Order of Business.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 704 No. 4

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 18, Finance Bill 2010 — Report and Final Stages (Resumed); and No. 19, Road Traffic Bill 2009 — Second Stage (Resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m. The resumed Report and Final Stages of No. 18 shall be taken today and, notwithstanding the proceedings yesterday, shall resume on amendment No. 3 and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in respect of amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance.

Private Members’ business shall be No. 36, Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Review of Rent in Certain Cases) (Amendment) Bill 2010 — Second Stage (Resumed) — to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.

[603]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are two proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach indicate if there will be an opportunity for the House to address the scandalous situation vis-à-vis the 57,000 X-rays at Tallaght hospital? When will the Minister for Health and Children present before this Chamber, or a Minister of State in her Department in her absence, and take the opportunity to address this issue substantively in this House? There are many serious questions to be addressed. Contradictory information has been provided in various commentaries regarding this scandalous situation in terms of awareness, knowledge of and action regarding same and that must be addressed in the House. We need to know with certainty that what has been exposed in respect of Tallaght hospital, where a consultant radiologist did not have or did not avail of the opportunity to scrutinise some 57,000 X-rays, does not pertain at other hospital sites throughout the jurisdiction as well. This is a very important matter and I call on the Taoiseach to clarify at this point when the Minister, or a Minister of State on her behalf, will present in the Chamber, preferably today.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is a matter for the procedures of the House as to how that matter can be taken forward.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach intervene? It is well within his gift, given the importance and seriousness of the matter, to intervene to accommodate an opportunity for it. I do not know when the Minister is due to return to Ireland. I realise she is currently out of the country but that should not prevent the House addressing this matter from an informed and definitely focused basis. Will the Taoiseach ensure at least, in the absence of the Minister, that a Minister of State from her Department would come before the House with the full information and take questions of members of the Opposition?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The questions we have relate to the late sitting and the Finance Bill. It is important to try to deal with those and then we can move on to other matters.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I have tabled a private notice question. Will the Ceann Comhairle clarify if he would be prepared to accommodate that request?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We will leave that matter rest for the moment.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I wish to address the issue raised by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. It was clear this morning when the Minister spoke from New Zealand that she is muddled and mixed up. This is a Minister who does not know the difference between meddling and management. She should come home immediately.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are talking about getting the Order of Business for today agreed to.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  There are approximately 20,000 people around the Tallaght area waiting to know if their X-rays were read properly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am not in any disagreement on that matter.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  The Taoiseach needs to address this. He is the leader of the country. This morning, he stated he has absolute confidence in the Minister. He must be one of the few left who does. In my view, this Minister should resign.

[604]An Ceann Comhairle: We must get the Order of Business agreed to.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  This is one scandal too many. I refer to relevant legislation. Where is the whistleblowers legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am not asking the Deputy for that at this point and I call on him to resume his seat until we deal with the Order of Business.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  HIQA was called in back in June. Where is HIQA’s report?

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Is the Taoiseach not prepared to give us an indication of an accommodation? Surely he should accept the need for this matter to be addressed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the question agreed to? Agreed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I have indicated, this is a matter for the procedure of the House. As I understand it, the Ceann Comhairle is on notice of any private notice questions that may have been submitted. The Report and Final Stages of the Finance Bill are to be completed today. That is a very important matter that must be dealt with as well.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Again, money is more important than people.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Can we not seek an accommodation tomorrow?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I realise Deputy Reilly is not long in this place.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach allow this issue to be addressed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is a matter for the Whips to consider for tomorrow’s business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Will the Taoiseach encourage the Chief Whip to be positively disposed to such a proposition?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The first question has been agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18 agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Taoiseach may state continuously that this is a matter to be sorted out by the Whips but the Government orders the business here. Some 65 amendments to the Finance Bill remain; four have been dealt with. These range from issues related to NAMA, to the consolidation of taxes, head shops and a whole range of other issues. The time allocated for today will not allow Members to get into any constructive or detailed discussion about a number of these very important amendments. There is no reason that the Dáil could not sit for a longer period tomorrow to deal with the details of the amendments to the Finance Bill tabled by Deputies. I object to the Bill being guillotined today. It is not good enough.

