Order of Business.

Thursday, 16 June 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 604 No. 2

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Minister for Finance (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 13a, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Risk Equalisation (Amendment) Scheme 2005, the Health Insurance Act 1994 (Minimum Benefit) (Amendment) Regulations 2005 and the Health Insurance Act 2001 (Open Enrolment) Regulations 2005; No. 13b, motion re membership of committee; No. 14, motion re Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998; No. 23, Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages, to adjourn at 1.30 p.m. today, if not previously concluded; and No. 2, Health and Social Care Professionals Bill 2004 [Seanad] — Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 13a and 13b shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on No. 14 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 70 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply, the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and Members may share time. A Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes.

The Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 2.30 p.m. There shall be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26 and the taking of any divisions shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 21 June 2005 and, accordingly, the following business shall be transacted: No. 24, statements on the Morris tribunal. The statements shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2.30 p.m. on that day and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of a Minister or Minister of State [319]and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case. The statements of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and Members may share time. A Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes.

Parliamentary questions on Tuesday next, 21 June 2005, on the EU Council Meeting in Brussels shall not be disallowed as being anticipatory of statements on such Council meeting scheduled to be taken on that day, and shall be moved to be taken first as ordinary oral questions to the Taoiseach on Tuesday next.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 13a and 13b agreed?

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I have no objection but I presume there will be an opportunity for a substantive debate in the House on their return from the committee.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That proposal is agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 14 agreed?

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Once again and annually I regretfully object to the renewal of the suspension of rights and freedoms under emergency legislation. We object to the proposition on two bases. The first is on principle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are dealing with the proposal for dealing with No. 14.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am objecting to the proposal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is merely the motion on the time allowed for No. 14. The Deputy will have an opportunity during the statements to make the point as to whether he approves or disapproves.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  With respect, it is the practice that one explains the raison d’être behind the objection.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This is purely a time motion.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Ce n’est pas fait.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Leaving the time as the central focus, this is not a proposition that should be addressed here at this point. Under the Good Friday Agreement the Government has a commitment for progressive security normalisation. The Offences against the State (Amendment) Act clearly does not fit into that commitment. The Government continues to renew repressive legislation, which has no basis or sound argument. [320]This includes section 18, which the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform laid before the House only three days ago——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy has made his point.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——within which there is no basis for this proposition. I object in the strongest possible terms. Bearing in mind the previous ministerial responsibility of the Minister for Finance, I ask him to be cognisant of the responsibility on Government——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy can discuss that matter when the motion is before the House.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——not to proceed with the renewal of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act. It has no place within our legislation in this day and age. I strongly object.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I do not dispute the matter being before us today as that is provided for and prescribed in the legislation. However, the legislation requires that a report on the previous year’s activities under this legislation be laid before the House 21 days before it is debated. The Oireachtas Library received this annual report on 15 June 2005 and today is 16 June. We will have no opportunity to discuss the report, which is supposed to be key to our decision as to whether to renew the legislation. Why are we to discuss the matter the day after it has been presented to the Oireachtas? I know the legislation is to be renewed by 30 June. However, the report should have been presented to the House long before now.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I was not aware of that detail. Obviously if Members want to discuss the report that is now in the Oireachtas Library, they can be facilitated.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  A similar thing happened last year and we brought it to the attention of Ceann Comhairle.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is a matter that should be addressed by parliamentary question to the Minister concerned. If the substance of the issue is that the Deputy seeks a discussion on the report placed in the Library, that is a matter for the Whips to consider.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is a requirement, not an option.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  What is the validity of a debate——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy may raise the matter during the debate.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——when there is a statutory requirement to have the report before the House for 21 days before the renewal?

[321]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister has answered that question. We cannot have a debate on the matter.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister has not answered.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  He wants to answer.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  As only 17 days remain before the deadline for renewal, it will not be possible for the report to have been in the Library 21 days before renewal.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is sloppy government.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Clearly the Government is in breach of its own legislation.

Question put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow agreed?

