Order of Business.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 676 No. 5

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 4, Investment of the National Pensions Reserve Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2009 — Second and Remaining Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m; and (2) the following arrangements shall apply in regard to No. 4: the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage shall, if not [27]previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. today; and the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance.

Private Members’ Business shall be No. 53, motion re public finances (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 4 agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It is not agreed. I object on the basis of the guillotine, which I raised previously.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is not agreed. The Taoiseach conceded the point yesterday by agreeing not to impose a guillotine on Second Stage in yesterday’s business and it was extended to 1.30 p.m. this afternoon. However, this technical Bill is a momentous piece of legislation in the history of the Houses of the Oireachtas given all that is involved in it. It deserves the full opportunity for participation of all opinion in this House and the guillotine should not be applied. It is wrong in this instance. Full and maximum participation should be accommodated and I strongly object to the imposition of the guillotine on both Second and Remaining Stages.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We oppose the principle of a guillotine being applied but we recognise the urgency of the measure before the House. We had guillotines on debates last week and this week, and I ask the Government to ensure this does not become the norm.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I do not propose to seek a division but we should not have guillotines and I said this to the Whip.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 4 be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  What is the status of the Programme for Government 2007-2012? It contains a series of commitments, some to be introduced in legislation. Given the financial circumstances that apply, what is the relevance of the document agreed between the Government parties?

In light of the news that emerged in the past two days, has the Taoiseach made arrangements to ground helicopters for Ministers?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is relevant to the public finances.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The only thing one can fly in here is a kite.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Under the legislation governing this, has the Taoiseach made arrangements to review the process in order that this situation will not arise again? I am sure he has.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As with all programmes for Government, there is financial provision in our programme, which confirms that all commitments are subject to maintaining order in the public finances.

[28]Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  It will all be abandoned anyway.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Clearly, the public finances have deteriorated. The various departmental annual statements confirm the priorities to which Ministers are working arising from the programme for Government but, clearly, not all of them will be implemented, given resources sufficient for their implementation will not be available.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  They are not following the programme.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Most of it is meaningless.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Taoiseach in the course of his opening address to the Fianna Fáil Ard Fheis last Friday evening indicated it was the Government’s intention to reduce the limits for declaration of contributions to political parties. When will the legislation be introduced to do that? How will that be squared with the ethics legislation currently before the House, which provides for increases in declaration limits for various matters? Is it intended to amend the ethics Bill to reflect the intention announced by the Taoiseach on Friday night, which I welcome?

I refer again to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s statement that Ireland should withdraw from the European Defence Agency, EDA, to help persuade the public to back the Lisbon treaty and yesterday’s newspaper report that he intended to raise it at a Cabinet sub-committee.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No legislation is promised in that area.

  12 o’clock

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  A referendum has been promised by the Taoiseach and legislation will have to be introduced to enable that to happen. Discussions have taken place between the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Opposition parties about the matters under discussion between the Government and our European partners on this issue. To my knowledge, withdrawal from the EDA is not part of that. I invite the Taoiseach again to state clearly whether the Government is seeking to withdraw Ireland from the agency.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That would be an interesting parliamentary question for the Deputy to table in due course but it is not in order now. I call the Taoiseach on the first question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am guided by the Ceann Comhairle’s direction.

Regarding the first matter, as I have said, legislation will now be prepared to be enacted before any referendum would take place in order that the same rules that apply to political parties would apply to everyone conducting campaigns on the matter.

The Deputy has raised with me an issue regarding the ethics Bill, but I will have to come back to him on that to see if there are any implications.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  What about the European Defence Agency? Are we withdrawing from it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy well knows that this matter is the subject matter of a parliamentary question.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  That never stopped the Ceann Comhairle previously.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We must make some effort to stay in order.

[29]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is a new dispensation, as the man might say.

A Deputy:  It is Lent.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Last night, an 85 year old lady in a serious condition was referred to Beaumont Hospital from a nursing home.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  What is the legislation?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is before me. Since the hospital was full, she was asked to go to the Mater Hospital. It was also full, so the ambulance took her to St. James’s Hospital, which refused her admission because it had not been officially informed that Beaumont Hospital was off call. She was referred to Tallaght Hospital, which——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This is not relevant. I must ask the Deputy to stay in order.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——stated that she might need to go to Mullingar. The question is——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should ask a question that is in order.

(Interruptions).

