Order of Business.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 682 No. 4

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is proposed to take No. 16, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European asylum support office; No. 22, Industrial Development Bill 2008 [Seanad] — Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 21, Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed); No. 3, Fines Bill 2009 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 16 shall be decided without debate and that the proceedings on Report and Final Stages of No. 22 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in respect of amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are two proposals to be put to the House today. Is No.16, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European asylum support office, agreed?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  We are not happy with these two motions, namely, No. 16 which is being sought without debate and the subsequent guillotine. The House needs to set aside time to debate the imminent disappearance of hopes of recovery of the jobs in SR Technics. As the Tánaiste will know, the company has signalled the sale of key assets in this company which will pull the leg out from under the various proposals that have been developed by the IDA. Many feel that the Government sleepwalked into this crisis.

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

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  I believe I am entitled to give my reasons for proposing——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  A brief reason.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  We need to have a debate because——-

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

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  ——significant State money will go to fund the redundancy package of €15 million. The trade unions have signalled they believe the Government did not make sufficient effort to recover the jobs. Many feel that SRT has not co-operated to the extent necessary and that it has motives other than the recovery of employment. This is vital. It concerns 1,100 jobs on the north side at a time when we simply cannot afford the haemorrhaging of jobs.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

[631]Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  There is a desire in the House to have time to discuss this and see whether, even at this late stage, anything can be retrieved.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Before anything is agreed on the Order of Business, I would like to have a commitment from the Tánaiste that in the House today she will discuss what is another jobs disaster for the Dublin region. It concerns not only the north side of Dublin but also the counties of Meath, Louth and Kildare and surrounding areas where many of the 1,200 people employed by SR Technics live. This Government seems to be helpless in the face of a strategy by the company——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot have a general debate on this now.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——-to take assets out of Ireland, asset strip the Irish company and only leave the base of the skilled workers — 1,200 men — with nothing to do. It is a tragedy for the families involved and the economy in a week when the Dublin Airport Authority has announced a further 400 redundancies. Will the Tánaiste come into the Dáil today before we agree to anything on the Order of Business——

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——to see whether we can work out a strategy for the 1,000 workers at SR Technics who will be unemployed. From now on it will cost the State at least €20 million a year in addition to the €15 million it will pay out in redundancy payments. It is a no-brainer that the Tánaiste should put a package together to try to salvage something for the economy of the greater Dublin region.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have a debate on the matter now. The Deputy has made her point.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I echo what the two Deputies have said. I, too, reject the Order of Business, unless a commitment is given by the Tánaiste that we will have a debate on how the Government has allowed a viable, strategic and world-class Irish industry to be destroyed by multinational vultures. I also urge that we have a debate in order that we can show the absolute failure of the Tánaiste, a waster of time and a waster of jobs——

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

(Interruptions).

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Over 1,000 jobs in SR Technics have been wasted by the Government when there was a possibility of ensuring they could be sustained.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Deputy Ó Snodaigh is the waster.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  The Tánaiste is a waster, as is the Government, as anybody working in the industry knows.

Deputy Dick Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  The Deputy and his party sought to destroy the country.

(Interruptions).

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  As the Ceann Comhairle knows, there have been two requests to his office and it is for him to decide on time availability for Adjournment debates and private notice [632]questions. I note Deputy Ó Snodaigh has not changed since the time the two of us were in college.

The issue of SR Technics has been raised on a considerable number of occasions by members of the Opposition whom I have met privately, as well asby my colleagues on this side of the House. I agree it is serious. At the time I met the unions to discuss the matter. I have also met all the agencies involved. I set up a special project team between Enterprise Ireland and the IDA and employed a specialist in aviation to support the decision making to be made on the basis of a number of bids being made by Irish people who wished to invest. As the House knows, there have been extensive contacts made by me, my officials and agencies with SR Technics over a considerable period of time and I am extremely disappointed with the decision made last night. However, the company indicated that the bids received from the Dublin operations which were supported by the IDA and Enterprise Ireland were well below its assessment of the current market value of the assets. I understand it is still open to bids for the remaining parts of the business, including base maintenance, line maintenance, the garage and remaining tooling and equipment. It has indicated that it will accept bids in respect of base maintenance until Friday, 22 May and Wednesday, 27 May in respect of line maintenance and the garage.

I reiterate that I will continue to work with Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and the DAA, as well as the remaining bidders and other interested parties, to maximise the available employment opportunities, in addition to the remaining 250 plus jobs in maintenance and design. We shall continue to endeavour to work to the best of our ability. The Government, through its agencies, has fulfilled its role and will continue to do so between now and the end of May.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is too little, too late.

