Order of Business.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 682 No. 6

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. a9, Finance Bill 2009 — Financial Resolutions; No. b9, Finance Bill 2009 — Allocation of Time Motion for Select Committee; No. 3, Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; No. 21, Broadcasting Bill 2008 [Seanad] — Report and Final Stages (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. a9 and b9 shall be decided without debate and that in the case of No. a9, Financial Resolutions Nos. 1 — 8 shall be moved together and decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair. Private Members’ Business shall be No. 35, Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Protection of [22]Debtors) Bill 2009 — Second Stage (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is one proposal to put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. a9 and b9 — Financial Resolutions and Allocation of Time Motion regarding the Finance Bill 2009 — agreed?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  May I ask the Taoiseach a question on that? The Government intends to introduce a new Part 3 to the Finance Bill on VAT dealing with property and avoidance provisions. When did it come to light that it would be necessary to introduce this section, Part 3, between sections 18 and 19, to the Finance Bill? How did it come to light so suddenly that the Taoiseach should announce this morning that the Bill is to come before the House?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  As regards the proposition before us, before we make a determination on the number of financial resolutions presented, will the Taoiseach indicate if the Government is considering or proposing a measure to address the terrible situation faced by countless families across the State because of fixed interest mortgages, and the consequences for them in ever more straitened economic circumstances? There clearly is a need for the Government to take action in this respect. It is not only about dealing with the financial institutions, but also about dealing with the reality that is affecting ordinary people in their daily lives. Until this issue is tackled there will be a continuing serious deterioration in people’s confidence that politics can address their core difficulties. I urge the Taoiseach to offer some hope in this respect and I would appreciate his reply.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I can deal only with the matters before us. If there are other matters for debate they should be raised with the Minister and obviously the next Stage of the Bill would be the appropriate time to do that.

As regards the specific question from the Leader of the Opposition, there is no section of the Finance Bill, as published, relating to VAT. Three ministerial amendments relating to one item on VAT are now being introduced. This requires a new Part 3 on VAT to be introduced between sections 18 and 19 of the Bill as published. The part on VAT normally follows that on excise in the Finance Acts. The amendments relate to a VAT on property anti-avoidance provisions and insert a new part into the Finance Bill containing three sections. These form a package of measures which amend sections 7 and 7B of the VAT Act to close off a loophole in the VAT on property legislation, which has been used to avoid paying VAT in certain circumstances. The avoidance mechanism relied on misinterpreting a particular provision in the VAT Act, which was designed to prevent double taxation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is the first proposal agreed?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I am not objecting to it; I just wanted to know because this came to light very quickly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Agreed. I call Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  In the context of the Broadcasting Bill, I noted a comment by the Taoiseach on Sunday when he said, “I think it’s a matter for RTE to reflect as to whether its perceived impartiality as the national broadcaster was brought into question given the circumstances in which a prominent broadcaster has been commenting on Government policy——

[23]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss prominent broadcasters now, Deputy, with all due respects.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——while at the same time weighing up a decision to run for the main Opposition party after being approached sometime before that”. That is a quotation from the Taoiseach.

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

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  As regards the Broadcasting Bill, does the Taoiseach intend to comment on that or to withdraw his attack on the national broadcaster, which is being funded by the Government, in the context of somebody who happens to be a candidate for this party in a by-election?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I do not know anything about attacks on broadcasters or whatever, but I can tell the Deputy that his question is not in order. He will have to find another way of broadcasting that one because it cannot be broadcast on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Is it right that the head of the Government should attack the national broadcaster by saying, “You people are not impartial” simply——

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

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——because objective comment was being made by a person who decided to join a major political party to actually do something about the state of the public finances and move our country forward?

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

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Does he intend to withdraw that comment in the course of the debate on the Broadcasting Bill?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I am calling Deputy Gilmore next.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I ask the Taoiseach that in the context of the Broadcasting Bill.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  That is out of order.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A declaration of intent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not in order. Deputy Gilmore is next.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  It is out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is ingenious, but it is not in order. I call Deputy Gilmore.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  In the course of an exchange yesterday on Leaders’ Questions between the Taoiseach and myself, he stated that the Labour Party candidate in the Dublin South by-election had——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss the Labour Party candidate either.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  No.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot discuss either candidate.

