Order of Business.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 615 No. 73

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Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism (Mr. O’Donoghue): Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is proposed to take No. 10, motion re presentation and circulation of Revised Estimates 2006; No. 10a, motion re referral to Select Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Finance Act 2004 (Section 91) (Deferred Surrender to the Central Fund) Order 2006; No. 10b, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of proposals for a regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the law applicable to contractual obligations — Rome 1, Council regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and co-operation in matters relating to maintenance obligations, and Council decision annexed to the communication from the Commission to the Council, calling on the Council to provide for measures relating to maintenance obligations; and No. 1, Social Welfare Law Reform and Pensions Bill 2006 — Second Stage, resumed.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 10, 10a and 10b shall be decided without debate and in the case of No. 10 any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Pray for us.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 10, 10a, and 10b without debate agreed?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Neither the Taoiseach nor the Tánaiste is in the House, which is not very conducive to doing business in the way we would like. I understand that in respect of No. 10a, referral to select committee of the proposed approval by the Dáil of the Finance Act (Section 91) (Deferred Surrender to the Central Fund) Order 2006, there was agreement at the Whips’ meeting last night that the Government would refer back to the Opposition Whips. The Government did not revert back, however, yet this appears on the Order Paper. May I have an explanation from the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism why this happened?

[881]Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Some time ago, the Minister for Finance had to apologise in the Dáil for the Estimates being wrong because €56 million had gone missing, AWOL or whatever, from the Department of Health and Children. There is a lot of confusion. Was the money spent? Was it in the capital Estimate or did it go on current spending?

When the Revised Estimates were published, we were promised a detailed explanation of what happened. Today we are presented with the schedule for Revised Estimates and for the capital carryover of €289 million. This figure relates to areas such as transport, money which the Government was not able to spend and which it is carrying over to 2006. However, €56 million is unaccounted for with regard to the health Vote. When the Minister for Finance made his unprecedented and very embarrassing apology to this House some time ago, we were promised an explanation, but we are now being fobbed off. All is to be rushed through with no debate or explanation, and there is no Tánaiste.

Last night the Labour Party Whip was promised the Government would allow time for debate. A sum of €56 million is not much to the Government but it is a lot to the people on trolleys. We want an explanation of where is the taxpayers’ money. We object to Nos. 10 and 10a proceeding without debate by the Government.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  With regard to Nos. 10 and 10a, it is a constitutional function of this House to be responsible for the sanctioning of expenditure. For the Government to propose that this function should be delegated to a committee for decision, without further debate in this House, is a negation of the responsibility of the Government and undermines the work of this House. It is not simply the usual set of Revised Estimates we are looking at, but expenditure in the range of €290 million, in the month of February. On those grounds the Government must set aside time for a proper perusal, examination and critique of these figures. Otherwise the relevance of this House will be further lessened.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  No. 10 is a motion re the presentation and circulation of Revised Estimates 2006. Perhaps the Revised Estimates have been circulated to Deputy Burton but I have not seen them. I am not aware they have been circulated. Have other Deputies received the circulated Revised Estimates 2006? I doubt they are here at all. If other Deputies can show they have them, well and good, something has gone amiss in terms of the pigeonhole delivery, but I do not know that they are here. Has this information been circulated or are we being asked to sanction something on the blind without any sight of what is involved? I would like clarification of that. Has this information been circulated or are we simply [882]being asked to rubber-stamp Revised Estimates when we have no sight of what is being proposed? If other Deputies have the information I will accept it has been circulated and it has not reached my office. However, I doubt if it has been circulated.

With regard to No. 10a, referral to select committee of the proposed approval by the Dáil of the Finance Act (Section 91) (Deferred Surrender to the Central Fund) Order 2006, multi-annual programming and budgeting with regard to capital projects is welcome, but let us see what is included in the schedule. I note that under the provision of local authority and social housing programme, €73 million is provided at a time when the need for social housing across the State is imperative, and projects are failing to move forward with the required speed and alacrity. Questions must be asked, and referral to the select committee as a mechanism of avoiding full scrutiny in the Chamber is not acceptable.

