Order of Business.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 681 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 9, Social Welfare Bill 2009 — with financial resolutions Nos. 1 and 2 to be moved together and decided without debate by one question which shall be put from the Chair; No. 10, Social Welfare Bill 2009 — motion to instruct the committee, the proceedings on which, if not previously concluded, to be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes and the following arrangements to apply: the speeches of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for Fine Gael and the Labour Party, in that order, not to exceed 15 minutes and those of other Members not to exceed five minutes, Members may share time and the Minister or Minister’s speech in reply not to exceed five minutes; No. 20, Social Welfare Bill 2009 — Committee and Remaining Stages, the proceedings on which, if not previously concluded, to be brought to a conclusion at midnight by one question from the Chair and which shall include only those amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs; and No. 11, motion re by-election for Dublin South, to be taken with No. 12, motion re by-election for Dublin Central, at 7 p.m. with the proceedings thereon, if not previously concluded, to be brought to a conclusion after 30 minutes by one question from the Chair, with the following arrangements to apply: speeches to be confined to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael and the Labour Party and to a Minister or Minister of State and Members may share time, with speeches not exceeding ten minutes.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m and business shall be interrupted not later than midnight. Private Members’ business shall be No. 68, motion re infrastructural stimulus package, which shall be taken for 90 minutes at 7 p.m. or on the conclusion of No. 11 and No. 12, whichever is the later.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are six proposals before the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to?

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  It is not agreed. The Labour Party is opposed to the proposal to sit late tonight. The purpose of the late sitting is to extend the scope of the Social Welfare Bill to enable the Government to ram through very significant changes to pension law. The Labour Party is not prepared to go along with this proposal. Yesterday, we were circulated with 11 pages of amendments in relation to pension legislation. This legislation was cobbled together in a rush at the weekend and it has very far-reaching implications for the 250,000 people in defined benefit pension schemes. We are not prepared to deal with it in this rushed manner.

Essentially, the Government is expecting us to consider this legislation, debate it and possibly amend it in the space of four hours. That is simply not possible because it is very important [35]legislation. Some of the most complex legislation that comes before the House is pension related. Certainly, these amendments are extremely complex and Members on this side have a right to reasonable time to consider significant amendments. We also need an opportunity to consult on those proposals. It is a very specialised area and we need to consult and obtain expert advice if we are to do our job properly.

As late as 20 minutes ago, we got more pages from the Department. These included amendments to the Minister’s amendments of yesterday, which would indicate that this is all happening on the hoof. We are not prepared to go along with this rushed job——

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Hear, hear.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  ——in the very important area of pensions, particularly when they include provisions that impact on so many people.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Hear, hear.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Hear, hear.

  5 o’clock

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  We have contacted the Chief Whip’s office and we recognise the urgency of dealing with the Social Welfare Bill. We are more than happy to facilitate the passage of that this evening. However, the important provisions in relation to pensions should not be rushed through or form part of the Social Welfare Bill. Given that the legislation has been drafted, why not make it a separate Bill? We will facilitate the Government in taking it in a week or two when we have had time to consider it. It is not, however, unreasonable for us to expect the Taoiseach would allow us time to have an input into this legislation and to give it the kind of consideration and oversight it requires.

We propose the Government hold off on the provisions in regard to pensions and produce those provisions as a separate pensions Bill which could be taken in the next couple of weeks. This is no way to conduct parliamentary business. It shows utter disrespect for the House, members of the Opposition and the spokespersons and it is bad law-making. As we have seen with previous efforts by this Government to rush through legislation in a short period of time, we must revisit it because, inevitably, it is bad legislation when it is rushed.

I put it to the Taoiseach to be reasonable and responsible about this and to allow reasonable time for us to consider the proposals and to deal with them in a separate Bill in the near future.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Sinn Féin Members are opposed to facilitating the Social Welfare Bill and the pensions insolvency payments scheme included therein which most certainly should be taken as separate legislation and not incorporated in the Social Welfare Bill. We are not prepared to support the measures included in the Social Welfare Bill or to facilitate its passage. I would be surprised if other voices on the Opposition benches did not take that view.

The whole proposition contained in No. 1, in terms of the time up to midnight, is only an accommodation in regard to what is proposed in No. 4 which is to guillotine the Final Stages of the Social Welfare Bill. The Sinn Féin Members are absolutely and vehemently opposed to what is incorporated in these propositions.

