Order of Business.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 698 No. 3

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the reports by the Minister for Defence regarding service by the Defence Forces with the United Nations in 2007 and 2008; No. 12, motion re Orders of Reference of Committee; No. 5, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2009 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m.; and Nos. 11 and 12 shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ Business shall be No. 96, motion re social welfare cuts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal that the Dáil sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is not agreed.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have here the calendar of Dáil sessions for 2009-10. Before we get into this Order of Business, I ask the Taoiseach to confirm that the rumours I hear that the Dáil is not due back until 19 January are untrue and that, in accordance with this circulated calendar of sessions, the Dáil will return here on 13 January.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Labour Party will not agree the Order of Business today because of the manner in which the Government is rail-roading measures through the Dáil. I refer to the cuts in social welfare, which it rail-roaded through on Friday last using a guillotine, and this proposal to rail-road through the cuts in pay, again by the use of a guillotine.

All of this is part of a piece of clever pre-Christmas choreography by the Government, first, to have the budget a week late limiting the amount of time there would be for a budget debate and then to have two pieces of legislation giving effect to the unfair measures contained in the budget, both of which it plans to have rammed through before the Christmas in the hope that people will put it behind them over Christmas and it will minimise the amount of grief that they get for it. This approach is not acceptable to the Labour Party and for that reason, the Labour Party will not agree to the Order of Business.

[423]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  This proposition on two hours’ additional time sitting this evening is to accommodate the Second Stage debate of the so-called Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2009. The Government wants to rush through this legislation, with a guillotine on all Stages tomorrow. That is the situation we face.

The purpose of the Bill is to implement the budget cuts in pay to public service workers, as announced here last week. This is an outrageous proposition that we vehemently oppose. It is an attack on the lowest to middle-income workers within the public service who are seen daily running all of the important services, not only those on which we depend in health, education and public transport, but even this institution itself — the people who do a great deal of the work here in the Houses of the Oireachtas are all affected.

Make no mistake, the announcement of these cuts was followed quickly by employers’ demands for a cut in the minimum wage. For what is signalled as applying to public service workers, private sector workers can be the next target. Those, in IBEC or in any of the other employer organisations, are only feasting on the opportunity presented. We have no assurances from the Government that the minimum wage will not be cut, as these employer voices so demand.

This legislation is vexatious. It is a travesty. Already, this sector has, with the introduction of the public service pension levy, borne the brunt of the single largest contribution to addressing the difficulties we are currently facing as an economy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is anticipating the debate.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Those are the facts of the matter. It is not just about time; it is what the time is for. It is to accommodate the passage of this legislation, and we oppose it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  This Bill, like the social welfare Bill last week, is being brought forward because of the need for the Government to implement the measures as announced in the budget so that they are in law and ready for the beginning of the next financial year, on 1 January. They will have full-year effect.

The purpose of the Bill proposed to be taken today, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Bill 2009, is to reduce the remuneration of public servants as a financial emergency measure in the public interest. The Bill is introduced in the context of the priority being given to the stabilisation of the public finances, including the need to achieve an adjustment of over €1 billion in the public service pay and pensions bill in 2010, quite apart from other measures that will also have a beneficial effect.

The Bill, as drafted, closely follows the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009, which implemented the pension levy reduction for public servants in March 2009. The scope of the proposed legislation will mirror that for the pension levy——

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That is not true.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——by covering the public servants.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Taoiseach without interruption please.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Stop interrupting.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  On a point of order, what the Taoiseach is saying is incorrect. The last emergency measure applied to people who had public service pensions and this Bill does not.

[424]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  That is not a point of order. Will Deputy Burton resume her seat?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As for the pension levy, 22 public service bodies and their subsidiaries listed in the Schedule to the Bill will also be exempt due largely to the commercial nature of their remit.

We will apply a graduated and progressive pay cut to salaries up to the levels below the senior public servants covered by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Sector. As I stated in my response to Leaders’ Questions from Deputy Gilmore, for persons in the occupations to which he referred the cut will be 5% on income — whatever that would work out at — up to €30,000, 7.5% on the next €40,000 and 10% on the next €55,000 of salary. It produces reductions in salaries ranging from 5% to 8% in the case of salaries up to €125,000.

