Order of Business.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 703 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 21, statements following the informal meeting of the European Council of 11 February, 2010; No. 22, Communications (Retention of Data) Bill 2009 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 24, Road Traffic Bill 2009 — Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings in regard to No. 21 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 50 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes. Private Members’ business is No. 76 — motion re: unemployment (resumed), to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21, agreed to? Agreed.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  When does the Taoiseach expect to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the former Minister for Defence, Deputy Willie O’Dea? Has the Taoiseach a time in mind?

No. 23 is the Dormant Accounts (Amendment) Bill. Obviously, there are diminished funds in this account and according to the information we have the Bill is not due until late 2010. I understand it may not be possible to produce it before then but perhaps the Taoiseach might give me an update on the amount available in the dormant accounts fund given that it was seriously diminished by spending in recent years.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That Bill is due for later in this year. As I have said, the position in the Department of Defence is being filled by me for the present.

[292]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I wish to pursue with the Taoiseach his intentions with regard to the filling of the vacant position in the Government. I shall run through what happened on previous occasions when Ministers resigned. In 2004, the former Minister for Finance, Charlie McCreevy, resigned on 29 September, along with the Ministers Joe Walsh and Michael Smith. The three nominations for replacing those Ministers were made on the same day. In 1997, when Ray Burke resigned as Minister on 8 October, his replacement was nominated the following day. If we go back as far as 1996, when Deputy Michael Lowry resigned as a Minister on 30 November, his replacement was nominated on 3 December, the next day on which the Dáil sat. This is the first occasion I can recall when there has not been a nomination to fill a vacancy arising in the Government, either on the day the vacancy occurred or in the first Dáil sitting afterwards.

What is the Taoiseach’s intention in this regard? Does he intend to nominate a replacement in the membership of the Government for the former Minister, Deputy O’Dea, or does he intend to leave the membership of the Government at 14, as it now stands? The position comes up somewhat like the recruitment embargo in the public sector. How long is it intended to leave it that way?

I received a letter today, dated yesterday, from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, concerning the Dublin mayor and regional authority Bill. From it, I see we are to have a Dublin mayor and a new type of regional authority for Dublin. The Minister states he is publishing the draft scheme today to give opportunity for further consultation before the Bill is finalised. He has set up a consultative meeting in Leinster House for spokespersons on 4 March. I welcome all of that but I seek clarification from the Taoiseach. Is it intended, following that consultation with Opposition party spokespersons, that the Government will reconsider that Bill or consider amendments to it in its draft form in light of comments and observations made by Oppositions spokespersons? We were told before that the heads of the Bill had been approved by the Government. Is it intended that there will be another consideration of the Bill by Government before the Bill is published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no requirement to set a time limit on when the replacement for the outgoing Minister for Defence will be appointed. His position is being taken by me for the present and that is fine, constitutionally. It will be dealt with in due course.

Regarding the heads of the Bill mentioned by the Deputy, I am sure that having published the general scheme of the Bill in the normal way and having indicated he wishes to discuss the matter with other party leaders, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government can determine the merit of discussions that may arise and can consider this in his continuing preparation of the Bill. Obviously, it will be more detailed at the next stage.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  With regard to the issue of the membership of the Government, my question to the Taoiseach did not specifically concern the portfolio of the Minister for Defence. I understand the Taoiseach has assigned that portfolio to himself as a Taoiseach is entitled to do. However, the issue that arises is the membership of the Government. Normally, there are 15 members of Government. I realise there do not have to be 15 but normally there are. There is now a vacancy. It is a matter for Dáil Éireann to nominate a member for appointment by the President as a member of the Government. As I have pointed out, where a resignation arises in the membership of the Government the business of replacement is normally taken quickly. Again, I ask the Taoiseach if he intends to bring a motion to the House to appoint a member to the vacant position which now arises in Government. When does he intend to do that? Can we anticipate it? Today is Wednesday. Is it the Taoiseach’s intention to do this today, tomorrow or next week? Will he postpone it? If that is the case, will he share with the House his rationale for postponing it? It is somewhat unusual that this does not happen [293]immediately. I believe we are entitled to hear from the Taoiseach what his thinking is on the matter.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have outlined to the Deputy my thinking on it about four times in the past four or five days. My thinking is very clear. The matter will be a matter for the House when a motion for nomination of a person is brought by the Taoiseach. Obviously, prior notice will be given to all the parties in order for them to consider that nominee when put forward. The decision will be taken in the House. That is the situation.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Yes, but——