In adding our voice to the appeal to separate the pensions insolvency payment scheme out into separate legislation and to address the Social Welfare Bill and all its elements as stand alone, we strongly oppose the notion of a guillotine and ask for full opportunity and participation, given the enormity of what is involved in this legislation.

[36]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Workers are being affected by the winding down of pensions and pensions rights in insolvent companies. It is to try to assist workers in that circumstance, which could be happening as we speak, that this legislation has been brought forward. It has not been cobbled together over a weekend — in fact, it has been worked on for some time. We hoped to have it at the time of the publication of the Social Welfare Bill but because of its complexity and involvement, that was not possible. This legislation needs to be enacted on the basis that it will be of assistance to workers in those circumstances——

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  There was no Second Stage.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——rather than to their disadvantage.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  What is the reason for the urgency?

Question put: “That the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 80; Níl, 66.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
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 Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John.
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 Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh.
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 Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary.
Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy. 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 Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel. Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary.
Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra. Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.



Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. 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 Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. 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 Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. 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 Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. 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 Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
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 Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. 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 Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9, Financial Resolutions re Social Welfare Bill 2009, without debate, agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 10, motion to instruct the committee re Social Welfare Bill 2009, agreed?

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  It is not agreed. We learned this afternoon that there will be a brief Second Stage-type debate, lasting 65 minutes, on the motion to instruct the committee. During that time, we will be expected to discuss all the pension provisions contained in the Social Welfare Bill 2009. We have had 12 years of Fianna Fáil Government——

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  We have had almost 25 years of it.

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  ——but no progress has been made with State pensions policy over that period.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Hear, hear.

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  The most we got was the Green Paper on Pensions. The Government is proposing to make significant changes tonight. I take the Taoiseach’s point that there is a need for urgency because some companies are in difficulty at the moment. However, I remind [38]him that the need for urgency did not develop over the last 48 hours. We need more time if we are to have a proper opportunity to discuss this issue.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Hear, hear.

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  I am sure Deputies on all sides of the House would like to contribute to the debate on these significant changes, some of which do not go far enough. The short amount of time that is being provided will not give Members an opportunity to outline their concerns about these proposals. It is unacceptable that the Government intends to have all of this rushed through by midnight tonight. We have been given more amendments in recent hours, after the briefing we were given by the Department this morning. It is no way to do business. It will lead to bad pensions policy. The proposed White Paper has not yet been published. We do not know what the Government’s overall policy is. The manner in which the Government is proceeding is wrong and will probably cause more difficulty. Fine Gael objects to the taking of this legislation in this way.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  This legislation was cobbled together over the weekend. It is clear, given that a further amendment has been published within the last hour, that it is a work in progress. The Minister has not completed her thinking on this. It is clear she has not had an opportunity to get adequate advice on it. The same applies to members of the Opposition. We got the Bill yesterday and we are expected to deal with it today. It is not acceptable. We need consultation and expert advice on this. I would like the Taoiseach to explain the reason for the hurry with this legislation. I have indicated that the Labour Party will be more than happy to facilitate the Government in two weeks’ time. We could deal with this Bill properly, as we are supposed to do, at that stage. Why is the Government ramming it through today? Can the Taoiseach give us an adequate explanation? It is a most unusual way of taking legislation. It is a bad way to deal with legislation. There is a responsibility on the Taoiseach to explain to us the urgency of these provisions. The limited time of four hours available to us this evening will be dominated by the pensions issue but there is a range of other issues of concern in respect of the social welfare provisions that need to be adequately debated and voted on. By dealing with this first in the debate means that we will not consider the social welfare provisions. That is completely unacceptable. Will the Taoiseach explain the urgency in this matter?

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  I too object to taking this Bill in a rushed fashion this evening. It has far-reaching implications for people depending on welfare payments and it is completely unacceptable that it should be rushed through late in the evening. There is no reason not to make time to deal adequately with this business tomorrow. It is all right for some people in this House who will retire on three pensions from the public sector but unfortunately the people outside the House applying for social welfare do not have such luxury and we should have an opportunity to debate the matter fully.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, had something to say about that last week.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  This issue brings some improvement to the position of workers who find themselves in an ongoing difficulty for which we need to enact legislation as quickly as possible. It was intended to have it ready on publication of the Social Welfare Bill but that was not possible. It has been brought forward for a Committee Stage amendment now. I accept that this is a complex area. It does not encompass the fully comprehensive framework for the future [39]of pensions to which Deputy Enright referred. That is an ongoing process that is under discussion and poses a significant challenge for the future. This brings in some improvements, in limited circumstances, for workers whose pension rights have run into difficulty.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  But not the pensioners?