[24]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I want the Taoiseach to correct the record of the House on something that was raised here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Gilmore cannot raise that on the Order of Business.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is perfectly in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must implement the Standing Orders of the House, which are made by the Members.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is about a statement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If the Deputy wants to change the Standing Orders of the House there is a way of doing that.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  A Cheann Comhairle, you have not heard what I am going to raise yet.

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

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  You heard the term “by-election” and you blew the whistle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Then I heard the word “candidate”. I heard Deputy Kenny as well.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Taoiseach said yesterday——

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

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have the record here. He said that Senator Alex White suggested that the temporary nationalisation of the banks would last for 20 years. In fact, it was not Senator Alex White who stated that. It was the Taoiseach’s own candidate in the by-election.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot allow that.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Deputy Gilmore is making up for his own mistakes when he did not know the right road into Navan. We will put it in larger letters for him the next time.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have the transcript of the television debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Notice must be given of any issue which relates to correcting the record.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have the transcript of the television debate which took place and I am asking the Taoiseach——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  No. Let me explain the situation, Deputy. Any issue which arises in this House——

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am asking the Taoiseach——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Hold on one second, please. Any issue which arises regarding correcting the record must be done by way of notice. Notice must be given.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am giving notice now, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  And you have been given it.

[25]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I want the Taoiseach to correct the record.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must move on now.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I want the Taoiseach to correct the record on this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Notice must be given to the Chair.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The statement that the nationalisation would take 20 years was made by the Fianna Fáil candidate, not the Labour candidate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to write to the Chair on that matter.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Taoiseach should take the earliest opportunity to correct the record.

Deputy Liz McManus: Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  He should be a man and do it now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I must check my own records.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  They are not great.

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

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Has the Taoiseach seen the HSE report into the reconfiguration of acute hospital services in the south? We met with HSE representatives——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy will have to meet them again.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  ——from Professor Drumm all the way down.

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

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  We met them last Wednesday and they gave a commitment to Deputy Deenihan and myself that the accident and emergency department in Kerry General Hospital would not be touched.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy can raise that on the Adjournment or by way of a question, whichever he prefers.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  In light of the report in the Irish Examiner——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Irish Examiner cannot be discussed either.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Today, the Irish Examiner states that——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It does not matter. It is no good.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  ——there will be only one acute service for Cork and Kerry.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  There is only one acute newspaper in Cork.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Sheahan cannot discuss that now. I have to ask him to resume his seat because we cannot go on with this now.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Will the Taoiseach confirm this? Has he seen the report?

[26]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There is another way to raise this matter and I ask Deputy Sheahan to raise it in that way and I will try to help him.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  What would that be?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Try to put it on the Adjournment, for example.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  That is south Kerry flattery.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  With regard to the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, I wish to raise the issue of the publication today of the report by the Dublin office of Teamwork Management Services, which recommends having only regional acute care hospital based in Cork city at Cork University Hospital and five other hospitals——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The disease has spread. Deputy Sheehan cannot discuss that now.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  ——in the Cork and Kerry region including——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot allow Deputy Sheehan to do so if I did not allow Deputy Sheahan.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  ——Bantry——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  They would all say that I was favouring County Kerry over County Cork and we could not have that.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Arising from this——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We will not deal with this. I cannot allow it.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  ——will the Minister for Health and Children publish this report rather than hiding it in——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot allow it. I would love to but I cannot do so.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  ——the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This issue will not be raised so Deputy Sherlock need not worry about it and can sit down. Does he want to discuss the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill also?

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Is it in order to ask the Minister for Health and Children to come before the House to discuss the reconfiguration of hospitals in the Cork and Kerry region?

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

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  They are seeking to do away with acute services in——

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Why wait until after the election to close down the hospital? Bantry hospital——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Sheehan is not being recognised by the Chair. The Taoiseach on the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. When will it arrive?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is awaiting Committee Stage.

[27]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  It is awaiting Committee Stage; that is the end of that.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  I hope the Ceann Comhairle will allow the special notice question that I submitted to his office.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should also table it for the Adjournment.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  When is it proposed that the Government will ratify the United Nations convention against all corruption? On a related matter, has the Minister for Foreign Affairs sought permission to have Irish diplomatic representation at the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi? Will he make a statement today on the Irish part of the European Union concern about this trial?

