Order of Business.

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 607 No. 59

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It is proposed to take No. 15, Railway Safety Bill 2001 — Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage. Private Members’ business shall be No. 42, motion re Irish Ferries.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  There are no proposals to put to the House on the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I know the House will express its sympathy and condolences to the family members of the eight people who died on Irish roads last weekend and the seven who died the weekend before. When will the dedicated Garda traffic corps become a reality, something that has been promised on several occasions?

When is it expected that the broadcasting authority Bill might be produced? Arising therefrom, [350]will it be a feature of Government that Ministers send six-page missiles to members of the RTE authority regarding programmes that they consider offensive to their egos or whatever?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That does not arise on the Order of Business. One cannot discuss the content of what might be in the legislation.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  In that sense, can the Tánaiste confirm whether the Cabinet agreed that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform should send his six-page missile to each member of the RTE Authority?

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

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Is that to be a feature of this Government, which might be suffering from slight paranoia regarding events to come?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot talk about what might be in the Bill.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I join Deputy Kenny in expressing my sympathy and that of the Government to the families of the young people who were so tragically killed over the weekend. It was an awful tragedy indeed.

The broadcasting authority Bill will arrive in 2006. A traffic corps already exists, and the intention is, as more gardaí emerge from training in Templemore, to increase numbers in it substantially.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Like Deputy Kenny and the Tánaiste, I extend the condolences of my party to families involved in the awful tragedy at the weekend.

I am also sure the Tánaiste will join me in commending the outstanding literary achievement of John Banville in winning the Man Booker prize yesterday. It was a splendid achievement by an outstanding writer, and we should acknowledge that.

Is legislation contemplated or does the Tánaiste believe any is necessary or does the Government have any plans to examine allegations regarding lawyers double-charging in the operation of the redress scheme?

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

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I join Deputy Rabbitte in congratulating John Banville on his fantastic achievement.

I am not aware of the specific complaint and whether legislation is necessary if someone double-charges for the same service, but I can take the matter up with the Minister for Justice, [351]Equality and Law Reform and the Attorney General.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The claim is that lawyers operating the redress scheme are charging their clients out of their award despite already receiving moneys from the State.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We cannot discuss that on the Order of Business.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I accept that.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  The Green Party also congratulates John Banville. However, everything has been overshadowed by the tragedy in Donegal and the road deaths that are a cause of considerable concern to us all. Action is required to prevent more.

I wish to ask about legislation in the following regard. I received a telephone call from a landlord who receives money from social welfare.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We must stick to the legislation; we cannot have a debate before——

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Regarding promised legislation, rent supplement allowance is being paid into an account, despite the fact that the tenant has left the house which has been sold. The owner continues to receive money in his account from the State and the Department.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  On the legislation, I call the Tánaiste.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  When will the Social Welfare Bill be introduced, and will it address what seems like another departmental error that will be blamed on a computer?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  It will be introduced this session.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Will the Cabinet discuss the health risk to Irish consumers from the foot and mouth disease outbreak in Brazil this week? The Tánaiste will be aware that a significant quantity of meat is imported into this country each year.

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

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  This is a serious and urgent matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If the matter is serious and urgent, there are ways of raising it in the House.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  I see that the Minister is laughing again. I assume he will tell the House that it is insignificant and that we should forget [352]about it. He has a most unusual sense of humour. Perhaps the Tánaiste might indicate how seriously the Government takes this problem.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I suggest that the Member submit a question to the appropriate Minister. I call Deputy Quinn.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  They have no answer to it.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A quick snigger is all we get.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  That was not in order, Deputy Connaughton.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Tánaiste may recall that I asked her last week whether the Cabinet had agreed the text of the building control Bill. I put the same question to her today. Does she have any indication when she is likely to see it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The answer remains the same.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Legislation has been promised to address the charges that were imposed on residents in long-term institutions. I understand that there will be a repayment scheme for charges for publicly funded residential long-stay care Bill. When will that be published, given that those who were overcharged must await the passage of that legislation and many are suffering hardship as a result?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  We are working hard on that legislation, which is a priority. Money will be provided in the Estimates to be published next month to make the payments next year. We hope to publish it later this year.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  They will start then.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  They have already processed 15,000 applications.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  As Deputy Connaughton said, there has been an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Brazil.

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

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Yes. A significant problem in that regard is the re-labelling of products from third countries. I understand that the Tánaiste is sponsoring legislation on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture and Food to introduce clear and transparent labelling on food used in the catering trade. Under what legislation will that come? When will it be introduced? Will the Tánaiste ensure that this abuse is addressed as soon as possible?

[353]The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am doing that on behalf of the Minister for Agriculture and Food and it is expected to be brought before the Government before Christmas.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  What legislation is it?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I believe it will be introduced under the medicines board legislation.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  I would like to raise two issues on the Order of Business. When will the Water Services Bill 2003 come before the relevant committee? Why was I denied the opportunity by means of an Adjournment debate to raise the proposed regional treatment plant at Portrane?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Both matters are out of order at this stage. The first question is a matter for the committee concerned, and the second——

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  The Ceann Comhairle’s office and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have tried to deny me the opportunity of raising this issue in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is welcome to come to my office to discuss the matter any time. I call Deputy Gormley.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  My constituents are entitled to have the issue raised in the House and the Ceann Comhairle and the Department cannot deny them that.

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

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  No, it is an important issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Yes, and it should be raised in a proper way allowed for by Standing Orders.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  I asked for this to be raised on the Adjournment when the Ceann Comhairle was away last week and was deprived of the opportunity.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair will be glad to discuss the matter with the Deputy if he wishes to come to his office. I have called Deputy Gormley.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government did not want to discuss it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is out of order. I have called Deputy Gormley.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  Will the Ceann Comhairle review this matter?