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 10 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 66.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. 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 Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. 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 Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. 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 Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
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 Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. 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 Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. 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 Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. 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 Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. 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 Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. 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 Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
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 Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20, Committee and Remaining Stages of the Social Welfare Bill 2009, agreed to?

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  It is not agreed. I must ask the Taoiseach yet again to please tell the House what is the reason for the urgency in ramming through this legislation?

A Deputy:  Deputy McGuinness is here today but he may not be here tomorrow.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  We are more than happy to facilitate the Government in dealing with this legislation in a reasonable manner. Can he tell us if there is a reason for rushing it through by midnight tonight, either here publically or in a private briefing? He has provided no reason for dealing with this legislation in this manner. It is not acceptable to us. Unless he can provide a reason for dealing with it like this we cannot accept the proposal. We have made a reasonable proposal to the Taoiseach for dealing with this situation within the next week or two. Why will he not accept that proposal? Will he please tell us if there is a reason for rushing it through? There is no question but that we will regret this move this evening to rush through complex legislation and we will rue the day that we do that.

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  I want to make a point in objection to this proposal. The Taoiseach has referred to the urgency of this matter, but the Minister for Finance still has to make regulations under some amendments, particularly the one dealing with the new issues that are being proposed today. Therefore, it is not as if this is something that will be enacted into law once it is completed in the Seanad. Regulations have to be made anyway, and logically we should have more time in this House to discuss it because the Minister still does not have all the work done to put it into action.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  This legislation has been already guillotined on Second Stage, which severely restricted the opportunity for Members to participate properly in that debate.

[41](Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is a kind of hum and it does not sound like a song.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  There is a kind of hush.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I ask Deputy Ó Caoláin to carry on.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We are faced with a guillotine applying at midnight tonight on Committee, Report and Final Stages. The content of this legislation is not reasonable by any yardstick. The consequences of the passage of this legislation will not be reasonable in terms of the reality it will spell out for ordinary people who are currently struggling to make ends meet. The passage of this legislation will significantly deepen the difficulties such people have to face. If the Taoiseach agrees, we will have an opportunity to extend the period of time for debating this legislation so that more Members can participate and the spotlight can be placed on what is entailed in the Bill. It should not become subsumed in terms of the new elements that have now been introduced, thereby creating a distraction from the real intent of the Bill from the outset and all the consequences that means for people. The guillotine is absolutely unacceptable and we are making a last appeal to have it lifted to let the debate continue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  An Taoiseach arís.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The reality is that were we in a situation where pension funds were not in the difficulties they are in now, and we know the real issues of the crisis that has hit the pension industry generally——

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Two weeks does not make a difference.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It would make a difference if anything happened in the interim. If anything were to happen, although I am not on notice of any specific issue, these are matters of importance which affect pension rights and the conditions upon which——

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Is there a reason?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have explained the policy reason, which is that it improves the lot of those workers who could find themselves in such a situation.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  We do not know that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot interfere.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am sorry but we do know it. That is the reason we have introduced it. I have sought to introduce these changes to assist workers who find themselves in such a precarious position. That is why we are putting it forward.

Deputy Olwyn Enright: Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Is that all the Taoiseach is worried about?

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 20 be agreed to.”

[42]The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 66.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher  Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary. Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán.
Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie. Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire.
Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy. Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter.
Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan. Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael.
Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony. Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Kirk, Seamus.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. 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 Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas. Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie.
Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael. Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John.
Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. 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 Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. 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 Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
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 Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. 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 Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick.
Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan. Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine.
Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe. Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre.
Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe. Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. 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 Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom. 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 Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. 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 Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe. Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur.
Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis. Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. 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 Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran.
Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
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 Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11, motion re by-election for Dublin South, and No. 12, motion re bye-election for Dublin Central, agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members’ Business agreed? Agreed.

I call Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  In view of the announcement by the World Health Organisation that it has raised the level of awareness in respect of current swine fever difficulties, will the Taoiseach indicate whether the Minister for Health and Children will keep the House and country informed of developments? I am sure she will do so. This matter must be considered and whatever actions the Government has to take will have the full support of the House.

