Wednesday, 23 March 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re tribunal of inquiry into the fatal shootings of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan; No.19, Ráitis maidir leis an nGaeilge, statements on the Irish language; and No.18, Garda Síochána Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on No. 9 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after three hours and 30 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; Members may share time; and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.
It is proposed that the proceedings on No. 19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at noon on Thursday, 24 March 2005 and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; Members may share time; and the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes. Private Members’ Business shall be No. 39, Fur Farming (Prohibition) Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9, motion re tribunal of inquiry into the fatal shootings of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Robert Buchanan, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, statements on the Irish language, agreed to? Agreed.
Mr. Kenny: So far as the Government is concerned, along with the British Government, has any progress been made regarding an inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane? The Taoiseach has raised the matter with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Blair, on a number of occasions.
In view of the announcement made during the week by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs regarding the Government’s consideration of the range of problems relating to child care, is it expected that a Supplementary Estimate will be introduced for that Department this year, to deal with whatever proposal the Minister, Deputy Brennan, will bring before the Cabinet?
The Tánaiste: No Supplementary Estimate is promised. That matter has not come before the Government so I am not certain what the proposals are. The Government has been dealing with the issue of child care for a considerable period.
Mr. Rabbitte: I do not know if the Tánaiste appreciates that this is the seventh Dáil term during which the work permits Bill has been promised, which I understand was previously the Tánaiste’s responsibility. Last night she may have heard the Kilkenny People editor saying that non-national workers were being employed by farmers in Kilkenny at a rate of €1 per hour and that their diet consisted of sliced pan and brown sauce. We heard Deputy Joe Higgins——
The Tánaiste: The Bill is imminent. The Government cleared the heads some time ago and it will be published and taken in the House before the summer recess. Many of the issues raised are already catered for in existing legislation. There is no justification for people not being paid the going rate, the agreed rates or for the law not being enforced. The existing labour laws apply to non-nationals as much as to nationals.
Mr. Rabbitte: Does that imply the Tánaiste does not appreciate, for example, that right across south Dublin women employed in domestic service are grossly exploited, as are non-nationals throughout the island? It is all very well for her to say she condemns it, but when will the law be enforced? There is little point in having a law giving them the same rights as other workers if it is not enforced.
The Tánaiste: I know that in recent times the minimum wage law is being enforced and that if any cases are brought to the attention of the authorities, they are pursued vigorously. The new work permit legislation simply provides for the new regime that exists, in particular since the enlargement of the European Union when permits became an exception. Permits are mainly for higher skilled workers because we should be able to meet all our labour needs from the existing EU 25. This will expand further over time. The intention of the work permit or green card type concept is to give more control to employees and allow them to move more freely between jobs. Workers from EU countries do not require a permit, but I accept that the Turkish workers do. However, many of the other examples given are of people from existing EU countries such as Poland. These provisions will not apply to them.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: The Oireachtas established the Morris tribunal to inquire into corruption within the Garda in County Donegal. The tribunal was charged with carrying out a fair examination of the matters referred to it. Will there be an interim report from the tribunal to the Oireachtas? Is the Tánaiste aware that hearings due to take place in the coming month have been moved to Dublin on the spurious grounds——
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: He has allowed questions on its establishment on the Order of Business. I want to know when an interim report will be presented and the Tánaiste’s position on the decision of the tribunal not to hold its hearings in Donegal, which is more appropriate.
The Tánaiste: The tribunal has a distinguished chairperson. It is a matter for him to decide where evidence is collected, not for the Government or the Oireachtas. I have no information as to whether the tribunal will submit an interim report.
Mr. Crawford: I wish to raise two matters. First, in light of a situation where a young 19 year old person had to go to hospital after a fracas in Clones the other night, when will the alcohol products (control of advertising, sponsorship and marketing practices-sales promotions) Bill come into this House so that we can discuss and deal with such matters? Second, can we have a debate on agriculture to allow us to discuss the closure of the Teagasc office in Bailieborough——
Ms McManus: When the Tánaiste took over in the Department of Health and Children she made a specific commitment to deal with the accident and emergency crisis. She undertook that the problems in accident and emergency services would be greatly relieved by this time.