On the question of when the recess will be, that will be decided on Thursday. It would be our intention to return on a date sooner than any of those over the past 15 years.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with the late sitting be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 72.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret. Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on 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 Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on 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.



[425]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 Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. 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 Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Zoom on George Lee  Lee, George.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
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 Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

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

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 11 and 12 agreed to?

  5 o’clock

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  On behalf of the Labour Party, I say we do not accept these items. We were informed the Government is preparing amendments to the emergency measures Bill which will decrease the deduction for the highest paid civil servants in the public service, bringing their deduction levels down while at the same time the Bill will provide for Ministers of State to get a 2% advantage. I understand the Government is considering that and there may be an amendment before the House which we have not seen. We are being asked to discuss a Bill which will contain important amendments and have had no advice from the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is anticipating the debate on the Bill.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——with regard to that. This House is not a dictatorship. We need the information. Is the Government planning a sweetheart deal with the Ministers of State?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy——

[426]Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will the Government reduce the deductions for the highest level of Secretaries General?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask Deputy Burton to resume her seat.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  On a point of information——

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Is that true?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No, as usual, it is not.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will those amendments go into the Bill?

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Wrong again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  One speaker at a time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I would like to inform the House, if not the Deputy, as she is not prepared to listen, that the cuts she mentioned to salaries of senior civil servants and Ministers of State will be greater than the figure recommended.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  We will see if their 10% cut is the same as the previous cut.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Burton must resume her seat.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The proposal is that the House should accept these reports without debate, including that of the Minister for Defence regarding the involvement of the Defence Forces with the United Nations in 2007 and 2008. We do not agree to the taking of this proposition without debate in the Chamber. The reason is very simple. At the most recent meeting of the European Council the Taoiseach appended his name to a declaration that clearly welcomes the recent decision by the United States to send thousands of extra troops to Afghanistan to escalate the conflict in that country. That is totally and absolutely opposed by the overwhelming majority of Irish people who do not accept the legitimacy of the war in Afghanistan. As long as there is a small Irish contingent they should not be involved in the so-called international security assistance force, ISAF, operation, which is only a figleaf for what is now——

(Interruptions).

Deputy John Moloney: Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Ask Micheál.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  If the Ceann Comhairle would ask the hecklers in the Front Benches of the Government parties to desist I will be able to explain why I believe these reports should not be taken without debate. The fact is this is only a figleaf for what quite clearly is now a NATO-led operation with the United States and Britain in Afghanistan. We need a full debate on these reports on the floor of the Dáil. Make no mistake, we are talking here about Irish neutrality.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Sinn Féin is never neutral.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It does not matter to me whether it involves seven members of our Defence Forces or 700, it is fundamentally wrong. In a reply I received only last week——

[427]A Deputy:  What about the members of the army council?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is holding up proceedings.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——to a parliamentary question——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask Deputy Ó Caoláin to resume his seat.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Allow me to finish the point, Ceann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Very briefly.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I established through a response to a parliamentary question last week that 243,000 US forces passed through Shannon Airport this year alone. That is a disgraceful situation——

A Deputy:  Take the American shilling.

Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  We want more of them coming through.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——and is a matter that needs to be properly debated on the floor of this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Question put, “That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 11 and 12 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 70.

Information on Bertie Ahern  Zoom on Bertie Ahern  Ahern, Bertie. Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot.
Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael. Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel.
Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry. Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris.
Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán. Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret. Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael.
Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán.
Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley. Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P.
Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom. Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin,
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on 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 Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on 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 Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. 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 Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Zoom on George Lee  Lee, George.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic. Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James. Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael.
Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom. 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 Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna.
Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary. Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.

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

Question declared carried.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Has the Taoiseach considered the implications of the report published by the Ombudsman in respect of the lost at sea scheme? As he will be aware, that scheme was introduced by the former Minister, Deputy Frank Fahey. The report states, in the words of the Ombudsman, that the case is unusual in that it embraces both the actions of a Minister and his officials. The Taoiseach will be aware of the generality of the scheme which was to introduce capacity in the Irish fishing fleet for lost tonnage at sea. The issue arose because of the inability of some people to qualify or apply for the scheme in the way it was advertised and presented.