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I object to this procedure. Mr. Justice Morris has published a serious report, the headline of which was that: “The combination of gross negligence at senior level, amounting to criminal negligence, and the lack of objectivity and corruption at levels lower than that, caused the scandalous situation to arise.” Nothing could be graver than the report we have seen. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has said that the Dáil is the authority that will hold the Garda accountable. However, we are proposing to have a debate on this most important report that will merely take the form of statements. We will have no opportunity to question the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform or his predecessor, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O’Donoghue. The Dáil will not have an opportunity to adopt a resolution on foot of the Morris tribunal.

We are told that next week the Government will guillotine the Garda Síochána Bill so that debate on it will be circumscribed and brought to an abrupt end. Clearly Mr. Justice Morris has criticised the way in which the Dáil has handled the issue and has asked us to look very carefully at the Garda Síochána Bill in the light of his report. The sort of debate proposed, which will merely comprise statements read into the record without conclusion or question followed by a guillotined Garda Síochána Bill next week, is not adequate for what is demanded of the Oireachtas on this occasion. The Minister will need to think again in respect of the arrangements for tomorrow’s sitting and in respect of the proposal to guillotine the Garda Síochána Bill and push ahead with Garda reforms in the teeth of serious concerns on the Opposition benches.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I also oppose the restricted format proposed for tomorrow’s sitting. The Government ignored the first report of the Morris tribunal and now the more serious second report is apparently to be relegated to what is in [322]parliamentary terms the graveyard slot on Friday in the restrictive format of statements only. This adds insult to the earlier injury.

As Deputy Bruton said, the House has scarcely before received such an important report from the point of view of our democracy, society, confidence in the efficacy of policing etc. The response of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has been to misrepresent it. Along with the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O’Donoghue, who has been so untypically silent, he contrived not to hold the tribunal in the first place. He now claims ownership of it and says——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It would be more appropriate to discuss the details during tomorrow’s debate.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am painting with a very broad brush.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We are discussing the nature of the debate and its contents.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We will have no debate, only statements.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, says that as a result of the report it is now incumbent on the parties on this side of the House to facilitate the early enactment of the Garda Síochána Bill. However, Mr. Justice Morris has said the opposite and suggested we should review the Garda Síochána Bill. He explained in Delphic terms why this is necessary in his view.

It is entirely to diminish both Mr. Justice Morris and this House for the Government merely to allow statements in an abridged debate without the possibility of tabling a motion that commits the Government to implementing the recommendations in the report. We are also opposed to the proposal and ask the Minister for Finance to commit to a proper debate on a matter about which we all ought to be concerned.

We need to revisit the excision of the terms of reference by the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O’Donoghue, and the then Attorney General, Deputy McDowell, when it was proposed to include the remit of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Ministers for Justice and Attorneys General concerned. However, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O’Donoghue, with the able support of the then Attorney General, Deputy McDowell——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  These matters would be more appropriate to the debate.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  ——had that excised. It is quite clear that the Morris report refers to this matter. To conclude the work Mr. Justice Morris has started, he needs the House to revisit those terms [323]of reference so that we can get to the bottom of what was involved in this extraordinary circumstance.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  While the Order Paper calls for statements on the Morris tribunal, I ask the Government to reconsider and take into account the gravity of the matter about which we are being asked to make statements. The Government should take into account the ten months during which the first report met with a wall of silence and the need to make up some ground for that insult to the work of the Morris tribunal.

Will the Government to table a motion showing a determination not to allow again the injustice, incompetence and abuse of power highlighted by the Morris tribunal? It seems that the Government is not serious about addressing the recommendations of the tribunal. The only way to remedy that impression is for the Government to table a serious motion on which the House can vote. What is proposed is the parliamentary equivalent of chewing the cud or having a chat about a matter that is of such gravity for the wider public.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Perhaps in his response to Members the Minister might indicate whether he has received a copy of the report of the Morris tribunal. Has any Member of the House received a copy of the report? We received a copy of the first report a fortnight after the initial publication. Now we are about to enter a flawed approach to its content as only statements on the report are allowed. Although it was set up to be accountable to this House, the Morris tribunal has not reported to it. The only way to access the report is through the Internet or by depending on our friends in the media. The reality is that it is not reported back to this House in a proper and meaningful way. The point needs to be emphasised that there is a responsibility on the Morris tribunal to recognise that it was this institution that established it in the first place and that the report should be sent to each Member that was a party to setting it up.

