Disability Bill 2004: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage.

Thursday, 26 May 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 603 No. 2

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendment No. 97 is out of order.

Amendment No. 97 not moved.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendments Nos. 98 to 100, inclusive, 103, 104 and 148a are related and may be taken together. Amendment No. 99a is an alternative to amendment No. 99.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I move amendment
No. 98:

The purpose of this amendment is to extend the grounds on which a person with a disability can lodge a complaint to a complaints officer to include cases where the former has been denied a right to an assessment of need. This goes further than the provision of the existing paragraph (a) which allows an appeal on the basis that the assessment officer has determined that a person does not have a disability.

This amendment goes to the heart of one of the key demands of the disability legislation consultation group, DLCG, for a clear and unequivocal right to an assessment of need. The DLCG has whittled down its core demands to only five, of which this is one. Against our hopes and the Government’s promises, this legislation does not guarantee much to those with disabilities. It does not even guarantee an assessment of need, particularly in view of the restrictive definition of disability for which the Government has opted against the advice of the Opposition, the DLCG, the Human Rights Commission, the Equality Authority and others. It is disgraceful that Opposition amendments which sought to remedy that failing and to bring the definition into line with that under the Equal Status Act and the Employment Equality Act 1998 have been disallowed and refused even the opportunity for discussion.

[288]Amendment No. 98 goes to the heart of our contention and the consensus outside the immediate Government circle that the Bill should be rights-based even if only in this one aspect. Although he has refused to ring-fence funding for disability-specific services or to enshrine in law the principle of progressivity in regard to the meeting of an unmet need for those with disabilities, I urge the Minister of State at least make to the assessment rights-based by accepting this amendment. This is one of the five key demands of the protestors who will gather at the gates of Leinster House at the conclusion of this debate.

The Minister of State should take the opportunity to accept this amendment so that those protestors can be told that he listened on at least one of the five issues. If he accepts this minor but important change, and the associated provisions contained in amendments Nos. 99, 103 and 104, we can reassure the many who will be gathered that the Minister of State is willing to accept one of their vital demands. If not, I will call a vote on this amendment and the record will show how the Government Deputies voted.

I support amendments Nos. 99, 103 and 104. They provide that a person may challenge the contents of the assessment report and service statement. Without such a right to challenge inadequate assessments or service statements, the provisions in the remainder of the section will be virtually meaningless to persons with disabilities. I also support these amendments in lieu of my amendment No. 146 which was disallowed. This amendment sought to delete the notorious section 20 which undermines any limited rights this legislation provides for those with disabilities and protects the Government from liability and responsibility to provide services. Section 20 prohibits appeal to a court and the High Court in particular except on a point of law. I am not confident that such a provision is constitutional or that it will survive scrutiny by the President. I hope this Bill, when passed, will be impaled on that legislative sword. I have no doubt that, if it survives this Stage and the Seanad, this section will continue to be subject to challenges by those with disabilities and their advocacy groups. I urge the Minister of State to adopt this amendment.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  While this section addresses complaints on assessment or service statements regarding matters including delays, time periods and how and by whom matters are arranged, it does not address content. Amendment No. 99, which provides that the content of an assessment be open to complaint, encapsulates the proper intent of this section. Assessment and liaison officers occasionally will be cranky or will not treat people with sufficient courtesy but this will be rare. Provision is made in these instances to make a complaint.

As this is a resource-based Bill, the content of the service statement will be the main area of contention. We are approaching the end of our discussions on this Bill and will not address every [289]amendment. To do so would require a further two weeks. However, this aspect of the Bill will be vital. To tell someone that he or she may go to court on a point of law is comparable to saying that it is not possible to go to court.

Yesterday, we debated whether the Minister should make provisions at the beginning of the year to ensure that sufficient funding for people with disabilities is made available. Resources will be finite. I am worried that funds will not be ring-fenced. The conditional availability of resources is noted by this Bill. What if resources are not available for the provision in Part 5 for primary education, which is guaranteed by the Constitution? I am not the only person to believe that this will make Part 5 unconstitutional. The Minister of State will tell me that he has received legal opinion. After the fiascoes of the past two weeks, I would not rely on such legal advice. This Bill will collapse due to Part 5.

Complaints should be on significant matters. I do not want people to complain for trivial reasons. People with disabilities and their supporters are too busy to do so. Their major complaints will concern matters which were not included in the service statement and are excluded from the complaints procedure.

Amendment No. 99 regarding contents and assessment makes provision for this. Another amendment which was ruled out of order made provision that, in situations where not every service is included on a service statement or assessment, an ongoing review would be conducted. This means that elements not currently available may be made available in the future and is a sensible approach.

This Bill has a “trust me” basis. Unfortunately, history tells us that people who have disabilities have little to rely on in terms of trust. The Bill does not explicitly include them but we are told that they are included and that the resources will be available. We do not know who will devise the regulations. We will not be involved. We are being asked to be trusting.

Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Fahey): Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  It will come before the House.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  When it is completed. Deputies merely put forward arguments on behalf of others who desperately depend on them to do so. The Minister of State is telling people with disabilities to trust him. I am sure they ask themselves why they should. This is an opportunity to convince them.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I strongly support the provisions laid out in amendments Nos. 103 and 104 because they will strengthen the legislation. I am disappointed and annoyed by this morning’s guillotining of the debate. It is a disgrace that we probably will not complete discussion of the remaining 100 amendments. I have submitted more than 70 amendments.

[290]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I am reluctant to intervene but we held that debate this morning. I request all Deputies to confine themselves to the amendments.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I take the Ceann Comhairle’s point but I did not have an opportunity to speak this morning. I want to put on record my opposition to the way events transpired.

It is important that, when disability groups and people with disabilities ask us to bring forward these amendments, Nos. 103 and 134 in particular, the Minister of State listens to the progressive ideas raised. I do not wish people with disabilities to find this House cold but it is emerging that this will the case. Amendment No. 103 makes the following change:

Amendment No. 104 in my name and that of Deputy Ó Snodaigh states:

These are both progressive amendments.

I would like to see a clear and unequivocal right to an assessment of need which will not be resource dependent. Yesterday, we touched on this debate. I also wish that services identified in the assessment for an individual must be provided within a reasonable and agreed timeframe. These are sensible proposals because we have to ensure that specific resources for disabilities are clearly protected. This represents the basis of this debate and these amendments. As over 500,000 people have expressed concerns on this legislation, it is important that these matters are raised in the House.

When addressing these amendments, the service statements and the assessment reports to applicants, it is important to remind ourselves that we are discussing people with disabilities and, in particular, people with disabilities who want to contribute to society but who at present suffer significant discrimination. Of all households headed by a person with a disability, 54.4% live below the 60% poverty line. While the national rate of unemployment has fallen below 4.6%, it is estimated that at least 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed. People with disabilities meet the extra costs of having a disability. The Bill is an opportunity not only to bring people into the mainstream of society, but to deal with the issue of the interaction of poverty and disability, which has emerged in recent years. We must represent such views in the House.

