Tuesday, 13 December 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 11, Supplementary Estimates for Public Services, Votes 6, 13, 20, 26, 27, 30 and 35, which are back from committee; No. a19, statement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in regard to information now in the public domain reflecting on the probity and past conduct and fitness to hold office of the chief executive of the Centre for Public Inquiry; and No. 3, the Social Welfare Bill 2005 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; No. 11 shall be decided without debate and that Supplementary Estimates for Public Services Votes shall be moved together and decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; the proceedings on No. a19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 45 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply. Subject to Members sharing time, the statements shall be confined to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and which shall not exceed five minutes in each case. Members may share time. Immediately following the opening statements, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform shall take questions for a period not exceeding 20 minutes. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes.
Private Members’ business shall be No. 30 — Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2005, Second Stage, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. tonight and the following arrangements shall apply. Subject to members sharing time, the speeches shall be confined to the following members who shall be called upon in the following sequence and which shall not indicate the times indicated in each case: Labour, 20 minutes; the Government 30 minutes; Fine Gael, 15 minutes; Technical Group, 15 minutes; and the Labour Party, ten minutes. Members may share time. There shall be no Private Members’ business tomorrow night and in the event of the Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2005 passing Second Stage, it shall be referred to a committee of the whole Dáil and the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages thereon shall take place tomorrow at 7 p.m. and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. on that night by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, with regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
Mr. Kenny: The House will have lost 45 minutes on the Social Welfare Bill 2005 because of the special debate organised by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I propose the House compensate for this time by sitting later than 10.30 p.m.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: No. a19 is a statement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in regard to information now in the public domain reflecting on the probity and past conduct and fitness to hold office of the chief executive of the Centre for Public Inquiry. What has this House become? This is not a court of law to determine whether the chief executive of the Centre for Public Inquiry can hold office. This is not public office or somebody in the employ of the State. This is a man whose job, and the jobs of others, have been put in severe jeopardy by the outrageous remarks and abuse of position by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: I do not know of any precedent for this. If we are setting a precedent here, any time this or any other Minister decides to issue surreptitiously information about a citizen or make remarks under parliamentary privilege in reply to a parliamentary question or any other mechanism, are we then to find that the citizen will again find themselves being put before the public spotlight without any right to defence?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: We are setting a very serious precedent if we allow this to proceed in the manner the Taoiseach has proposed. This proposal is a mistake and I strongly oppose it. We need to address the suitability of Deputy McDowell to be a Minister.
Mr. Sargent: Unlike the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform I have confidence in the judicial process. Is it not more correct for the wording under No. a19 to refer to the Minister’s suitability to hold office, rather than to any member of the public who has not been charged or brought to court, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proved otherwise?
Will the Ceann Comhairle reflect on this and allow the Government to amend the wording and focus on the reason for this debate, namely, to allow the Minister explain himself, not anybody else, and not to accuse or charge anybody else without due process? This statement is turning into an accusation, which makes a bad situation worse.
|Ahern, Bertie.||Ahern, Dermot.|
|Ahern, Noel.||Andrews, Barry.|
|Ardagh, Seán.||Blaney, Niall.|
|Brady, Johnny.||Brady, Martin.|
|Brennan, Seamus.||Carey, Pat.|
|Carty, John.||Collins, Michael.|
|Cowen, Brian.||Cregan, John.|
|Cullen, Martin.||Curran, John.|
|Davern, Noel.||de Valera, Síle.|
|Dempsey, Noel.||Dempsey, Tony.|
|Dennehy, John.||Devins, Jimmy.|
|Ellis, John.||Fahey, Frank.|
|Finneran, Michael.||Fitzpatrick, Dermot.|
|Fleming, Seán.||Glennon, Jim.|
|Grealish, Noel.||Hanafin, Mary.|
|Harney, Mary.||Haughey, Seán.|
|Hoctor, Máire.||Jacob, Joe.|
|Keaveney, Cecilia.||Kelleher, Billy.|
|Kelly, Peter.||Kirk, Seamus.|
|Kitt, Tom.||Lenihan, Brian.|
|McDowell, Michael.||McEllistrim, Thomas.|
|Moloney, John.||Moynihan, Donal.|
|Moynihan, Michael.||Mulcahy, Michael.|
|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, Batt.||O’Keeffe, Ned.|
|O’Malley, Fiona.||O’Malley, Tim.|
|Parlon, Tom.||Power, Peter.|
|Roche, Dick.||Sexton, Mae.|
|Smith, Brendan.||Smith, Michael.|
|Treacy, Noel.||Wallace, Dan.|
|Wallace, Mary.||Walsh, Joe.|
|Wilkinson, Ollie.||Woods, Michael.|
|Boyle, Dan.||Cowley, Jerry.|
|Crowe, Seán.||Cuffe, Ciarán.|
|Ferris, Martin.||Gregory, Tony.|
|Healy, Seamus.||Higgins, Joe.|
|McGrath, Finian.||Morgan, Arthur.|
|Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.||Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.|
|Ryan, Eamon.||Sargent, Trevor.|
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: No, I wish to raise the ruling where the Ceann Comhairle has ruled in the past, along with his predecessors. I am asking for his direction on the salient rulings of the Chair as presented on 15 December 2000.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair will communicate with the Deputy. He cannot come into the House to start debates on Standing Orders in the middle of putting a proposal to the House. The Deputy will resume his seat.
