Order of Business.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 682 No. 3

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. a10, motion re by-election for Dublin Central; No. b10, Motion re by-election for Dublin South; No. 2, Finance Bill — Second Stage (resumed); and No. 21, Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of Private Members’ business, which shall be No. 70, motion re banking system (resumed), to be taken for 90 minutes at 7 p.m., or on the conclusion of No. 2, whichever is the later, and that Nos. a10 and b10 shall be decided without debate. It is proposed that the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 2 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are three proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal that the Dáil should sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal that the motions re by-elections for Dublin Central and Dublin South be taken today without debate agreed to?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I welcome the fact that the Government is moving the writ for the by-elections in Dublin Central and Dublin South and I note that it is proposed to be taken without debate. We have had two debates on the writ already, one in respect of a Labour Party motion some time after Christmas, in which we sought to move the writ and, more recently, a Fine Gael motion some two or three weeks ago which sought to move the writ. The Taoiseach indicated very strongly yesterday that he does not like talk in the House about elections, a new disposition for the Taoiseach. The year in office has had a terrible effect on him. He used to love elections and debating elections and it is dreadful to see this happening to him. However, in deference to his desire not to discuss elections I agree to have the two motions taken without debate.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When does the Minister expect to make the order nominating polling day? The reason I ask is to do with candidates and election posters. Some of these people have been fined already. We wish to comply with the rules, but we cannot do anything until the Minister makes an order naming the date. When does he expect to do so?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I will come back to the Deputy’s office.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the proposal to deal with No. 2, Finance Bill 2009 Second Stage (resumed), agreed to?

A Deputy:  It is not agreed.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We are in a situation where the Finance Bill will get the most cursory review. Essentially, there is no opportunity to have a proper, full Second Stage debate, not simply on the content of the Finance Bill but the commitments made by the Minister at budget time, for example, to either tax or means test child benefit. There is no opportunity to have a debate in the House about such a significant change in Government policy and whether it can technically be implemented. Women in Ireland deserve an opportunity to hear what the [429]Government has in prospect for them. The one benefit women rearing children get from the State is child benefit but the Government is preparing to launch an all-out assault. There is no opportunity for women Members to contribute to the debate. We oppose the guillotine.

There is also the situation in respect to the tax changes proposed by the Obama Administration in the United States. There will be no opportunity whatever to debate the implication of these and what the Government proposes in respect of them. The Minister for Finance acknowledged yesterday that the average, effective tax take for a family on an income of €80,000 is 36%. The marginal rate will be from 51% to 53%.

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  These are tax rates we have not seen since the late 1980s and early 1990s but there is no time to debate the matter.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Sinn Féin Deputies are not prepared to agree to the Order of Business. The proposal to guillotine Second Stage of the Finance Bill at 7 p.m. will ensure there will be very limited participation and that the vast number of Deputies will not have a chance to contribute to Second Stage of the legislation. This is very important legislation, an outworking of the supplementary budget of 7 April. It has significant consequences for low and middle income families placing an extra steep and stiff burden on their already hard-pressed condition.

However, with all that is entailed in the Bill, there is no provision whatsoever for the National Asset Management Agency. As legislators, we are expected to allow the Government to proceed with the proposition without any legislative basis whatsoever. A burden is being placed on the citizenry of the State that will have potentially serious consequences for all citizens for many years to come. This is, yet again, another lost opportunity for any real proposals in the area of job retention and creation. The Government has completely failed to address this essential and integral part of any effort to deal with the current difficulties in the economy and to rejuvenate economic activity throughout the State.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  For these reasons and in opposition to the guillotine in principle we will not support the Order of Business.

  12 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The resumed Second Stage of the Finance Bill is being taken until 7 p.m. There will be ample opportunity on Committee Stage, as there always has been in respect of Finance Bills, to go through all aspects of policy in respect of the financial situation in the country. That was my experience when I held that position and it is one fully taken up by members of that committee. The Bill can then return to the House for Report Stage. The provisions in the Finance Bill are as outlined in the budget. Any other legislation required in respect of other announcements made in the budget will be forthcoming in due course. The question of how we extend the taxation base in the country will be taken by Government in future budgets, taking into account whatever ideas or recommendations may emerge from the Commission on Taxation.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 2 be agreed to.”

