Order of Business.

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 600 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 199 Next Page Last Page

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It is proposed to take No. 9a, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 16, Disability Bill 2004 — Second Stage (resumed); No. 18, Garda Síochána Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed); No. 17, Land Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed); and No. 19, statements on European [706]Council in Brussels, to be taken immediately following the announcement of matters on the Adjournment under Standing Order 21 and the order shall resume thereafter. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 9a shall be decided without debate and the proceedings on No. 19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 80 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 60 minutes, and subject to the statements being confined to the Taoiseach and to the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and Members may share time, immediately following the statements, the Minister for Foreign Affairs shall take questions for a period not exceeding 20 minutes. Private Members’ Business shall be No. 45, motion re cancer screening programmes (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9a, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, statements on European Council in Brussels, agreed to? Agreed.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I wish to raise two matters with the Taoiseach on the Order of Business. I have listened to some of the radio transcripts from the Morris tribunal dealing with events in County Donegal. It seems extraordinary that the McBrearty family has not been given legal representation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  While I understand that, I wish to raise it as a matter of importance. Given the circumstances that apply in this case and the wish of everybody to bring the matter to conclusion, consideration should be given to amending the tribunal’s terms.

Deputy Neville has been a consistent advocate for taking some real action in respect of implementing the recommendations of the task force on suicide, which reported in 1998. I recently attended the funeral of a young man who hanged himself. A serious societal change is occurring. It is impossible for Deputies from all sides who have attended funerals all over the country in these circumstances to understand the depth of grief of parents and loved ones. In some cases, it is impossible to find the reason these events happened.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should ask a question.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Government spends 6.9%——

[707]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I must rule the Deputy out of order.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is a serious matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I know it is a serious matter which is the reason the Chair would like it addressed in the proper fashion in the House.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  If the Ceann Comhairle permits, I will finish in 30 seconds.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputies may not use the Order of Business to ask questions which are more appropriate——

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  If the Ceann Comhairle proposes to cut me off on a serious matter, I will ask a question now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair is cutting off the Deputy because this is a serious matter which should be dealt with in the proper fashion.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That is the reason I raise it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy may raise it by means of Leaders’ Questions, the Adjournment Debate or questions to line Ministers.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is another Leaders’ Question which I know the Taoiseach will answer. Will the House discuss the implementation of the task force report on suicide which included 86 recommendations that would go some way towards dealing with a serious societal problem?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Yes. Suicide is a serious matter with which I know Deputy Neville has been involved for years. I would be happy if we could arrange a time, perhaps late in the session. I will briefly answer on the other issue raised.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I will hear Deputy Costello briefly because he was unable to move a request to adjourn the Dáil under Standing Order 31 which he submitted to my office. He may read his request to the House.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I thank the Ceann Comhairle and apologise for being late as I was bringing Frank McBrearty and his wife and sister to the Dáil Gallery. My request was to seek the adjournment of the Dáil to discuss the following specific and important matter of public interest requiring urgent attention, namely, the need for the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to make provision for legal representation for members of the McBrearty family at the Morris tribunal. In view of the importance of this issue, I hope the Ceann Comhairle will agree to this request.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I do not wish the decision to allow the Deputy to read out his request to be regarded as a precedent. However, [708]the House concluded Question Time a little earlier than usual which probably caught the Deputy unawares.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I appreciate the consideration shown by the Ceann Comhairle.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  On the same issue——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We will hear the Taoiseach as the issue does not arise under promised legislation.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I wish to raise directly related legislation, namely, the tribunals of inquiry (evidence) (amendment) Bill. Will the legislation be brought forward with greater urgency to allow the House to address the injustice of not having costs allowed for the McBrearty family?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We will bring it forward. I wish to answer the questions put by Deputies Kenny and Costello and give the legal advice I have received from both the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Office of the Attorney General. I am not giving any of my own views on this matter in which I have not been involved. It is important and I have read the report which has come up before. This is the position and I hope it is helpful to the McBrearty family and the public at large in understanding the issue.

The position in regard to the family in question has been raised previously in the House. I understand the current position is that Mr. Frank McBrearty senior gave evidence to the tribunal last week but is now no longer taking part in the process because his legal costs are not guaranteed. The facts of the matter are quite clear. The family concerned applied for and was granted a right of legal representation at the outset of the tribunal’s business in the summer of 2002. Under the terms of the Tribunals of Inquiry (Evidence) Acts 1921 to 2002, the question of costs is solely a matter for the tribunal. This is not only the legal position but it also has important practical implications for tribunals in the search for the truth.