The proposal to have statements only is an outrageous response to a serious issue. It is imperative that we have a full debate, a clear proposition and an outline of action to be taken. Everyone in this House, irrespective of political persuasion, expects actions to be taken on foot of the recommendations in the report of the Morris tribunal. The wider public expects the same. I urge that the proposal to have statements only be withdrawn, that a full debate be scheduled, that the Government outline its intent for action following the publication of the second report of the Morris tribunal and that we have the opportunity [324]to debate that substantive proposition rather than this charade which amounts to absolutely nothing.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Tomorrow’s statements represent the beginning of the response to the Morris tribunal and the systemic problems that have been identified by the report. Tomorrow is not the beginning and the end of the story, but simply a series of formal statements that have been used before for such matters. Were nothing else to happen, then that would clearly be inadequate. However, the statements will give the Government and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the opportunity to deal with some of the misrepresentations of our position propagated by the Opposition.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  The Minister must be terrified of misrepresentation. We have not seen him here since.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It will also allow us to proceed the following week with the Garda Síochána Bill 2004, which will incorporate——

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  It is to be guillotined.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——some important amendments sought by Mr. Justice Morris.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It will incorporate one amendment.

  11 o’clock

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It will allow us to continue a process of operational and policy reform which it is hoped will ensure that the great majority of gardaí who are dedicated to their job and wish to do it properly are enabled to do so. Everyone in this House will have a contribution to make in that respect. The political parties will have an opportunity to give their points of view tomorrow and the Government looks forward to giving its full position on the report and on the process of reform it intends to pursue.

With regard to the Minister being accountable to the House for questions, those matters are available on a continuing basis for a range of processes and procedures in this House and are not required just because the Deputy seeks them tomorrow.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I do not think we should agree to this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There is no provision for further replies under the Standing Order. Only one brief comment is allowed from a member of each of the four parties.

Question put.

[323][325]The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 47.

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 Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
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 Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Davern  Zoom on Noel Davern  Davern, Noel.
Information on Síle de Valera  Zoom on Síle de Valera  de Valera, Síle. Information on Tony Dempsey  Zoom on Tony Dempsey  Dempsey, Tony.
Information on John Dennehy  Zoom on John Dennehy  Dennehy, John. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Mildred Fox  Zoom on Mildred Fox  Fox, Mildred. 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 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 Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. 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 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 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 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 Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Dan Wallace  Zoom on Dan Wallace  Wallace, Dan. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


[325]Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on James Breen  Zoom on James Breen  Breen, James.
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 Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. 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 Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Higgins, Joe. 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 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 Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Zoom on Breeda Moynihan-Cronin  Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
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 Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. 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 Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
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 Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.  

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

[325]Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for dealing next Tuesday with parliamentary questions on the EU Council meeting in Brussels agreed?

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  While I do not want to delay the House, one could not help but notice that we facilitated the Taoiseach’s absence from Leaders’ Questions and Question Time yesterday only to [326]open this morning’s newspapers to find he was opening Ireland’s latest Monopoly game.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  The Deputy should not be jealous.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The Taoiseach might have been putting on his make-up.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The days of the Fianna Fáil monopoly are over.

[327]Mr. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  He was out of the country.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That is not treating the House, especially this side of the House, with the respect due. If the Taoiseach has time to come back to open a Monopoly game he has time to facilitate Question Time in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is the proposal for dealing with parliamentary questions for next Tuesday agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We should certainly reciprocate with respect but pomposity makes it very difficult.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Recently we had a report from the Irish Research Council stating that the Irish children’s justice system is failing young people and causing many to enter into an endless cycle of offending often resulting in inappropriate custodial sentences. We read in today’s newspapers that the Minister is going to the UN to trumpet the Irish system of dealing with children in the justice system as exemplary. What he is proposing is to dilute——