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

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This is Dáil business. I am entitled to ask this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are other Members. I have a list of people. However, you may proceed, briefly.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I apologise to other Members if I am detaining them from raising their issues. If the Taoiseach were to give me a straight answer there would be no reason to detain anybody.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I gave the Deputy an answer.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  No, the Taoiseach did not. My question is, when does the Taoiseach intend to bring that motion to the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Let me answer that question.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no requirement on me to give a time limit with regard to when that motion will come before the House. I said I would take over the position of Minister for Defence for the present. In due course we will——

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Minister for Health and Children?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I said defence.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I thought the Taoiseach said “Health”. I was hoping that——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Taoiseach, without interruptions.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Do not tell me, Deputy Ó Caoláin, that you are putting in a deafness claim as well.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy is a lot closer to gunfire than I was.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I see the Taoiseach is taking that line from his colleague beside him.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am, yes.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  You are a great team.

[294]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am telling you. The Deputy has been dealing with the same boss for a long time now, has he not?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Do not worry.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  To get back to the business on hand, there is no requirement for me to put a time limit on the nomination. I indicated to Deputy Gilmore that in due course we will make those appointments.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Go raibh maith agat. A general election date——

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  A smiling Deputy Ó Caoláin.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Give me a moment. A general election date has not been declared but watching the Taoiseach this morning I see the battle has begun already.

Yesterday an official of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform attended a briefing in Leinster House and advised of the likelihood of the mental capacity Bill being published in April. Given that the heads of that Bill are already agreed by Cabinet and that the Bill has been drafted will the Taoiseach instruct that the heads of that Bill be published immediately in order to give the other parties and health spokespersons a heads-up as to what is coming down the tracks in regard to this very important Bill? It is critical with regard to the health rights of people, in particular mental health.

In 2008 it was published as the “scheme” of a mental capacity Bill. I presume the “scheme” relates in some way to what I am seeking, namely, the heads of a Bill. Is what was published in 2008 still relevant? Has the so-called scheme changed with regard to the heads of the Bill to be published in April? I ask the Taoiseach to provide clarity and to confirm his willingness to ensure that the heads of the Bill, now agreed by Cabinet, will be published forthwith.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Whether the heads of the Bill can be circulated forthwith is a matter I must take up with the relevant Minister. However, I understand the Bill is due to be brought forward this session so, with the Bill near completion, it would probably be best to deal with the completed Bill this session.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  I wish to ask about the legislation concerning the directly elected mayor of Dublin and, we are now led to believe, a regional assembly. I find it unacceptable that the heads of the Bill were provided to the media yesterday and we had to read about them in the newspapers today. It is indicative of the kind of Government we are seeing, which is via the media and with no regard for this House——

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

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  This is a very important point.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  All of these points can be made when Second Stage is debated in the House.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  I made a telephone call to the Bills Office looking for information and a copy of the supposedly published heads of the Bill——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Second Stage debate will afford the Deputy ample opportunity to make these points.

[295]Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  ——which were not made available to any Member of this House but which had been circulated widely to the media yesterday. It is not acceptable and shows sheer contempt for the Members.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is appropriate to Second Stage debate.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Is it envisaged that the proposed regional assembly would be directly elected along with the lord mayor or whether it is simply window dressing? Is it envisaged to reform local government in a meaningful way or to just leave the four separate local authorities trundling on with a new layer of bureaucracy over them? That is what it seems to be — just an additional layer of bureaucracy. It is hugely disappointing from a Minister who proclaims a serious interest in reforming local government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy has made up her mind about the Bill although she has not seen it yet.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  I did actually, after I pleaded with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no requirement under Standing Orders to circulate the heads of a Bill to Members.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is good manners.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  It is courtesy.

Deputy Pádraic McCormack: Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  It was circulated to the media.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Sorry, I wish to make the point. The Bill certainly has to be circulated to Members but the heads of a Bill are often put on the website by Departments in an effort to be helpful and to provide stakeholders, interested parties and others with the opportunity to comment on the Bill.