I take the point made by Deputy Reilly in respect of the catastrophe that has befallen certain people and the concern that exists for those whose X-rays have not been read. They have not been informed about whether they are at a high risk. This is unsatisfactory and I object to it. I will vote against the Order of Business unless the Government Whip indicates to me that extra time will be given to these amendments to the Finance Bill tomorrow.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  There is a perfectly agreeable way of addressing this issue. The Finance Bill is probably one of the most important tranches of legislation that comes before the House each year. Attempting to guillotine the Bill is an insult to the work of the House. We could find two hours tomorrow easily without seriously discommoding anyone. As has been done on [605]several occasions in recent times, question time could be pushed back until later in the afternoon tomorrow and we could hold a sufficiency of debate. Several serious matters arise here and we must hold a discussion with the Minister for Finance on what he proposes. Happily, he accepted a Labour Party amendment to the Finance Bill last night in respect of an evaluation of the cost of tax expenditures and tax breaks. That was helpful and it may indicate a new spirit of bipartisanship in this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We really cannot get into a Second Stage contribution on the Finance Bill at this point. We are on the Order of Business.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Given that spirit of bipartisanship, it is important to allow sufficient time and respect for the House rather than simply having a guillotine and a jack boot approach to finishing off the legislation in the manner proposed.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Sinn Féin Deputies reject absolutely the proposition that a guillotine should be applied to the Finance Bill at any stage, let alone on Report and Final Stages. The situation is that only four amendments from approximately 70 tabled were addressed in yesterday’s discussions in the Chamber. There is inadequate time to address the import of all the amendments tabled. I recognise that this Bill accommodates the removal of the VAT exemption from local authorities that will result in a 13.5% increase in respect of charges covering a whole raft of services at that level.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is really into a Second Stage contribution on the Finance Bill.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  This is not a Bill that should be passed through on any nod. This requires full address in this Chamber and that is not being accommodated by the Government’s ordering of today’s work.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We require a decision on this matter.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 18 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; 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 Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall. Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine.
Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian. Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas.
Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret. Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán.
Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary. Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian.
Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John. Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán.
Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John. Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank. 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 John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Noel Grealish  Zoom on Noel Grealish  Grealish, Noel. Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary.
Information on 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 Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on James McDaid  Zoom on James McDaid  McDaid, James.
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 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 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 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 Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on Bernard Allen  Zoom on Bernard Allen  Allen, Bernard. Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James.
Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán. Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe.
Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat. Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P.
Information on 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 Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on 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 Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
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 Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on 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 Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on 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 Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John. Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian.
Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan. Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. 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. 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.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will the Taoiseach consider again the statement made by the Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, that the lost at sea scheme began as maladministration and ended up as bad governance? The Ombudsman, appointed by the Government, has said it is not tolerable [607]that the objective and independent report she produced will not be allowed to be discussed at the appropriate Oireachtas committee.

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

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Creed has raised this matter on several occasions.

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

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  It is about the accountability of the Dáil.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A motion was put before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to deal with this but was voted down by the Government members.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  A decision has already been made on this matter.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  In the interests of everyone, including Deputies mentioned in the report, it is right and proper——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Private Members’ business is available to Deputy Kenny if he wishes to initiate a debate on the matter.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  ——that they should have the opportunity to answer questions at the relevant committee. All I want from the Taoiseach is that he has no objection to a committee dealing with this. The other day when answering a parliamentary question, the Minister for Transport said the Government will not give any more time in the Chamber to this report. That was a clear statement from the Minister. I want an equally clear statement from the Taoiseach saying that on account of what the Ombudsman has said officially in public that the appropriate Oireachtas committee, comprising Members from all parties, should be entitled to consider her report on the Lost at Sea scheme. Deputy Fahey, who is present in the Chamber, has been mentioned in the report. He should be entitled to give his say in detail at the committee.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  If Deputy Kenny wants a more detailed debate on this matter, he can utilise Private Members’ time to do so.

Deputy Frank Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I offered Deputy Kenny an opportunity to do so but he did not take it.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Ceann Comhairle would like me to raise it through Private Members’ time and then be accused of wasting time. This is a case where the appropriate committee can deal with it.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  A decision has already been made on this.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I can see no reason why the Government will not allow this to happen. It is clearly a case of where, on the one hand, the Government considered the Ombudsman’s report and, on the other, that one of its Members was mentioned in it. The Government has come down in favour of a Government Deputy.

Deputy Frank Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  I personally offered Deputy Kenny an opportunity to do so but he wanted to make it a political football.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Deputy Fahey is trying to hide something.