The report contains a number of observations of the Ombudsman where it states clearly that the distinction had to be drawn between the actions of officials and the actions of the Minister. In fairness, it goes on to state that the Minister never denied that the scheme was his and that he introduced a number of changes to protect the scheme, but the outcome from the [429]Ombudsman’s perspective is that it was badly drafted, badly presented, badly advertised, exclusive to a confined category of members and was subject to a time constraint.

This is an issue that should be discussed here. At the conclusion of her opening remarks, the Ombudsman states: “I respectfully ask the Houses to consider my report and to take whatever action they deem appropriate in the circumstances.” This is a matter of public importance and, to give everybody an opportunity to be able to speak about this matter freely, I recommend that we have a discussion in the House about it in the new year. If the House decides to refer it to the appropriate Dáil committee for deeper analysis, let all those involved in this report say their piece and answer questions as appropriate. We should take into account the Ombudsman’s statement that the Houses should consider the report and I respectfully suggest to the Taoiseach that, at an appropriate time in the new year, the Whips might agree that there be a discussion on the loss at sea scheme report here in the Dáil and that it be referred to a committee for deeper analysis and consideration.

Also, is it intended at any time in 2010 to give consideration to legislation in the area of human reproduction? The Taoiseach is aware of two cases before the courts recently dealing with this area. I know it is complex and not an easy subject to legislate for, but it is an issue that will arise from a moral and ethical point of view in an increasing number of instances in the future. The Taoiseach might respond as to whether the Government intends to consider that in terms of appropriate legislation in the future.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  A Cheann Comhairle, can I ask about that issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Very briefly. A number of issues were raised by Deputy Kenny.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I know some preparatory work in regard to legislation has been done already because of the report of the commission and it was indicated to me by way of parliamentary question last week that it was awaiting the outcome of the Supreme Court judgment, which has now been delivered. Can the Taoiseach give us some indication as to when that legislation will be ready for publication?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The judgment was handed down today. Obviously, it will be examined by the Attorney General and the Minister will be advised accordingly. This is a complex area and one on which all sides of the House should try to work together to see if it is possible to come forward with proposals which would meet with the support of the House. As has been said, it is a highly complex area. There are legal, social and ethical issues involved. Some 40 recommendations were made by a commission on assisted human reproduction which reported some years ago and it is important that the House and the relevant committee work in a collegiate way, if at all possible, to try to see where we go from here in regard to it. This is a service that has benefited many Irish couples. It must be properly regulated, putting patient safety first, and give patients the assurance that effective standards of care and governance are in place. It is a challenge for the House and the committee and I ask that everyone would seek to address it in a responsible way.

Obviously the Government and the relevant Minister, the Minister for Health and Children, will consider the implications of the judgment as it has been handed down on advice.

As for the other matter raised by Deputy Kenny, this is a matter for the Houses to decide on. It will be referred to the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for discussion, as that is the obvious thing to do. I note clearly there is an acceptance that the granting of replacement tonnage under the scheme was not a compensatory scheme in any way but simply dealt with the possibility of people having the opportunity to fish again if they lost their tonnage [430]through ships being lost at sea or whatever and that the handling of that scheme was dealt with appropriately in the Department itself.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  First, on the Ombudsman’s report, the issue is that the Department concerned has rejected the Ombudsman’s findings and recommendations. As she pointed out in her report, this is only the second time in 25 years that this has happened, which is the reason she has laid a report before the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is important that the House should address this matter in whatever form is agreed.

I refer to an earlier matter that was raised by Deputy Kenny, namely, the date for the return of the Dáil after Christmas. Perhaps I missed it while the Taoiseach replied to Deputy Kenny, but I did not catch the date on which he indicated the House would return after the Christmas break. Perhaps he might clarify this for Members.