While I understand that all this relates to capital allocations, with a title on each item — it may well be that this is a technical requirement — all items are explained as being for salaries and expenses. Every one of the Department’s allocations begins with the salaries and expenses, and that is not capital spending in anyone’s understanding.

These issues must be addressed and answers must be given this morning. These are the reasons we should not refer this to committee without debate. Real and substantive issues are involved. As Deputy Burton said, under No. 10a we are looking at a sum just short of €300 million and we cannot allow these proposals to proceed without debate in this Chamber. I ask the Minister for clarification on the points I have raised and an acceptance that a full debate and scrutiny should take place in this Chamber.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I understand from the Government Chief Whip that communication was made by fax with the Whips of the various parties to explain to them why there could not be a debate on these motions today.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, that is not true. There was an agreement at the Whips’ meeting last night that with regard to Nos. 10 and 10a, the Office of the Government Chief Whip would refer back to us on foot of our request for a debate in the House, but we had no further contact. That is a fact.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  A fax was sent to Deputy Stagg’s office last night.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When the fax machine broke down during certain extradition order proceedings, the Government moved fairly quickly.

[883]Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  A fax was sent to explain the position to the Whips. No. 10 is a standard motion put before the Dáil each year. Before Revised Estimates can be presented and circulated to Members, the agreement of the Dáil must first be obtained by way of a motion. There is no great mystery about it.

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  There is about the €56 million.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  With regard to 10a, the motion to allow for the carryover of unspent capital included in the Appropriation Act 2005, to be spent in 2006, the Minister for Finance is required to make an order no later than 31 March. Clearly the carryover sum of unspent capital from the previous year could not be spent on the particular capital purposes until the order is approved by Dáil Éireann and signed by the Minister.

In regard to what Deputy Burton said, the Minister for Finance, in his statement to the Dáil last January, referred to information which had been received from the Department of Health and Children, which had been advised by the Health Service Executive that there could be some alterations to its estimated 2005 outturn.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister sounds like a tailor changing his clothes.

[884]Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Department of Health and Children has subsequently indicated the definitive position on capital spending in 2005 in the HSE area will not be known until the end of March when the HSE’s appropriation accounts will be finalised.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  That is a crazy system.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Accordingly, no provision for capital carryover is being made in respect of the HSE. This is a simple and straightforward explanation.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  It explains much.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Does the Minister understand?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is also the case that Nos. 10 and 10a will be discussed and scrutinised in committee in accordance with precedent. There is no mystery.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Why did the Government not refer back to the Opposition Whips?

Ms Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I wish to raise a point of order on the Minister’s statement.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 10, 10a and 10b be agreed to”.

[883]The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 52.

Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. 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 Seamus Brennan  Zoom on Seamus Brennan  Brennan, Seamus. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Joe Callanan  Zoom on Joe Callanan  Callanan, Joe. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Michael Collins  Zoom on Michael Collins  Collins, Michael.
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 Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Dermot Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
Information on Jim Glennon  Zoom on Jim Glennon  Glennon, Jim. Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Joe Jacob  Zoom on Joe Jacob  Jacob, Joe.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor. Information on Michael McDowell  Zoom on Michael McDowell  McDowell, Michael.
Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
Information on Donal Moynihan  Zoom on Donal Moynihan  Moynihan, Donal. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on 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 Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Tim O'Malley  Zoom on Tim O'Malley  O’Malley, Tim. Information on Tom Parlon  Zoom on Tom Parlon  Parlon, Tom.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Mae Sexton  Zoom on Mae Sexton  Sexton, Mae.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Michael Smith  Zoom on Michael Smith  Smith, Michael.
Information on Joe Walsh  Zoom on Joe Walsh  Walsh, Joe. Information on Ollie Wilkinson  Zoom on Ollie Wilkinson  Wilkinson, Ollie.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


[885]Níl
Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Paudge Connolly  Zoom on Paudge Connolly  Connolly, Paudge.
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 Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán.
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 Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian.
Information on Paul McGrath  Zoom on Paul McGrath  McGrath, Paul. Information on Paddy McHugh  Zoom on Paddy McHugh  McHugh, Paddy.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. 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 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 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 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 David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.

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

[885]Question declared carried.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, so the House was not inadvertently misled, I checked with the other Opposition Whips and none of them received any communication from the Government Whip’s office about the matter, as was claimed.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  My reliable information is that the faxes were sent.