[430]The Dáil divided: Tá, 71; Níl, 67.

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 Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. 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 Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
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 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 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 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 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 Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. 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 Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
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 Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
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 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 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 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 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 Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on 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 Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy. 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  I call Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Has the Taoiseach turned his mind to the timing of the Lisbon treaty referendum? Does he have an idea whether it will be at the end of September, in October or possibly later? Will the Bill giving effect to the referendum include a clause requiring parties or organisations that intend to campaign in that referendum to produce evidence of where their funding comes from?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call the Taoiseach on the Lisbon treaty referendum.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I answered this question yesterday. Until such time as the June Council meeting is finished and we see what is being provided by colleagues at the European Council in respect of the reassurances we sought and it was agreed at the December Council we should get, the question of calling a date for a referendum is premature. The position of the Government is that on the basis of obtaining and giving legal effect to many of these commitments, we would then be in a position to consider favourably the question of a further referendum. It is an issue we should defer until after the June Council meeting.

On the question of levelling the playing pitch for everybody, it is something we should all work towards.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  On the same issue, we seem to discover more information from the media than we do in this House in regard to the Government’s intentions. Certainly, there is more information in today’s The Irish Times, namely, that the Government is apparently negotiating a protocol that would be introduced with some future accession treaty for Croatia, which is more than the Taoiseach has said in the House. We have no idea of what the content of the guarantees might be and there is no opportunity to debate the matter in the House. When will that happen?

What is indicated in the media today is that the Taoiseach would present something of a fait accompli at the summit on 15 June. When will we have an opportunity to know what is in the mind of the Taoiseach in regard to the content and method of implementation? This House and the Opposition parties deserve to know. Nothing at all has taken place since the middle of December last in regard to informing, discussing or consulting with the other Members of this House as to the intentions of the Taoiseach and what direction he is taking. If he negotiates a deal with the other countries without discussing it in this House, what will happen? We do not want a repeat of the situation which happened the last time.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Interestingly, we can be of agreement in regard to the fact we have not been made privy to the full detail of what the Taoiseach is actively pursuing, if “actively” is the appropriate word. I have asked time and again in the House in regard to how [432]it is intended to present legally binding guarantees, how it is proposed to have such in place, what methodology will apply and how will that come to pass, and what specific areas are being addressed by the Taoiseach and his representatives who are engaging with the other European member states. These matters must be addressed in this House and, irrespective of one’s position on the Lisbon treaty and the first referendum, we all have a shared entitlement to that full exposure and to a proper debate on these matters in this Chamber.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In the normal way, statements were made after every European Council meeting as to what took place. We had that debate in the House and the position was clear. I outlined to the House that political undertakings had been given to the Government and we believed that if they were transposed in the way we sought and agreed by the June Council, we would be prepared to call a referendum. I also indicated we have to work with the Presidency in that matter and there have been a number of developments in regard to the current Presidency. We took the opportunity in Prague last week to again discuss that issue with the outgoing Prime Minister and the newly appointed Prime Minister, Mr. Fischer. We are working with the legal services division, the Commission and the Presidency and we must get agreement from other member states as to the exact wording they will agree to, based on the undertakings we have received. When we know there is a consensus emerging on that, we can then conduct a discussion at home prior to the Council meeting taking place.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There is only a month until the summit. The Taoiseach has indicated he intends to have everything tied up at the summit so whatever guarantees are agreed will be approved at the summit by the 27 leaders, and that is the end of it. Will we have a debate in this House prior to the Taoiseach going to that summit in the middle of June, making the arrangements with the other countries and agreeing the way forward? We could find ourselves in a situation where issues are agreed that this House has not discussed and we would have no opportunity to make our views heard. For example, we have not heard one word about the workers’ rights issue and we do not know whether the Taoiseach will proceed with a protocol. These are legal guarantees. None of the issues raised in media reports has been the subject of discussion in this House because we have had no opportunity to do so. What has been going on behind the scenes may have been going on since the middle of December but we do not know anything about it. When will we know about it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We obtained commitments last December from member states as to the nature of the reassurances they were in a position to give, short of re-ratifying the treaty themselves. That is the situation. We are now dealing with the wording and drafting to give expression to that so a decision can be made at the June Council in regard to these matters.