In respect of No. 47 on the legislative programme, the public transport regulation Bill, which is to provide regulations for the provision of public transport, the legislation is to be published some time later this year. When will we have sight of it? Perhaps the Taoiseach has a clearer fix on the matter.

No. 31, the restructuring of the inland fisheries sector Bill, is due for publication in late 2009. A number of difficulties arise from the legislation. No. 55, the fisheries consolidation Bill, is not due until 2010. Is it intended to take these two Bills together? It would appear to make more sense to do so given that they both deal with inland fisheries and the consolidation of that sector?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The consolidation Bill is on a different timeline from the original Bill, No. 31. Consolidation, by definition, simply involves bringing together the existing legislative base, whereas the other Bill breaks some new ground. The latter legislation is due in late 2009 and presumably the consolidation Bill, which will be introduced in 2010, can take account of the new legislation and everything can be brought in under one omnibus Bill. Perhaps that is the thinking behind it. I will have the matter checked out.

The other two Bills about which the Deputy asked are due to be taken in late 2009. When considered at this remove I do not believe it is possible there will be an improvement in the timeline given the level of demands placed on the Office of the Attorney General at the moment.

On the Deputy’s question regarding the World Health Organisation’s view of the swine flu, which has the potential to become a pandemic, the WHO has raised its alert level to four. I understand there are six levels. The Minister for Health and Children has indicated that her [44]Department will keep a watching brief. Its officials are interacting with international agencies on this matter at all times and keeping themselves informed of developments. They are also, in a considered manner, providing public information as required and as relevant.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is important that the House and members of the public are kept informed by the Minister for Health and Children of up-to-date information on the spread of the swine flu, as it is known. There is considerable public worry about this issue. People get information about developments on matters of this nature through the media and on international websites, blogs and so on. It is very important, therefore, that the fullest information is made available to members of the public. Will the Taoiseach indicate whether the Minister for Health and Children will take an opportunity to make a statement in the House and take questions on the issue?

I note that No. 12 on the legislative programme, the twenty-eighth amendment of the Constitution Bill, which is to enable the State to ratify the Lisbon treaty, is to be published in this session. As I understand the position, it was the Government’s intention to bring to finality at the June summit discussions with our European partners on the various declarations and issues which have arisen from the previous referendum, with a view to having a referendum some time in the autumn. Is it intended that this Bill, the purpose of which is to enable a referendum to take place, will be published before the House rises for the summer? Is that the reason it is on the list?

I thank the Taoiseach for writing to me arising from a question I raised last Wednesday concerning the transfer of questions relating to referenda and agreeing in that correspondence to take questions on referenda in future, as has been the practice in the past.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  On the question of the evolution of relevant information for the public regarding the swine flu scare, a meeting of the interdepartmental committee on public health and emergency planning, which is chaired by the Department of Health and Children, has been taking place today with the office of emergency planning in attendance. The intention is to ensure that those qualified in this area provide the public information. The director of public health in the Department, Dr. Holohan, has proven himself to be adept and able in this area. It is important that people see medical experts being able to articulate whatever developments arise.

It is a matter for the House at any time to have the Minister come before it when a significant development takes place. Having listened this morning to the Deputy, I point out that issues will arise which do not raise serious public concern but are a reaction that takes place when people show some symptom or whatever. In that case, tests would take place. It is intended that relevant information is available and is updated and the media and House are kept informed in a way that does not defeat the purpose, namely, to ensure people do not take a disproportionate view of the matter. Clearly there is no room for complacency in matters such as this. One has to take it day by day and week by week to see how it develops. As I stated, national responses are in place and people will be kept updated accordingly.

On the Deputy’s question on legislation, we have made a contingency, on the basis of a successful referendum outcome, to seek to ensure that the Bill to which the Deputy refers will be prepared thereafter in a way that is consistent with whatever conclusions arise. It would be a matter of priority for the Government to try to provide for the Bill’s preparation in the aftermath of the June Council meeting.