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is a disgraceful way to treat any citizen.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is midday. The Deputy should ask a question that is in order.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is a matter of eligibility. When will the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill be introduced and will it have real meaning for people, given that some must suffer this sort of indignation and treatment?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I stated last week, it is not possible to indicate a date for that legislation.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  There has been much barking by the Government on the issue of the regulation of dogs, but no action. In light of a number of horrific accidents caused by certain breeds, when can we expect the control of dogs amendment Bill to be tabled before the House?

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  It is a dog’s life.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It will be later in the year.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Regarding the budget, what is the position on Estimates? This budget will probably be larger than last October’s.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We will not go into the budget and Estimates.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I simply want to know the procedures. What is the situation regarding Estimates and the provision of information? We have no expenditure guidelines or outlines. By now, each Department’s Estimates should be on their way to the different committees. Is the Government suspending all of that procedure? Will we get any information on the Estimates? The Government is asking us for proposals.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy has made her point.

[30]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is difficult to take a shot in the dark, given the fact that the Government has not given us the information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Will the Taoiseach make the information available?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is an interesting comment from Deputy Burton on the basis that she claims she has been making a lot of proposals in recent times. Concerning the budgetary procedure itself, we have indicated that the magnitude of the challenge facing us and the need for a stabilisation plan that will incorporate a supplementary budget will now take priority. I do not see a reason that Revised Estimates Volumes would now be published, since all of those will have to be reviewed on the basis of decisions to be taken during the course of this month in respect of expenditure issues. I would suggest that the Estimates Volumes would be printed after the decisions are taken when the budget is being brought to the House.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Briefly——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach has answered the question.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  What about the work on Estimates normally done by committees at approximately this time? The Taoiseach stated that it was a great improvement on Dáil procedures, but we are being asked to go without information.

Is the Commission on Taxation operating in a separate parallel universe with no input into the budgetary process?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that now. The Taoiseach has answered the question.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We were promised a report, but will that be in June, September or some other time? The commission is also working on the tax figures and the fairness of the tax system, which is a critical issue for this party.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is a critical issue for our party and this Government, I assure the Deputy. It is why we introduced——

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Tell that to the public servants.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——we introduced the Commission for Taxation, the first one in 30 years. In fact, public servants and other low income workers are paying a lot less tax under this Administration than they paid under the Administration of which Deputy Stagg was a member.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Taking 3% off cleaning ladies. It is not fair.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Just to remind the Deputy, the tax rate used to be 26% after the first £84, so I do not need any lectures from him on how progressive we have made the tax system during the good times.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Grossly unfair.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The important point is that it will now have to be adapted to the new circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Regarding the Commission on Taxation, which has been mentioned, the Minister for Finance has already indicated in last night’s debate that he expected that it will be brought forward in the late summer. I can make the point here that, clearly, whatever taxation decisions are to be [31]taken in the immediate period ahead, there will be a further consideration of taxation policy arising out of that commission report when it comes before us. The chairman will be in a position to update the Minister verbally in terms of where issues are at the moment.

There is important and comprehensive work being done on a range of areas. It will have a major input into the consideration of tax policy for 2010, 2011, 2012 and on. It does not in any way mitigate against the need to take decisions now regarding the immediate emerging position for this year. The Commission on Taxation will have an important strategic view to put forward in the context of taxation policy.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That implies that we are discussing levies——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must ask Deputy Burton to table questions on any other issues that she wishes to raise to the Minister for Finance.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——and increases in excise duty for this supplementary budget and no significant changes in tax structures——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have this level of detail concerning a promised supplementary budget on the Order of Business.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——because we will not have the commission’s report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Burton must resume her seat, as she has contributed twice.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Are we discussing doubling or trebling the levy?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Everything is on the table.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is clearly what you are discussing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If the Deputy wishes to discuss detail, she must table a question to the Minister for Finance.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Everything is on the table, including the Deputy’s proposals.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  It is difficult to get a word in between two heavyweights. While I would not normally get involved in this matter, the country needs someone with vision, not historians, but that is all to be found on the other side of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should ask a question that is in order.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  As we speak, a man called John Scannell is being buried in Cork. This matter relates to legislation. The man spent a year in a coma after being pulled out of a river. Due to severe brain damage, he never regained consciousness. He threw himself into the river because he had been discharged from a psychiatric unit despite the fact that he told those running the unit he was suicidal. Whenever I asked the Minister for Health and Children about the issue, she told me that she would revert to the HSE. As the Ceann Comhairle and I know, John is not the only such person.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Unfortunately, we cannot go into that now.