As the Deputy knows, in the aftermath of the December Council discussion we outlined our position in regard to each and every one of those matters, including the issue on workers’ rights. We have set that out on the record of the House. The technical work that must be done is ongoing. We must make sure that all other member states agree to the texts so we can give effect to the undertakings we received in December. That work is ongoing, primarily through the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs. As soon as the finalisation of that process comes about, which we would hope will happen in the coming weeks, we can explain what it is that member states are prepared to agree to, based on the undertakings we have received.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  When does the Taoiseach expect that to be ready?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  In the coming weeks.

[433]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It was stated in the briefing notes circulated with the Government’s second budget for 2009 that the NAMA must be established and start its work quickly to have the most impact and help the economy start to recover as soon as possible. That was over five weeks ago, but it has not been established yet. No legislation has been published for it and the Government has now rejected the sensible proposal being put forward by the Labour Party for an alternative way of dealing with the banking crisis. When will the legislation to establish an bord bailout be brought before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The term “an bord bailout” is being used, but what we are trying to do is to assist those who depend on banks and get some stability into system. The matter is being dealt with as a priority in the Department of Finance. Interim arrangements regarding preparation of the work that will be conducted by the NAMA are being undertaken by the Minister. There is also a debate underway in the House where these matters are being discussed.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Given the recent announcement by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley, that directly elected lord mayors would be put in place, has this proposal been agreed by the Government? Will it require legislation and if so, when can we expect to see it? I believe a sum of €250,000 per year has been agreed for this post, or that this sum has been suggested by the Minister. Will the Taoiseach explain how this sum was arrived at?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that now. That is out of order.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Given a job description has not yet been put on the table, how has this salary been decided?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that. I call the Taoiseach on the legislation. Is there legislation promised in this area?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The programme for Government made a commitment providing for a directly elected mayor of Dublin by 2011. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has confirmed that the Government has agreed to proceed with that initiative and to prepare legislation to ensure it can happen on time next year.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A toothless office.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Has the Government any candidate in mind?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No, though I hear the Deputy is interested.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Has it any particular candidate in mind?

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Would it be an anointed person?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On promised legislation, I was in a housing estate last night that does not include any flats or apartments, yet the management charge for the estate is €1,200 per household. Householders have just received a further bill for a sinking fund for €500, which they are legally obliged to pay. The only service provided is that the grass is cut, but not very well. I ask the Taoiseach to consider the urgency of stopping this rip-off of young families in housing estates, particularly when there are no apartments on the estate and no need for a management company. Will he bring forward the legislation on management companies as soon as possible? Will he give us a date for the legislation rather than say “as soon as possible” or “this session”, as we have been hearing such responses for a long time?

[434]It is four years since we started calling for this legislation in the House. I am aware the Taoiseach has said the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is the person responsible and am aware that Department has a busy legislative programme, or used to have. However, will he indicate when we will see some direction in this area so that we can provide precise advice to these people?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I expect this matter to come before the Government in the coming weeks.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has indicated that he wants to introduce major planning legislation. Has the Government considered that matter and when is it likely to be brought before the House?