  12 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The UN convention to which Deputy Higgins referred was signed by Ireland at a conference in Mexico in 2003. In consultation with the Attorney General’s office and other Departments, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has examined the convention and identified what legislation in the criminal law area is required to give effect to its provisions. The Criminal Justice (Mutual Assistance) Act 2008 provides for certain necessary measures. The remaining legislative requirements concerning bribery of foreign public officials and protection for whistleblowers will be dealt with in the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2008 which completed Second Stage in the Dáil on 30 October 2008 and is due to commence Committee Stage shortly. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform expects that once the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill is enacted it should be possible to proceed to ratify the convention.

Deputy Bernard Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I wish to add my voice to the other Deputies on the unpublished report by the consultants on acute services in the Munster area.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That matter has been dealt with.

Deputy Bernard Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  I seek from the Ceann Comhairle a special debate because he can see there is widespread concern about——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is a matter for the——

Deputy Bernard Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  ——the sneak attack on acute hospital services in the south Munster area and the way the HSE treated us in a very political way after the elections?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I cannot deal with that now and I ask Deputy Allen to table it for the Adjournment.

Deputy Bernard Allen: Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  It has been tabled.

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

Deputy Dan Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  With regard to the mental capacity Bill, will the Taoiseach advise us on the implications of the decision to postpone the construction of the prison at Thornton Hall on the construction of the central mental hospital on the same site?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot get into that now. We discussed that in Leaders’ questions and, on top of that, a special notice question has also been tabled.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The final report of what began as the Laffoy commission on institutional child abuse will be published today and I have no doubt that it will highlight a [28]terrible litany of abuse of children by church and State over a number of decades. Will the Taoiseach schedule a debate on the commission’s report and will he consider facilitating the same in the coming week so that the House can properly address the very serious expected content of the report and tease out its recommendations?

On 14 May, the Mental Health Commission published its report and again highlighted the fact that hundreds of people are being detained in institutions throughout the State——

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——without proper human rights standards or frequent inspections. That matter requires urgent address in the House. Will the Taoiseach schedule address of the Mental Health Commission report in the context of the very serious content of that report? Allied to this, will the Taoiseach consider bringing forward the mental health (amendment) Bill that has been long scheduled but has yet to be addressed on the floor of the House?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  On this matter, I understand the report is to be published later today. I have seen a copy of it and it makes shocking reading; it refers to more than 1,000 cases in 216 institutions and reports severe physical and sexual abuse of children such as children being flogged and severely beaten——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot go into the content of the report now unfortunately.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  There are issues that the House will need to debate, particularly on the role of the Department of Education and Science in respect of its responsibilities then and the agreement made more recently with the congregations on redress and its cost to the taxpayer. I would like an opportunity provided at an early stage for a debate on this report, which will shock many people when it is published today.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The report that will be officially published at 2.30 p.m. by the Ryan commission, which started as the Laffoy commission, will pierce through the culture of secrecy which for decades has covered up the extent of abuse, both physical and sexual, of young people in institutions throughout the State. In this context, I join with other Deputies in asking for time to be set aside next week to debate these reports and the recommendations emerging from them.

The commission has been sitting for nine years and what we will read in today’s reports depicts events that happened in the past. What is relevant to today’s Order Paper is that the culture of secrecy in this area continues at the behest of the State and its failures to provide transparency and illuminate the light of what is happening in our child care services. I will ask the Taoiseach to address a number of matters, all of which are proper to the Order of Business.

No. 72a on today’s Dáil Order Paper proposes that the Monageer report, which has been censored to such a degree that even recommendations are censored, be forthwith referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children in full and uncensored so the committee can consider its publication and consider received submissions on recommendations. Will the Taoiseach take this motion tomorrow morning in Government time without debate? The Minister for Health and Children, subsequent to my raising this, has publicly gone on the record outside the House to indicate that she may consider such procedure, giving the Government an opportunity to lift the veil of secrecy from that report.

[29]With regard to the culture of secrecy, at present there are major problems in our child care services.

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I will come to two reports that should be published.