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

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Yes. What is happening to the Children Act passed by this House four years ago? It provided for raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12 — which has not been implemented. It also provided for parental supervision orders — which have not been implemented, and it further provided for alternatives to detention for young offenders — which have not been implemented——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should be allowed to reply.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  If they are not being implemented why did we pass this legislation and not bring it into effect? It is making nonsense of what we are doing in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I call Deputy Costello on the same question.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Will we now have an amendment to the Children Act which specifies that the age of criminal responsibility is 12? This would be in operation if the Government had bothered to roll out that section over the past four years, which it has not done. Is it now the case that the age will be reduced from what was specified and prescribed in the Children Act to ten years, as the Minister of State has announced to the media? Will there be an amendment to the Children Act to reduce the age to ten rather than to roll out the prescribed age of 12?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am sure Members of the House and, in particular, spokespersons, will be aware that a cross-departmental working party is [328]engaged on a youth justice review and is due to report shortly. The reports that appeared in the media today are in anticipation of some recommendations that may be forthcoming from the working party. As soon as they come to Government they will be dealt with.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  What is happening regarding the implementation of the legislation already passed by the House?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  A substantial amount of that legislation is being implemented. As the Deputy is aware, that legislation was agreed after a long period of consideration by successive Governments and committees. What is happening——

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Is it now being amended?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy regularly calls for reform.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Minister has announced that he is reducing the age from 12 to ten.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Does the Deputy want the reply?

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I do, yes. I did not get it the first time I asked the question.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Did the Deputy not? I will try again.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am delighted the Minister will give the reply now.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It will hardly satisfy the Deputy.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is very generous of the Minister. It is his duty to give a reply——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a friendly chat across the floor of the House.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——not to be generous or give it as some kind of privilege.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister has been called. Deputy Costello should allow the Minister to reply.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I cannot satisfy him no matter what I do. That is the point.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Minister was asked a question on legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Costello should allow the Minister to reply. The Minister should address the Chair.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Minister is obliged to give a reply. It is his duty.

[329]Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have no problem in giving a reply.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is why the Minister is representing the Taoiseach.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Exactly. I have no problem doing that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should address his remarks through the Chair rather than across the floor.

Mr. J. O’Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  We have enough of the Minister’s arrogance.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  They all think they should not be here. They have to be here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The trouble with the lot of them over there is that they have become too arrogant. What we have to do is get rid of them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Ring should allow the Minister to speak without interruption.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I want to get rid of them and then we will get on to——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy will have to find another way. He cannot raise it on the Order of Business.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We have a new General O’Duffy in our midst.

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I thought Deputy Ring had left Fine Gael.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Ring has come down a few steps.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, has graced us with his presence in the Dáil. The Minister for Travel and Joy. I am delighted to see him. I see him more in the constituency than in the Dáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Ring should allow the Minister to speak.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Perhaps I will return to the more serious wing of the Mullingar accord.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  We will soon get rid of them. They are on the way out.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The answer I was about to give before Deputy Costello decided to give his views on the adequacy or otherwise of my reply, which he had not heard, is that a review is ongoing at present which will make recommendations to Government which will lead to a reform of the present situation, which is something for which [330]the Deputy has probably called. As soon as the Government considers and makes decisions on them we will discuss them in this House.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  With regard to Deputy Cowen’s constituency colleague and chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, who according to this morning’s newspaper said the whistleblower’s Bill will be ready by next year, yesterday the Tánaiste told me that there will not be a whistleblower’s Bill. Will the Minister indicate which is it?

The second matter I wish to raise is the package on Dáil reform where I see that among other things the Minister or the Government is trying to diminish Leaders’ Questions, to change the rules and have Ministers answer instead of the Taoiseach, and a number of other changes detrimental both to this House and targeted at the Opposition. I take this opportunity to inform the Minister that my party will not engage in any negotiations on these proposals with the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, much as I have regard for him, because they are designed to further disadvantage the Opposition in terms of the operation of this House and to diminish the stature of the House.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Tánaiste gave the accurate Government position on the whistleblower’s Bill. I understand my constituency colleague gave a view which was considered by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, of which he is chairman.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  He reiterated that all Fianna Fáil members of the committee——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Burton should allow the Minister to speak without interruption.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——supported the recommendation on a whistleblower’s Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Please, Deputy Burton.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I am just amplifying the information that might not be available to the Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I am sorry, Deputy. The Minister was called and he is entitled to be heard without interruption just as when Deputy Burton is called she will be entitled to be heard without interruption.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Considerable drafting work has been done with a view to progressing the legislation. It is now considered that the provision of statutory protection for whistleblowers on a sectoral basis might provide a better and more focused approach to dealing with this issue, as in section 4 of the Act relating to protections for persons reporting child abuse and section 50 of the Competition Act. That is the Government position as things stand.