[608]Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Deputy Fahey can go before the committee and make his case. I am sure he is more than eloquent to argue his case.

Deputy Frank Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  We have already debated it here in the Chamber.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Kenny is out of order.

Deputy Frank Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  The Taoiseach recommended it be dealt with in the Dáil but Deputy Kenny refused to take it up.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  There is something to hide.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I want to make this clear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Kenny, you are contributing to disorder in the House on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have not accused Deputy Fahey of anything. Instead, I am giving him the opportunity to go to the appropriate committee and deal with questions that need to be answered in respect of the Ombudsman’s report. It is not a report from a political party.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Deputy Noel Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Deputy Kenny is paddling around the place.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  A decision has already been made on this.

Deputy Niall Blaney: Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  He is shuffling the goalposts.

Deputy Seán Power: Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  A Cheann Comhairle, this is the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Kenny, it is not promised legislation. We are on the Order of Business and there are other ways to deal with these matters.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Of what is the Government afraid? If there is nothing to hide, then there is nothing of which to be afraid.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Kenny, there are other ways of dealing with this matter. We have suggested Private Members’ time if you so wish. I call Deputy Gilmore.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  You have suggested Private Members’ time, a Cheann Comhairle. I am asking the Taoiseach a straight question. Will the report be considered by the appropriate committee?

Deputy Paul Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  No.

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

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Will I get a response from the Taoiseach?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am sure we will have a response. There are several other Members offering.

[609]Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Is the Ceann Comhairle offering me a guarantee that there will be a response from the Taoiseach?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am not guaranteeing you anything. Deputy Gilmore has indicated he wants a brief word on the same issue.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A Cheann Comhairle, if you are sure you will have a response, are you guaranteeing me a response?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call on Deputy Gilmore. We have been over this ground several times in recent weeks and there are options in place.

Deputy Noel O’Flynn: Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  The matter has been decided.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It certainly was for Fianna Fáil.

A Deputy:  We will all be back up on it again in a year’s time.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is a cover-up.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  They are using it as a political football.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  There is only one way to sort it out.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is unusual for a Department to reject a finding of the Ombudsman. It is also unusual for the Ombudsman to refer the matter to the Oireachtas for it to decide upon. The arrangement made for statements on it did not satisfy that requirement. The Labour Party spokesperson, Deputy Sherlock, has tabled a motion to have the issue referred to the appropriate Dáil committee. That is the only way to deal with this. The longer this matter continues, the more politicised and more partisan it will become.

Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  They are all very partisan over on that side of the House.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  This week the Ombudsman made a public comment on the matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Private Members’ time is an ideal opportunity to raise this matter.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I do not believe the Ombudsman should be put in the position to have to make public comments on her reports. She referred the matter to the Oireachtas and it should be dealt with here.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  The Ombudsman accepted it was a matter for the Department in question.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  She did not. Deputy Aylward should read the report.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  She did not. I suggest Deputy Aylward might read her report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Creed, please make your remarks through the Chair.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  That is the whole point. The Department rejected the recommendation. There is a precedent for dealing with this matter, as there was a previous occasion where something similar arose and it was dealt with by the appropriate Oireachtas committee.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We must move on as we have spent too much time on it already.

[610]Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The longer it goes on, the more of a political controversy it will become.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is being generated as a controversy.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  As I said yesterday, the sooner it is referred to the committee and dealt with on an all-party basis the better. I do not understand why the Government will not agree to have this dealt with by the appropriate committee. That is all we are asking for.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is already there.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  There is a motion in the House. If the Government accepts it, we do not even have to debate it in the Chamber. It can be referred to the committee and dealt with there.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We must recognise the Ombudsman is a politically independent officer of the State. We must treat seriously matters she refers to the Dáil and Seanad as she has done in this instance. It is only the second time a report of the Ombudsman’s office has been rejected by a Department. It is very important that we do not find ourselves in the situation she described in her remarks yesterday, with the Dáil having been sidelined and the Opposition failing to hold the Executive to account.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  That contribution might be appropriate if we had a motion on Private Members’ time.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We have a responsibility to hold the Government to account——

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is our responsibility——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, this is the Order of Business and not Private Members’ time.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——and obligation and we are pressing that this matter be addressed. I agree with Deputy Gilmore that it is beyond understanding why there is such a concerted resistance to having——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have a debate on this now.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——the matter substantively addressed in a committee of the——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I do not mind brief remarks but not on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Why does the Ceann Comhairle keep talking over me?