I urge Members to support amendments Nos. 103 and 104 to strengthen the inadequate service [291]statement and the assessment reports for applicants.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I commend my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh, and the other Opposition voices in the Chamber who are trying earnestly to rescue this flawed legislation through amendments tabled. They have battled consistently on all Stages. While there is not a significant number of Deputies present, it is important those involved know many Members, including this Deputy, have been watching the debate on each Stage with keen interest. We all know someone in our immediate families or extended relationships in our respective communities for whom the legislation matters.

I am deeply concerned about what the Bill means for those who have campaigned and worked for years, especially the parents of those with physical and intellectual disabilities. They have put a great deal of hope and trust in the process, which, in the later years of their lives, they regard as the last chance they will have to impact collectively and individually on legislation that can make a fundamental difference in the lives of their cherished loved ones. I speak as the sibling of a man with Down’s syndrome with the need for access to occasional respite care and, in his middle and later years, residential care and support. I have watched parents turn natural things on their head in prayers asking that their children be taken before them. They feared, as the years advanced, what the future would hold for their special needs children after the parents died. It is a terrible thing and it is the reality for families the length and breadth of Ireland. The legislation will devastate many ageing parents who will feel, on its enactment that they have no further opportunity to make the critical difference in the interests of their special needs loved ones.

For all those reasons, I wish to participate at this juncture to speak to amendment No. 98. The amendment seeks to extend the grounds on which a person with a disability can lodge a complaint to a complaints officer to allow an appeal where a person has been denied his or her right to an assessment of needs. I emphasise the reference to the “right” to an assessment of need. The existing subparagraph (a), to which Deputy Ó Snodaigh referred in his introductory remarks, permits an appeal only on the basis that the assessment officer has determined a person does not have a disability. The disability legislation consultation group flagged this need as one of its five demands. In fact, it is the first of them.

We should remind ourselves of the five demands. First, there must be a clear and unequivocal right to an assessment of need. While it is a simple and basic requirement, the legislation fails the test and denies the right. Second, there must be a right to the provision of services identified within a reasonable and agreed timeframe. Third, there must be clear protection [292]of disability specific resources to allow these rights to be realised. Fourth, there must be a clear duty on all Departments and public bodies to include people with disabilities as of right. According to this duty, each Department must, at minimum, provide a sectoral plan. I will not go on.

It is important to return to the kernel of amendment No. 98 and the associated amendments. We are talking here about the right to an assessment of need. That the Bill does not even guarantee an assessment of need is disgraceful. People with disability across all sectors gather in our capital city as we speak in the House and make their way to the gates of this institution, Tithe an Oireachtas, in which they put their hope and trust that Government will deliver, mindful and reflective of the needs of communities and individual citizens. Today, they will get one of the greatest disappointments in their lives when the bell rings for a division at the 1.30 p.m. guillotine organised by the Government Whip.

While I cannot speak to the views of the junior partner, I have no doubt, having spoken to others of the Minister of State’s number within the ranks of his party in Government, that their hearts are not in the Government’s approach to the legislation. Members are being marched and whipped in——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  I ask the Deputy to confine his remarks to the amendments before the House. The Deputy has ranged wide and far in almost the fashion of a Second Reading.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Very good. I will conclude with the following remarks. I appeal to Members to take courage from all opinion in the House and to recognise that amendment No. 98 seeks to affirm the right to an assessment of need. That such a basic, simple right can be denied is shameful. I appeal to Members to have the courage to support the adoption of the amendment and appeal to the Minister of State to rescue some degree of credibility for his party in particular and the Government in general in the disability sector and on the Disability Bill by accepting amendment No. 98. The Minister of State should take the opportunity to provide people with something they can use to continue to fight and upon which to build in the years ahead.

Mr. G. Murphy: Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  These amendments will strengthen the rights of people with disabilities. Fine Gael supports the amendments. Those Members who tabled the amendments have clearly explained their importance in making a real difference to the Bill. I will leave it at that because the amendments have been adequately dealt with by other speakers. We are working to a guillotine so the more amendments we can deal with the better.

[293]Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Amendment No. 99a seeks to address concerns expressed on Committee Stage that a complaint about a failure to complete an assessment might not be possible under section 14(1)(b). I am pleased to bring forward this Government amendment to bring clarity to the situation. Amendments Nos. 98, 99 and 104 seek to insert further grounds of complaint either where an assessment is denied or about the contents of an assessment.

I am satisfied that the Disability Bill supports the right to an assessment. Any person who considers he or she has a disability can apply for assessment as outlined in section 9(1). Those who apply for an independent assessment will therefore receive one. I assure the House once again that there is a clear and unequivocal right to an independent assessment of need. That is a statement of fact.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Where is it?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The amendment we introduced to ensure that it will happen within a certain timescale confirms that. In the initial Bill we stated that it would have to start within three months and we have now amended it to read that it has to be completed within a reasonable period of time and that the regulations will provide for that period of time. As in everything else in the Bill, the statement of assessment is predicated on resources but, given the fact that multi-annual resources are now being made available and that the Bill must commence and be concluded within a specific period of time, that amounts to a clear and unequivocal right to an assessment. I assure the House on that matter. There is no issue. That was the first of the five points mentioned by Deputy Ó Caoláin. I will refer to the others.

The service identified in the assessment of need for an individual must be provided within a reasonable and agreed timeframe. I am satisfied that it will be provided within a reasonable timescale but that is also predicated on resources. If the Deputies sitting opposite me in this House were in Government tomorrow the assessment of need would still be predicated on resources. Let us not fool ourselves on this issue. The next Estimates will determine the amount of resources that will be invested in the disability sector, irrespective of who is in Government. I am quite satisfied that the second point made by the DLCG is adequately covered.

The third point of the DLCG is that the Bill must provide clear protection for disability rights specific resources. As I stated already, the Bill clearly provides for the first time that the Minister must state at the beginning of the year the amount of money to be provided for disability services. Deputy Lynch is correct. Like all other types of legislation, that cannot be ring-fenced, but given the practical reality of a statement being transparent, clearly outlining the amount of money to be provided at the end of the year and
[294] given that there is a multi-annual funding programme, unless there was an absolute catastrophe there is no reason to believe the money provided would not be spent.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  We know it will be spent but will it be sufficient?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  If Deputy Lynch and the Labour Party were in Government——

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  If the Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, were over here he would hound us out of office on this Bill.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Minister of State should be allowed to speak.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Let us be clear and practical, if the Labour Party were in Government the funding might not be sufficient either because what good Government is about is providing resources as far as is possible from the point of view of the Exchequer and good governance. We are all agreed that a significant amount of resources is needed for the disability sector. There is no argument about that. Whatever Government is in power in the next five to six years it will have to invest significant resources year after year. That has to be based on good governance. This Bill provides for good governance. I defy any Deputy to argue in the Dáil against the requirements of good governance.