The Acts allow that where a tribunal, having regard to its findings and all other relevant matters, is of the opinion that there are sufficient reasons rendering it equitable to do so, it may order the whole or part of the costs of representation to a person appearing before it to be paid at the end of each module. A tribunal, when determining whether costs should be paid, may take into account failure to co-operate or provide assistance to or knowingly give false or misleading information to the tribunal. In this regard, it is worth noting that in the Chairman’s judgment in relation to the costs associated with the first module he regards co-operation with the tribunal and truthfulness in giving evidence as matters of paramount importance. In deciding the costs he made reductions in some cases and totally rejected other applications where he was of the [709]opinion that persons deliberately lied or otherwise hindered him in his efforts to get to the truth.

I have a longer legal note which I can give to Deputy Kenny if necessary. The issue is that the tribunal awards costs at the end of each module so that nobody has to wait for a period of years to be awarded costs. It is vital for the proper operation of the tribunal that the Chairman does not have his powers on costs pre-empted. The tribunal is dealing with all witnesses with scrupulous impartiality.

The only words I add on this matter from my own work, in having dealt with this issue many times, is that if one gives a guarantee before a module, one cannot have circumstances in which the Chairman can make a judgment on whether a person co-operated. It is not possible and that is the advice I have received from the Attorney General.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is not true as there is a precedent.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  That is the position.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  While I understand that is the legal advice available to the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice of the day was enabled to make special arrangements in the case of the Stardust tribunal. There is a precedent without abrogating the rights of the Chairman of the tribunal in this particular case.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate at this stage.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  On a slightly different aspect of the same issue, what is the Government’s response to criticism outside the House that the first report of the Morris tribunal is available but the House has not so far debated it? What is the attitude of the Government on the matter? Would it be appropriate at this stage of the Morris tribunal for the House to debate the first report?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Personally, I would have no difficulty in that regard. I do not know if there is any implication for a tribunal if one discusses part of it. I can check and let the Deputy know.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I know the Taoiseach was replying generally to several questions but, intending to be helpful, I asked whether the tribunals of inquiry (evidence) (amendment) Bill would be brought forward with greater urgency and whether it would envisage——

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  This session.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I was seeking to have it taken more urgently than this session because that could mean, as it has in the past, that it will not be published.

[710]A second promised Bill, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Bill, is pertinent to the discussion on Leaders’ Questions. I understand a review of the reasons giving rise to the treaty will be reviewed in May. If Ireland, a signatory of the treaty, has not enacted the legislation, it will place the country in a bad light. It is a small technical Bill and no indication has been given that it will be published. Will the Taoiseach have it published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The latest position is that the draft heads of the Bill are being prepared in the Department. It has 20 heads and I do not know if it can be done any quicker, but I will ask. The listed date is 2006.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I note the harbours Bill has reappeared in section C of the list of proposed legislation. Will a separate Bill be introduced for fishery harbours given the considerable dissatisfaction in national fishery ports such as Killybegs, Howth and Dunmore about the bureaucratic hand of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have a second brief question. Yesterday, the Taoiseach exuded an air of helplessness regarding the terrible situation in accident and emergency departments. It appears Mr. Joe Duffy, for example, has a clearer idea about what to do than the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is out of order and will have to find another way of raising the matter.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  We listen daily to descriptions of disgraceful scenes in accident and emergency departments in Beaumont Hospital and elsewhere. The Taoiseach is from north Dublin but is doing nothing about it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Will the Taoiseach respond to the question on the harbours Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  It will be taken next year.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Joe Duffy seems to know what to do while the Taoiseach does not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I do not care.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If the Deputy does not wish to resume his seat, he can leave the House.

Mr. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Will the Ceann Comhairle ask the Taoiseach to answer?