Mr. English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  Did the Minister receive a fax from Deputies behind him?

  11 o’clock

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I note the Taoiseach and Tánaiste are not present. The country was taken aback by the extraordinary announcement by the Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science, Deputy de Valera, that she made an agreement with the Taoiseach on 6 November to resign her seat this December. The internal perks associated with ministerial office seem to be of more importance to Fianna Fáil backbenchers than any other issue in the country, such as the 400 patients on trolleys, job losses or accident and emergency units. I see Deputy Martin Brady, the third socialist, has risen in the ratings as a dark horse and is in line for promotion.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  That will keep them quiet.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Either a former Taoiseach was correct in stating that the current Taoiseach is the most cunning of them all in that if Deputy de Valera’s post is not filled by Deputy Haughey, then [886]a de Valera and a Haughey will be gone in one stroke, or perhaps the Ceann Comhairle is being called into question because a watching brief is being kept by Deputy Smith from the back benches.

Is an amendment to the Ministers and Ministers of State Bill proposed to allow Ministers of State to decide when they can leave or change positions? I note that in the case of the Minister of State, Deputy Gallagher, when the going got tough the Cope got going. It seems Ministers of State can change jobs at will.

Mr. O’Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  The Opposition will not have that problem for a long time.

Mr. S. Power: Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  They are changing as often as Opposition leaders.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill has provoked contentious debate over the past three or four weeks. Deputies Perry and Broughan made strong arguments for fines being levied on an administrative basis. At yesterday’s Fianna Fáil Party meeting, 15 rebel Deputies met the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources who proposed legislation within months to deal with administrative fines. A letter was circulated by the Taoiseach explaining technical details of how one decides what an administrative fine might be or otherwise.

This legislation does not appear on the A, B or C list of the Government legislation programme. Is it a Government decision that legislation will be published to deal with the administrative fines issue, as proposed by Deputy Perry, Deputy [887]Broughan and others? When will we see this Bill or is this a face-saving exercise for behind the closed doors of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party rooms? The third socialist, Deputy Brady, who is in line for this job, is interested in this question.

Mr. S. Ryan: Information on Seán Ryan  Zoom on Seán Ryan  He is the third man.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Is it Deputy Johnny Brady?

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Martin Brady.

(Interruptions).

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is no promised legislation on Ministers or Ministers of State, no more than there is planned legislation to prevent the speedy rotation of Fine Gael leaders.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Tell them that at the Great Southern Hotel.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill has passed all Stages in the House and the Minister, in the context of the discussions, has stated he is willing to meet the industry after the Bill is enacted to discuss the future development of the industry.

Mr. Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Is further legislation planned?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Those discussions can address the potential, within the context of developing the Common Fisheries Policy, to introduce a system of administrative penalties at a future date.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Is the Government resolved to proceeding with the sale of the Great Southern Hotels? Will the Minister inform the House whether it is intended to sell them as a going concern? I have a sheaf of statements by him to Kerry’s Eye, The Kerryman and The Sunday Business Post. The Minister told The Sunday Business Post that as far as he was concerned the hotels should stay in State ownership for the reasons he described to that publication. Will the Minister meet representatives of the staff? Will he say whether the hotels will be sold as a going concern or as a different kind of arrangement?

The second matter I wish to raise relates to correspondence I had with the Minister on 1 July, when I enclosed relevant court documents relating to a person appointed to the board of Bord na gCon. On 15 June, the Minister stated to Deputy Hogan: “I am not aware of any appointees to State boards under the auspices of my Department currently disqualified from holding a directorship of a private company.”

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  On promised legislation.

[888]Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Minister was aware on 1 July when I wrote to him. I enclosed the documents. A person was disqualified for five years from holding any directorship in a private company and six different interests in Bord na gCon had made representations to the Minister not to appoint him. The Minister proceeded——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The matter is not appropriate on the Order of Business.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It seems that the Minister misled me, Deputy Hogan and the House. I ask him to take the opportunity to put that right and state why he went ahead and appointed this person.