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Hundreds of children are reported to be at risk whose cases have not been assigned to social workers and files are gathering dust on shelves in offices throughout the HSE about which nothing has been done for three years. What is the Government doing to obtain from the HSE the reports on our child protection services covering the years 2007 and 2008? The reports should have been published by now; the 2007 report is a year and a half late. Since 1991, there is a statutory obligation under the relevant legislation on children to publish these reports. They should have been laid before the House by now. The culture of secrecy continues and the HSE is part of the problem,——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot elaborate any further. He has made his point.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——not part of the solution.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The report being published today is to be welcomed. It fulfils the Government’s intention in setting up the commission that the story of the residents was told. Inevitably, the report will show up failings of the State and others in providing care and protection to these children. The then Taoiseach’s apology in 1999 was an admission of failings on the part of the State, and the report now tells that story.

I acknowledge the work done by the members of the commission and the members of the confidential committee and particularly that of the chairperson, Judge Sean Ryan, and his predecessor, Judge Mary Laffoy. I acknowledge the co-operation of many with the work of the commission, particularly the former residents for whom it must have been a difficult and traumatic experience. The commission was one of range of measures put in place by the Government to address the effects of abuse. These included the Residential Institutions Redress Board, the Education Finance Board, the national counselling service, the funding of survivor groups and funding of an information and tracing service.

The State has already indicated at the public hearings of the commission its regret for certain inadequacies in discharging its function relating to the industrial and reformatory school system. Areas identified were funding, inspections, handling of complaints and education and training. Apart from the findings, the report might contain recommendations to alleviate or address the effects of the abuse suffered by those attending the commission and to prevent any further incidents of institutional abuse. Such recommendations will have to be taken on board by the State, particularly with regard to procedures and guidelines for child protection.

I understand the report comprises 3,500 pages. Relevant Departments will require time to consider the contents and the recommendations. The Government will carefully study the findings and recommendations to ensure they are fully considered in light of current practices and to ensure our children enjoy the highest standards of care and protection. It is also important to mention that while the Government can put in place procedures and measures for the protection of our children, we all as a society must be alert to the dangers that exist, be vigilant as to what is happening in our communities and have the courage to intervene when the well-being of a child is at risk.

[30]The Whips can discuss this matter. Everybody will have an opportunity to consider this thorough and comprehensive report. I thank everybody who was involved in producing it. It will show what lessons must be learned and acknowledge the great failings of the State and many others in the care of children who were held in a custodial manner for many years at a time when the criminal justice system was totally different, thankfully, from the one I hope we have now.

With regard to the matters raised by Deputy Shatter, efforts are being made by the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, to find out if there is a way the legal advice issues can be dealt with so an Oireachtas committee can continue to consider the report. That process is ongoing between the Minister, Deputy Mary Harney, the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, and the chairman of the committee.

I am not aware of the position regarding the report on child protection services. I will check it out.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Monageer report was with the Government for six months before it was published. It should have been possible to go back and check procedures. The procedure now proposed by Fine Gael is the procedure used in 1996 to publish the report into the tragic death of Kelly Fitzgerald. The legal advice obtained never addresses this issue. On the very day we are piercing the veil of secrecy over the abuse of children in institutions in this State we should not be maintaining secrecy over a report published about the tragic death of a family and particularly the deaths of two children who died at the hands of at least one of their parents. Could the Government regard this as a priority?

With regard to the HSE, I have raised the two reports in this House in the past and afforded time for them to be published. Our current child protection services are broken. The apology given by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, is meaningless in the context of children currently at risk——

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  That is wrong. It meant a great deal to those people.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——to whom no social worker has been assigned.

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  An apology given by a future Taoiseach in seven or eight years for the damage done to those children would be meaningless too.

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Let us not deal with hypocrisies on the day this report is published.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The Deputy should check his Government’s record. His Government would not do it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  We cannot have a general discussion on it now. I call Deputy Ó Caoláin.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  This Government is utterly failing in its charge of the child protection services. On the day this report is published, it should hang its head in shame.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputy Ó Caoláin on the reports.