Deputy Lucinda Creighton: Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  It was not available on the website this morning.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I want to make the point that there is no discourtesy to the House when the heads of the Bill are not circulated as it is not required under Standing Orders.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  For a number of weeks I, like other Members, have been putting down parliamentary questions and receiving the one-line answer that the question cannot be answered within the timeframe given. It suits the Government not to answer parliamentary questions to Members. I am frustrated that the answer I got to questions I asked weeks ago was that the Department had not sufficient time to answer them. Those questions have not been answered to date. Should they not be dealt with in a rota? What will the Taoiseach or the Ceann Comhairle do to safeguard the right to have replies to questions in the House?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I raised the same issue with the Ceann Comhairle two weeks ago and he kindly informed me that the matter was about to be resolved. I am sorry to have to agree with my colleague, not that I ever disagree with him, that what is happening is that the people of the country are being deprived of services and the whole system is coming to a halt. The Department of Social and Family Affairs is littered with appeals that are going around in circles, with no decisions being made.

[296]We on this side of the House are receiving no answers to parliamentary questions and the Government is sitting smugly. Sadly, the end result is that many vulnerable people are being punished indirectly by the Government because it sees fit to do nothing about this subject.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  It suits the Government.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  On the same matter, I want direction from the Taoiseach. Will he take responsibility for this serious situation arising for democratically elected public representatives of this House who cannot obtain answers to questions? Three weeks ago, I tabled three parliamentary questions to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs on behalf of three constituents, one regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance, one on behalf of a person seeking carer’s allowance and the other on behalf of a person seeking the State pension. I received the same reply from the Minister to all three, namely, “Due to staff action currently being taken, I regret that I am unable to provide the information sought by the Deputy”. It is the prerogative of the Taoiseach to step in and to introduce legislation to this House immediately so that this conduct will cease and the Members of this House who are democratically elected are allowed to raise matters concerning their constituents and obtain answers thereby. I want immediate action.

Deputy Jack Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I have raised the same issue within my parliamentary party. One of the amazing points coming across is that some Deputies are offering a service to the Opposition that they will get replies through the Minister’s office.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  We have heard it all now. There are a few tooth fairies around today.

Deputy Jack Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  It is a very serious accusation. The point is that it is the people who are suffering, not us. We are being paid, as are the Ministers. The people suffering are those being deprived of this service, including the poorest. I ask that the Taoiseach would do something about this serious issue. Children and adults, including senior citizens, are being deprived of the right to know the position of their appeals or their payments. If the system is allowing the Minister to provide services for his own, we ask that the same be supplied across the board in this House.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  All Members are experiencing the same problem, with the Department of Social and Family Affairs the worst offender at present, probably because the staff there are the most overworked due to the current demand. I had the most unacceptable experience this morning. I had put down a question to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in regard to when the Minister intended to transpose the services directive, which should already be transposed. The answer I got was that there was not enough time to give me an answer on a matter that should already have been dealt with.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  On the same issue, what has happened in my constituency office is that while members of staff in the Department of Social and Family Affairs staff will answer the telephone, they will not talk to me, although they will talk to my constituents. A political decision has been made by the unions not to co-operate with Members of the Oireachtas. It is a critical issue which needs to be urgently addressed. Members of the public are entitled to get the facts but they are not getting them and are becoming stressed because staff will not answer telephones and, even when they do, they will not talk to us.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Deputy Gilmore might be able to use his influence in this regard.

[297]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Deputy is the Minister of State with responsibility for labour affairs.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  It is another job for the tooth fairy.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On the same issue, it is basic bread money we are talking about. We are not talking about luxuries, or about Deputies being inconvenienced. We are talking about poor people who cannot get the most basic low payment to put bread and sausages on the table, because they will not buy any more than that with it. They are going to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which is running out of money.

Whatever action the Government needs to take in talks with the unions, that part of it should be solved quickly. This is not costing the Government money, it is saving it money. It is not inconveniencing the Government in any way, rather it is in its interest that it would continue from the point of view of saving money. The only people being inconvenienced are the poorest in our society who cannot get the safety net money that would otherwise be available.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  It suits this style of Government.

  12 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not believe the legitimate concerns of public servants will be advanced in any way through industrial conflict. Any industrial action, whatever form it takes, is regrettable, in particular if it has any impact on service delivery to the public. The public service management will do everything possible to minimise any such impact. Indeed, there are well established channels of communication with representatives of the trade unions in the public service in regard to the handling of disputes or work to rule actions to try to minimise unforeseen or unintended consequences. We will continue to use those well-established channels to avoid those unintended consequences, particularly on the most vulnerable. I know this is everybody’s hope. While an industrial relations dispute is ongoing, I do not think either party to the dispute would like to see unnecessary difficulty being caused for people who depend on the services to a greater extent than others. We should use those channels of communication to deal with any issues that might arise.