Deputy Finian McGrath has been eloquent in this debate. I agree with the point of view that there are large gaps in services and significant resources must be provided. That is the intention of the Government, as outlined by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, in the budget.

The fourth point of the DLCG states that the provisions regarding sectoral plans must take account of the wider needs of people with disabilities and that each Department with relevant services must provide a sectoral plan. There are six sectoral plans for the six large spending Departments which have to bring in very significant changes over the next ten years. The other Departments are already provided for in the Bill. They have to bring in most of the requirements as outlined in the Bill before 31 December 2005. We have covered the fourth requirement of the DLCG.

We have also covered No. 5. Yesterday at a meeting with the Taoiseach and the DLCG which was attended by my officials and me, we agreed to further concessions relating to No. 5. The Taoiseach indicated yesterday that he was agreeable to amending Cabinet procedure in order to require that all policies and legislation going before Government would take into account the impact on people with disabilities. In addition, I will bring forward an amendment whereby each Department must report progress on its sectoral plans at regular intervals which we will discuss [295]later when we reach that point. I assure the House that——

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Trust me.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  It is not about “trust me”. We have responded adequately to the five points recently put before us by the DLCG. I am satisfied that we have tried to accommodate the requirements as far as they have been put to us reasonably in this House. As I stated yesterday, I am still open to suggestion.

In regard to the assessment of need, it would be carried out without regard to the cost of providing services identified and in accordance with the standards laid down by HIQA. If standards published by HIQA are not complied with there will be grounds for complaint. These standards relate to the content of the assessment among other things.

Amendments Nos. 100 and 103 seek to include further grounds of complaint on the basis of the inadequacy of the service statement. Section 14(1)(d) already allows an applicant to make a complaint about the contents of the service statement. I wish to clarify this matter again as I gather from the statements made by some Members of the House that there have been misunderstandings. This could arise from the view of the applicant that the contents of the service statement are inadequate, that it does not meet their preferences, that it is factually incorrect or for other reasons. They can appeal the contents of the service statement. If the contents are inadequate they can appeal that. I am satisfied the existing wording is sufficient to cover these varied circumstances so that a separate ground in regard to inadequacy is not required.

Regarding the points made by Deputy Lynch, section 5 deals with the allocation of services to be provided under the Bill. Educational services for which there is a constitutional protection for children up to the age of 18 will be provided for under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 and not under this legislation. On the requirements for Part 2, section 3(4) provides that every order or regulation will be laid before the Houses and, significantly, that they may be annulled by either House within 21 sitting days thereafter. Therefore, the House can reject the regulations when they are laid before it by the HSE. The regulations will be critical to the successful implementation of this legislation.

The Government has provided ample opportunity to ensure the House will have a significant say in the implementation of the Bill, in addition to its passage. When the Taoiseach asked me to take this job, I stated it is one thing to pass the Bill and another to implement it successfully and quickly. It is the intention of the Government to do the latter.

[296]Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I welcome the news that the Minister of State is to make additional changes. I hope the Seanad will hear about them in full detail. It is a pity the Minister of State was not able to state the exact nature of the changes in this House so we could debate their adequacy. Every other change the Minister of State has introduced since this Bill was published has been minimal and has not been rights-based.

On the amendments we are debating, if one begins to legislate on the basis of an incorrect definition of disability, one will find that many people with disabilities will be excluded. Amendment No. 98 seeks to afford to as many people with disabilities as possible the right to make an appeal so they can be included and obtain services as of right.

The current definition of disability in the Bill will exclude people and therefore we have tried to change it to ensure they can appeal the denial of the right to an assessment of need and make a complaint about the content of an assessment or the adequacy of the service statement. The Minister of State is correct that everybody can make an application for an assessment of need but there is no guarantee, once that application is made, that it will not be turned down. I will address the other relevant issues later.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  When an appeal is made to an appeals officer about the adequacy of the content of the assessment, will the appeals officer have to take resources and availability into account? This Bill leads me to believe this will be the case.

Bearing in mind the Minister of State’s reference to the meeting between himself, his officials, the Taoiseach and the DLCG, how many groups are left in the process? What groups were met? Who speaks on behalf of the disability community? It is important to know the answers to these questions.

I issued a statement welcoming the money made available in the budget. I thought is was a very good idea and was absolutely thrilled. I was not surprised that the funding was announced by Deputy Cowen, as Minister for Finance. Anyone to whom one speaks in the disability community will tell one he was probably the only Minister for Health and Children ever to introduce multi-annual funding. When he left that Department, multi-annual funding ceased.

I was contacted yesterday by the father of a young man with a learning disability. He still does not know whether he has a place in the DIT because the funding has not yet come through this year. As is the case with the miser in the corner, one could be sitting on a bag of gold but it is not much good unless one uses it. What is the position on the funding that was announced? Why is it not flowing? Was €300 million not supposed to be spent this year? In spite of this, people are waiting on places as late as the end of May. We are half way through the political year and the money has still not flowed to the areas where it is necessary.

[297]We will be hearing about this pot of gold forever and a day. We should not have to listen to stories about it; it should be spent in the community to do what it is supposed to do. If the Opposition was in Government and it introduced this Bill, the Minister of State, Deputy Fahey, would be standing on top of the gate outside screaming for our heads.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  We have been discussing the need for proper services for those with disabilities and we have broadened the debate a little to deal with budget 2005 because it is important. On amendments Nos. 103 and 104 and the issue of rights for people with disabilities, the funding package of the Department of Health and Children, amounting to an additional €300 million in capital and €50 million in revenue for the years 2006 to 2009 for the development of additional supports and services for people with disabilities, was, in 2005, supposed to result in 400 day places, 270 residential places and 90 respite places for people with learning disabilities and autism. This sounded very good at the time and we all welcomed it. However, one must reiterate Deputy Lynch’s point about trust. It is now the end of May and, having spoken to parents and people at the front line, I noted that the details on these places, to be allocated at regional and local levels, have yet to be decided. The places were announced in December but we still have not got the details and the service providers have not yet got the dosh. This is unacceptable and that is why we are pushing for legislation that respects the rights of people with disabilities and those working in the disability sector.

I heard the Minister of State refer to the five demands of the DLCG. He stated he is making major concessions regarding the fourth proposal, which stipulates that the provisions regarding sectoral plans must take account of the wider needs of people with disabilities and that each Department with relevant services must provide a sectoral plan. The Minister of State said there has been movement on this demand, in addition to movement on the fifth demand, which is that the Bill must provide for a clear statutory duty on all Departments and public bodies to include people with disabilities in their plans and services with appropriate monitoring and accountability. He is saying he is conceding in respect of two of the demands but we must still deal with the other three.