[31]Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is a disgrace. There are children in this country at risk and the Government does not have the structure in place to protect them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I will have to ask Deputy Shatter to leave if he does not desist.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Minister of State with responsibility for children knows nothing about the child protection services beyond 2006. He is relying on information that is two and a half years out of date.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I must reply to Deputy Shatter. I listened intently to what he had to say but, unfortunately, he went on to make a political charge that is totally unfounded. What he is seeking to portray as a veil of secrecy is not a veil of secrecy. He tries to conjunct an issue which we all agree was appalling — the vista that will emerge with respect to a bygone time which is, thankfully, no longer with us — and which relates to institutional facilitation of abuse with another tragedy which took place in recent times. The Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, has been anxious to put the facts of that case to the fullest extent possible in the public domain for discussion. There is no veil of secrecy involved. It is a question of the protection of rights, something the Deputy would be very quick to defend in his own profession,——

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The priority is the welfare of children.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——if a person was not being given an opportunity to defend them, where a reputation was being adversely affected on the basis of a non-statutory inquiry in which all the people who were asked contributed and participated fully. I do not believe it is right——

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  There has never been a report in the history of the State whose recommendations were censored.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputy Shatter, I will have to ask you to leave.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am sorry, Deputy Shatter, but it is not right to portray it in that way. Legal advice was given. We did not write the report. The report had to be tested against those criteria and it was unfortunate that this level of redaction took place. The Minister, Deputy Mary Harney, and the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, are working on a way to improve that situation without being oblivious to the protection of the rights of other people who participated and contributed to the inquiry. When making a point the Deputy should try not to go over the top as usual, misrepresent the position and be unfair to people and their motives. The motivation of the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, is as good as Deputy Shatter’s on these matters.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  There should be accountability for the failure of services.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I call Deputy Ó Caoláin on the publication of the reports. I do not want to hear any speeches.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Could the Chief Whip indicate if he shares my interpretation of the Taoiseach’s response to my request earlier, which was supported by Deputy Gilmore, to have the Laffoy commission report debated in the House? I hope he has the same positive interpretation of the Taoiseach’s reply as I hope I can accord to it. The content of the report is of such importance that we must have certainty. Can this be clarified?

I also asked the Taoiseach questions on two other related matters, to which he did not reply. One related to the Mental Health Commission report published last week. Can we have a [32]debate in the House on that most important report? Finally, with regard to the mental health (amendment) Bill and in light of all the information that has been exposed in the Mental Health Commission report, can the necessary steps be taken to have that legislation brought forward with the speed it certainly deserves?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The question of debates on reports, produced by the Mental Health Commission or otherwise, is a matter for the Whips. I do not have an adverse view on these matters if an appropriate occasion can be agreed between the Whips. I do not believe the mental health (amendment) Bill will be available this year. That is my latest information. With regard to a debate on the report that is to be published today, it is a 3,500 page report. It must be considered and studied and a debate brought forward in an appropriate and timely way. It is important that all parties, including Departments, be given an opportunity to consider the report. It is an important report which deserves consideration by the House in due course. That must be done in a calm and collected way upon full and proper scrutiny of the report and all its implications.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Was the proposed legislation by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform on management companies brought before the Cabinet yesterday, as the Taoiseach indicated last week? If so, when will the legislation come before the House? I know the Taoiseach appreciates the urgency of this matter. I may be crossing the line into the content of the Bill with my next question. Will the legislation include the provision of powers to abolish or wind up management companies which should never have been set up in the first place?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The management of multi-unit developments Bill will be published in the next couple of days and the detail will be outlined then. It is very detailed legislation. I understand it will be taken in the Seanad in the first instance.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Now that the super-prison on the Thornton Hall site is not going ahead, is it intended to introduce legislation repealing the Prison Development (Confirmation of Resolutions) Act 2008 to allow the site to return to agricultural use and perhaps to allow Government Members to retire and graze on it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That does not sound like promised legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am not sure how fond Deputy Ó Snodaigh is of grass. The Deputy may not have been in the Chamber for the beginning of the Order of Business. To clarify, a prison will be built on the Thornton Hall site. An amended proposal will be brought forward by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and, if necessary, legislation will be introduced in the House and enacted to ensure there is a place to put all those who break the law and require a custodial sentence.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  For all the wrong reasons, I welcome the issues raised today by my colleagues from Cork and Kerry. They seem to have been given information that is less than correct. When will the health information Bill be brought before the House? Will it be done as quickly as possible? Second, every junior civil servant to whom one speaks is under severe financial pressure as a result of the various levies that have been imposed. When will the legal costs Bill be introduced to curtail the extraordinary costs charged by the legal profession? Third, when will the animal health and welfare Bill be brought forward so that we can discuss the welfare of the farmers themselves who are being destroyed with the income they are getting for dairy produce and so on?