The work-to-rule situation means practices are in place which are affecting the role of public representatives and this has been a targeted initiative by those in the current industrial relations situation. We have to try to find a way forward generally to find a basis for engagement and we will work towards that. I am pleased to note the comments from figures on the trade union side, including the president of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, that an agreed solution to the current difficulties is desirable and possible. The Government is always available to engage with its own employees and their representatives. However, I know that simply inviting unions in for talks without the right context or agreed agenda will not work. The well-established channels of communication with representatives of the unions in the public service could be used to establish whether a basis for engagement could be identified and we will continue to use those channels for that purpose.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle, on a point of order, two weeks ago, you promised me in the House that you had in mind a formula to resolve this particular problem but what has happened? You asked me to desist——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Not this issue.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On this issue precisely.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have no role in this issue.

[298]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I raised this issue two weeks ago for the reasons I have already stated and the Ceann Comhairle asked me to withdraw for the moment as the matter was in hand. What happened to the proposal he had in mind at that time? Has he contacted the relevant Ministers with a view to ensuring that those of us on the Opposition side of the House get answers to questions which is a requirement——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Durkan knows very well that the Chair has no control over questions——

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  But the Ceann Comhairle indicated to me——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I indicated in relation to a different matter, not this matter. The issue of the replies is not a matter for the Chair. That is the position, Deputy.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  No, I am sorry, it was in relation to the order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There is no point in wasting the time of the House arguing a point that is patently wrong.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Under the order of the way we do our business in this House, Members who put down a question are entitled to an answer to the question, be it written or oral. At this moment, the Government is bound to answer the oral questions and that is what happens, to be fair, albeit maybe in a peculiar fashion. However, no questions for written reply are being answered now, or very few of them. When I last raised this issue two weeks ago, the Ceann Comhairle indicated to me that talks were taking place which would have the effect of addressing the issue. This is exactly what he told me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy has quite clearly misinterpreted what I said to him.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It was quite clear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I want to emphasise, Deputy Durkan, that the Chair has no role in the issue of the replies to questions. It is not my responsibility.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  My position as Chairman of the assembly is a neutral one, to apply the Standing Orders and to ensure there is proper order in the House at all times——

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  ——but I have not control on the issue of ministerial replies.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, you misunderstand me. I am not suggesting——

Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The Chair.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Never mind about the Chair. Those guys over there might find themselves in a different position very shortly. The Ceann Comhairle is quite correct in saying he has no control over the quality of the reply to a parliamentary question but it is the order of this House of long standing that replies are given to parliamentary questions. This is not a reflection on the Ceann Comhairle but rather it is the order of the House, the way we order our business. The Government is smugly laughing——

[299]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy knows very well we are talking about an industrial dispute issue.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  ——and the Taoiseach has introduced a quiet, therapeutic note into the debate, intoning all the reasons that this is the way it is.

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What about the people who depend upon us? What about the people outside depending on us?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should put the matter down for consideration on the Adjournment.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I will not get an answer.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Will the Taoiseach do anything about it?

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

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  I asked the Taoiseach about the questions I put down three weeks ago. Will they be dealt with or will they need to be resubmitted?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The logistics in each particular Department are a matter for the Ministers’ offices. I presume, in the event that we can get beyond the current dispute, the backlog will be dealt with in the normal way over a period of time when people come back.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Never.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I wish to revisit the matter of management companies and I refer to the Bill which is on Committee Stage in the Dáil. I remind the House that I and others have been raising this matter for about six years. A Bill was produced and was debated on Second Stage in the Seanad and it is at that Stage now. The Minister wrote us a letter arising from the matter being raised in the House on a regular basis. He informed us that further consultation was required arising from representations received from a variety of stakeholders. This consultation has been going on for quite some time. Is there any possibility that the Bill will be required to be withdrawn and will a new Bill now be required? I am sure the Taoiseach is aware that this is a very pressing matter for large numbers of——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have been over this ground before and I am advised the Bill is in the Seanad at this point.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is half in and half out.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Until it comes to the floor of this House, only then we will consider it.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is certainly business of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I accept that, yes.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I am almost finished my contribution, if the Ceann Comhairle will allow me. There are literally thousands of families who are paying up to €2,500 to have their grass cut by these companies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is really anticipating the debate before it gets here.