Mr. Kenny: We are in the last days of session as Christmas approaches. Last night, just after 11 p.m., I passed by the front gate of Leinster House where Marie Therese O’Loughlin was lying in the freezing fog. Apparently, there is no room at the inn. I understand the State provided the building in which the Morning Star hostel was——
I understand serious concerns have been expressed about the imprisonment of a young Tipperary man in England, Christy McGrath, on a murder charge. Little can be done now about this, but it is an issue of which the Taoiseach might take note. I met members of his family and a support group who are anxious that it is taken up with the British-Irish Interparliamentary Body and the British Prime Minister.
Tá a fhios ag an Taoiseach go mbeidh stádas na Gaeilge ag tosnú go hoifigiúil ar 1 Eanáir an bhliain seo chugainn. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil easpa aistritheoiríón tír seo sa mBruiséil. Cé mhéad aistritheoirí a bheas á gcur ann ag an Rialtas sa dtreo is go mbeidh an stádas curtha i gcrích i gceart?
The Taoiseach: We intend to get it running but there is a question of getting sufficient staff numbers to be able to operate the system. Certain standards must be complied with, not only with Irish but staff having another continental language. We are still doing everything we can to ensure it starts.
Mr. Sargent: Given that my matter was not accepted under Standing Order 31, will a review of emergency procedures in the event of a disaster such as that at Hemel Hempsted be part of the promised national oil reserves agency Bill? I seek some amnesty and clemency for the lady protesting outside the gates of Leinster House given the suffering she has experienced.
The Green Party will write to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges submitting a complaint regarding the decision by the House to vote to collude with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in defamation.
Mr. Quinn: In view of the fact that the services directive proposed by the European Commission has gone through a committee of the European Parliament and is likely to be voted on in plenary session in February next year and in view of the amendments to the directive and its significance for many Irish workers, is it possible for a debate to be arranged in Government time when the House resumes in January to discuss this matter and have the position of the Government known before the vote is taken in the Parliament?
Mr. Naughten: When will the Adoptive Leave Bill and Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill, which have been before the House for the past two years, be enacted? When will we see the legislation to implement the additional maternity leave announced in the budget last week? Will the Taoiseach facilitate the introduction of such legislation at an early date in order that parents who have children prior to 1 March can avail of the measure?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: I know the Ceann Comhairle has so ruled but I will say it, as everybody else has done, because I know he treats us all exactly the same. Will the Taoiseach be good enough to reply to the correspondence I issued to him making an appeal on behalf of the lady in question?
Given that the Dáil has taken the decision to endorse the position of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform on his despicable action towards a person outside the House and in contravention——
Mr. Stagg: I asked the Taoiseach previously to keep an eye on the broadcasting Bill to ensure it is introduced by the Minister as quickly as possible. When can we expect the Bill? I hope it will be before the House in February.
Mr. J. Higgins: Regarding the Tánaiste’s most recent manifestation as a female variety of Scrooge when she called for workers protesting last Friday to be docked their wages, does the Government agree with her position and did she dock her salary when she took time off to open an off-licence down the country last year?
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