[331]Regarding the second matter, the Government Chief Whip has brought forward proposals in good faith. Obviously he would like to deal with them on an all-party basis but if the Labour Party is not interested in discussing them, that is its view.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I make a point to the Minister which he clearly does not know. In terms of bringing forward sectoral protection in the fashion he described, the day before yesterday the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, refused such an amendment from this side of the House in respect of the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill because he said the whistleblower’s Bill was forthcoming.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The position I have given is the Government position.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It might be the position of one half of the Government.

A Deputy:  Again, Deputy Parlon does not know what he is talking about.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Allow Deputy Sargent without interruption. We will have to move on to the next item of business.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Three different voices from Offaly.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  I am raising this matter in the context of promised legislation.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Parlon country.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The 2.5 tonnes of GM maize, of which the Minister for Agriculture and Food is aware——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  What legislation?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The matter relates to both the animal health and crime legislation. No date of publication has been set for either Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister on the crime Bill.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Given that the Minister for Agriculture and Food is present, can I be informed whether the Department regards it as a crime that the importer is being allowed deal with the goods?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should submit a question to the Minister.

[332]Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  If it were cocaine, would it be left on the quayside for the importer to take it away?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are ten Members offering and I will not be able to facilitate them at this rate.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Both Bills are relevant.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not know how relevant they are but the animal health Bill is to consolidate and update the diseases of animals legislation. It is not possible to indicate when it will be introduced, nor is it possible to make such an indication regarding the crimes Bill.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I always like to make the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources feel included and welcome. I notice he has gone missing again.

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

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  If the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources were present, I would ask him. Will the Minister for Finance indicate when or if it is intended to introduce the Bord Gáis Éireann Bill? Its publication is expected in 2006, which is approaching fast.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister on the Bord Gáis Éireann Bill.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Could the legislation not be accelerated because of its sensitive nature?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the heads of the Bill to restructure Bord Gáis Éireann are expected late this year. Its is expected to be published next year.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  The Tánaiste stated the State was losing up to €12 million per month because of a failure to charge people in nursing homes. Legislation was rushed through this House, to be followed by regulations. It was reported only in the past few days that——

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

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Yes, it is on secondary legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy should ask the question on legislation. I want to try to facilitate her colleagues. We cannot have a preamble on the issue.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I believe it was said we would not be interrupted.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  To what legislation is the Deputy referring?

[333]Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Secondary legislation. It was stated in the media that the secondary legislation, the regulations to permit the charges to be levied, was signed by the Minister. There is no sign of its being laid before the House. Will the Minister indicate what is happening?

On possible changes in the law applying to dentistry, does the Government intend to extend the recognition of orthodontic qualifications——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Is legislation promised on that?

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  ——to institutions outside dental hospitals in Dublin——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should reply to the first question. Deputy McManus should note that the Chair never interrupts.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Chair never interrupts.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  The Chair is being provocative.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  I accept that but it sure as hell seems that way.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Secondary legislation is in the process of being signed by both Ministers and I presume it will proceed on that basis.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Who has signed it?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Both Ministers.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  What Ministers?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  So it has not been signed by the Minister for Finance yet.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have signed it.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  So it has been signed.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have signed it.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Is the Minister stating the Minister for Health and Children has not done so?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  She has probably signed it also. I do not check when it is forwarded to her Department. It has been signed by both of us.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot have a debate on the matter. I call on Deputy Ó Caoláin.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  It is only money. I would have thought the Minister for Finance would be concerned about money.

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

[334]Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no point in being facetious. The documentation has been signed and the matter has been dealt with. The regulations have been completed and drafted and they are being signed. That is the issue.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  “Being signed” is different to “have been signed”.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  If you want me to give you the exact time and date of the signatures, I can send them to you.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Yes, that is exactly what I want.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Minister should address his remarks through the Chair. I call on Deputy Ó Caoláin. We will have to move on to the next item of business.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Given the judgment in the High Court yesterday, which has caused consternation among parents of children with autism, will the Government withdraw the Disability Bill and introduce rights-based legislation? This is an absolute imperative given the very worrying development yesterday.