[300]Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Some of the companies have disappeared——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have an opportunity to make those points when the Bill comes to the floor of the House.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I am trying to stress the importance of this matter because it has been going on for six years, from the first time I raised it and maybe before then, but that is when I became aware of it in my own constituency. It is still going on and it is a serious issue. Maybe the new Bill arising from the consultation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  This is a matter which even Members from outside Kildare have been raising on a regular basis. I am glad to report that I understand Government amendments on Committee Stage will be submitted to the Seanad in the week beginning 11 March.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy James Reilly. I will come back to Deputy Creed.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Last week, the Taoiseach said in the House that there was a competition for hangar six at Dublin Airport and he also said that Ryanair expressed no interest.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  On promised business, Deputy.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I will mention the Bill if I am pushed to it. It is important that we have clarity on this issue. Perhaps the Taoiseach would like to correct the record of the House because I have spoken to both Ryanair and Aer Lingus and neither knows anything about a competition. I refer to a raft of correspondence from Ryanair on this issue dating back to February 2009 so to say it expressed no interest is clearly not in line with the facts. On the day Aer Lingus is talking about letting go 1,100 workers and more than 100 SR Technics workers are marching from the Garden of Remembrance today in protest——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask Deputy Reilly to submit a parliamentary question on the matter because he is looking for detailed information that can only be provided in that context.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  There is no time to reply to the questions.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——that the 300 jobs on offer from Ryanair are not being accommodated in any way. I said last week that the Taoiseach had been branded a liar by an international businessman. He is the leader of our country and I think he should stand up to that. If there is an issue to be clarified on the record of the House — I believe there is — then he should clarify it and correct it. I am asking him to do so. Before I sit down, the idea that the DAA, Dublin Airport Authority, has a licence which allows it to move Aer Lingus — Aer Lingus has admitted this——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is in serious breach of the norms of the Order of Business.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——and the Government owns 100% of the DAA and will not instruct it to accommodate these jobs at a time of terrible recession in this country and offer the 300 people some hope. I fail to understand it. There is a perception of a political bias against airline maintenance workers in north Dublin and this came across to me very strongly this morning. I am offering the Taoiseach the opportunity to correct that perception and to correct the record of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is out of order on the Order of Business.

[301]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  If it is out of order, then so be it. I will reply to the Deputy that I have responded to those claims outside the House and they were made outside the House. I have indicated the position in relation to that matter. I repeat that we would greatly welcome an initiative by Ryanair or any other company that would create viable jobs at Dublin Airport. I reiterate what the Tánaiste, and subsequently the chief executive of IDA Ireland on her behalf, made clear last year. When the Tánaiste met Mr. O’Leary last week, she repeated that the Government will do whatever is practicable to support and facilitate job creation. I could go further in relation to that matter, but I have made it clear by way of public statement and otherwise that there is no basis to those contentions.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  I would like to refer to the impasse between the Office of the Ombudsman and the State. On 3 February last, the Ombudsman issued a press release in which she said her “only option” when such an impasse arises “is to seek the intervention of the Oireachtas”.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to find an alternative way of raising this matter.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  If the Ceann Comhairle allows me to finish, I will ask a question that relates to legislation. The Ombudsman made it clear that the Oireachtas “now has the task of deciding who is right and who is wrong in the context of good administration and fairness to the complainant”. If this issue is to be resolved, a substantial motion needs to be brought before the House.

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Does the Taoiseach consider this issue to have been dealt with by virtue of the recent meaningless statements in this House and the Seanad?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We had statements on this matter in recent weeks. If the Deputy wishes to raise it again, he will have to find an alternative way of doing so.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Deputy Creed is right.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  This is about the rights of small people.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Yes. I am not disagreeing with the Deputy.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It cannot be buried by Fianna Fáil circling the wagons to protect a former Minister.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am asking the Deputy to use some of the other procedures that are available for raising matters of this nature.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  What are they?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are many procedures, including the Adjournment debate and Private Members’ time.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Creed is quite right.

Deputy Tom Sheahan: Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  The Ombudsman asked for the matter to be dealt with in the Oireachtas.