(Interruptions).

Question put: “That the proposals for dealing with No. 16 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 65; Níl, 49.

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 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 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 Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. 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 Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. 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 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 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 Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael.
Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J. Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on 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 Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward. 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 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 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 Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
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 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 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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
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 Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. 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 David Stanton 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. 22 agreed to?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is not agreed to. I do not propose to seek a division on this matter but I cannot understand why the Government has proposed to guillotine debate on a Bill which has only one amendment. There is no emergency and the debate could be finished long before the guillotine time. The Bill could be dealt with effectively in half an hour. The use of a guillotine is outrageous. I ask the Government not to abuse the privilege of using a guillotine, which is intended for emergencies, on standard legislation where there is no emergency whatsoever. Only one amendment has been tabled. Half an hour would be sufficient to debate it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I will agree to that.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The Government should get used to the guillotine. It is coming soon for them.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is well they have hard necks.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Is Deputy Ring still in Fine Gael? I thought he had joined the Labour Party.

[634](Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Tánaiste has indicated her agreement to Deputy Stagg’s proposal.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Before you proceed with the Order of Business, a Cheann Comhairle, I beg your indulgence for a moment while so many Members are in the House. Today, our usher team-leader, Mr. Mick Phelan, is performing his last official duty in the House, after many years of dedicated duty. As so many Deputies are present, it is appropriate that we wish him well.

Members rose and applauded.

We wish him well and thank him for his wonderful service. I have been advised that he served under many Governments as far back as the time of Liam Cosgrave. We have all known him as an absolute gentleman and he has always carried out his duties with the utmost decorum. He is a great enthusiast of the GAA and the Lily Whites. I do not know if they will be killed on Sunday but we wish them well. We also wish well his wife, Patricia, and wish them a long and happy retirement. I am sure he will not be a stranger to the House.

  11 o’clock

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  On behalf of Fine Gael I join in the note of congratulation. I cannot remember many people getting a standing ovation from all sides of the House and even from the bull pen. One has to be something special to get that. Mick’s is a testimony to the triumph of hope over expectation. He continues to loyally support the Lily Whites despite their continual disappointments which shows his great loyalty. We have also enjoyed the fruits of his loyalty, kindliness and his ethic of hard work. We really appreciate it and hope that Mick and his family enjoy many long years in retirement. The future is bright for the Lily Whites.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  On behalf of all the Labour Deputies I join in the tributes to Mick Phelan. He is one of the people who always brightens up Dáil Éireann, particularly when one comes in on a wet day, such as today, and he encourages one to keep on going, just as he encourages Kildare to keep going. He has given long service stretching back to the time of Liam Cosgrave as Taoiseach. He served before that in the Army and the Military Police and has a military bearing on all occasions. It has been a particular delight to have worked with Mick and to have been the recipient of his courtesy and encouragement on so many occasions. When one comes here as a new Deputy it can be very confusing; it is somewhat like the first day at school having to learn the ropes. I hope that Mick and his wife Patricia enjoy a happy retirement. I know that he brought the luck to the ushers in their recent lotto win.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I join with the others in the House in congratulating Mick on, at long last, escaping from here. Long may he have an enjoyable retirement with Patricia. When I first met him he was one of the most courteous people here. I am not saying the others were not courteous but he has been very helpful in all of my dealings with him and in his dealings with the rest of the party. One of these years the Lily Whites might get somewhere and I wish him luck in that pursuit. I realise he is a great fan of the GAA throughout the country, not only the Lily Whites. I hope he will enjoy many more matches in future. Go n-éirí an t-ádh leat agus gach rath ortsa agus ar do chlann.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  On behalf of the Green Party, An Comhaontas Glas, I add my best wishes to Mick on his retirement. On my first day here in the Dáil I could not get over the courtesy and efficiency of all the ushers but Mick was one of the first people I met and I believed it was auspicious to meet him on my first day. I recognise he has a great fondness for [635]his home constituency in Kildare and his love for the GAA. He served admirably in the Congo and at one time stated, referring to the dangers there, if people knew what it was like they would not have half the fear in Leinster House. I wish him, his family and his wife Patricia every happiness and continued good health in a long and happy retirement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas a ghabháil le Mick as ucht an mhéid atá déanta aige i rith na mblianta ar son mhuintir Theach Laighean. I express my deepest gratitude to Mick for his service to the Members and staff of Leinster House throughout the past 27 years. His professionalism, dedication, kindness, courtesy and friendship are something every Member of the House and the Staff in Leinster House deeply appreciate. I wish him well in the future and we will miss him.