Deputy Dick Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  It is the other way around.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Ó Caoláin is out of order, and that is why.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Government is out of order. It is trying to muzzle the Ombudsman.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Surely when I have been called to speak——

[611]Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Government is looking after the big boys and trampling on small people.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Ceann Comhairle called me to speak and I presumed in that situation I had the right to address the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Ó Caoláin has broken into a Second Stage speech on the matter.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I have done no such thing.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I have done no such thing. I am asking the Taoiseach to take this issue seriously immediately. There can be no question but that the Government has blocked address of this issue in this Chamber, in the Seanad and in the committee. It is beyond the understanding of any reasonable opinion and should be addressed immediately. What else will put the matter to bed? What else will address the concerns expressed by the Ombudsman? There can be no other way of dealing with this and I urge the Taoiseach and the Government to accede to the collective request of the Opposition to have this matter addressed as a substantive issue by the committee.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  As I have told other Deputies, Private Members’ time is available to deal with this matter.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  No, that is not the way to deal with this. It should be dealt with in Government time and should be dealt with in committee.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  On a point of order——

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

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Ceann Comhairle repeatedly requests the Opposition to have the matter dealt with in Private Members’ time. That is not the appropriate way to deal with it because we need a forensic investigation and interviews with various parties, including Deputy Fahey whom the Taoiseach is intent on protecting and around whom he is circling the Government wagons. We are offering Deputy Fahey, the Ombudsman and the complainant an opportunity to come before the committee. That is what true and effective parliamentary democracy is about, not a charade and a whitewash, which is what the Ceann Comhairle is asking the Opposition to participate in.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  All these points can be made in other ways.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  One of the issues raised by the Ombudsman is the ability of the Oireachtas to hold the Government to account. The Order of Business is exactly where one should discuss whether a report is debated or not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I do not have the latitude to allow Members to hold people to——

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  What exactly is the Order of Business?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  What is allowed on the Order of Business is quite narrow.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I want to make the point——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am only implementing Standing Orders.

[612]Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Can I just finish my sentence? I believe we hold the Government to account in the Oireachtas but we are being put in a straitjacket in terms of what we can raise on the Order of Business. We should be able to raise whether a report should be debated on the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have mechanisms in the House for all parties to visit this area.

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  On a point of order——

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On a point of order——

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  With all due respect, I indicated on this issue. There is a motion before the House and all the Labour Party wants is to provide the Ombudsman with an opportunity to present the findings of her report before a designated committee, preferably the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. That is on the Order Paper and we are asking that there be some degree of common sense in terms of how this is approached. We do not want further statements in the Dáil on this matter and, as Deputy Gilmore said, it can be done without debate if we facilitate the person in question. That is all we are asking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are ways and means.

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  It is a very reasonable request and it is all we are asking.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  On the point of order, I and other Members have raised repeatedly the question of accountability to the House. The Ceann Comhairle finds himself in a difficult position and I am not being critical of him. The Ceann Comhairle says there are ways and means of dealing with this issue without any change to protocol. It is a fact of life. Does the Opposition have to bring the business of the House to a halt in order to get the Government to accept the principle of accountability to Parliament?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Can I reply? There is a much misrepresentation.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  How often have I raised this matter in the House along with Members on both sides of the House? What advice can the Ceann Comhairle give us?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We will hear An Taoiseach.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, when we are discussing the ordering of Government business, the Ceann Comhairle has got into the habit of giving us helpful advice to kick it to touch into Private Members’ time. That is not what we are talking about.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have had statements in the House on this matter.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is not the issue.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  That is not the business we are dealing with on the Order of Business, which concerns Government time and how it should be allocated. There is a proposal from the Government and we are entitled to raise questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are dealing with issues raised by individual Members.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The advice of the Ceann Comhairle is to refer it to Private Members’ time and this is not in order.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Correct.

[613]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  A number of misrepresentations have been made by the Opposition and I want to clear up the factual situation. The Ombudsman Act is entirely silent on how the Houses of the Oireachtas should deal with a special report laid before each House. The Ombudsman presented a special report to each House of the Oireachtas at which time she invited them to consider the report and “take whatever action they deem appropriate”. It is a matter for the Oireachtas to order its business. The Dáil and Seanad have dealt with the Ombudsman’s report by way of statements on 4 February and 18 February respectively.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  What actions have we taken?