On the correspondence to which the Deputy referred, on the basis that the Government has not made a formal decision to hold a referendum, I have indicated my willingness to answer [45]questions on these matters. It was pointed out in the correspondence that once decisions are taken, they are often passed on to the line Ministers concerned. If, for example, we made a decision to have a constitutional amendment on children’s rights, the matter would move on to the Minister concerned in respect of updating what is the exact situation at that point. As I say, I am prepared to answer in whatever capacity I can and to provide whatever information I can.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  I ask the Ceann Comhairle to be patient with me. Under the public sector recruitment ban, county councils across the country are unable to recruit lifeguards. This will have major consequences for the tourism industry.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss lifeguards on the Order of Business.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  While I understand the Ceann Comhairle’s position, the matter is of such importance that it must be raised.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy may not do so on the Order of Business.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  I understand officials from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will meet officials from the Department of Finance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot get into that now. We must move on.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  I ask him to urge the Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, to lift the ban so that county councils are able to recoup losses and if at all possible——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is completely out of order. It is not fair on the Chair.

A Deputy:  He would want to recruit a few lifeguards for himself.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Whatever about that, we cannot discuss it now.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  It is too important an issue not to raise it in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss lifeguards on the Order of Business.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Can I table it as an Adjournment Debate matter? Will the Ceann Comhairle consider it for the Adjournment?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy can do so. That is what should have happened in the first instance.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  I did apply.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should apply again.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Will the Taoiseach tell me the status of the draft Bill on offshore renewable energy development, which was produced months ago by an all-party committee comprising Members of the Seanad and Dáil? It seems to have been lost although we sent it to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Eamon Ryan. Having looked at the list, I note he is not over-burdened with proposed legislation.

Is the Taoiseach really serious about encouraging committees to do sound, sensible work and to work in co-operation with the Government where possible on issues such as this, which are of tremendous importance in terms of future investment in this country? We should take [46]all-party committees, which are not acting in a party political manner but are trying to do something positive and constructive, seriously. The least we can do is show some sort of respect. The minimum would be for a Minister to write back and tell us he or she is not interested in the committee, but leaving us hanging makes a joke of the committee system. I ask the Taoiseach to take this matter very seriously.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is not over-burdened with legislation at present. Unfortunately, he is not here to listen to me.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  He is never here.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  He is the invisible man.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  It is a terrible shame that committees, which genuinely try to do positive things, are not encouraged by the Government. I thought the Green Party, which emphasised the fact that it had an input into the establishment of the committee in question, would see to it that when a committee did positive work, it would make it its business to encourage us even further.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand that when the Chairman, on behalf of the committee, forwarded the legislative proposal in question in December, it was acknowledged and an indication was given by the Minister at the time that, in line with the committee’s thinking, there was a need for a consultative process to be undertaken. I understand Sustainable Energy Ireland and other stakeholders are being consulted by the Minister.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is also involved with foreshore licensing. The Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, indicated, in correspondence with the committee, his preparedness to engage with it over the coming period on its proposals as well as on how best to progress necessary legislative change, with its own proposals being part of that consideration. An invitation to the Minister to return to the committee and see what the current situation is would be helpful to the committee.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  We did that. We have not heard anything since.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am sure as soon as that is conducted we can talk to the Minister about it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The public expects a high quality of service delivered everywhere, particularly in the health services, but people are, unfortunately, being disappointed on a regular basis. I refer particularly to a recent disclosure to the effect that a particular centre of excellence was no longer a centre of excellence. I cannot understand how one can have a centre of excellence which is not a centre of excellence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to revert to a thesaurus because he cannot raise the matter here.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Regarding promised legislation, will the Taoiseach bring before the House the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill? It would enable a debate to take place where Members of the House could have an input into what the public are entitled to in terms of their rights and services in the health area.

Now that the electronic voting machines have been consigned to the deep, would it be possible to introduce the necessary legislation to give them a decent burial? Perhaps the environment (miscellaneous provisions) Bill would be the appropriate legislation to use to consign them to whatever place they will go. Hopefully they will not be buried at sea.

[47]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the environment (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is due before the House this session. There is no date for the previous Bill mentioned by the Deputy. His opening remarks on it concerned a baseline study to establish what work was required to create a centre of excellence in that location and in seven others. Previously, there were no centres of excellence in 41 different locations. I am glad to say that those who are directing operations have indicated that this should be the case by the end of the year. It is not a question of it being a centre of excellence or not, but of identifying in a baseline study what would be required to reach the standard and now being in the process of creating it. It is called reform in the health service. We cannot have it every way.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  All centres should be centres of excellence, as should all health facilities.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We cannot have it every way.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  I wish to ask the Taoiseach about two pieces of legislation, one a primary piece and the other secondary. The secondary legislation refers to an issue I have raised on a number of occasions and concerns the ban on below cost selling of alcohol, which facilitates promotions such as “buy one, get one free” regarding the sale of alcopops to young people. I understand the European Commission has given its approval to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, to proceed with that secondary legislation. When will it come before the House? It was promised some 12 months ago.