[302]Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The only remaining option is for the Houses of the Oireachtas to intervene. I do not suggest we should swallow the Ombudsman’s report hook, line and sinker, if Deputies will pardon the maritime pun.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy can raise the matter at a meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. That is an obvious means of pursuing this issue.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Government parties will vote down anything brought before the committee that does not have the imprimatur of the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The important thing is that the Deputy will have an opportunity to ventilate his point of view on the matter.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is a sad commentary on how this House does its business that the Executive has the power the muzzle the Members of the House.

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Can we have a forensic analysis in the committee of the issues in the report?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have given the Deputy a long run in this regard.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is not right and proper——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have outlined his options for pursuing this matter.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  ——that the rights of individuals are being trampled on by the Government in this fashion.

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Office of the Ombudsman is being dealt with in a disgraceful manner.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy O’Dowd.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is a legitimate question, to be fair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have advised the Deputy to pursue the matter through several other channels that are available to him.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  All of which would be blocked by the Government parties unless the Taoiseach gives them his imprimatur.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please. Exercise the other procedures first.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Can we analyse the report in the Oireachtas?

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is disgraceful that small people should be treated in this way when they go to the Ombudsman.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Something is being covered up.

[303]Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is an absolute disgrace.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  In response to Deputy James Reilly, the Taoiseach said that the Government is committed to sorting out its issues with Ryanair. The Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, has refused to meet Ryanair or to get involved in this serious crisis in the aviation industry. Some 1,000 redundancies may take place in Aer Lingus——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy O’Dowd is revisiting a subject that was discussed a few minutes ago.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  I will finish by mentioning that Ryanair has arranged a press conference for 3.30 p.m. today to put the facts of this case on the public record. There is a serious difference between the Government’s version of the truth and Ryanair’s interpretation of the facts.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to find another way to pursue this matter.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  The Minister is not intervening. The whole thing will collapse around us. This laissez-faire attitude to aviation jobs in Dublin Airport is not at all acceptable.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  On the same issue——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to find another way of pursuing this matter.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I am not sure if the Ceann Comhairle is aware that the chief executives of the airlines, Mr. O’Leary and Mr. Mueller, will attend an Oireachtas committee meeting at 4.30 p.m. today.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy can pursue this matter on the Adjournment, during Private Members’ time or in many other ways.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I am disappointed that Mr. O’Leary does not intend to wait until he comes to the Oireachtas before he makes whatever points he has to make. He has chosen instead to hold a press conference just before he comes to the Oireachtas. I would like to ask the Taoiseach about a related matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is it on legislation?

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  It is on the Finance Bill 2010, which is before the House at present. The Taoiseach is aware that all the airlines are in agreement on the issue of the travel tax. When it was introduced on 1 April 2009——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is not appropriate to raise this matter on the Order of Business.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  It is. I ask the Ceann Comhairle to wait until I ask——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have ample opportunity to make these points during the debate on the Finance Bill 2010.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  No, I just want to ask the Taoiseach——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I cannot allow it.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I am asking him about——

[304]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are losing control of the Order of Business because Deputies are endeavouring to raise everything.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I would like to ask the Taoiseach if he will lay the cost-benefit document on the travel tax before the House. When he was Minister for Finance, he used to issue documents in relation to poverty, etc.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is a matter for the debate on the Finance Bill.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Can we have a cost-benefit document in this instance? The Minister for Transport seems to think such a document exists, but I think there is no such document. If it exists, can the Taoiseach bring it in? That is all I am asking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Bill is being considered by the Select Committee on Finance and the Public Service at the moment. That is an ideal opportunity to raise this matter.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  I would like to return to a matter that was discussed across the floor earlier. The Taoiseach has assumed to his own Department the responsibilities of the Department of Defence. I would like to ask him about the two ministerial vacancies. There may be many links between the resignations of the former Minister, Deputy Willie O’Dea, and the former Minister of State, Deputy Trevor Sargent, but the only one that has been established to date is the involvement of the Garda Síochána in both instances. Will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to institute a ministerial inquiry under the Criminal Justice Act 2006 into Garda leaks?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to find another way of raising the matter.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  The Garda must be above suspicion.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Absolutely.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  In fairness, the Taoiseach is offering.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  The documents are in the newspapers today.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I want to make the point——

Deputy Fergus O’Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  The file and reference numbers are mentioned.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the Garda Commissioner has asked a chief superintendent from outside the area to conduct an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the issues arising from the resignation of Deputy Sargent. The chief superintendent has been asked to ascertain whether it is possible also to deal with how documents come into the public domain.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Can the Taoiseach give me an update on the progress being made with the monuments Bill? He might not consider the Bill, which will protect our national monuments, to be of pressing urgency, but I would beg to differ in that regard. It has been on the Order Paper for a long time. I would like to know when it will come before the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  This year.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  We may need it to protect some of the relics on the other side of the House.