Third, I wish to raise the Defamation Act, which was passed by the Houses last July and which awaits commencement by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. I asked the Taoiseach about this issue approximately one month ago and he told me that commencement was imminent. When will the Act be commenced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I must revert to the Deputy as to when it is envisaged the Act will be commenced as unfortunately, I do not have that information to hand. As for the other matter, I stated that the date for rising will be fixed on Thursday and that the intention is that Members should come back on a date prior to those on which they have returned over the past ten or 15 years. It probably will be in the third week of September or rather, the third week of January.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  There is a lot of merit in the latter.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Talk about the 12 days.

Deputy Mary Coughlan: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It might not be a bad idea.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hope springs eternal.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no need to greet it by acclamation or anything.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  It must feel like that sometimes. I do not blame the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As for the other matter regarding the report, I point out that on the issue of compensation arising in respect of one of the parties, there is an acknowledgement that this is not about compensation but is about restoring lost tonnage. I understand it is pointed out in the report that the family concerned indicated that they did receive a full insurance payment in respect of the sinking of the particular boat concerned. The issue really is about lost tonnage.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  On a point of order, the Taoiseach might address in that respect that the recommendation of the Ombudsman now is to pay a financial compensation to those who feel aggrieved by the manner in which the scheme was administered. The issue arises as to what——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is not a point of order Deputy.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  ——the other liabilities may be for the taxpayer——

[431]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is not a point of order. The Deputy is piggybacking on something else.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  ——as a result of others who might come forward. This is the issue in respect of financial compensation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The main thing is that the Department is considering the report and its recommendations. Obviously however, there is a concern about that aspect of the report and it is a matter for the Department to respond to and deal with. However, it is important to point out that it was not for the purpose of compensation——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  I accept that but the maladministration——

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——and at the time——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  ——has given rise to financial liability.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  At the time, there was much public comment and public statement by others to the effect that it was about a compensation scheme or that moneys were passed when in fact no moneys were involved at all.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  On a point of order, the Taoiseach might——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please. I know it is not a point of order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  But anyway, the report speaks for itself Deputy Creed.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  ——deliberately or otherwise misinterpret what is at issue now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  What is at issue now is whether the taxpayer is exposed to a greater liability because of the manner in which the scheme was implemented.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Creed, please resume your seat.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Last week’s budget imposed prescription charges for medical cardholders, which will work out at up to €10 per month being imposed on people who already are at the very bottom of the income ladder. Will this measure require legislation and if this is to be legislated for, when does the Taoiseach expect that such legislation will be presented? I understand from the Minister’s comments that this measure is to be introduced on 1 April, which is April fool’s day. Sadly, while I do not know who is the fool in this instance, it certainly will be an inauspicious day for many people. The Taoiseach should indicate when such legislation, if it is to be introduced, will be presented. Will there be parallel legislation in respect of the pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors regarding the overcharging they exercise with regard to the manufacture and distribution of drugs and medicines?

Second, many communities nationwide are recovering at present from the dreadful flooding experiences that extended over large swathes of the island of Ireland.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, we are on the Order of Business now.

[432]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  This pertains to promised legislation. Against the background of the significant cuts in public service workers and emergency service pay, the Government also announced in last week’s budget a 10% cut in local authority funding for fire and emergency services. How can this be justified against a backdrop of what people already have experienced in the latter part of this year and with no certainty that the winter months still before us will not see a repetition of those dreadful circumstances? How can the Government justify——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, is legislation promised in this area?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——a 10% cut in the allocation for fire and emergency services? Will this also require legislation or will the Government consider withdrawing this outrageous proposition that could have serious untold consequences for entire communities throughout the length and breadth of this island?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy must find another way to raise the matter. The Taoiseach, very briefly.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Allocations to the fire service do not arise on the Order of Business. As for the question regarding the issue of the timing of the introduction of payments, I can get the technical details for the Deputy in this regard.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Is it the case that no legislation is required?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I stated, I will acquire accurate information for the Deputy and will convey it to him.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Approximately one month ago, the Labour Party proposed a national home mortgage service during Private Members’ time. During that debate, the Government stated that it has a code of practice in place with which it was satisfied and which would be reviewed. Subsequently, in last week’s budget it again was stated that this code of practice would be reviewed once more.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy must find an alternative way of raising this matter. We are on the Order of Business.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I ask the Ceann Comhairle to bear with me, please.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are specific issues that may be raised on the Order of Business and this issue does not fall into that category.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  There is a lady who is out of her home this evening because of the absence of a legislative framework in Ireland to deal with sub-prime lenders. The company to which I refer was part of the Lehman Brothers corporation and now is taking possession orders of three to four possessions per week. There is no legislative framework with which to deal with such repossessions. The Government has indicated that it is reviewing this situation. However, while it is doing so, a woman who appeared in court yesterday stated she was prepared to offer up €240 per week that she is receiving as a carer’s grant to cover a mortgage bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  While I have no doubt about this Deputy, there are many other ways to raise it, such as the Adjournment, parliamentary questions or under Standing Order 32.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Ceann Comhairle, there is no other way.