The first three demands concern core issues. The first is that there must be a clear and unequivocal right to an assessment of need which must not be resource-dependent. The other two concern the protection of disability-specific resources and the agreed timeframe for service provision. There is no point in the Minister of State coming into the House if he cannot deliver on those particular issues because they are essential for the delivery of services for people with disabilities. As I said earlier, we are talking about people with physical and intellectual disabilities [298]that have rights and these should be respected. I call on the Minister of State to support my two amendments.

  12 o’clock

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I listened to the Minister of State’s response to me. He continues, as do his colleagues who make similar arguments, to deny the core issue at the heart of this debate. Amendment No. 98 clearly reflects a core issue, namely, that this Bill should have been rights-based. The Minister of State may well believe everything he said in response to the amendment. I have no reason to doubt that he does, but it cannot be dependent on resources. That is the critical point. This section of the community, the people who are dependent on rights-based legislation, are dependent on our best judgment of their needs now and in the future. If we cannot guarantee them that, as has so often been the case down through the decades when the rope of the economy tightens in more straitened circumstances, the first to suffer are the most vulnerable and those with the least voice and clout in society.

I take great courage in the fact that so many of the representative organisations of people with disabilities right across the board have organised themselves so effectively. My prayer is that this may continue into the future because they clearly need to. Those of us who will stand with them need to ensure that the voice and clamour they have built, which will be reflected shortly at the gates of this House, turns into an effective lobby to change the heart of this or a future Government on this core issue. It must be based on rights and not resources, and the Minister of State has an opportunity in amendment No. 98 to make a critical gesture and statement and accept that fact based on that simple element of the five demands of the DLCG concerning the right to assessment of needs. The Minister of State should make the legislation rights-based and accept amendment No. 98.

As I am speaking, the funeral Mass of a very good friend is concluding for whom I had a long admiration and who was bed-ridden for the greater part of his adult life as the result of an accident. I would have liked to have been there. In tribute to Genie Treanor of Corracrin in County Monaghan and his memory, this was the place to be to fight for the rights of people like him and many others who have never known rights-based legislation, affirming their rights as citizens. I urge everyone to support this and the complementary amendments before the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The next speaker is Deputy Catherine Murphy. Since this is her first contribution to these amendments she is not limited to two minutes.

Ms C. Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I am responding to amendments Nos. 101 and 103 and the adequacy of the service statement. I have listened attentively to what the [299]Minister of State said. He is saying that everyone is entitled to an assessment, but that this is dependent on available resources for delivery and talks about good governance. As regards the latter, equity is an important part of good governance. I said yesterday that the needs are different in developing areas by virtue of the fact that these are greater. That is precisely the point with the disabled person’s grants of which there is not good governance. In County Kildare some €5.70 per capita is transferred from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to deal with the disabled person’s grants at a time when some councils are handing back money because they are not using all of it. The highest per capita amount paid to any county is €103 and there is every figure in between. I produced tables for myself to see what the overall picture looked like in terms of the differences in the transfer of funds between local authorities.

A man, whose wife has motor neurone disease, contacted me and said that he had retired a year early to care for her. It is a progressive disease involving wasting of the muscles for which the prognosis is poor. He wanted a ramp to give him some degree of comfort when moving her around. It is something of a struggle because he is not particularly young. He could not even apply to Kildare County Council for a disabled person’s grant because the grant applications are closed. There is no money in Kildare. If he lived somewhere else, he could make an application. A complaint that is constantly made by disability groups is that not alone are the services not available in some places, they are patchy in others. I draw particular attention to this because good governance means that the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government should review this scheme so that it looks at the needs of the individual rather than the ability of a specific local authority to come up with one third of the funding. It is just an example of the type of problem that produces significant difficulties for people in being able to get the services to which they should be entitled.

Mr. McHugh: Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  The notion that the assessment is dependent on resources is the nub of the issue because there is a history of neglect of the disabled in this country. This is not a reflection on this Government alone. It reflects on successive Governments which basically ignored the disabled and did not provide anything like the resources required. In effect, they treated the disabled as second class citizens. That is the type of mountain that must be climbed. An attempt has to be made to gain the trust of the disabled again because they have been neglected for so long. A qualification such as assessment being dependent on resources is like a red rag to a bull. It means that qualifications are being placed on the entitlements of people with disabilities. That is why the entitlement must be rights-based. People must have a right to what the assessment shows to be [300]their requirements. Unless that is brought into the Bill, the legislation will be seen to be deficient and the disabled sector will not be supportive of it or be happy with it.

Mr. G. Murphy: Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Up to now there have been quite a number of initiatives which were good schemes per se. The disabled person’s scheme was mentioned, but the fact is that it has not been available for a great many people with disabilities. It is being bogged down in bureaucracy in many local authority areas. New regulations were introduced to try to restrict the number of people who would qualify for the scheme. Local authorities ran out of money, so to speak, at another stage. People who needed to apply for funding to make basic improvements to their houses or in their work environment to improve the quality of their daily lives could not get such funding because the necessary resources were not available or impediments to their obtaining it were put in their way by increased bureaucracy. This process will have to be followed in dealing with the “supposed” entitlements of people with disabilities from now on. In this regard, a question that was asked earlier is crucial, namely, whether the complaints officer must take resources into account. If he or she does, the process we are going through, to a certain extent, is futile because that was the case up to now.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  In answer to the questions asked by Deputies Gerard Murphy and Lynch, the appeals officer does not have to take resources into account in respect of the statement of assessment. The appeals officer may return to the HSE to request that resources be made available with respect to the service statement but he or she does have to have regard to resources if resources are not available. There is a resource implication in terms of the service statement but in such circumstances the complaints officer can request and make a decision that resources should be made available.

I was interested in Deputy Ó Caoláin’s response when I outlined the position on the five points made by the DLCG. He moved on to another point, which as far as I am concerned has now been dealt with, that of judicable rights. Even in the countries which are ideologically close to the Deputy’s thinking, there is not rights based legislation which is judicable in the courts.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  To what countries is the Minister of State referring?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is time we took a lead.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  There is not rights based legislation which is judicable in the courts in any country in the world.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  The Minister of State should tell us those countries to which he was referring.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  It is probably the Basque country.