[305]Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Taoiseach has observed that the ongoing industrial action is targeted at public representatives, particularly Members of the Dáil. I suggest that it does not appear to be affecting Ministers. I am not complaining about the fact that Ministers are able to do their business. It is a very odd industrial action — the target is supposed to be the Government, but the only one not affected is the Government. As Deputy Wall said, the poorest in the land are suffering. Is the Taoiseach prepared to initiate some action to bring this dispute to an end? It is not the case that the unions cannot be called in without a comprehensive agenda. We cannot have a situation in which the Members of the national Parliament cannot get straightforward answers to queries that are made on behalf of their constituents.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Hear, hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have had a discussion on this matter.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I accept that. The Taoiseach agreed that the action is targeted at Members of the House. As Deputy Wall said, some of our colleagues on the Government side of the House have offered use of the facility of going through the Minister’s office——

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

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  They have.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Name them.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I do not want to abuse their offer. When serious and urgent individual cases arise, I am glad to use any means of facilitating the resolution of such problems. It is not a partisan point. People have been waiting for months for their entitlements.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is right.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  We cannot even get a reply to it. Meanwhile, Ministers continue to be able to get replies. The trade unions have said that their action is targeted at the Government, but the only people suffering are the poorest in the land.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not accept — far from it — that we are not affected. We are all affected by this. Obviously, Ministers have ministerial duties to perform and, thankfully, we have been able to do that to the best of our ability. We have an ongoing industrial relations dispute here which is affecting all Members in one way or another. I do not accept the contention that certain people are being exempted from the impact of the action. We are all affected in the same way, as one would expect.

There are well-established channels of communication, as the Deputy knows, in an industrial relations dispute where staff representation and management maintain contact to ensure there are no unintended consequences in respect of an action going beyond what was envisaged. There is a preparedness in good industrial relations practice to ensure wider effects beyond what was intended do not occur. Contact is ongoing in this respect.

The optimum solution is to find a resolution to the problem and finding a basis for engagement is ongoing. However, that is a separate matter. In the handling of the dispute, we must ensure that we avoid unintended effects. Unfortunately, the nature of some the actions taken have affected how public representatives are able to discharge their parliamentary duties for their constituents, as in the answering of parliamentary questions.

We must see if we can ameliorate, mitigate or minimise these impacts. It is causing inconvenience and having an effect. Obviously, it was not intended to have no effect. When we, on [306]behalf of management, bring it to the attention of staff interests that vulnerable people are affected or have had their entitlements deferred as a result of the action, we must ensure, through the normal arrangements, that such unintended consequences are avoided.

We have a dispute situation here and it is having some effects. These effects and inconveniences are being articulated by all sides of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We will move on to statements.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle, I had indicated that I wanted to raise an issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Durkan, can it be raised tomorrow?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is on promised legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, you have been on your feet about three times today already on the Order of Business.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I was elected by the people to ask questions here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Yes, I know but there are other Members too.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On 29 September 2008, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance indicated to the House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is this on promised legislation?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is. They indicated the intention was to get back to the traditional banking principles of lending and borrowing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the inquiry about promised legislation?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I will tell you, a Cheann Comhairle, about the promised legislation in a second if you let me and stop interrupting me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Can we get to the point?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What action has been taken to reintroduce traditional banking principles? For example, the Central Bank (Consolidation) Bill and the financial services (miscellaneous provisions) Bill are listed for publication in 2010, although I asked about them on 2 February and 9 February. The Government programme also states it is not possible to indicate when the financial services regulation Bill will be published. Since a return to traditional banking has been a fundamental pillar of the Government’s policy for the past two years, would it not be reasonable to give some indication as to when this pivotal legislation will be brought before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We are working on two Bills. The Central Bank (consolidation) Bill is a large project and will be published towards the end of the year. Another Bill will come in this or in the next session to deal with some important and immediate reforms in integrating the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority model with the Central Bank one to form a Central Bank commission, reforms which the Minister for Finance wishes to undertake.


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