[33]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The heads of the health information Bill are being prepared.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  We have been hearing that for a long time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand there is no date for the publication of the other two Bills. If the Deputy is meeting public servants who are complaining about the pension levy, he might remind them that his own party wishes to stop their increments.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  What about the animal health and welfare Bill?

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Criminal Justice Act 2007, one of the last items of legislation introduced by the former Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform who brought us Thornton Hall, included a measure to provide for a register of convicted drug offenders. Last week saw the conviction of several men for the importation into the State of drugs worth €500 million. The judge in this case referred the convicted persons to the Garda to be included on this register. However, three years after the legislation was introduced, there is no such register. My constituency of Dublin Central is home to a significant number of drug barons who flit around the country and flit between Ireland and Spain or The Netherlands——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy cannot make a speech on this matter. Does he have a question on promised legislation?

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  There is no register to allow the Garda to trace these individuals. When will the legislation that was put on the Statute Book by this House be implemented?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not know whether there is any promised legislation on this matter. I will ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to reply to the Deputy.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  All that is required is to implement the legislation. My question is very relevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I understand what the Deputy is saying. However, his question regarding the implementation of legislation already passed will have to be tabled to the line Minister.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  A ministerial order was promised.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  When will the ministerial order be introduced? A three-year delay is a bit much.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The question relates to secondary legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I will have to find out the detail. I will get back to the Deputy.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I seek the wisdom and advice of the Ceann Comhairle in regard to the management of parliamentary questions. I submitted a question to the Department of Health and Children on 10 March 2009 but, 12 weeks later, have not received a response. One would almost need to put a satellite navigation system and tracker device on a parliamentary question to find out when the reply will come back. Will the Ceann Comhairle issue guidelines or direction to the Department of Health and Children as to the timelines within which responses to parliamentary questions should come back from the Health Service Executive?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy can raise that issue with my office.

[34]Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Section 836 of the 2008 edition of the Taxes Consolidation Act provides for tax deductions under section 144 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 in respect of the cost of maintaining a second residence where, arising out of the performance of his or her duties, a Minister or Minister of State is obliged to maintain a second residence in addition to his or her main residence. Given what is currently happening in the United Kingdom and the fact that this tax relief relates not to mortgage interest but to maintenance——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This issue cannot be dealt with on the Order of Business. It relates to legislation that is already enacted.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  First of all, is the Taoiseach aware——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is not in order and cannot raise this matter.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  It is a legislative matter.

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

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I am asking for legislation to be reviewed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Deputies can only raise on the Order of Business legislation that has been promised either inside or outside the Dáil, the making of secondary legislation and arrangements in regard to sittings. Deputies cannot raise legislation that is already on the Statute Book. It is as simple as that.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I have asked a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If Deputy Lynch persists, I will have to ask him to leave the House.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I have asked whether this legislation will be reviewed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is legislation promised in this area, Taoiseach?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Not to my knowledge.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Under promised road safety legislation, will the Taoiseach confirm that it is no longer the intention of the Government to proceed with the roll-out of speed safety cameras throughout the State?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy must ask a question on promised legislation. We cannot go into the content of any legislation, as the Deputy well knows.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Will the Taoiseach confirm whether the scheme is postponed or abandoned? The people who are being appointed are from my own town and they have been left in limbo in regard to this scheme.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This issue cannot be discussed.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  It is a very important issue. People are being killed on the roads.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question. He cannot ask the Taoiseach about it on the Order of Business.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  These cameras were supposed to be the great deterrent for motorists who would speed.

[35]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I have called Deputy O’Dowd.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Is this scheme to be abandoned in the same manner as the Thornton Hall project?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The issue is not in order.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  It is in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I must decide that and I am telling the Deputy it is not in order. I have the rules in front of me.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  It should be in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  If that is his view, my strong advice to the Deputy is to seek to have the Standing Orders amended.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  It should be in order to raise this matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  However, it is not. That is the problem. What Deputy Deenihan is saying is an aspiration but what I am telling him is a fact.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  The Minister is in the Chamber. The Taoiseach has answered questions about Thornton Hall. Why can he not answer my question on this issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Special notice questions are tabled today regarding Thornton Hall. They may or may not be allowed. Deputy Deenihan can ask about this matter at Question Time.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  The scheme is not abandoned, it is paused. The new word from the Government is “paused”.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  My question relates to the road traffic Bill. Earlier in the year, the number of road deaths was down 20% on the corresponding period last year. Now, however, road deaths are at the same level as 2008. In view of the lack of Garda enforcement as a result of cutbacks in overtime in the traffic corps——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy is extending the issue beyond all relevance.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  In view of the €150 million cutback in the regional and local roads programme——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  This issue cannot be discussed on the Order of Business. Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  When will the road traffic Bill be introduced and will it include a provision in regard to the mandatory testing of persons at the scene of accidents?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The content of legislation cannot be discussed, as the Deputy well knows.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The road traffic Bill will be introduced in this session.