Mr. McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  What about the hotels?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Neither of these issues arises on the Order of Business.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Why is the Minister standing up in that case?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Minister for Transport has met and is meeting management and unions on the Great Southern Hotels issue. The situation relating to the individual referred to by Deputy Rabbitte has been explained to him in writing and he knows what it states.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What did the Minister tell the staff in Killarney?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It states the individual was appointed following legal advice.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  He stated he would not be back if they were sold.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On promised legislation, I will ask the Minister about an issue near and dear to his heart, namely, the electronic deficiencies in the Black Valley in his constituency, which does not have an ordinary or proper telephone service. Any signals there are bad. The Minister has an opportunity to make the quantum leap and indicate how he can deal with it in the context of the electronic communications miscellaneous provisions Bill.

Since the Minister has the dambusters beside him, it is an appropriate time to ask about the hydro potential of the Dublin Port tunnel. In this context, the energy miscellaneous provisions Bill comes into focus as to how soon he will be able to encourage the relevant Minister. I see the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Brennan, is smiling. As it was he who invented the port tunnel, I would not smile too much about it. Anybody going through it will have to carry an umbrella. Perhaps the Minister might indicate on both the Black Valley and the energy miscellaneous provisions Bill.

[889]Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I greatly appreciate the unprecedented interest in my constituency.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Someone has to have it.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The electronic communications miscellaneous provisions Bill will be in 2006. The energy miscellaneous provisions Bill will be this session.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  No umbrellas.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Will the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, a former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, inform the House when he expects to receive the Dalton report from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform? Will he make time available for it to be debated in the House? In that context, will he address the clear bias that exists whereby dogs, horses and fat cats are healthier under this Government than ordinary men, women and children, given that €1 out of every €3 spent on sport is spent on horses and greyhounds? In that context also, will the Minister return to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and take responsibility for the coroners Bill, given that so many deaths are due to obesity and low exercise levels? Perhaps it needs to be addressed as a precaution rather than a cure.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I do not know when Mr. Dalton will report. The question of whether it can be debated in the House will be discussed by the Whips at that time. I understand the coroners Bill will be this year.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I am glad to hear the coroners Bill will be this year as it was one of my questions. In light of the serious revelations in Cavan regarding the death of Jamie Maughan and that a Brazilian national absconded with the help of the Brazilian Embassy before the inquest in the case had been held, it is vital that the coroners Bill be dealt with as quickly as possible and whatever changes necessary be made to it.

In light of the serious situation concerning many pure bred herds being cleared out by TB and the fact that the evaluation is unacceptable, when will the animal health Bill be brought before the House to allow us to discuss it?

Given yesterday’s announcement that work will commence on the Northern end of the Ulster Canal, is there a possibility that the law will be changed in this jurisdiction? It was closed down as a result of the failure of the Government to re-establish the Northern Assembly. Waterways Ireland was put on hold——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should pursue that matter by way of parliamentary question

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It is urgent because if the Northern end of the Ulster Canal has started——

[890]An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The matter is not in order on the Order of Business.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  ——why on earth can we not start the Southern end at a time when the Minister in charge sent back €12 million?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  On promised legislation.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Legislation is needed. It was brought into place——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is not promised.

Mr. Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  It must be dealt with urgently.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister will promise it now.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The heads of the animal health Bill have been approved. However, it is not possible to indicate at this stage when the Bill will be completed.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Given the recent deportations of 13 Chinese nationals and the suggestion that some of them might be subject to the death penalty when they arrive home, did the Government receive assurances from the Chinese Government that the death penalty would not be imposed on these people?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should pursue that by way of parliamentary question. It is not in order on the Order of Business.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It is a Government decision arising out of legislation. It is a legislative matter under immigration legislation. It involves the question of reassurances from states which have the death penalty, whether we deport nationals to them and what reassurances we receive.

The Minister has responsibility for tourism. This weekend my constituency will be visited by some of the brethren from Northern Ireland who will march from Parnell Square to the Dáil. Why was that particular route chosen, considering it is a route——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  It is not related to promised legislation. It is not in order.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I presume the Minister was involved because of the tourism aspect. Would he not consider re-routing the march considering the rather provocative route through my constituency that was chosen——

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Ring of Kerry.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy can pursue that matter in other ways.