[433]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are many ways.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  The Ceann Comhairle is correct that there is a way, which is that the Government should bring forward legislation that underpins the dealings——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, no legislation is promised immediately in this area.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  ——in court in which sub-prime lenders are screwing people to the wall——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, there is the Adjournment or parliamentary questions.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  ——to take them out of their homes. The Government’s proposal is that there would be a six-month period during which, at best, the cases of such people might be considered.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  In that six-month period, they will not find work and will not get the comfort the financial institutions are getting from the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy has made his point and I ask him to resume his seat.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  They certainly will not receive any measure of assurance that their homes will be over their heads in six months’ time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should resume his seat.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  This is an issue of national importance. It requires legislation to be introduced by the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Apparently, there is no legislation promised in this area.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Actually, there is.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  I ask the Taoiseach, on the Order of Business, whether the Government will bring forward legislation or is it still content with a code of conduct that is voluntary in the main and has no legislative penalties for people who fail to abide by it? A family contacted a bank to see if it was in arrears and the bank failed to take any cognisance of it——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, resume your seat. You have made your point.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  ——took it to court and has taken its home.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, resume your seat. You are holding up proceedings on the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  This is a code of practice under regulation. It is not a voluntary code of practice. It is based on legislation.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister promised legislation.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  My question to the Taoiseach asked if he was happy that a voluntary code was sufficient or if we needed legislation.

[434]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, you got your answer. You had a very good innings on this. Resume your seat.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Further to an earlier question from Deputy Gilmore, there is a requirement under the national anti-poverty strategy for the Minister for Finance to produce a statement setting out the likely impact on the poor of any budget proposal. The standard practice has been to publish such a statement along with the budget document, which has happened for the past 11 years. Did the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, produce such a statement? Was it presented to the Cabinet along with the budget? The Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Hanafin, said last week that such a statement would be published within days. Has the Cabinet seen that statement? When will it be published and available to all Deputies?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are not talking about legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Department of Social and Family Affairs has done its own analysis, which it will publish.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  I am not talking about that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Usually in the case where there are tax changes we set out administratively what the situation is and how it affects families with different incomes. The Minister outlined the expenditure effects in the budget. On the social welfare code, the Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Hanafin, outlined the position regarding the effects of cuts.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  No.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Shortall, we are moving on. You will have to find an alternative way to raise this.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  I would like to correct the record. There is a requirement under the national anti-poverty strategy for any major proposal to be accompanied——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, you will have to find an alternative way to raise this issue.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  ——by a statement setting out the impact of that proposal on those at risk of poverty.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Shortall, resume your seat.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  That is the requirement under the national anti-poverty strategy and it is also covered in the Cabinet’s handbook.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Shortall, resume your seat.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  It is reasonable——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Shortall, you have had a very good innings. Resume your seat please.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  I have not had a reply. I want the Taoiseach to answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are not talking about promised legislation. There are many other ways to raise this issue.

[435]Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  There is a requirement under the national anti-poverty strategy to produce a statement on how the budget will affect the poor or those at risk of poverty. Has the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, done that? Has he produced such a statement and when are we likely to see it? It is a straightforward question which deserves a straight answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, could you table a parliamentary question?