[301]Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  For once and for all, let us move on from this point. Let us stop trying to fool people.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  With respect, it is time we took the lead.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I assure the Deputy that if Sinn Féin gets into Government here, there will not be judicable rights based legislation either.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Minister of State should not go down that cul-de-sac.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The Deputy came in for the last day of the debate on this Bill in the Dáil——

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  That is wrong. I spoke on it at the very start.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Let us be honest with each other and not try to fool people.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The only person fooling people, with respect, is the Minister of State. I am sorry the Minister of State had to revert to that type of useless nonsense.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Where are the PDs?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  This is a sure sign the Minister of State is losing it.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I want to deal with the last issue the Minister of State raised because it arose previously. Yesterday, he had a go at an Independent Deputy, Deputy Cowley. I think the phrase he used was “breezing in, breezing out”. Now he has had a go at Deputy Ó Caoláin who spoke on the first Bill and the debacle associated with it. Deputy Ó Caoláin spoke on Second Stage on this Bill. He has helped me in formulating my amendments. I had long discussions on this Bill with our party group. It is a pity all those who normally occupy the benches behind the Minister of State have not come into the House to say something on this or any other amendment. It is also a pity the senior Minister responsible for this legislation, the Minister for inequality, has not bothered his arse turning up here at any stage of the debate.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That word is unparliamentary.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Okay, well his posterior then. He has not bothered to turn up here to play any role in legislation for which, ultimately, he will be responsible, being the Minister with responsibility for equality issues, supposedly. Those were cheap shots from the junior Minister about the contributions by Members.

We all have a huge raft of legislation to deal with and play a role in that respect in various different ways. I welcome the contributions made by most Opposition members who have turned up, taken an interest and played some role. The [302]contributions of some Opposition members lasted a few minutes and those of others were longer. However, considerable work has gone on in the background with Members having met representatives of disability groups who put forward suggestions to me and others to ensure this Bill would have judicable rights and that it would be rights based, but that is not what we have.

The level of the Minister of State’s commitment to this Bill is shown by the fact that he turned up an hour and a half before we finally signed off on this Bill and announced to the world that he has had another meeting and will introduce further changes. If that is the case, why did the Government not lift the proposal to guillotine the Bill this morning to enable the Minister of State to produce amendments to that effect and allow us at least to debate them here? He did not do that. Why did he not propose to recommit the Bill to facilitate a proper debate and allow Members to see the ink, so to speak, that is required to back up the statement he made?

With regard to the amendments before us, as I said earlier, if we start from a low base, it is easy to make provision. However, we tried to start at a higher level. We started with the definition of disability which is already included in legislation. We have tried to ensure there would be no restriction on people with disabilities to secure their rights in terms of this legislation. If there are restrictions to the complaints procedures, they must be lifted. It is not myself or the other Opposition Members who will seek to secure those rights, hopefully in the near future, although we may at some stage, but we have friends, family members, colleagues and associates who will seek to secure them.

If the Minister of State had taken time to note what the Human Rights Commission said in this regard, he would note that they called for the Bill to provide effective remedies in terms of enforcements. It also sought that there be no explicit or unambiguous means to challenge the contents of an assessment. It based that proposal on remedies. It quoted from the committee which was dealing with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stated:

[303]The Human Rights Commission put forward three questions on this aspect for us to deal with when discussing and measuring the scope of this legislation. I will deal with its second question. It asked “Are there barriers to the various levels of complaints and appeals provided for under the Bill?” Up to now there have been barriers. In terms of this small number of amendments, we have tried to lift some of those barriers. The Minister of State has not taken them on board. He is not listening to us, the disability legislation consultation group, the Human Rights Commission, the Equality Authority or to many others who made points on the definition of “disability”, the need for rights based legislation and the need for judicial and civil rights. Those concerned sought minor changes to the complaints procedure which would have had a major impact in terms of the result. The Minister of State can come in and make——

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Swan in and swan out.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  He can do that as well. While the Minister of State can make minimal changes and statements that there will be some movement, there is no movement in regard to this amendment. He also stated that six Departments will have to produce plans within a certain time and that other Departments will have to do so by the end of the year. It would have been much simpler if the Minister of State had imposed a statutory duty not only on the six Departments but on all the public bodies under section 75. It [304]would have been similar to the requirement under the Official Languages Act. A statutory duty would have been placed on public bodies and on those in receipt of public funding.

Disability grants were mentioned. This Bill is dependent on resources and on officers from the Health Service Executive making assessments. When will those officers be trained? If everyone with a disability or, as the Minister of State puts it, everyone who is of the opinion that they have a disability, makes an application, assessments will not be done in each case by the end of the year because trained staff are not available. At present we do not have trained staff to deal with applications for disability grants or grants for alterations to houses. In County Clare, the wait for access to an occupational therapist is more than a year while in my area, it is more than 14 months. That is the current situation, yet the Minister of State said there will be no problem, everything will be grand and that we should trust him. I guarantee that unless the resources are provided and training is put in place immediately, we will end up with a long waiting list.

We are restricting the level of recourse to the courts and to the complaints procedure for people with disability because we must wait for the Minister for Finance to give the required funding rather than ensure the Minister must provide that funding as of right so that we do not end up with another waiting list. There are enough waiting lists in this State without creating a new one in respect of assessments.

Amendment put.

[303]The Dáil divided: Tá, 34; Níl, 62.

Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Cowley, Jerry. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
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 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 Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine. Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  Murphy, Gerard.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. 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  O’Dowd, Fergus.
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 John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairi.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Ryan, Seán.
Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  Sherlock, Joe. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.



[303]Níl
Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. 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 Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus. Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe.
Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John. Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. 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 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  [305]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 Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. 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 Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
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 Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. 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 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 Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. 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.

[305]Tellers: Tá, Deputies Ó Snodaigh and Stagg; Níl, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher.

[305]Amendment declared lost.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I move amendment No. 99:

Question, "That the words proposed to be deleted stand", put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 99a:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 100 to 102, inclusive, not moved.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 103:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 104:

Amendment put and declared lost.

[306]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendment No. 106 is an alternative to amendment No. 105 and amendments Nos. 110, 111, 128, 140, 142, 148a, and 149 are related and may be discussed together.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I move amendment No. 105:

This amendment seeks the deletion of section 14(2) which makes this entire section irrelevant. Subsection (2) reads:

I cannot understand the reason for a time restriction. We debated this matter on Committee Stage. I appreciate the Minister has tabled an amendment on another element of the timescale and rather than a month he is providing for ten days. The period within which an appeal can be made should not be restricted in any way. An appeal will not drag on for six months, a year or two years because if one is making an appeal one is dissatisfied. We are talking about people who are restricted in such a way that they may need help. They may not be able to express exactly what they mean or why they consider an appeal is necessary. Therefore, we need to be more flexible. That flexibility has to be allowed in the appeals system.