[891]Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——past the GPO to the Dáil? Would it be more appropriate for the march to come from the south side——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Minister on promised legislation.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——from Merrion Square to the Dáil? I ask the Minister to reassess the situation.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The immigration and residence Bill will be published this year. I must take issue with Deputy Costello. Legislation does not derive its authority from the Government but from the Legislature.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Minister indicated that the heads of the health Bill have been agreed. Will he indicate, in line with the Taoiseach’s statement to the House yesterday, when the heads of the Bill will be published? Will they be shared with health spokespersons promptly, in line with the Taoiseach’s preference that the heads of a Bill would be shared well in advance? Publication of the legal costs Bill, No. 69 on the list of promised legislation, is expected in 2007 but given the exorbitant fees charged by senior barristers in particular, and which cost the State an excessive sum, will the Minister intervene with his colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to have this legislation brought forward and addressed this year?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The legal costs Bill is expected in 2007.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  What about the health Bill to which the Minister referred in his earlier response to Deputy Crawford?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If the Deputy can specify the health Bill he means we can discuss it. There are several on the order paper.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is the animal health Bill.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Given the carnage we have had on the roads recently, I hoped to ask a question of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, but he left. Perhaps he has gone to try to block the hole in the Dublin Port tunnel. Will the Government lead by example by having State cars obey the law and drive within the speed limit? I ask the Minister to review the provision that allows State cars to break the law. I also ask that the Government stop the practice of providing Garda outriders to escort foreign dignitaries and put those gardaí on the roads to do the job for which we pay them and which we want them to do, namely to manage traffic.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The question is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

[892]Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The Government should lead by example. We should not have one law for the dictators in Government and another for the ordinary people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This cannot be discussed.

Mr. Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Will the Minister consider driving within the speed limits like everybody else?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The roads miscellaneous provisions Bill is expected this year. It is nice to see Deputy Ring coming closer to the front again.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is not very artistic.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Bearing in mind that the Parental Leave (Amendment) Bill is time-constrained for those who await it, when is it expected to reappear in committee?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is a matter for the committee.

Ms Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  On the basis that committees have a majority of Government Deputies and are usually chaired by Government Deputies it is a matter for the Minister who heads the Department to ensure that it comes before the committee. It is time-constrained. Women who are pregnant or who have already had their babies could be excluded from availing of it if it does not come before the committee soon. For that reason the Opposition did not delay the Bill.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I accept the genuineness of Deputy Lynch’s case but as she knows, this is a matter for the committee.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order it is not entirely a matter for the committee. This House, on the advice of the Government can order the committee to expedite the Bill and bring it in within the time limit, but it does not want to.

Mr. Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  In the past four Government legislative programmes a commitment was made that the Abbotstown sports campus development authority Bill would be published the following term. It has gone on for two and a half years. The Minister has responsibility for this area——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  This has already been raised this week.

Mr. Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  It has not been raised this morning. Will the Minister give a commitment that he will publish the Bill in this session? Work will commence shortly in Abbotstown and other issues surround the National Aquatic Centre. Will the Minister give a commitment that we will not go to the sixth session of the Dáil legislative programme without a response to this?

[893]Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The text of the Bill was approved by the Government approximately two weeks ago and it is anticipated that the Bill will be published in a matter of days.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  The people of Ballycroy, County Mayo have been awaiting clean water for many years. Out of the goodness of his heart a man delivers water to old people. The water has been tested, I saw the results and it is perfect. The Health Service Executive is trying to stop this man doing the job it should do. If it stops this man doing a labour of mercy surely it can be compelled to give those people water.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not relevant to the Order of Business. The Deputy could raise the matter a number of other ways — on the adjournment or by parliamentary question. Matters raised on the Order of Business must relate to promised legislation.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  Every second person who has breast cancer in the west of Ireland has a mastectomy. In the Dublin area it is one in five. Professor Michael Kerin, a former director of BreastCheck, works in Galway and is horrified the people will have to wait until 2009 for the BreastCheck service. That is ridiculous considering all the money that is available. This morning I said 200 people in the west and south would die in the meantime because of the lack of BreastCheck but I revise that to 300. Surely the Government has some money to give to provide the BreastCheck service for those people.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy should raise the matter in an orderly way.