The recent budget provided for a charge on second homes. When will the charge on a non-principal private residence be given legislative effect? The upward-only rent structure is beginning to have a major impact on employment. Will changes in legislation be brought forward with regard to upward-only rent, as indicated by some Ministers?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The third matter is being examined and I understand the first two matters will come forward this session.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Government schedule a debate on the censored report of the Monageer inquiry and will the Taoiseach and the Chief Whip accommodate that at the earliest opportunity, tomorrow or in the coming week? While I took heed of the Taoiseach’s responses to the Leaders’ questions put to him this morning, I note the HSE indicated this morning it had not received a copy of the uncensored report, even though the Taoiseach had indicated it would be available to the CEO of the HSE. There was, also, a lack of clarity with regard to that exchange earlier. Apparently, the report has not been received. Will the Taoiseach comment on that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputies Kehoe and Neville on the same issue.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  We are all aware of the importance of this report and must move forward and ensure the recommendations made in it are implemented. The report must be discussed in the Dáil as soon as possible. Would the Taoiseach be in favour of making time available through the Office of the Whip to have the report debated or to have statements in the House so we can ensure its recommendations are implemented? This is a significant issue and we do not want to see what happened in Monageer happen anywhere else. We must take steps to have this debate as soon as possible.

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I support the request that this issue be debated as soon as possible, perhaps tomorrow. Clear suicide ideation and intention were expressed by the father of that family and picked up by the funeral undertaker, but the psychiatric services were not engaged. They should have been engaged immediately, with regard to the psychiatric condition of the father in particular. That was not done. We should have a full debate on all issues, including the failure to involve the psychiatric services which could have saved that family.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  On the same issue, I support what has been said about the need for a debate. I also support what my party leader, Deputy Gilmore, said that a mechanism should be found to publish the full report, perhaps through the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children. Will the Taoiseach indicate whether the Government will review again the failure to publish all of the recommendations of the report? Whatever about the rest of the material in the report, it is inexplicable that the recommendations have not been published in full. Will [435]the Taoiseach respond on that and will the Government review the failure to publish the full recommendations so that we can learn from this event?

Will the Government also review the decision to continue not to support the idea of having full social service out-of-hours at weekends when these kinds of issues arise?

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

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  What is proposed is inadequate — to deal with the issue under the Child Care Act.

Deputy Michael D’Arcy: Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  I support the call of my colleagues for a debate on the Monageer report. It is remarkable that some of the recommendations were deleted from public view. I ask the Taoiseach to ensure that some mechanism is found whereby we can know all of the recommendations made by those who formulated the report. The recommendations were independent and objective and for them to be deleted is most regrettable.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  To make the point again, the recommendations that were redacted were done so on the basis that the manner in which the report was brought forward meant there were legal issues arising with regard to those aspects, as there were with regard to the narrative itself. It is not a question of censoring the report, but a question of having to act on legal advice in terms of what information can be made available consistent with the protection of everyone’s rights in these matters, including the families concerned. These are the reasons behind the decision and there is no other reason. I wish to make that very clear.

Now the report has been published, the question of a debate in the House is a matter for discussion by the Whips. That issue can be taken up in the normal way in terms of how published reports might be debated in the House, if that is deemed appropriate. On the question of the HSE and the chief executive officer, there is a statutory duty of care that puts him in a privileged position. The Attorney General confirmed that to us recently and the report will be made available to him on that basis.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Two issues arise in connection with promised legislation. In an unprecedented display 5,000 people wearing red jerseys walked on the streets of Limerick last Sunday in a plea to the Government to deal with gangland crime and criminal activity. In response, after the march, the Minister for Defence, on behalf of the Government, promised new legislation which the Cabinet was to approve yesterday. Has it approved such legislation? When will it be published and enacted? Is the Taoiseach prepared to give the details of the legislation the Minister described?

A new crime of blasphemy has been reached on Committee Stage but to date has not been defined in law. The House did not debate the matter on Second Stage because it was a new measure in the form of an amendment that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform suddenly introduced. Does it represent Government policy? The Taoiseach might note the comments of the Green Party Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources who appeared somewhat surprised by and less than supportive of the measure. Will the Taoiseach detail why the legislation is being brought forward now and confirm that it has the full support of the Government?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform brings forward such legislative matters on behalf of the Government. In respect of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, while the Garda Síochána has been successful in arresting and achieving the conviction of gang members, this has not stopped people involved with gangs committing further acts of violence and engaging in intimidation. Recent killings of citizens and relatives [436]of persons who have given evidence against gang members are attempts to intimidate witnesses and undermine the criminal justice system. This demands a response from the State. Several measures have been introduced to address organised crime, including the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill 2009. I confirm that at its meeting this week the Government discussed a series of legislative proposals from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, including measures to deal specifically with gang-related crime. Details of these proposals will be announced in due course.