[32]Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Under the mental health amendment Bill, when will we see some procedure and protocol addressing those who present at psychiatric units declaring their suicidal tendencies? When will the Bill be introduced? It is No. 67 on the list.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I convey my sympathies to the family on the bereavement and the sad circumstances in which it happened. Regarding the legislation itself, I understand that it should be later this year.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Given the fact that the Government has admitted that a new supplementary budget is required, presumably including tax increases——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Do not mind that.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We must mind it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that level of detail on the Order of Business. As I told Deputy Burton, Deputy Ó Caoláin must ask a question that is in order.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  This is in order.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  When the Ceann Comhairle is finished, he should let me know. Do we anticipate——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Hold on one second. I can finish this very quickly if the Deputy wants.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  That is the Ceann Comhairle’s prerogative.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  As I do not want to do it, Deputy Ó Caoláin should proceed.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Ceann Comhairle’s reaction was fast.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Ó Caoláin must treat the House with some courtesy.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Easy lads.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I would hope that the House would afford me the same opportunity. As I have stated time after time, I will continue my sentence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is given more latitude than most.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  That is true.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Do we anticipate a Finance Bill to immediately follow on from the supplementary budget signalled this morning for early April? If that is the case, is it also in the Government’s consideration that there would be a further social welfare Bill, given the fact that current figures indicate that some 450,000 people may be on the live register by the end of this year? Will the Taoiseach assure the House that any address regarding social welfare needs will not introduce reductions——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is not possible to discuss that matter now.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——and impose punitive measures on people who are already facing the most difficult circumstances, many of whom are facing impoverishment?

[33]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the finance (No. 2) Bill and the social welfare Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy has asked me to anticipate the decision. Obviously, however, the Government has made clear that given the scale of the challenges facing us this year and in future years, the supplementary budget, as part of a wider stabilisation plan, will involve revenue raising issues and expenditure issues to deal with the emerging situation in the public finances. Whatever enactments, resolutions or other measures that are required to put these into effect will be implemented once the decisions are taken.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  While the Ceann Comhairle is eager to proceed to the main business of the House, I hope he will bear with me for a moment while I revisit the issue I raised yesterday in the Dáil. I refer to the Kieran Boylan case, in which a man was caught red-handed while on bail with €1.8 million worth of cocaine and heroin. The case was brought to the courts and the DPP charged him. He dropped the charges——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot deal with that, Deputy Costello, as I told you and Deputy Rabbitte yesterday.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am talking about, and will come to, legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should do so please.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  In 2005, the charges were entered but in 2007, the DPP dropped the charges. In 2007, the DPP reinstated the charges when the issue was raised in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On legislation, because I ruled this matter out of order yesterday, I cannot rehash yesterday’s business, which was ruled out of order.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  In 2008, on the last day of the court, the DPP dropped the charges again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must ask about legislation.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This is a matter of extreme serious concern.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Well then——

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Taoiseach should take this matter to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, who is entitled under the 1974 legislation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot have this. I ruled this matter out of order with Deputy Rabbitte yesterday.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——to raise an issue of major public concern with the DPP.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must be consistent and I rule it out of order again. This is not in order, Deputy Costello. Let us move on.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  With the separation of powers——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Costello, this is not in order.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  This is in respect of legislation. That is the first point.

[34]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is not in order.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I wish to raise a second item of legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must ask the Deputy to resume his seat, unless he has a question that is in order. Does the Deputy have a question that is in order?

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  If Members cannot raise in the House issues——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not my fault.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  ——that are extremely important to the public——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  These are the rules. There are other ways of doing it.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am raising it on the basis of legislative——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy can table the matter for the Adjournment or as a question and I will try to deal with it in that way. However, I cannot deal with it on the Order of Business.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  No, this is not related to the Adjournment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Were I to allow every Member such latitude, we would be on the Order of Business from morning until night and no other business would be done. The Deputy must appreciate that. It is not my fault.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  In his reply to me yesterday, the Taoiseach stated that this matter was being dealt with by the Garda Ombudsman Commission.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No, I am not dealing with this matter any further.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  However, this is not the case.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Costello must resume his seat or I will be obliged to ask him to leave this House.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  A Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He must resume his seat. The Chair is on his feet and the Deputy must resume his seat when the Chair is on his feet.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am asking a question in respect of legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  You must resume your seat please.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am asking a question in respect of legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  You must resume your seat. The Chair is on his feet and the Deputy must resume his seat now.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Taoiseach should answer that question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must resume his seat.