Ms McManus: Will the Minister for Health and Children, the Tánaiste, introduce the nurses Bill so that we can debate this issue and highlight what has happened to patients? They are lying on trolleys months after the Minister gave undertakings that these problems would be sorted.
Mr. Boyle: I have two questions. First, when will the third arm of the Government’s promised programme on disability legislation come before the House? Is the Government waiting for the Second Stage of the Disability Bill to finish or be withdrawn before we have a debate on the Comhairle (Amendment) Bill? I am not sure whether the Tánaiste will be able to answer my second question as we are rarely informed on these matters until after they have happened. Has the President signed the Health (Amendment) Bill? I understand that up until last week it had not been signed.
Mr. Neville: The child protection joint working group issued specific recommendations concerning the register of persons considered unsafe to work with children. When will legislation on this issue be introduced.
Mr. Kenny: I hope the Government Whip will be able to bring forward his proposals for Dáil reform at an early date. Will the Tánaiste see to it that Deputy McEntee is given an office today? I know people are working on the matter, but will the Tánaiste ensure it is sorted out?
Ms Lynch: Is the Tánaiste aware as Minister for Health and Children that the leukaemia unit, which deals specifically with children in the Mercy hospital is not taking any new cases as a result of the crisis——
An Ceann Comhairle: The question is not appropriate. The Deputy must find another way of raising the issue. Questions are addressed to the Minister for Health and Children at Question Time this afternoon. The matter is not appropriate on the Order of Business. If everybody rose on the Order of Business and made a Second Stage speech, we would do no other business in the House.
Ms Lynch: It is not a Second Stage speech. Any question raised about the establishment of an authority, for example the Health Executive which is responsible in this issue, cannot be raised here. As a result of the setting up of——
An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Chair does not want to take up the time of the House by reading out Standing Order 26 again. If the Deputy does not resume her seat, I shall move on to the next business.
The Tánaiste: The legislation to establish the health information and quality authority on a statutory basis will be published and, I hope, enacted this year. As the Deputy is aware, the authority was established on an interim basis in Cork recently.
Mr. Stanton: Between 1940 and 1987 it appears that more than 300 children were the subject of vaccine trials. In 2001 legislation was passed to direct the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse to investigate the issue, which the Minister described as the ultimate guarantee against a cover-up or whitewash. Last summer the courts threw that out saying he acted outside his powers. I have asked the Tánaiste on a number of occasions what action she intends to take as a result because legislation is required in this area. Last week the Taoiseach stated that legislation would be published in the coming weeks. Will that happen?
The Tánaiste: The reason the tribunal cannot inquire into this matter is the court held that given the age of the witnesses, it would be wrong and unfair to require them to give evidence. That will also apply to any new inquiry that could be established in this area. I recently had discussions with a number of the interests in this matter and I will make a decision shortly. I will communicate directly with the Deputy.
Mr. Allen: I tried to raise on the Adjournment last night an issue relating to the leukaemia unit in the Mercy Hospital, Cork, and I appeal to the Ceann Comhairle to allow the issue to be taken on the Adjournment today or tomorrow.
Mr. G. Mitchell: The Tánaiste indicated recently that legislation would be introduced to amend the Nurses Act 1985 to recognise the issues of concern to midwives. When will the legislation be before the House?
Dr. Cowley: Given that 20 million passengers are landing on one side of the country while only 400,000 land on the other, will equality legislation be introduced to bring about some semblance of balanced regional development? Perhaps the Government should be compelled to implement the national development plan to achieve balanced regional development.
Mr. Durkan: Given the significant discrepancy between petrol and diesel prices at various forecourts and the phenomenon of diesel prices overtaking petrol prices, will the Government introduce the national oil reserve agency Bill to focus on that issue in a way that will be positive from the consumers’ point of view?
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