Deputy Michael Mulcahy: Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Deputy Creed should listen.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am explaining the situation.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  It is a whitewash.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I just heard from Deputy Gilmore about the need to avoid partisanship in respect of this matter. He wanted to have this matter dealt with by the committee to avoid all partisanship. Deputy Creed has been involved in a game of partisanship for months.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  That is not true.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Every time I get to speak on this, Deputy Creed keeps interrupting me. I read his statement yesterday. He has a statement on this every day. Again, it is Deputy Creed seeking to introduce a degree of partisanship into this matter.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Taoiseach’s party voted it down.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  What is the story here? Does everyone have a right to keep talking while I am talking even though I listened in silence while they were speaking?

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  The Taoiseach should answer the question and deal with the matter rather than attacking people.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  If Deputy Creed did not interrupt me, I would have answered by now if Deputy Timmins is interested in an answer but he is not interested in an answer.

There is no prescribed issue in respect of the Ombudsman Act that the House dealt with.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  There is precedent.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is a matter for the Houses of Oireachtas.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Creed, the Taoiseach should be allowed to speak without interruption.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As the Ombudsman accepts, any Department is free in law to decide whether it will accept the recommendation. In many cases they are accepted but there have been occasions on which they had not been accepted. It is out of respect for the Ombudsman’s office that we do not reject every recommendation.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Just the ones the Government does not like.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, outlined the Government’s position in respect of this matter in the House. I do not accept some of the suggestions made about [614]this. The Department’s reason for taking that position is on the record of the House. It is entitled in law to take that position.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Where is the opportunity for the House to take a position on this?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am sorry Deputy——

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Ombudsman Act is silent on how that can be dealt with. We dealt with it by way of statements in the House. It has been dealt with as far as the Government is concerned. The Department is entitled in law to take a position and this is accepted by the Ombudsman.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  The Parliament is entitled to take a position.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  I asked the Taoiseach to address the precedent that exists in this House. On the one previous occasion in 25 years when the Ombudsman laid a report before the Houses of the Oireachtas, it was referred to the Oireachtas committee on finance for investigation. That is all the Houses ask, that the matter be investigated by a committee of the House.

Deputy Frank Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Deputy Creed broke that precedent by bringing the matter into the Dáil.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The recommendations are not legally binding and the Department is entitled in law——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  There is precedent.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Members have asked for clarification and I am providing it.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy continues with that——

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  The Taoiseach is a disgrace.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——as his predecessor continued with it.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As Deputy Killeen stated in his Dáil statement the scheme once decided upon was properly and fairly administered by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  What about the report?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  He also pointed out that the Ombudsman has expressly acknowledged that she found no evidence to suggest that the scheme once launched was not applied equitably.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Has Deputy Creed nothing to say now?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is the situation, which does not fit Deputy Creed’s little conspiracy theory with which he will keep on anyway.

[615]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Let us have a debate then.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  White wash. The Taoiseach is circling the wagons.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy Sherlock on a brief question. We have spent too much time on this matter.

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  I note what the Taoiseach has said about the Ombudsman’s Act being silent on the matter. Again, we respectfully ask that the Taoiseach allow the Ombudsman an opportunity to present her findings. I believe that is a reasonable approach. This can be done in a non-partisan way. I am sure this House could facilitate such a process.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  The Ombudsman is being muzzled.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Ombudsman has presented her special report to the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas how it wishes to deal with it. We have had statements in both Houses on the matter.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Statements are meaningless.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have explained the situation in terms of what the Department is legally entitled to do, which is accepted by the Ombudsman in any event.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  What does the Taoiseach have to hide?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Kehoe, please. We must have one speaker at a time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The report speaks for itself.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  If the Taoiseach thinks this issue is going to go away he has another thing coming.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have just outlined——

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  What then does the Taoiseach have to hide?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have nothing to hide. That is the reason the report is being dealt with in this manner.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Let it go to committee.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy probably has not even read the report.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  What is the Deputy’s motivation?