[711]Mr. Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  In 2002, the Adoption Bill was promised for 2003. According to the list published yesterday, it is not due until 2006. Can the Taoiseach tell the House what is happening to this Bill and why there is a delay?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Deputy is referring to the Adoption Information (Post Adoption Contact and Associated Issues) Bill. The heads of the Bill have been approved and will be incorporated into a general adoption Bill which is due in mid-2006. The heads of the Bill have been approved by the Government and the Bill is currently being drafted. It is a fairly large Bill and its purpose is to ratify the convention on the protection of children to promote the creation of an adoption authority. It will not be ready until next year.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Publication of the Family Law Bill has been pushed back to 2006. I wish to inform the Taoiseach that I have a case in my constituency where there is a man——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should not give an example. It might be appropriate on Second Stage.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  A case has continued in the High Court for three and a half years. If this Bill was introduced, it would improve family law. What has delayed publication of this Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is due next year. The heads of the Bill have not yet been prepared. The legislation is intended to make provision for adjustments in the context of separation agreements and certain other reforms of family law. It will not be ready until next year.

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  It should be introduced now.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  In the context of promised legislation, what is the Government’s intentions concerning the National Oil Reserves Agency Bill, which is a moot point, especially when one considers the escalating oil prices at filling stations and of diesel prices in particular, which now exceed petrol prices? In addition, I notice a number of Bills which were previously proposed for 2005 have been delayed until 2006, including the Broadcasting Authority Bill. A number of Bills have disappeared altogether. Did something fall from the screen on the Government side of the House? The Postal (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill has disappeared altogether. The Taoiseach might enlighten us as to whether there is a governmental crisis about which we have not been informed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The National Oil Reserves Agency Bill is due in late 2005. At the start of every session, there is an examination of the prioritisation of Bills for the next session, in this case the summer session. We try to get a realistic assessment of the Bills’ status by considering whether the heads have been drafted, if any work [712]has been done on the heads and whether any legal work must be taken into account. In this way, we are giving factual information. Most Departments like to give the impression that their Bills are almost ready. However, I have been trying to impose a rule that we give a realistic assessment. This is the reason for the change. Some people might claim that a Bill would be ready for a particular session, but when I check I discover that even the heads of the Bill have not been prepared.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Taoiseach should keep the pressure on.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I am delighted by the Taoiseach’s statement and that the Government examines Bills on the list. As far as the register of persons who are considered unsafe to work with children Bill is concerned, the list still states that it is not possible to indicate at this stage when it might be introduced. The position is the same as last September when we received the previous list of proposed legislation. Has the Government given any consideration to establishing a register of persons considered unsafe to work with children? It is an important issue, but the Taoiseach is stating the same thing about it as he did last September.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  This Bill is not only an interdepartmental issue but is also a North-South issue. This is what is delaying it. The Minister has appointed an implementation group to advise on the implementation of the necessary legislation. The Departments of Education and Science and Health and Children are in discussions about the establishment of a pre-employment consultancy service. Its intended purpose is to give effect to the recommendations of the child protection joint working group. The legislation arises from the North-South Ministerial Council. I know the Deputy has raised the issue a number of times. However, as I have stated before, I have asked that the committee complete its work, even if we cannot make further progress on a North-South basis. I understand this work is still under way.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Did the Taoiseach give any consideration to this? This is a very important issue and it——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy has made her point. A number of Deputies wish to contribute and I wish to facilitate them if possible.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  We are fast approaching the first anniversary of the publication of the report of the All-Party Committee on the Constitution on property rights. There has also been a subsequent report by the National Economic and Social Council on housing policy. Today, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government made a——

[713]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Has the Deputy a question?

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  The question is about a promised debate on housing policy. I make it on these terms. Today, we have——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That is not a question.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I am rephrasing it for the Ceann Comhairle’s benefit. Today we have the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government making a policy statement regarding housing that should be made in this House

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

Mr. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  That was dealt with yesterday.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  It should be made in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call on the Taoiseach to——

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  If this is not suitable for the Order of Business, what is?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The matter was dealt with yesterday.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I ask the Ceann Comhairle to respect our rights as Members to have policy statements made in this House and not in the national media.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is taking Question Time today. I answered the question about the debate yesterday.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  We were promised a debate on housing policy and this is what happened.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That was dealt with yesterday.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  I have raised the matter of the ratification of the Cape Town Convention, which would legitimise the setting up of an aircraft registry in Ireland. The contract is in danger of being lost to this country unless the legislation is passed very quickly. It has not been introduced yet. Is there a proposed date for the legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The text of the Bill is to enable Ireland to ratify the convention which facilitates the international financing of aircraft. The heads of the Bill have been completed. They were finished at the end of March. The Bill has gone for drafting. I do not have a date for it. This was the old air navigation Bill.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Time is of the essence.