Let the battle resume.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Discord need not necessarily break out straight away. I wish to ask about some legislation. Many welcomed the press release from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform yesterday to the effect that there would be legislation to deal with gangland crime. However, I note the signal from Government is that the legislation will not appear until October. Can the Minister not do a little better than that? There is a sense of great urgency about this matter and wide support for it. Will the Minister do better? Will the Tánaiste consult with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to try to fast-track it?

What is the position with the legislation to establish the National Asset Management Agency? We read in the newspapers that it will be introduced in July. Will the Dáil be held back from summer recess to complete the passage of that legislation? Is that the intention of Government?

What is the position with the legislation that dates back to a series of commitments made last October in respect of the rationalisation of State agencies? There was to be a merger of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority, the merger of qualifications authorities in education, the merger of museums and the National Gallery, the merger of fisheries boards and the merger of the Taxi Regulator and the DTA, Dublin Transportation Authority? All of these require legislation but there appears to be no fixed date for them. If these are genuine rationalisations to achieve taxpayer savings we would expect to see the legislation surface. Where is the legislative programme to achieve these savings promised by the Government?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  On the issue of crime legislation, the Minister is most anxious to have it during this session. I realise it is a tight timescale but I believe we will get the co-operation of the House once it is introduced.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  It is not a question of the co-operation of the House, it is a question of the publication of the legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It will be published when it is published.

On the NAMA legislation, the Taoiseach indicated yesterday this is a key priority for the Government. Work is ongoing on its preparation and we are doing our utmost to have it available as quickly as possible. If we can have it during this session then so be it. Every effort is being made to publish the legislation as quickly as possible.

On the rationalisation of agencies, I am aware the Taxi Regulator aspect is being facilitated in the Transport Bill before the House. In my legislative area, I would hope to have the legislation dealing with the NCA, National Consumer Agency, and the Competition Authority during this session if at all possible. As the Deputy will be aware we are carrying out an overall [636]review of the Competition Authority in addition to the amalgamation. We will do our utmost to try to have it as quickly as possible. I can revert to the Deputy on the specifics of the others.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  I refer to the notice published yesterday on the NTMA website advertising and tendering for advisers for NAMA. We have received legal advice that proceeding with NAMA as a shadow agency is very fraught in terms of the constitutional and legal proprieties. Information held by the Central Bank, the Financial Regulator and other agencies is confidential under the terms of the legislation. Thus far, the Minister for Finance has spent between €2 million and €6 million in fees to Merrill Lynch and a preliminary fee of €3.8 million to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot allow a debate on that matter now. The Deputy should only ask a question which is in order.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will the Tánaiste indicate if it is the intention of the Government to proceed with a shadow NAMA with all costs on the taxpayer but without legal clarity, particularly in the context of the legal advice that legislative power is required? I inform the Tánaiste that in respect of NAMA and particularly in respect of the earlier reply on SR Technics——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We must hold a debate on that matter another day.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  If the Tánaiste were on “The Apprentice” she would be told, “You are fired” because of the lack of performance. Can the Tánaiste tell us what is happening on NAMA and when the legislation will appear?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Just the legislation, Tánaiste. The question is not in order other than in relation to the legislation.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  We do not need “The Apprentice” for that. People on the doorsteps are saying it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The doorsteps have nothing to do with the Standing Orders.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  A Cheann Comhairle, as you know, this is the Order of Business and not Leaders’ Questions. I work within the rules that have been set down by the House, therefore I am curtailed in answering on the specifics of any piece of legislation. As Deputy Burton is aware, members of the NTMA and the new chief executive designate of NAMA are appearing at the moment before an Oireachtas committee, and I am sure the questions can be addressed through that forum.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  They are not elected. The Tánaiste is.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  As I indicated to the House two or three minutes ago, the legislation is a serious priority for the Government and every effort is being made to publish it and bring it to the House as quickly as possible.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I wish to raise two matters. First, with the equivalent of St. James’s Hospital being closed for a year due to delayed discharges, and with people lying on trolleys, 498 last week——

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

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——and a seriously ill lady patient sitting on a chair for 36 hours——