[36]Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  When will there be reform of the Road Transport Act 1932, as promised by the Minister for Transport, in view of the serious cutbacks in Bus Éireann services throughout the State, including commuter and rural transport services?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Is an amendment to the Road Transport Act 1932 promised, Taoiseach?

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  It is promised.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The public transport regulation Bill will be published later this year.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I concur with Deputy Deenihan on the important issue of speed cameras and with my colleague, Deputy O’Dowd’s views on road safety. One of the problems with this and other enforcement issues is that they are passed between the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and Transport, as the Ceann Comhairle will be well aware.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  The Deputy makes an interesting point but we cannot have a discussion on it on the Order of Business.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  There is a problem in this regard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  There are many problems but I must move on. The Deputy must ask a question that is in order.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  As the Ceann Comhairle will be aware, the speaker in the neighbouring jurisdiction has been removed. It is important to allow the Opposition to have its say.

This Friday and Friday week are the two final deadlines for the SR Technics bids process. Does the Taoiseach intend to cut through the current charade and take a hands-on
approach?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I remind the Deputy that he has had several opportunities to raise this matter. He may not raise it on the Order of Business. I must move on.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  As another deadline approaches, this issue is critical.

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

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have another question on the various transport and traffic Bills which have not yet been brought before the House. The services of Bus Éireann, a company recognised in a recent Deloitte report as highly efficient, have been decimated. The parties in government have indicated they will renegotiate the programme for Government and place a strong emphasis on public transport. Two years into the term of the Government, this commitment is laughable.

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

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Will the Taoiseach provide time to have a discussion on Bus Éireann before the forthcoming elections?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  I assume that is a matter for the Whips.

[37]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On Thursday last, I raised under promised primary and secondary legislation conservation measures proposed by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the area of eel fisheries in accordance with an EU directive that such legislation be enacted. I also raised the concerns of the Joint Committee on European Affairs about the severity of the Minister’s proposals and referred to the legislation in question. By coincidence, over the weekend the Minister enacted the first element of his legislative proposals, namely, a three year total ban on eel fisheries. This was done as part of a proposed 90 year ban on eel fisheries. As a sportsman, the Ceann Comhairle will be aware that eel fishery interests in this country are very concerned about the ban. Yesterday, the joint committee expressed concern at the failure of the Minister to give any indication——

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  ——that he might in some way accommodate the concerns expressed at a previous meeting of the committee.

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Is it possible to have the Minister appear before the House or Joint Committee on European Affairs to outline his innermost thoughts on the subject?

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  He is a slippery Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  While I am sure the Minister’s innermost thoughts on the question of eels are interesting, the matter cannot be raised on the Order of Business. The Deputy will have to have a chat with somebody else about it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The decision to enact the legislation over the weekend is a dismissal of the importance of the House and one of its committees and will have serious implications.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  Does the Deputy have a question on the Order of Business?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  When will the Minister come into the House to discuss the issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is not relevant to the Order of Business. We have been discussing this matter for five minutes.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It has not been five minutes. Last week, I referred to the fisheries (consolidation) Bill and secondary legislation. When will the Minister come before the House to address these issues?

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The fisheries (consolidation) Bill will be published next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I was given a very short answer to a very complicated question. That is the problem in this House; Members are given short answers to everything. The font of wisdom and knowledge is not necessarily located on that side of the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I gave a full and succinct answer. The Bill will be published next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Will the Minister remain invisible in the meantime?

[38]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy addressed me.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Having discussed the issue with Deputy Howlin, any move by Deputy Broughan to follow the example of the House of Commons will not be supported by backbench Labour Party Deputies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  That is very reassuring.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Did Deputy Rabbitte really discuss the matter with Deputy Howlin?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  They are an inseparable team.


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