Will the Government bring forward new legislation to implement the recommendations of the task force on autism?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On legislation promised.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy will be aware that the Disability Bill is being considered in the Upper House at present.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Minister withdraw it?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It will be part of a modern framework. The process will not be lawyer-driven, as the Deputy sought, but as we have outlined. It has been approved in this House and I anticipate it will be approved in the Upper House. Upon its signature, we will proceed to continue with the unprecedented investment we are making in this area. I am aware of the specific case to which the Deputy has referred. It is obviously a very difficult issue for individual families. It is a matter with which we dealt in our budgetary statements last year and we will continue to do all we can in a specific way and more generally to provide a service to families who find themselves in this very difficult position. I do not wish to comment on the specific court judgment.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  What is the position on legislation to implement the task force’s recommendations?

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

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am not aware that legislation has been promised but we have provided unpre[335]cedented additional resources. As I stated, a modern statutory framework is in place in respect of disability which compares very favourably to those established by many previous Governments and certainly affords the opportunity to make progress in conjunction with the representative groups.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  There are many stretches of the N81 on which trucks regularly clip one another’s mirrors when the meet. When will the national roads infrastructure Bill be before the House so we can deal with the matter in detail?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it will be introduced next year.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Ireland was legally obliged to transpose Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and Council into law no later than 23 March of this year. Ireland is the only member state that has not done so. The directive concerns the general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Union. When will we see the relevant legislation? Has the Commission been in touch with Irish officials in regard to proceedings on foot of the default of this country in respect of this matter?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Since I did not receive notice, I do not have the relevant information available to me today. I will certainly communicate it to the Deputy during the day.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  My question is on planning legislation and those who supply false information. A greenfield site was shown on a quarry in 1974. It was subject to exempted development——

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

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Is there legislation promised to change the ridiculous €20 fine applying to someone who has profited so much in this regard? My point relates to a decision on exempted development by An Bord Pleanála.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On legislation promised.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am not aware of any.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  My question was already answered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Stagg is very helpful. I call on Deputy Lynch.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  On the basis that Deputy Stagg has relinquished his time, I am sure the Chair will allocate it to me.

Now that the Government has recognised there is a crisis in child care when, if ever, will the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill be before the House? I have asked about it time out of number.

[336]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That question was dealt with this week.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it may be available to come before the House in the next session.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I have regularly raised the question of the register of persons considered unsafe to work with children Bill and have received the same answer every time. It seems that no progress is being made. The legislation is important to protect children. What is the position thereon?

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I genuinely do not wish to disappoint the Deputy again but it is not possible for me to say at this stage when it will be introduced.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I hope it will be possible to say when soon. The position has not changed for a number of years.

Mr. Cowen: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I suggest respectfully that a priority question be put to the relevant Minister to try to establish a timescale and the difficulties that exist.

Ms O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It could be a priority of the Government as well.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I have two brief questions. I note the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Brennan, promised that the Government will fund remortgaging for older people. Is this part of the Government’s programme——

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

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  He promised legislation outside the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  What is the Deputy’s second question?

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  It concerns the Health Service Executive. The CSO indicates that the employment level in the Health Service Executive has increased by 8,300 in the past 12 months. I did not see any legal approval to breach the cap that the Government had set on recruitment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest that the Deputy submit a question to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

Mr. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I do not see any impact on the health service either. I am wondering whether these bodies are in any way accountable.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy has made his point. I suggest he submits questions to the appropriate Minister.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I want to ask the Minister about detailed proposals on tax credits for child care and family support that were published in The [337]Irish Times yesterday, under a picture of the Minister for Social and Family Affairs. Will the Minister for Finance say whether it is possible for Deputies in this House to ask questions regarding the costings ascribed to the story in The Irish Times? If these matters published relate to the tax strategy group, could the Minister agree to publish them? With the loss of freedom of information——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest the Deputy submit the question to the Minister and it will be ruled on accordingly. We are moving on to No. 13a, referral to joint committee of proposal approved by Dáil Éireann of the Risk Equalisation (Amendment) Scheme 2005.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  In terms of doing my job——

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

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Ceann Comhairle is supposed to protect Members. How do we get information?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair is supposed to protect Members by implementing Standing Orders.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister’s colleagues have leaked stuff to The Irish Times. Deputy Bruton and I cannot get the information.


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