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Yesterday we heard that the Dublin Airport Authority was to cut 400 jobs. Today we hear that Aer Lingus is to axe five services——

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

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  It relates to proposed legislation. Aer Lingus is to axe five services in Belfast and Dublin. The news on the ground is that the aviation sector is in crisis with further cuts to be made, probably by Ryanair and Aer Lingus. When will the Aviation (Pre-Clearance) Bill which is imperative to provide full customs and border facilities at Shannon Airport be brought before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The heads of the Bill were cleared in January and we hope to publish the legislation in this session.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  The number of Bills listed for this session which were included in the list for the autumn session and the session before that is a disgrace. It seems pointless to ask again but when can we expect the Education (Patronage) Bill to be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The heads of the Bill are expected soon but six Bills have been published from the A list since we resumed sitting.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  The Taoiseach’s predecessor, Deputy Bertie Ahern, gave a commitment to televising the proceedings of the House and its committees. Those of us who have been cavassing on the doorstep for the past couple of weeks realise that not alone is there an information deficit about the Lisbon treaty but also in respect of what happens here and at committee meetings. This stretches to people writing articles in newspapers who have no knowledge of what committees do. Will we proceed with televising the good work committees do? Many hours are spent there, yet nobody knows what exactly is going on. For example, last week the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service spent two and a half hours discussing with two professors the National Asset Management Agency. It was a very informative meeting in which there was good participation by committee members. We might as well have been sitting in private. When will we start to televise meetings as most other parliaments do? It would not cost a great deal of money. The cameras are here. There are 54 television stations available today. We might as well have 55 and at least give people the option of tuning in and arriving at a correct appraisal of what happens in both Houses of the Oireachtas. Will the Taoiseach please honour this commitment as quickly as possible?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Can the Taoiseach help the Deputy?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the Joint Administration Committee is examining the matter. There are public finance constraints. I will check the position, as I do not know offhand what is happening.

[437]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I do not wish to go over the Monageer issue again, other than to say, in concert with other Members, that it is utterly preposterous that a report of that nature should be presented with blank pages at a time when there is deep concern all over the country about system failures. It is not sufficient to sweep it under the carpet and presume everything will proceed accordingly. Some things are more important than litigation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We have dealt with that matter.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am aware of that but I wanted to make the point.

Have the heads of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill to give legislative effect to certain provisions of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime which is due to be published in 2009 been discussed or agreed? The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is making some timid efforts to raise his voice in respect of the rising level of crime but he is not proceeding with the legislative programme, nor is he raising his voice sufficiently because those involved in organised crime know that they are unassailable and can continue. Will the Taoiseach tell the House whether the Cabinet has discussed the heads of the Bill and, if not, why not?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I outlined the position on the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill five minutes ago to Deputy Flanagan. I do not know what more Deputy Durkan wants me to add.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I asked about the heads of the Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The publication of the Bill will follow. The House is united in doing all it can within the terms of the Constitution to ensure we deal with those who would attack the democratic institutions of the State by the intimidation of witnesses and jurors and that we bring forward proposals to assist in every way we can the Garda Síochána which is achieving a fair measure of success and whose members have all our support.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  When will the Merchant Shipping Bill be brought before the House? Will we have an opportunity to discuss the Goodbody report on taxis before the end of the session or even 5 June? Is it possible that the Taoiseach will begin to take a hands on approach to finding a replacement industry for SR Technics?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into that matter. The Deputy has been allowed to raise the issue several times on the Adjournment.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  We are now told — the Tánaiste can probably confirm this — that two of the bids for SR Technics have been taken off the table. We are facing a dismal job situation in north Dublin.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand legislation has been published, that it is a matter to be arranged and scheduled for the business of the House.


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