[354]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair will make no commitments when the Deputy is being totally disorderly.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  This issue will be raised at a later date.

  5 o’clock

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Two years ago, the then Minister for Transport, Deputy Brennan, promised to introduce legislation in regard to random breath testing. Why has this promise been broken? The spurious reason of legal obstacles has been given. Is it not the case that this Government has sold out to the alcohol industry? That is the bottom line.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The Minister for Transport informs me there are complex reasons for the difficulties in this matter.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Why should the issue be so complicated? People are dying in traffic accidents as a consequence of motorists’ alcohol consumption.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Gormley should put down a question to the appropriate Minister.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Why can these legal difficulties not be resolved?

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  There are constitutional issues to consider.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  What are these constitutional issues?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Allen has been called.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Deputy Gormley will cry about civil liberties if changes are made in this regard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  I ask the Minister for Transport to be silent and allow Deputy Allen to speak.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  What are these constitutional difficulties?

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

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I have yet to receive the information sought in a parliamentary question, for answer on the first day of this session, which was submitted on 29 August.

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

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Last week I was told it was a matter for the Adjournment.

[355]Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I wish to make a point of order.

Mr. Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I submitted it for the Adjournment debate but was refused. How can I get this information from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Howlin wishes to make a point of order.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  It is linked to Deputy Allen’s question. I wrote to the Ceann Comhairle last week——

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

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I ask the Ceann Comhairle to listen to the point so he may guide me in dealing with this matter. In regard to the transfer of a question on insurance that I tabled——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This does not arise on the floor of the House.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  May I finish my sentence?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  As I suggested to Deputy Seán Ryan, the Chair will be delighted to discuss any problems Members may have.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I wrote to the Ceann Comhairle a week ago but have had no reply. I tabled an oral question——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  This will not be discussed on the floor of the House.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  May I finish the sentence?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  No. The matter raised by the Deputy is not a point of order.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Ceann Comhairle has not heard the point of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  It is not a point of order. The Chair has ruled on the matter and Deputy Boyle has been called.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I tabled a question to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment which was transferred to the Department of Transport.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  If the Deputy has a problem in regard to this question, the Chair will follow it up and communicate with him on the issue.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Department of Transport told me today it has no responsibility for the matter.

[356]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  There is no responsibility for anything.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  Deputy Boyle has been called.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I want to know from the Ceann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  We will not have this type of disorder on the floor of the House when Deputies raise issues they are not entitled to raise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  There is no point tabling questions if the Government refuses to be accountable to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is being totally disorderly.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  I am not. The Ceann Comhairle has a responsibility in this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Deputy is being disorderly. The Chair has ruled on the matter.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Ceann Comhairle respond to my question?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  The Chair has already answered.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Will the Ceann Comhairle respond to my letter? Then there will be only one course of action for the House to take.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Last week on the Order of Business I asked the Taoiseach about secondary legislation in regard to the ability of fee simples to be purchased to acquire State property at reduced prices. There were two attempts at emergency legislation in this regard in the last session. The Taoiseach undertook to return with information as to whether the Government plans either secondary legislation or further emergency legislation to ensure this loophole is closed. However, I have received no further information.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I must return to the Deputy on this as I am not familiar with the matter.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  That is the answer I got last week.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The information the Deputy seeks will be conveyed to him as soon as possible.

Mr. Gormley: Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  This is ridiculous. There is no accountability, only arrogance.

Mr. Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  The Government knows it will get away with such behaviour.

[357]Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  In the greater Dublin area we are lucky to have excellent staff to provide emergency services. However, there is a structural problem with regard to the emergency services which puts patients at risk.

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

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  Yes. I hope the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children will take the opportunity to deal with this serious issue. The Health Bill 2004 provides for the establishment of the health information and quality authority. Must we await the enactment of this Bill before the structural problems in the ambulance service in the greater Dublin region are resolved?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  The two are not related. That legislation will be enacted next year.

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Today’s OECD report recommends we should all work until the age of 85 or more. This would make the Ceann Comhairle into a Methuselah by the time he were to leave. Is this a plot by the Progressive Democrats to eliminate the need for nursing homes?

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

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  We will all be tottering onto construction sites at the age of 85 rather than looking forward to retirement.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Why stop at 85?

Mr. J. Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins  Zoom on Joe Higgins  Does the Tánaiste plan to further change the legislation on pensions to a more negative extent than she did last year in this regard?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  I am struggling to live, never mind work, until I am 85 years of age. We will all do well to live to the age of 85. I assure the Deputy that the Progressive Democrats Party has no influence whatsoever over the OECD. No legislation is planned in this area.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  There is a €63 million swimming pool in my constituency which faces a fragile and uncertain future. The Government has promised the Abbotstown sports campus development authority Bill for several years. The Taoiseach promised me two weeks ago that it was ready. However, it is now the second week of October and we have still not seen it. Moreover, we are told the Minister for Finance is busy pulling the plug on the entire project. Will the Tánaiste tell us what is happening?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That Bill will be published during this session.

[358]Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  On the occasion of its 25th anniversary Údarás na Gaeltachta stated it would welcome the conferral of additional powers. Will the Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill be brought before the House in this session or this year?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That legislation will be brought forward next year.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  When will the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Noel Dempsey, push through legislation to control Internet spam and, in particular, to increase the penalties for spam perpetrators? Is it possible that such legislation could be rushed through as a matter of urgency? I see concern written all over the faces of those Members on the Government Front Bench. I refer to No. 36 on the Order Paper.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  That legislation will be brought forward next year.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It will be another information technology project for the Government.


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