I deal with social welfare appeals where one has 21 days in which to make an appeal. That is a restricted timescale. In the main I deal with social welfare appeals for people who are sufficiently articulate to explain to me their exact circumstances. If that person does not submit an appeal within 21 days there is a flexibility within the system whereby in certain circumstances one can [307]ask to have one’s appeal heard after 21 days. Once the request is reasonable it is always acceded to. I could not imagine anybody writing to an appeals officer saying he or she did not appeal within the 21 days because he or she could not be bothered or was too lazy to do anything about it. That would be unreasonable. That type of flexibility should be provided for in regard to appeals. We need to be much more flexible when dealing with those who have a restriction rather than those who do not have a restriction.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Amendment No. 149 in my name reads:

This amendment deals with the whole issue of complaints, enforcements and determinations. This amendment would add to the Bill and give it more depth. Some people have major concerns about the legislation and the whole question of rights and services. We have to make the effort before the guillotine comes down at 1.30 p.m. to do our best to ensure the needs of people with disabilities are reflected in the legislation that will emerge today and which will be discussed and developed further in the Seanad. I am trying to ensure that people with disabilities are respected and shown true equality, that there is an accommodation in the legislation and in the service provision and utmost respect and dignity given to people involved in the complaints procedure.

There are many complaints out there and it is not a question of gaps. Yesterday I referred to speech therapy services in Waterford and the residential, respite and day care waiting lists on the northside of Dublin. When people have complaints in regard to these issues they should be listened to. We are trying to ensure that people with disabilities are included in the service provision, that their differences are accommodated and that they are respected as equal members of society.

I ask all Members to support amendment No. 149 because we are trying to strengthen the legislation, despite its flaws. We are trying to include people with disabilities and deal with the issue of complaints and the extension of the regulations.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Amendment No. 148a arises from proposals by Deputies on Committee Stage that there should be provision for extending the period for a complaint. I agreed to review the matter of exceptional cases. Having done so, I have decided to insert wording in section 22 that will allow the regulations to provide for an extension of the period where there is a reasonable cause for not meeting the deadline for receipt of [308]complaints. It also brings the complaints process closer to a similar administrative process, notably in the area of social welfare regulations on which the Bill is modelled, as outlined by Deputy Lynch. The amendment also responds to the concerns sought to be addressed in amendment No. 149 which I hope will satisfy Deputy McGrath.

Section 14(2) provides that a complaint must be made within timeframes to be specified in regulations under section 20. Amendment No. 105 would mean there would be no time limit for making a complaint. The removal of this provision would create an unacceptable situation where complaints might fall to be processed a long time after the Health Service Executive or education service provider had dealt with the matter in question. It would have a knock-on effect for the appeals process also.

Amendments Nos. 106, 110, 111, 128, 140 and 142 seek to detail changes to the complaints procedure in the Bill. Section 14(2) provides that an applicant must make a complaint “as soon as reasonably may be after the cause of the complaint has arisen”. It also provides that the timescales for complaint can be prescribed in regulations. Government amendment No. 148a will allow the time period for receipt of complaints to be extended by regulations.

Amendment No. 106 seeks to impose a timescale to be determined when the cause of complaint becomes known to the individual or their representative. It is not clear how this would operate in practice and would be completely reliant on evidence as to when the matter first came to the attention of the individual. The provision in the Bill provides a far more reasonable approach to identifying the timing of the problem and thus a consistent and measurable timescale for making the complaint. I do not propose to accept amendment No. 106.

Amendments Nos. 110, 111, 128, 140 and 142 would require that the opinion of the complaints officer as to whether a complaint is frivolous or vexatious must be reasonably held and would apply the same criteria to the decision of the appeals officer in regard to deciding whether an appeal can be resolved through mediation. Such a provision is unnecessary as any review of the decision and actions of these statutory officers would, as a matter of course, take account of the reasonableness of their opinions as well as the other factors. I do not propose to accept these amendments.

Section 15(4) provides for the complaints officer to refuse to entertain a complaint where he or she considers it to be frivolous or vexatious. It also requires the reasons for such a decision would be outlined in a written report to be provided to the applicant and other parties concerned.

Amendment No. 128 would allow an applicant to appeal such a decision directly to the appeals officer. This is not generally the case in other similar legislation. The purpose of the section is to enable the effective and efficient management [309]of genuine complaints by ensuring that any complaints that do not have a sound basis can be rejected.

I am satisfied the independent structures established in the Bill are fair and just and will ensure that all genuine cases can be processed. Ultimately there is the option of judicial review of the decision of the complaints officer in a frivolous or vexatious case. This is the appropriate approach in respect of this issue. I do not propose to accept this amendment.

Amendment No. 140 proposes the insertion of a new subsection relating to the Data Protection Acts. The provision runs counter to subsections 18(6) to 18(8) which give substantial powers to the appeals officer in investigating a case. The subsections allow him or her for the purpose of resolving the appeal to have access to information and other material that would normally be protected by the Data Protection Acts and other legislation under the rules of law.

The alternative is that the appeals officer would be required to have access to more information than any other citizen with consequential implications for his or her effectiveness and authority.

In any event, the Data Protection Act 1988, as amended, provides that any restrictions in the Act on the processing of personal data do not apply where the processing is required under any enactment or by rule of law or order of a court. The amendment would be of little use where information is required to be provided to an appeals officer under section 18. I do not propose to accept amendment No. 140.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  The Minister of State referred to genuine complaints. The complaints officer determines whether a complaint is genuine. Most people who make complaints believe they are genuine.

I refer to the term “frivolous and vexatious”. I had occasion to make a complaint to the Garda Complaints Board about a garda and Garda harassment. The reply stated my complaint was frivolous and vexatious. I appealed and wasted a great deal of Garda time. The appeal had to be investigated by a Garda superintendent who was required to interview everybody concerned. It was a genuine complaint that should have been dealt with as a genuine complaint in the first place rather than an attempt being made to strike it out as being frivolous and vexatious. Those terms do not help the situation. Most people who take the time and effort to make a complaint and especially those people with whom this legislation is concerned would not make frivolous and vexatious complaints. They may not be correct in their complaints but they would be genuine in their request. It is a pity that phrase is in the Bill.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  The Minister of State has said he accepts the principles and vision of my amendment No. 149, for which I thank him.

[310]Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 106 to 108, inclusive, not moved.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Amendments Nos. 109, 109a, 112, 113, 115, 119, and 121 are related and may be discussed together.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I move amendment No. 109:

This amendment proposes to tidy up. I recognise that people who have a disability need the flexibility to be able to put together a cogent case for an appeal. If the executive or the person in receipt of the complaint is not to investigate, I do not understand the reason there should be a delay. My amendment proposes a timescale of seven days, which is reasonable. The Minister of State will reply that the official may refer it the day after receipt but I do not understand the reason for having a time of one month specified in the Bill. The Minister of State has an amendment that proposes a timescale of within ten working days. I regard the ten working days as a reasonable proposal but not the provision of within one month. Those complaining will worry about the non-delivery of a service they desperately need. Why should such a delay be built into legislation? Why not use the provision, as is used in another amendment, of ten working days? This would not be an onerous task for anyone to have to pass on information, a piece of paper, to the person who will deal with the complaint. The executive body will not investigate it, all it has to do is pass it on.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  My amendments are amendments Nos. 112, 113, 115, 119 to 121, inclusive. My proposals are an attempt to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service for people with disabilities. It is important that people understand that the complaints process can be very harrowing for many families and particularly for people with disabilities. We should ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the complaints procedures. My amendments are an attempt to improve the legislation so that the people on the front line and particularly those with disabilities are respected and treated properly and professionally.

