Thursday, 8 December 2005
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 15a, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the despatch of a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL; No. 15b, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a Council decision on the establishment of a mutual information procedure concerning members states’ measures in the area of asylum and immigration; and No. 22a, Financial Resolutions by the Minister for Finance  — motion 5 (resumed).
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 7.30 p.m.; Nos. 15a and 15b shall be decided without debate; and the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the resumed debate on No. 22a: the speech of the Taoiseach and of the main spokespersons or a member nominated in his or her stead, for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 40 minutes in each case; the spokespersons for the Technical Group shall be confined to a spokesperson for the Green Party, Sinn Féin and the Independents; and the speech of each other Member called upon, who may share their time, shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case.
Mr. Kenny: I wish to propose an amendment to the Order of Business and give the Taoiseach the following option. Either we set time aside between 12 p.m. and 1.30 p.m. or from 7.30 to 9 p.m. for an explanation the Dáil should have in respect of the announced resignation of the former Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Deputy Ivor Callely.
Mr. Rabbitte: I agree with Deputy Kenny and it is important the House has the opportunity to hear a statement from the resigned Minister of State and an opportunity to discuss some of the issues. It has been claimed by the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Tom Parlon, that the resignation of the Minister of State at the Department of Transport is the result of a political conspiracy. If this is so, does the Taoiseach accept the political conspiracy did not come from this side of the House?
An Ceann Comhairle: An amendment that would introduce a new matter is not in order as it is the Taoiseach’s prerogative to list the business to be taken. On the question of the proposal that there be a late sitting——
Mr. Kenny: The Ceann Comhairle knows from his experience that on many occasions in the past, the Order of Business in the House has been amended, with the acceptance of the Taoiseach, either for an extension of time or for a change of business and such an amendment will be facilitated now by Members on this side of the House. It is in the public interest that this should happen and I am quite sure the Taoiseach will accommodate us.
Mr. Sargent: It is in order that I respond to the Ceann Comhairle’s question regarding opposition to the late sitting. The late sitting will not give us the opportunity to deal with the business in hand. The Taoiseach has brought the business into the House himself and I understand why. However, it is valid that we would hear, not just from the former Minister of State, Deputy Callely, but also from the Taoiseach as to whether this signifies a reassurance that there is no other issue concerning a situation where a construction interest would have offered to carry out work — a reassurance, that, for example, no construction company offered to do work on St. Luke’s in Drumcondra.
|Ahern, Bertie.||Ahern, Dermot.|
|Ahern, Noel.||Andrews, Barry.|
|Ardagh, Seán.||Brady, Johnny.|
|Brady, Martin.||Browne, John.|
|Callanan, Joe.||Callely, Ivor.|
|Carey, Pat.||Carty, John.|
|Cassidy, Donie.||Collins, Michael.|
|Coughlan, Mary.||Cregan, John.|
|Curran, John.||Davern, Noel.|
|de Valera, Síle.||Dempsey, Noel.|
|Dempsey, Tony.||Dennehy, John.|
|Devins, Jimmy.||Ellis, John.|
|Finneran, Michael.||Fitzpatrick, Dermot.|
|Gallagher, Pat The Cope.||Glennon, Jim.|
|Grealish, Noel.||Hanafin, Mary.|
|Haughey, Seán.||Healy-Rae, Jackie.|
|Hoctor, Máire.||Jacob, Joe.|
|Keaveney, Cecilia.||Kelly, Peter.|
|Kirk, Seamus.||Kitt, Tom.|
|Lenihan, Conor.||Martin, Micheál.|
|McDowell, Michael.||McEllistrim, Thomas.|
|McGuinness, John.||Moloney, John.|
|Moynihan, Donal.||Moynihan, Michael.|
|Mulcahy, Michael.||Nolan, M.J.|
|Ó Cuív, Éamon.||Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.|
|O’Connor, Charlie.||O’Dea, Willie.|
|O’Donnell, Liz.||O’Donoghue, John.|
|O’Donovan, Denis.||O’Flynn, Noel.|
|O’Keeffe, Ned.||O’Malley, Tim.|
|Parlon, Tom.||Power, Peter.|
|Sexton, Mae.||Smith, Michael.|
|Treacy, Noel.||Wallace, Dan.|
|Wallace, Mary.||Wilkinson, Ollie.|
|Allen, Bernard.||Breen, James.|
|Broughan, Thomas P.||Burton, Joan.|
|Connaughton, Paul.||Connolly, Paudge.|
|Costello, Joe.||Cowley, Jerry.|
|Crawford, Seymour.||Cuffe, Ciarán.|
|Deasy, John.||Deenihan, Jimmy.|
|Durkan, Bernard J.||English, Damien.|
|Enright, Olwyn.||Gilmore, Eamon.|
|Gormley, John.||Hayes, Tom.|
|Healy, Seamus.||Higgins, Joe.|
|Hogan, Phil.||Howlin, Brendan.|
|Kehoe, Paul.||Kenny, Enda.|
|Lynch, Kathleen.||McCormack, Pádraic.|
|McEntee, Shane.||McGinley, Dinny.|
|McGrath, Finian.||McGrath, Paul.|
|McManus, Liz.||Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.|
|Murphy, Catherine.||Murphy, Gerard.|
|Naughten, Denis.||Noonan, Michael.|
|O’Dowd, Fergus.||O’Keeffe, Jim.|
|O’Shea, Brian.||O’Sullivan, Jan.|
|Pattison, Seamus.||Perry, John.|
|Quinn, Ruairí.||Rabbitte, Pat.|
|Ring, Michael.||Ryan, Seán.|
|Sargent, Trevor.||Sherlock, Joe.|
|Stagg, Emmet.||Stanton, David.|
|Twomey, Liam.||Upton, Mary.|
Mr. Sargent: I discussed 15b with my party’s justice spokesperson. As there has been no notification to date we are being asked to deal with it blind. Can we be provided with a detail of the motion before we decide what to do with it?
