Wednesday, 24 May 2006
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 12, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, back from committee; No. 13, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Freedom of Information Act 1997 (Prescribed Bodies) Regulations 2006, back from committee; No. 13a, motion re membership of committee; No. 20, Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2006 — Second Stage, resumed; and No. 3, Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Bill 2006 [Seanad]— Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 12, 13 and 13a should be decided without debate. Private Members’ business shall be No. 54, motion re drug abuse, resumed, to conclude at 8.30 p.m.
Mr. Boyle: I refer to No. 13. When will the House have an opportunity to have a more wide-ranging debate on freedom of information and the comments made by the Freedom of Information Commissioner regarding those bodies which have yet to be placed on the list of bodies which are open to the Freedom of Information Act?
Mr. Kenny: I wish to ask the Taoiseach two questions. First, last week I referred to the demise of the National Rehabilitation Board and noted the organisation had 184 members of staff in 2000. I quoted to the Taoiseach the relevant two statutory instruments. One of the employees has contested the case through the courts for six years and that case has been vindicated. Under the statutory instruments, the same statutory rights apply to the other employees who were employed by the board at that time. Will the Taoiseach indicate, whenever he receives the information, what will be the response in dealing with those outstanding claims which deal with abolition of office, pension rights and so on?
Second, I note that according to the legislative programme, it is expected that a Bill will be published some time this year for the development of an inland waterways authority. It will deal with the existing fisheries boards and a reduction in the numbers thereof. However, the Farrell Grant Sparks report has never been debated in the House. From my dealing with the personnel involved, it is clear that much work must be done in terms of sustaining the value and potential of the industry locally and from the perspectives of tourism and fishing.
Work continues on the national inland fisheries authority Bill to establish the national inland fisheries authority, which will subsume the executive functions of the existing central and regional fisheries boards. It is hoped to have the Bill later in 2006.
Mr. Rabbitte: Everyone except Members of this House appears to possess a copy of the Dalton report on Bord na gCon, or appears to have a partial, leaked version of it. One suspects the motives behind such partial leaking.
Mr. Rabbitte: I note the Minister made two new appointments to Bord na gCon yesterday. When will Members receive the full, unexpurgated version of the Dalton report in order that they can assess what is happening and who is spinning against whom?
The Taoiseach: As I stated, we are bound by the agreement and by natural justice to provide a period and I understand that will expire next week, after which we must return to this issue. As the relevant sections of the report have been given to the relevant individuals, people did not receive the full report. Obviously, there is a battle going on for comments on this, which is unhelpful. The Minister has asked people a number of times to stop, but he has been ignored. We have been advised, given our system of natural justice, that we must allow a certain period to elapse. While we considered publication of the full report, given what was happening, we were advised not to do so. Hence, we will see the period through and will deal with the issue thereafter.
Mr. Gormley: Last week I raised on the Adjournment the proposed housing miscellaneous provisions Bill and the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Noel Ahern, said that it is important legislation concerning tenant purchase and anti-social behaviour in local authority housing developments. This is important legislation for many people——
The Taoiseach: There are two Bills. The housing miscellaneous provisions Bill will provide for a rental accommodation scheme and a revised tenant purchase scheme allowing for the sale of flats, as well as strengthening local authority powers to deal with anti-social behaviour. The heads of that Bill are expected shortly. Depending on when it is ready, the Bill will then be sent for drafting. It is important legislation and the heads of the Bill will be available before the summer. Thereafter it will be sent for drafting as soon as possible.
Mr. Durkan: In the context of promised legislation, will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to make use of the interregnum between now and the hand-over of Eircom to new management to redefine and redevelop the programme for the delivery of broadband and associated telecommunications services?
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: On Monday, the Government signed an agreement between the European Union and Morocco to rob the fishing rights of the people of Western Sahara, a nation illegally occupied by Morocco.
Mr. G. Mitchell: Following a private Members’ Bill that I published, the Tánaiste told the House that the Government would introduce legislation on votes for prisoners. Last week when I asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, he said that he was not aware of any such proposal. Can the Taoiseach confirm that legislation will be introduced to give votes to prisoners as was promised in the House?
Mr. Stagg: A few weeks ago I asked the Taoiseach about the broadcasting Bill and a very nice man from either his Department or the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources rang and updated me immediately afterwards. Is there any more news as it is getting later?
Mr. Crawford: Some 18 years ago a constituent of mine bought land from the Land Commission, but the records cannot be found anywhere now. When will the land conveyancing Bill be brought before the House so that we can at least discuss it and discover where it has gone?
Mr. Deenihan: Further to what Deputy Rabbitte said about the Dalton report, will the Taoiseach give an assurance that the report will be discussed in the House as soon as possible? I ask the Taoiseach to carry out an investigation into the leaks that the media stated came from Government sources.
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