I use this opportunity to highlight examples of good practice within the disability sector. Some projects are very efficient and deal with complaints in a professional manner. They are also very competent and professional in dealing with parents who are consumers of the services. I pay tribute to the St. Michael’s House services in Ballymun. My second daughter uses the service. I have had positive experience of the services provided by St. Michael’s House but I know of elderly and middle aged people with intellectual disabilities who are on waiting lists for residential, [311]respite and day care. The examples of good practice should be highlighted and I am aware of positive projects in other parts of the country where an enlightened approach has been adopted. When discussing disabilities we must also ensure that when projects come on board in local communities and particularly for people with disabilities, the people who object to them should be challenged and dealt with head on. I have experienced this and know it also goes on in different parts of the country. So-called residents’ groups often object to progressive projects. Where a number of people with disabilities live in a community, all of a sudden an objection may be raised to them living in the community. I reject that and support those initiating such projects. I commend politicians and local councillors who have taken a brave stand on sticking with and strongly supporting people with disabilities in their areas. I specifically refer to those with intellectual disabilities. Many sections of broader society are hostile to people with intellectual disabilities. When dealing with these amendments and talking about complaints, we should also reflect this in the debate.

  1 o’clock

Many elderly people who have looked after an adult with an intellectual disability for 20 or 30 years can be stressed out and under great pressure. They have enough on their plate in fighting for services without going down the road of complaints. As they do not complain lightly, when they do so I want to ensure they are treated efficiently, effectively and professionally by all.

Mr. G. Murphy: Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  I support amendment No. 109. At various points in the debate on the Bill we have discussed the delays in the provision of services even when resources are available. At times people with disabilities find the bureaucracy intolerable. It is important, particularly to elderly people with disabilities, that their cases are dealt with quickly and effectively. A delay could constitute a reason for a complaint. Stair lifts can be essential for people’s quality of life. Under the disabled person’s grant, it can take up to two years for the provision of such a basic facility. If we have delays to this extent in some areas when resources are available, we should minimise further bureaucratic delays in the final determination.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I concur with what Deputy Finian McGrath had to say about the very good work being done by those providing services throughout the country. I agree that everybody must be treated professionally. I agree there are examples of good practice with an enlightened approach. Many Deputies have outlined difficulties that exist in the provision of services, some practical examples of which Deputy Gerard Murphy has given. A major overhaul of the service provision is needed, which will be considered by the Health Service Executive. Often resources do not rep[312]resent the problem in the provision of services. I recently received a letter from a parent of a school-going child of approximately nine or ten who used a wheelchair. She needed to go to ten different offices and agencies before eventually getting simple and straightforward pieces of equipment to which she was entitled. We should have a more streamlined system.

On the issue of resources and the efficient provision of services as outlined by Deputy Finian McGrath, we need to consider where disability service provision has come from in this country. It grew up as a result of religious orders and voluntary and community organisations providing services which were not provided by the State. Undoubtedly existing service provision contains considerable duplication. If we were starting now from a greenfield situation, we would have a very different arrangement in the provision of services. In the new HSE structure we will most likely have a county-based service provision. It is not all about resources or the lack thereof. Having been involved in this legislation since last September I feel it is necessary to modernise the structures and modernise and rationalise service provision. Continuing to invest money in a bad structure will not yield results. The points made by some Deputies are relevant in this respect.

Government amendment 109a follows the persuasive contribution of Deputy Stanton on Committee Stage. It will require the HSE to refer a complaint to the complaints officer within ten days, which I believe to be a reasonable timeframe. Deputy Lynch’s amendment No. 109 seeks a seven-day period. Some people may have suggested a period of a month. However, provided that Deputy Lynch is happy with ten days, we can agree on the matter.

It is interesting to note the varying timeframes sought for various aspects of the complaints process, which range from a month in amendments Nos. 112 and 113 to a general provision of a specified timeframe in amendments Nos. 115, 119 and 121. The variations expose the difficulty of pinning down a timeframe to suit everybody and as section 21 already allows for regulations to determine timescales for the process, I am satisfied that this represents the most practical approach.

Amendment No 112 seeks to ensure that informal resolutions of complaints will be completed within one month. Setting such a stringent timescale could be detrimental to finding an effective and workable solution for the parties concerned and particularly in the more complex cases it could encourage a quick-fix solution instead of achieving the best solution in the interest of the individual. Amendments Nos. 115, 119 and 121 seek to require the complaints officer to make recommendations to specify a timescale for the implementation of recommendations. The timescales for implementation of recommendations for assessments and preparation of service statements are already determined in sections 9 and 11 of the Bill. Accordingly I do not propose to accept these amendments.

[313]I assure Deputy Ó Snodaigh that I was not trying to get at Deputy Ó Caoláin. In response to his demand in recent days that I should listen to some of the proposals made here, I have tabled amendments, to which we will come, in respect of issues such as the one I have just outlined. I am not bringing in changes at the last minute. Rather my amendments are in response to a number of issues raised in the House.

The members of the DLCG who met the Taoiseach yesterday and are still involved in the process are the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies; People with Disabilities in Ireland, Mental Health Ireland, the Not for Profit Business Association and the Disability Federation of Ireland. These organisations represent hundreds of disability organisations and individuals with disabilities, their families and carers. The three organisations that decided to leave the DLCG are NAMHI, the National Parents and Siblings Alliance and the Forum of People with Disabilities. I would welcome a rethink on the part of those three organisations. I want to continue a partnership approach with the DLCG after this legislation has been passed. There will be significant work in the preparation of the regulations and the establishment of the standards by the Equality Authority. The Government very much desires a partnership with the DLCG following the passage of the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is in everyone’s best interests that the partnership continue. I therefore welcome the fact that we still have five organisations involved in the DLCG. There was a positive meeting with the Taoiseach yesterday and it is in the Government’s interest that we continue that partnership approach.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I will withdraw amendment No. 109. I had mislaid the Government amendments but have been reading them. I will withdraw amendment No. 109 in favour of the Minister of State’s which I feel is reasonable and worthwhile. It is important that we tie down timeframes.

Regarding the appeals system, I want flexibility, but where possible we should be careful not to let things drift. We should ensure instead that they happen swiftly. After all, we are talking about services to people who in most cases cannot live a complete and full life without them. They would not complain. I take the Minister of State’s point that in any system there are always people who will complain without justification, but they are very few and far between. We should start from the premise that when people make a complaint, it is genuine and heartfelt. We should also take that on board.