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  No. We raised the issue last week.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are so many other ways to raise it.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  This is an important matter. For the past 11 years the House has received a statement on the poverty proofing of the budget. Why did we not get one this year? When will we see it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, submit a parliamentary question.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  The Minister can shrug his shoulders all he likes. He is required to set out a statement——

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  No, I am not.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  ——on the impact of his budget on those at risk of poverty.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  There are no taxes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, this matter is not in order at this point.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is not just about tax.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  It is not just about tax.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Does the Minister know anything about the national anti-poverty strategy?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Shortall, resume your seat. The Chair is on its feet. I call Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Ceann Comhairle, on a point of order, Deputy Shortall is in order in raising this question. This is a document——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is not in order on the Order of Business.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have allowed the Deputy considerable latitude.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is a document which is laid before the House. As Deputy Shortall said, it is normally laid before the House as part of the budget documentation. Deputy Jan O’Sullivan raised this issue last week. It is clear the Government gave no consideration to the impact of the budget on poor people. It is stated in the Cabinet documents that it is required to indicate the impact of proposals on persons in poverty or at risk of falling into poverty in the budget proposals.

[436]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Gilmore, we have given this issue significant airing on the Order of Business.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We require an answer.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  The Minister is required to make a statement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Taoiseach wants to reply.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  For the purposes of clarity — I know this is not in order on the Order of Business — the Department of Social and Family Affairs published full details on budget day of how the social welfare changes will affect all different groups. A further paper on the welfare changes will be published in the coming days. The Department of Finance usually publishes an assessment of the budget on how the income tax package will affect people on different income levels. As there were no income tax changes in this budget no such statement was published. While the budget was difficult for many people, it was fair.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On promised legislation, the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Bill is promised for 2010. Given the concerns of legal aid boards around the country and the urgent necessity in the area, can the Taoiseach give some indication to the House on whether some degree of priority has been given to the introduction of the Bill at an early stage?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We expect it next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  We expect Santa Claus to come next year as well, but he might not arrive.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  He comes on 25 December.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Is the Taoiseach sure of that?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  He is coming on 25 December, next year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, let us not go off on a tangent or we will be in trouble.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Turkeys in that year will be delighted to hear that. There is no urgency on that Bill. I draw the attention of the House to another Bill, the legal costs Bill, which has been on the long finger for a considerable period of time. Can the Taoiseach indicate to the House if it will receive any degree of urgent attention and when it is likely to appear mysteriously or miraculously in the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is hoped it will come before the House next year.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Next year springs eternal. I will be as direct and succinct as I can. No. 60 concerns a Bill to provide for the collection and exchange of information relating to the engagement with and sexual exploitation or sexual abuse, or risk thereof, to children. Like all other legislation, it is promised for 2010. Can the Taoiseach indicate whether any activity has been generated on the urgent need for the production of that Bill? Has it been agreed by Cabinet? What action has taken place in recent weeks? Is it agreed that it is a priority? Will he inform the House of its status?

[437]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Minister of State, Deputy Andrews, has outlined that it is an issue of priority for him and he wishes to proceed with it as quickly as possible. There have been recent reports on child abuse which are a priority for him.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Is there a problem in the Department of Education and Science regarding the production of legislation? It produced one Bill, which was passed when the former Minister, Deputy Hanafin, was Minister for Education and Science and has now been pulled onto Report Stage where it is stuck in committee for spurious legal reasons. Section A of the pink sheet promises that two relatively simple Bills will be published during this session. Last week the Taoiseach said they would be published before the next session starts, which is some five or six weeks away. Does the Department need extra assistance? Is there a transfer list whereby one could ask people from other Departments to work there? It is a very big Department. Can the Taoiseach carry out research to see where the legislative drafters are and if they need special help? Perhaps a FÁS scheme might help.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do know if that is a serious comment. They are on the A list and are due for publication before the beginning of the next session. I understand they will be published then.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Have the heads of the Bill been passed by the Cabinet?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  They have, yes.

Deputy Thomas McEllistrim: Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  I understand the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, has promised to produce legislation to reform the Seanad before the end of the year. Will that happen? When will that happen?

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


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