[637]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot debate that now.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——when will the nursing homes Bill be introduced? I have a second point on legislation. Given the clear lack of communication between the Minister for Health and Children and the CEO of the HSE, resulting in a possible €50 million loss to the HSE through the new consultants’ contract, will a supplementary budget be introduced——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  On the legislation, now.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——or will the likes of children in Crumlin be left without services, as are many adults?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The legislation will be before the House next week.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  What about a supplementary budget?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We do not ask questions about a supplementary budget on the Order of Business unless it is promised.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It requires legislation, therefore——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Standing Order is clear.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Some time ago, the European Commission issued instructions to the governments of all member states to introduce conservation policies for eel fishing. This is pending, subject to a decision at the end of May, but it appears the Minister or his predecessor indicated their intention to ban eel fishing for 90 years. The Joint Committee on European Affairs deemed this to be excessive on the basis that Ireland’s contribution to the diminution of fish stocks is small. As the measure will involve both primary and secondary legislation, will the Tánaiste tell the House whether the Minister will defer agreeing to the European Commission’s proposals until after the Bill on the restructuring of the inland fisheries sector has been introduced, or might it be possible to defer the secondary legislation that will be needed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Tánaiste, on the legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  As Deputy Durkan is aware, the Bill on the inland fisheries deals with structures and the amalgamation of the regional fisheries boards. It does not refer specifically to the secondary legislation. However, I will ask the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Conor Lenihan, to contact the Deputy directly on the matter.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle, I thank the Tánaiste——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is the best she can do.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I know, but this is an important issue for the people concerned. I thank the Tánaiste for her reply, but the senior Minister is the person with responsibility. Would it be possible to defer the decision at least until adequate consideration has been given by the responsible person?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Tánaiste said she will take that up with the Minister of State, who will be in contact with the Deputy.

[638]Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  I ask the Tánaiste that some time be set aside for a discussion in this House about the non-availability of finance for the running of small businesses.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not a runner now.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  A Cheann Comhairle——

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

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  My reason for asking is that, around the county, in every town and county——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I know all about that.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Banks are not giving small private businesses money.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Hayes, you know as well as I do we cannot go into that now.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The reality is that people are losing their jobs every day.

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

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  I want to know from the Tánaiste, and I am serious in this——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No, I cannot deal with that now, as Deputy Hayes well knows. I must call Deputy Bannon next.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  I want time to be set aside to discuss the matter. The banks are turning a blind eye to people with real problems.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Hayes, I must move on.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  The Tánaiste wants to answer me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputy Bannon.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  In fairness, a Cheann Comhairle, I do not stand up too often.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I know, but when you do, you should try to stay in order. That is the point.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  I asked a question and I would like an answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot deal with that now. Deputy Bannon is next. No exception is made for anyone, that is the way we are.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Given the recommendations by Teagasc regarding biofuel pumps, which is impacting on rural areas, particularly in my area of the midlands, when will the Bill to amend the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007 be published?

On another issue, front-line staff are being cut back right across the hospitals in the midlands——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That might be the case, but we cannot discuss that now.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  It has been brought to my notice——

[639]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It does not matter.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  It has been brought to my notice that an electronic filing system is being installed at Mullingar——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No, I have to move on, Deputy Bannon.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  ——at the cost of €100,000. Who takes these wildcat decisions?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call the Tánaiste, on the legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The legislation will be published later this year.

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  I would like to ask the Tánaiste about the current position on the full US pre-clearance facility at Shannon Airport. Legislation has to come before the House to enable it to become operational. What is the current position?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We hope to have it before the summer.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  I welcome the publication of the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009. However, the Bill is more than four years late. We have had a toothless quango in operation in the past number of years and millions of euro have been paid out. Also, there has been no regulation of the property management companies. Can the Tánaiste confirm the multi-unit developments bill and the Property Services (Regulation) Bill 2009 will go through the House in the current session?

May I also raise the issue of Prosper Fingal and the funding cutback in relation to 35——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No. The Deputy was going well there, but he cannot raise that. He heard what I said to the other Members. I cannot make an exception for him.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  It is going to save the country a lot more money if funding is given to look after——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That might be the case, but I cannot deal with that. I ask the Tánaiste to deal with the legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It was indicated yesterday that the multi-unit developments Bill will be brought before Government on Tuesday with a view to its imminent publication. Hopefully we will get it to the House as quickly as possible.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  We are due to get the Adoption Bill 2008 from the Seanad soon, but the bilateral agreements with Vietnam and Russia are still outstanding and hundreds of families throughout the country cannot adopt because the agreements have broken down. It is important that is resolved before the Bill goes through. Will the Tánaiste treat this as a matter of urgency? Will a high-level ministerial delegation go to Vietnam to deal with the issue? There is a different issue in Russia, but will the Government address the issues urgently for the hundreds of families throughout the country who want to adopt?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Tánaiste, on the Adoption Bill 2008.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We hope to get the Adoption Bill 2008 from the Seanad fairly quickly. This serious issue has been raised with all Members of the House and the Minister of State at the Department of Health for Children, Deputy Andrews, is doing his utmost to deal with the imminent decision——