I understand those who have left the DLCG since they have written not only to me but to everyone with an interest in the Bill about their concerns and why they left the process. They felt that they were not being listened to. I am sure that those who remain will make a very worthwhile contribution to the process, although I am uncertain that they will feel that it is worthwhile. [314]Nevertheless, I am sure that they will continue to do so. Was the issue of an ombudsman as opposed to a complaints officer resolved at yesterday’s meeting?

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I wish to conclude this grouping. The Disability Bill should be about equality, respect and the rights of all those with disabilities. Sadly, for me it is about creating a cold house for 8% of our citizens. On the DLCG and the question of partnership, it is important that the Minister of State listen. Will he invite the groups that left — NAMHI, NPSA and the Forum of People with Disabilities — back to the talks? NAMHI must represent most of the parents; I am affiliated to it through my membership of the Down’s Syndrome Association. Most of the 26,000 people in NAMHI are either parents or people with disabilities. I will have another swipe at the other organisations by pointing out that they are service providers who depend on Government money and finance. The parents’ groups and those with disabilities themselves have more freedom to speak out strongly on the question of the legislation’s weakness. I remind the Minister of State that, as we speak, those groups are either outside the Houses of the Oireachtas or planning to march on it to be here at 1.30 p.m. for the vote.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  They are already outside.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  It is important that we remind ourselves of that when we discuss these issues. It is also important to remember that partnership, which the Minister has mentioned, is a two-way process, including as it does——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are going well outside the amendments under discussion.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I will be pressing my amendments relating to a specific timeframe, since it is important that those with disabilities be treated with respect and in a professional manner.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The DLCG said yesterday that it would prefer to see the appeals process carried out by a Department other than the Department of Health and Children instead of by an ombudsman, but the Taoiseach did not feel that such an option could be considered. We therefore proceed with the appeals officer as proposed in the legislation. I would love to see NAMHI back in the process, and I urge Deputy McGrath to use any influence he might have in that organisation to encourage it to consider rejoining the partnership process. Whether the DLCG continues with the organisations that it has at present or the others come back is a matter for the group itself.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I am withdrawing amendment No. 109 in favour of that of the Minister of State which is close enough to doing what I ask.

Amendment No. 109, by leave, withdrawn.

[315]Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 109a:

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 110 and 111 not moved.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 112:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 113:

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I move amendment No. 113a:

Section 15(8)(b) allows the complaints officer to investigate where an assessment is not completed within the timeframe specified in section 9(5). This amendment will allow the complaints officer to make a recommendation to require that a further assessment be carried out and to specify when.

Amendment agreed to.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I move amendment No. 114:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 115:

Amendment put and declared lost.

[316]Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I move amendment No. 116:

Question, “That the words proposed to be deleted stand”, put and declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 117 not moved.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I move amendment No. 118:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 119:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 120 not moved.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I move amendment No. 121:

Amendment put and declared lost.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I move amendment No. 122:

The purpose of the amendment is to provide that a hearing before a complaints officer, rather than always being held in camera, shall instead be conducted in private unless the person with a disability requests that it be held in public, or unless the complaints officer is of the opinion that a public hearing would also be in the public interest. This should only occur with the complainant’s consent and it is an oversight on my part that the complainant’s consent was not included in the amendment.

[317]This proposal is a partial antidote to the ways in which the legislation prevents the claims of a person with disability, including discrimination claims, from being heard in public. This includes the prohibitions on legal redress under section 20, which should be deleted as an unreasonable infringement on the rights of people with disabilities in order to protect the Government of the day. This is not rights based legislation as there are no judicial rights included. Other groups have raised this point, including the Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and the DLCG. The Minister should consider taking this amendment on board as well as the extra stipulation of the complainant’s consent.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The extra stipulation is obviously necessary and it should even include a request by the complainant as opposed to just consent. The person may determine that he or she would prefer that the hearing be held in public. It should not just be left to those who are there to implement the regulations following the legislation. Any legislation that deals with justice should be about empowering people to take control of their own lives within certain structures.

We have little time left as there is a guillotine on this legislation. I am very disappointed that we did not get to the section that deals with the offence of perjury. Will the Minister tell us if he has decided to amend that section? The next section deals with the Ombudsman but the Minister has just said that the Ombudsman will not be part of this legislation. Even if the DLCG——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are moving away from the amendment. There are a number of speakers offering and time is very limited. I would prefer if we stuck to the amendment in fairness to other speakers. There are at least three other speakers and we have five minutes left.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I appreciate that and I will be brief. However, we need to note that we have not reached very critical parts of the Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  In fairness to other Deputies, we are on Report Stage.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  This amendment is a very critical part of the Bill as it is about transparency and accountability within the process. I regret that we have not got to parts of the legislation that will have a fundamental impact on people’s lives.

Mr. G. Murphy: Information on Gerard Murphy  Zoom on Gerard Murphy  I support this amendment. The discretion should be left to the individual on the type of hearing he or she wishes to attend. I agree with the point made by Deputy Lynch. Deputy [318]Stanton had some important amendments that we will not debate due to the guillotine on the Bill. There have been many discussions on this Bill in recent months. Some of us are extremely disappointed at some of the aspects of it. However, Fine Gael hopes that the Bill will benefit people with disabilities and I wish the Minister well in his cooperation with the disability groups to make any possible improvements.

Mr. F. McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  I support this amendment strongly. It is important for the rights of the disabled person. The disabled person and his or her family should have the choice on public or private hearings. Disabled persons are citizens and they deserve to be protected.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  I am grateful for the opportunity to support this amendment. This is all about equality for disabled people. This should be called a resources dependent disability Bill. After a consultation process with many disability groups, this Bill should have been thrown out. However, these amendments go some way towards creating equality. I am sorry there is a guillotine on the Bill because there are other important issues to be debated. The Minister should revisit the issue because the Bill is inadequate.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  This is similar to quasi-judicial systems in other legislation. I am not sure how a public hearing would be of benefit and I do not propose to accept this amendment. We are now going along with the choice of DLCG. Amendment No.136a deletes the word “perjury” as Deputy Lynch requested on Committee Stage.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  As it is now 1.30 p.m. I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: ”That the amendments set down by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and not disposed of are hereby made to the Bill, Fourth Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed.

Question put.

The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Given the importance of the matter at hand and the manner in which it was addressed, as a teller, under Standing Order 69 I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  As Deputy Stagg is a Whip, under Standing Order 69 he is entitled to call a vote through the lobby.

Question again put.

[317][319]The Dáil divided: Tá, 58; Níl, 42.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. 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 Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus.
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 Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony. 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 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 Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. 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 Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. 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 Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. 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 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 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 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.



[319]Níl
Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
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 Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Tony Gregory  Zoom on Tony Gregory  Gregory, Tony. Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus.
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 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 Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
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 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  O’Dowd, Fergus.
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 John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
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 Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

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

[319]Question declared carried.


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