[35]Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am entitled to ask that question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He must resume his seat or I will be obliged to ask him to leave the House. Please resume your seat.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am entitled to ask a question that relates to legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Costello, this is the last time I will ask you to please resume your seat.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  That is highly unfair, a Cheann Comhairle.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  No, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Then I am sorry but I must ask you to leave the House. Deputy Costello must leave the House.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Ceann Comhairle has not given me the opportunity of putting the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must leave the House.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Ceann Comhairle has not given me the opportunity to put the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must leave the House. You failed to resume your seat and are out of order.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  A Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I ask Deputy Costello to leave their House.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I have a couple of questions on legislation in respect of this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy has been asked to leave the house. I cannot continue with you now. You have been asked to leave the House.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  That is very unfair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am sorry, but you have been asked to leave the House. You continued to ask questions when you were ruled out of order. I must ask you to leave the House. I regret it as well but, unfortunately, that is the way it is.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I do so under much duress from the Chair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I understand that. I call Deputy Timmins.

Deputy Costello withdrew from the Chamber.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  I have a couple of questions for the Taoiseach. In an earlier reply, the Taoiseach extolled the virtues of the Government’s progressive tax policy. If it is so progressive, why is he about to change it? Should it not be a populist tax policy, rather than a progressive tax policy?

[36]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order. I am sure Deputy Timmins has a question that is in order.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  On legislation and, with respect, I have been sitting here for the past two hours waiting to ask a question of the Taoiseach. While I do not see it on the list of Bills, are there proposals to bring forward legislation to permit the running of a second Lisbon referendum? Will the Taoiseach give Members an indication as to when they might see such legislation? With respect to the issue Deputy Gilmore raised earlier, does the Taoiseach agree that the populist utterings of the leader of the Green Party, who is one of the Taoiseach’s Ministers——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the referendum Bill.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  ——gives rise to confusion in respect of the issues at stake in this regard? Does he agree that if Ireland were to withdraw from the European Defence Agency——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the referendum Bill.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  ——it would result in Ireland paying more for equipment——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the referendum Bill. I do not know what is wrong with you today.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  ——having a less efficient force and less influence on the armaments industry in Europe?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the referendum Bill.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  It is important that the Government should deal with the issue raised by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley. It was pure populism that creates——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy saw what happened to Deputy Costello. Let us not have a repetition.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  ——difficulty for all those who wish to see the Lisbon treaty passed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In respect of the referendum Bill, it can be considered only on the basis of the work that is currently being finalised to the satisfaction of everyone, including Ireland, at European Council level.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Will the Taoiseach indicate when that might be?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Not yet.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have two brief questions to the Taoiseach. First, in respect of SR Technics, when will the Tánaiste or the Minister of State, Deputy Kelleher, be in a position to come before the House to provide Members with an update on the present status of the efforts to save the 1,200 jobs?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy has been allowed to raise this matter on the Adjournment. It is not in order on the Order of Business.

[37]Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Tánaiste kindly met the Labour Party Deputies last week——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy was allowed to raise the matter on the Adjournment and cannot raise it on the Order of Business.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  ——and gave an undertaking that she would come back to them with an update on the present status.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must ask a question.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Will the Taoiseach confirm that all State agencies, including the Dublin Airport Authority, are working flat out——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  You cannot go into that now.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  ——to save those jobs? That is my first question. My second question——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Broughan must ask a question that is in order.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  ——pertains to the Road Traffic and Transport Bill. I note that despite the forthcoming mini-budget etc, there still will be 20 Ministers of State. Many citizens think that we could get by with perhaps six or seven——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the Road Traffic and Transport Bill.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  The Minister of State with responsibility for transport is present. He has been working for eight months on a Bill, during which time road transport has remained in a poor state.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the Road Traffic and Transport Bill.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  When will Members have sight of the Road Traffic and Transport Bill? I have asked two questions of the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach, on the Road Traffic and Transport Bill. The first item was out of order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it will be during this session.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  And on the first item?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Work continues.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Deputy Costello has been asked to leave the House. Where now stands the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill? It has been promised in every session since 2007.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it is to be taken tomorrow.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Very good. Will it include a provision to allow people living in apartments to buy out their apartments?

[38]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Content would not be in order, unfortunately.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  I simply want to find out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  While I accept that, this is not the way to so do, as the Deputy knows that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  A cursory reading of the Bill might assist.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  Very good. I will do that.


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