Regarding primary legislation, when will the national monuments (amendment) Bill come before the House? Will the Taoiseach intervene directly regarding the freeze on the recruitment of seasonal guides in the Office of Public Works for facilities such as Clonmacnoise and many other fine facilities around the country? It is important to promote these facilities and that they are available to tourists. I am sure the Taoiseach wants to comment on that issue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the second Bill is due to come before the House at the end of the year.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  What about the seasonal guides?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not know if they are mentioned in the national monuments (amendment) Bill but I never regard a seasonal guide as a national monument.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Will we have them?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  They are national treasures.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  By definition.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Will we have them in Clonmacnoise?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We will not create them.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  It is a very important issue in the Taoiseach’s constituency.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I will have to revert to the Deputy on the question of below cost selling.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I draw the Taoiseach’s attention to three legislative matters in the Department of Education and Science. His colleague beside him is a former Minister for Education and Science and should be familiar with some of them. This Department does not [48]produce much legislation but it probably takes longer than any other to move from “A” to “Z” in delivering it.

The education (patronage) Bill provides the legal basis for VECs to be patrons at primary school level. It is a two section Bill. We have already sent a full draft to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Batt O’Keeffe, and publication is still expected in 2009. A school is acting illegally, or is at risk of a legal charge, in north county Dublin.

The George Mitchell Scholarship Fund Act must be amended. It is not a controversial measure. However, there is a reception in the US ambassador’s residence this Friday at which the reluctance in the Department of Education and Science and the question of why we are using the name of Senator George Mitchell in such a cavalier manner and not putting our money where our mouth is will be raised.

I draw the Taoiseach’s attention to the fact that the Student Support Bill, the purpose of which has nothing to do with the reintroduction of fees but rather to modernise the existing grant applications scheme, was passed by this House 11 months ago. The amendments which are due still have not been brought before the committee, despite requests from it. Will the Taoiseach, in his capacity, throw his eye over the management and political stewardship of the Department of Education and Science regarding legislation? It is a D minus at present.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I would not agree.

The heads of the first Bill are being prepared but are not ready yet. The George J. Mitchell scholarship will be dealt with later this year. The Student Support Bill is awaiting Committee Stage. I will check up on the current position and ask to be contacted in this regard.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It would not have happened under the previous regime.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Who?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It would not have happened under Deputy Hanafin.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I thank the Department of Health and Children officials for their briefing earlier today on the swine flu threat. A briefing such as this is always useful. However, there are grave and justifiable concerns, particularly given that primary care services will be the front line of address and we currently have a very low GP to population ratio and a poor and uneven roll-out of primary care services. Would the Taoiseach consider, given the importance of the issue and the alarm that exists——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss that now.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——requesting the Minister to come to the House to deal with this?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have questions on that. I allowed statements during Leaders’ Questions earlier.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I ask the Government to provide time to address this issue here——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We are not going on with that. Leaders made short statements on this issue earlier and I will not go into it again.

[49]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——in open forum in the Dáil so that we can properly inform not only ourselves but the wider public of the dangers of——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Does the Deputy understand that we cannot go into this now?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am asking about the ordering of business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot ask a question about that now because it is not in order. Standing Orders are quite specific about it.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  My understanding is that it has been addressed in myriad ways.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  A brief statement was made by the party leaders and the Taoiseach responded——

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I was not aware that I was named under Standing Orders so that I cannot raise it but other people can.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  ——but the Deputy is not allowed to ask questions about this. I was going to allow the Deputy to make a brief statement like everybody else, but that was it. I cannot allow questions on it. It is just not on.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Well, there it is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must understand my position.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I will conclude on that point and go on to my second point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Do, please.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I ask the Taoiseach to give attention to my request on this serious issue.