The Taoiseach: We are asking to refer it to committee. The proposal covered by Title IV of the Amsterdam treaty requires approval from both Houses of the Oireachtas for the State to become involved in its adoption and application. We can make available the notes we have but it will be debated and discussed at the committee.
Mr. Kenny: Following the Taoiseach’s announcement this morning to the House we are now in a state of confusion. I accept this is a traumatic day for Deputy Callely and for his family but the House needs to know whether the Minister resigned or the Cabinet removed him.
Mr. Kenny: Allegations are being made that the former Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Callely, had informed his senior Minister of the controversy surrounding the illegality of charges in long-stay institutions.
Mr. Rabbitte: The then Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Callely, took the rap for the former Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, on the nursing home charges.
Mr. Rabbitte: The public will be immensely confused that a Minister of State can resign and the Ceann Comhairle, uniquely among parliaments, will not permit an opportunity to debate the matter in this House.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is the Standing Order. If Deputies are not happy with it, they should change it. It can be raised by a substantive motion and I suggest, as I suggested to Deputy Kenny, he should do that if that is what he wants.
Mr. Rabbitte: When Deputy Callely was Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, he took the rap for the former Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin. He told the Taoiseach that the Minister knew all about the nursing homes issue and had read the documents. The Minister of State took the rap. He has now been sacked and the Ceann Comhairle will not permit a debate in the House.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair does not want to be repetitive but, for the fourth time, I will point out that under Standing Orders, issues arising from the announcement can only be debated when there is a substantive motion before the House.
Mr. Sargent: Will we have an opportunity to discuss this, even by way of promised legislation? The building control Bill and other legislation could offer lessons to the Government. Must we wait for that legislation for the Government to learn those lessons?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: After a budget that has done nothing for the health services, will there be a Supplementary Estimate to provide the 3,000 beds required in our hospitals and to address the 300 people on trolleys and chairs last evening in accident and emergency wards?
Ms McManus: A total of €400 million has been allocated to pay in part for money owed to elderly people in nursing homes who had money taken from them. A senior civil servant lost his position, was dumped on and a report was presented to us in this House which did not deal with the central issue of ministerial responsibility.
Ms McManus: How can we not debate a matter of such importance and hear from the ex-Minister of State to ensure that we finally reach the truth on ministerial responsibility on such an important issue that is costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions of euro?
Ms McManus: Can we make time for a debate? As Opposition spokesperson on health, I am asking for a debate on an issue of major public concern so that we can re-open the issue of ministerial responsibility and finally get to the truth.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach is only responsible on the Order of Business for debates that are promised. If people asked for a debate on every single issue, Government and Opposition backbenchers would do the same as me.
Mr. Durkan: I thank the Chair. When will the Minister be able to report to the House on the Corrib gas project? Perhaps he could use the natural gas regulation Bill to ensure all outstanding matters are discussed publicly and brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
Mr. S. Ryan: What are the implications for the roads (miscellaneous provisions) Bill following the resignation of the Minister of State at the Department of Transport and the fact that the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, indicated there was a political dimension to the resignation?
Mr. Rabbitte: Under what Standing Order may a Minister of State intrude in this debate without interference when Members of this House have been seeking a debate on the resignation of the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Deputy Callely?
Mr. Rabbitte: We will discuss the health matter when Deputy Callely tells the truth about the implication of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Martin, in the nursing homes issue.
Mr. Quinn: Under the rules of this House it is reasonable to request the Taoiseach to allow the Whips to meet later to arrange an hour’s discussion of the issue today, not when it is history. Let us remain relevant in this House. Every Government Deputy knows people are talking about this everywhere else.
Mr. Quinn: The Taoiseach has sacked a Minister for State and he is entitled to be heard. We should have an hour’s discussion later today by agreement with the Whips, otherwise the Chair is smothering democracy and displaying contempt for the House.
Mr. Kenny: It is important to note that this is a matter for concern. When the Taoiseach contributed in the House on 3 December 1996 regarding the resignation of former Minister, Deputy Lowry, he said:
The case made by Deputies must be answered and we need an explanation in the public interest about whether the Minister of State resigned or was sacked, whether there was a conspiracy or whether the Minister for State, in his previous capacity, briefed the then Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, on the issue of long-stay charges in public institutions.
Mr. Rabbitte: On a point of order, the question put to the Taoiseach was whether he will, in Government time, permit the reasons for the resignation of the Minister of State at the Department of Transport to be debated. The House is entitled to this. It is being debated everywhere except in the House. Serious issues arise and the Taoiseach has the freedom to give Government time to permit adequate discussion about them.
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