[640]Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  It is very disappointing.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is very difficult for a lot of people, but hopefully we will be in a position to give clarity on the issue.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The ball has been dropped three times on this.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  As Deputy O’Sullivan is aware, a number of high-level groups have travelled to Vietnam to deal with the issues.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  We know the real reasons.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Last September, when we discussed in the Chamber the response to the Anglo Irish Bank crisis, I got the impression from the Minister for Finance that the companies legislation would be amended to define the role of the public interest directors. Such an amendment would enable the public interest directors who have been appointed at a number of banks to fulfil their role. Under the legislation, their duty is to the shareholders, in a limited sense. I recall the Minister suggested in the debate that if such an amendment was necessary it would be made. When will it come before us? It will enable the public interest directors, for example, to respond to the absence of credit, which is one reason they were put in place.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I assume the Tánaiste will contact the Minister for Finance.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Companies Act 1990 comes under my Department. As the Deputy is aware, we are carrying out a number of serious reviews of the Act and more than 1,200 sections will be brought before the House for consideration. The specific issue the Deputy mentioned is an overarching one between the Companies Act and what will happen in financial regulation. The view is that issues appertaining to financial regulatory matters will be transferred in due course so they are under the auspices of the Department of Finance rather than my Department. I will deal specifically with companies which are financial institutions but there are other overarching matters that must be dealt with. I will ask the Minister for Finance to prepare a briefing note for the Deputy.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  While I will not delay the House, one would appreciate that those who have been named, and they have been named from a wide source, will be sitting there, going through the annual meetings of the banks, with the shareholders asking questions. Much more importantly, however, this was an important gesture as to how the public interest is served. If they are to serve the public interest as was the intention, they need legal clarity. I appreciate the memorandum.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I wish to ask the Tánaiste about three matters regarding legislation. The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government made two announcements recently, one with regard to electronic voting and the other concerning directly elected mayors. Yesterday in the House, the Taoiseach confirmed that the directly elected mayors will require legislation. When will it come before the House? Given the long overdue decision with regard to the scrapping of the e-voting project, will the dismantling of this project also require legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I doubt it.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  We will see.

[641]Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The Ceann Comhairle is missed on the other side of the House.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The meter is still running on that one.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  They could use the machines for soccer matches.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  On another matter, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill has just completed Second Stage. When will Committee Stage be taken and will it be before the summer recess?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  On the issue of directly elected mayors, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is commencing the drafting of that legislation. Naturally, there is a timeframe as there is to be an electoral process and it will be done as quickly as possible. The second issue raised does not require legislation. The third item will be a matter for the Whips to decide and I am sure the Deputy’s Whip will express his views on trying to bring that Stage to the House as quickly as possible.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  With regard to the reintroduction of university fees legislation that has been promised, has the Minister for Education and Science brought the memorandum before Cabinet yet?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  That is speculation, not promised legislation.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  No legislation is promised.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  It is promised, if the Tánaiste will check the records. Legislation is required to reintroduce the fees and I am asking whether the memorandum has been brought before Government.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  That is speculation.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Government cannot hide it for the local elections. The people in the Public Gallery know they will be paying every year.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is not promised. I have not got it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Tánaiste said no legislation is promised.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  I wish to raise an issue in which the Tánaiste has a particular interest. A little boy called Jack, which is his name and is not an assumed name, is about to lose his special needs assistant. He has a particular need that cannot be covered by the other special needs assistants in the school. When will we see the removal of the suspension of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act? Things are happening under the suspension of that Act that should not be allowed in any civilised country. It was introduced to ensure that children with special needs in education would be treated properly but the Government walked in during the budget last year and simply suspended it. One would not see it in a dictatorship. When will the suspension be——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to raise this on the Adjournment.

Deputy Kathleen Lynch: Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  The question is when the suspension will be removed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I know what the question is. That is not promised legislation. The Deputy will have to raise this matter on the Adjournment.


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