrick’s Day?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  When will it arise, the day after St. Patrick’s Day? Is that the only day we can talk about the undocumented Irish?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We will not continue until 7 p.m. with questions that are not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Will the Taoiseach discuss the undocumented Irish, yes or no?

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  A question on the topic was answered today.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Deputy Rabbitte is right, this is a shambles where we cannot ask a straight question.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Hear, hear.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Since the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, arrived into the Department of Foreign Affairs, he has shown more interest in joining Sinn Féin.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Will there be a Cabinet reshuffle after the Travers report is published tomorrow? When will the family law Bill come before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The family law Bill will be introduced later in the year.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On the Cabinet reshuffle, what about Deputy Woods?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach explain his objection to the simultaneous release to both Government and Opposition of the Travers report?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It arises. Will the Taoiseach explain why we cannot have the simultaneous release of the Travers report?


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