On the list of legislation promised by the Department of Health and Children is the nurses and midwives Bill. There is currently concern with regard to the embargo on recruitment and the potential for the further loss of some 700 nurses——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot allow a speech on this now. I must move on to the next business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——currently within the service who may not be replaced.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Taoiseach on the legislation.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach note that the nurses and midwives Bill has been on the list of promised legislation, as best I can establish, from as far back as 2002? That is a full seven years.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is it. The Taoiseach on the nurses and midwives Bill.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Does the Taoiseach not accept that there is something seriously amiss within the Department when legislation of this importance can be——

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

[50]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——set aside year after year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it is due next year. I agree it has had a gestation period longer than that with which midwives would normally be acquainted.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  What about the issue of swine flu?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  My colleague Deputy Naughten, who is from my neighbouring constituency, raised a few moments ago the issue of the national monuments Bill, which seems destined to remain a hidden treasure. Last autumn we were told we could expect publication in the spring of this year. In the spring of this year we were told to expect publication in the autumn. The Taoiseach told us today that it will probably come in the latter half of this year, but I see in the summer schedule that it is now promised some time in 2010. This raises the question being asked by many of my constituents and others around the country — would this country have been better off over the last 12 months if we had not had a Taoiseach in situ?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  There is now the opportunity to excavate that Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Do not mind that. On the national monuments Bill, tá sé ag teacht, I think.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am well aware that in the towns of County Longford they speak of nothing else.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Now, now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The national monuments Bill has become——

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  The Taoiseach tried to bully before and he did not get away with it.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is like the Ardagh chalice.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The national monuments Bill is an issue that is close to everyone’s heart in that part of the midlands.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Government closed down the barracks in Longford.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I assure the Deputy the Bill will have the highest possible priority and will be brought forward as soon as possible, which will probably be some time in the future.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Now that is a positive answer.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  I thank the Taoiseach and I hope he will intervene.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister of State, Deputy Carey has taken note.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Taoiseach may possibly be aware that the former Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy McGuinness, informed the House in an Adjournment debate in early April that proposals would be going to Cabinet later this month on the issue of export credit insurance, which is no longer available to many companies exporting goods. This is particularly of concern to companies in the dairy industry, which are facing considerable difficulties at the moment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

[51]Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Will this issue, which is of major concern to companies that are exporting goods and sustaining employment in the community, be addressed in the Finance Bill, which is expected shortly?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  All the Taoiseach can do is to tell the Deputy when the publication of the Finance Bill is expected. We cannot go further than that.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  I know Deputy McGuinness is no longer a Minister of State, but the issue is not gone.

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  I hope that was not the cause of the schism between the Deputy and his senior Minister in the Department.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Whatever about that, I must obey Standing Orders.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is a critical issue, and I hope the Tánaiste will not renege on this commitment.

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Taoiseach may wish to comment on the issue in the context of the Finance Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He can only tell the Deputy when the Finance Bill will be published. That is all he can do.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  He might——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  He cannot discuss the detail of the Finance Bill on the Order of Business, for goodness sake.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  He might tell us specifically whether the issue will be addressed in the Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No, he cannot.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  There are proposals going to Cabinet.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy McHugh is next.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  We have not had any response from the Taoiseach. I am asking a legitimate question about the Finance Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot ask about the detail of the Finance Bill on the Order of Business.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Will the Taoiseach tell us when the Finance Bill will be introduced?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  When is the Finance Bill due? That is the only thing with which the Taoiseach can help the Deputy.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It should be published on 7 May.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Is the Tánaiste aware of the issue of export credit insurance?

[52]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Do not mind about that. I call Deputy McHugh.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Silence. Bring back Deputy McGuinness.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is a smart-ass comment.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  For a smart-ass Taoiseach.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  This time yesterday this House and, in particular, members of the Taoiseach’s own parliamentary party were under the impression that BreastCheck would be rolled out in Donegal——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have a debate on health now.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Hold on a minute, a Cheann Comhairle. I have not even finished my first sentence. Where is the equity in representation here? I ask the Ceann Comhairle to let me finish my first sentence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I will, but I ask the Deputy to come within order.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  As of yesterday, Members of this House and the Taoiseach’s parliamentary party were under the impression that BreastCheck would be rolled out in Donegal in 2009. This morning, a spokesperson from the HSE announced that it would not be rolled out and that the timeframe would be indefinite.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to raise that on the Adjournment or submit a question.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  My question is to do with the health information Bill. There is an information deficit between the Government and the HSE. This raises the question of who is actually in charge. The health information Bill should be introduced sooner rather than later.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We do not have a date for the publication of the Bill but we should have the heads of the Bill in May.


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