[714]The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Bill have been completed. The Government approved them on 22 March.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Did the Taoiseach have a chance to go for a swim over Easter, and if so, did he try to go to the National Aquatic Centre? It is nearly four months since——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Does the Deputy have a question on legislation? What is the legislation?

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Yes. The Taoiseach has promised the Abbotstown Sports Campus Development Authority Bill to manage the Abbotstown centre. The roof is still off the pool. Irish swimming has practically been destroyed. The Government is doing nothing about it. I ask the Taoiseach when will the Abbotstown Sports Campus Development Authority Bill be published so we will know the fate of the pool?

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Absolutely.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Taoiseach will reply with regard to the legislation. The Deputy should resume her seat because two of her colleagues are offering to contribute and I wish to facilitate them.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Taoiseach is looking at an open air pool.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill will be introduced this session.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  In the region of 500,000 tonnes of waste has been illegally dumped in County Wicklow over the last number of years. Three and a half years later, not an ounce of it has been removed. Will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to issue a policy directive, as he is empowered to do under the Waste Management Act, to have this waste removed? Some 150,000 tonnes——

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

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Some 150,000 tonnes of it is beside a new housing estate. It is an absolute disgrace. It is an embarrassment for me and for other public representatives that the waste is just lying there.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should resume his seat.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  There is 500,000 tonnes of waste and nothing is being removed. The Taoiseach should ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to issue a directive.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  May I take it that——

[715]Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  A nod is as good as a wink.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Costello should be permitted to speak without interruptions.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Does the Ceann Comhairle not intend to adjourn the Dáil to have a debate on the McBrearty case? I raised the issue under Standing Order 31 but he did not give me a formal reply.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I want to make it clear to the Deputy that I did not take the question under Standing Order 31 because proceedings had already moved on. However, because the issue had been raised, the Chair in its generosity allowed the Deputy to read his matter.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Ceann Comhairle is very kind.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Can the Ceann Comhairle promise that this flexibility will become a regular feature?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair is always flexible. It is too flexible in fact.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It must be due to the approach of summer.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Will the Taoiseach make provision for a debate in the House on the McBrearty issue? It seems we will not have a debate today on it, but it is being debated everywhere else, including in the media.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The debate was promised.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Taoiseach wishes to answer.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  On the report——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That matter has already been dealt with this morning.

  12 o’clock

Mr. Sherlock: Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  The Ground Rents Bill is not included in the programme of legislation published yesterday. What justification can the Taoiseach offer for taking this Bill off the list because there is an impending case before the courts? I have received some letters and I would like to know whether it is intended to introduce the
Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Ground Rents Bill is not proceeding at present because the Supreme Court decision may have implications for it. Regarding Deputy Mitchell’s question, I understand the Cape Town Convention Bill will be published today.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  After years of pressure, the Health and Safety (Amendment) Bill was intro[716]duced into this House and passed at Second Stage and Committee Stage because of the urgency of the situation. A variety of groups outside the House, including trade unions, had lobbied for a measure to increase workplace safety. We are now waiting for approximately three hours of Report Stage time to complete the Bill so it can become part of our law. When will Report Stage be taken?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Report Stage will be taken as soon as possible. It is an important Bill.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Three hours will be sufficient.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  We could take it one night.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am sure the Opposition spokespersons would be happy to take Report Stage at any time.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Could the Taoiseach let us know which stage the Parental Leave Bill is at, when Second Stage is expected to be taken in this House and when it is expected to be completed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is at Second Stage but I do not know when it will return here. It is a matter for the Whips.

Mr. Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  I am afraid debate has not commenced. Could the Taoiseach tell us whether Second Stage has commenced and when it is due back in the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is a matter for the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The Bill is at Second Stage.

Ms Cooper-Flynn: Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  In the light of recent controversy over alternative medicine practitioners and the inadequate penalties for their non-attendance at inquests, could the Taoiseach indicate if it would be possible to fast-track the publication of the Coroners Bill, which was promised for 2006?

Regarding No. 57 on the Order Paper, which relates to the western rail corridor, could the Taoiseach give consideration to the opening of the rail corridor in full rather than on a phased basis when announcing shortly the ten-year capital envelope for transport?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  The heads of the Coroners Bill are expected by mid-2005, while the Bill is due by 2006. I recognise the Bill’s importance and I will raise the possibility of fast-tracking it with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.


Last Updated: 04/11/2010 07:33:37 First Page Previous Page Page of 199 Next Page Last Page