Dr. Cowley: Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley  It is terrible that one in five breast cancer patients have a mastectomy in the east compared to one in two in the west. I hope the Minister will respond.

Mr. Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  With regard to the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill, is the letter issued by the Taoiseach not a case of Fianna Fáil at its best? In the letter, he failed to indicate that he intervened with the European Commissioner to get a vessel owner benefit-in-kind of €100 million. It put huge pressure on the pelagic sector with regard to administrative sanctions. The Bill was completed yesterday and the Taoiseach issued a letter to every backbencher indicating that something could be promised in the future.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not on the Order of Business.

Mr. Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  This Taoiseach with the Minister intervened in Europe and gave one vessel owner benefit-in-kind of €100 million and the Minister went to Europe and conceded 6,000 tonnes and 35,000 tonnes over a phased period. With regard to inland fisheries, what is now happening in light [894]of the report of Farrell Grant Sparks outlining dramatic recommendations——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy is not in order in pursuing this.

Mr. Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  This is on promised legislation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Deputies may ask when promised legislation will be introduced but may not discuss the legislation. It is out of order to attempt to discuss the contents of the legislation.

Mr. Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  The Taoiseach and the Government gave benefit in kind to one vessel owner of €100 million——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy has other ways of pursuing that matter.

Mr. Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  The Taoiseach yesterday issued a letter to every backbencher as an appeasement. The same 12 Deputies yesterday voted for the Bill. That is Fianna Fáil at its best.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  The Deputy will resume his seat.

Dr. Upton: Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Ireland has recently been described as the “puppy farming capital of Europe”. When will the protracted consultation process by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government be complete and regulations introduced to control this barbaric practice? Regulations were promised by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The best we can do is to ask the Minister to reply directly to the Deputy.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Does the Government intend to introduce an amendment to the State Airports Act, given that the basis on which that Act was passed has irrevocably changed and independent airport authorities can be established in Cork, Dublin and Shannon without Cork Airport being saddled with historical debt? Will the Minister comment on the fact that the mediator appointed by the Minister for Transport has worked with the Dublin Airport Authority?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not on the Order of Business.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  I have asked about legislation, an amendment of the State Airports Act. The basis on which that Act was passed has changed and this House needs to give further consideration to that legislation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  No legislation has been promised.

[895]Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When can we have a debate in this House on the Madden report on the retention of organs of deceased children? Will the Minister confirm that the 54 boxes of documents delivered to Ms Justice Dunne, who is doing the initial report, will not be destroyed? Will the Minister see to it that the helpline being set up under the Madden report, as announced by the Tánaiste, actually works?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will he advise the House as to when the working group will commence, which was recommended in the Madden report?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  These are not matters for the Order of Business.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Madden report was presented and published and these are issues which should be discussed. I am asking the Minister if he can confirm that there will be a debate on it at an appropriate time.

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is no difficulty about the Whips discussing that. On a point raised earlier by Deputy Stagg, regarding faxes, I have a broadcast report which shows that they were sent last night between 6.02 p.m and 6.10 p.m.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What numbers were they sent to?

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  They were sent to the Fine Gael Whip, the Labour Whip, Deputy Kehoe, the PD Whip, the Green Party Whip, Sinn Féin and Deputies Gregory and Boyle.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What is the fax number of the Fine Gael Whip? What number was it sent to?

Mr. Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  On a point of order, I checked with the Fine Gael Whip’s office this morning and under no circumstances is there a fax. I stand over what I am saying.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison  Zoom on Séamus Pattison  Perhaps the matter can be——

Mr. O’Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am just trying to be fair to the staff in the Whip’s office who are most co-operative, helpful and very efficient.

Mr. Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I shall be very fair as well and I see the staff as very efficient and helpful. If what the Minister says is factual I am sure there is some malfunction somewhere, but the faxes did not arrive.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Kitt): Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  On a final point of order, as someone who believes we have an honourable working relationship, I shall be glad to discuss this afterwards. Those are the facts I have with [896]regard to this fax. I am more than happy to discuss the matter with the Whips. In the context of the tradition of honourable working relationships in the House, it is important to sort this matter out. That is the information we have, and I was anxious to share it with the House.


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