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  The Taoiseach should let it go to committee if he has nothing to hide.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Kehoe, please. We must move on. I call Deputy Phil Hogan.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The following may not be silent in law. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill is listed on the Order Paper. We have all read in recent times of the massive splurge of expenditure on travel and entertainment. There is precedent in this regard. [616] The Ceann Comhairle’s office has been the subject of precedent in respect of this matter. The director general of FÁS, an agency of the Tánaiste’s Department, has been the subject of adjudication on these matters. When will the Taoiseach bring forth an amendment to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act to allow the Comptroller and Auditor General to deal with these matters as per the Bill on the Order Paper?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no legislation promised by Government in that respect. Obviously, there are reports to be considered by the Minister and they will be brought forward in due course.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Does the Taoiseach not regard these matters as serious?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy has received an answer. There is no promised legislation on the matter.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  The Taoiseach’s Green Party colleagues in government thought the matters relating to the former Ceann Comhairle and Mr. Molloy were serious. Is the Taoiseach suggesting these issues are not serious enough to be discussed or to warrant a change in the legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  If the Deputy tables a parliamentary question——

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Perhaps the Government will consider accepting the Fine Gael Bill which seeks to amend the Act to bring forward legislation to allow a proper investigation of these matters.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  ——it should get to the core of the matter for him. I call Deputy Broughan.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There has been no comment by me suggesting matters are not serious or otherwise. I am merely making the point that the report should be considered by the Minister taking the advice he is taking and will be published in due course.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  When will they be published?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Will he develop a legal problem too?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is the situation.

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

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have four brief questions for the Taoiseach. I understand the competition Bill includes a section to deal with the situation whereby a company can effectively own a large shareholding in its direct competitor, as is happening in aviation. When will that Bill come before the House?

I understand the globalisation fund extra information for the SRT workers was on the desk of Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, last week. Has that information been sent back to Brussels? There was massive disruption yesterday by the taxi industry. The Taoiseach will be aware the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy must confine his questions to promised legislation.

[617]Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I understand the taxi workers want to discuss with the Minister the report of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport on taxis. Perhaps a meeting in this regard could be arranged as soon as possible.

Perhaps the Taoiseach will when in Chicago next week visit Northfields to meet the chief executive of Kraft in respect of workers at Cadburys.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Taoiseach, on promised legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Tánaiste will meet with the chief executive of Kraft in due course. On the question in respect of the competition Bill, it is proposed to introduce it by the end of this year. The information in relation to SRT has been returned to Brussels.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  What is the position with the stabilisation fund?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The information has been sent to Brussels.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  I wish to raise three issues with the Taoiseach. Members continue to receive from the HSE correspondence and information on health issues that is not up to date or relevant. When will——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Has legislation been promised in this general area?

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Yes. I will come to it if the Ceann Comhairle’s allows me to at least start my question.

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  The Deputy should start at the beginning.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  When will the health information Bill, which should legalise and force these people to tell us the truth once and for all, be introduced?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am advised it will be introduced in the middle of the year.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  When will the landlord and tenants Bill come before the House given the extremely serious situation in particular in Border areas, in respect of rent?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is not possible at this stage to indicate when that Bill will come before the House.

Deputy Seymour Crawford: Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  We are continually advised of the great work being done by the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. We are told that big is great and big is perfect. Members will be aware of the current situation at Tallaght Hospital. When will the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill be brought before the House to allow us an opportunity to discuss the complete utter chaos of our health system?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am advised no date has yet been fixed for that Bill. I call Deputy Terence Flanagan.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  The multi-unit developments Bill is long overdue legislation. I accept an update on the matters has been received from the Whips’ office. While the multi-unit developments Bill is complex legislation its introduction has been dragging on now for eight years. Meanwhile there is no redress for the 400,000 apartment owners. These people have nobody to turn to in respect of disputes and problems that arise. Perhaps the Taoiseach will expedite this legislation and provide the House with an update in this regard.

[618]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Bill is currently on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  When is it expected to come before the Dáil?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  When it is finished in the Seanad.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  When does the Taoiseach anticipate that will be?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As soon as possible.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is not an answer. That is not fair.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  As Deputy Broughan stated, the Taoiseach——

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Deputy Flanagan is spokesperson on the matter and deserves a proper answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Please allow Deputy Flanagan to continue.

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

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy Flanagan to continue.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  That is not a proper answer. The Taoiseach knows that it is not on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  It is held up because of a dispute.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Committee Stage of the Bill is being taken today in the Seanad.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy Flanagan to continue.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Deputy Broughan mentioned the Taoiseach will next week be in Chicago where the headquarters of Kraft management is based. Perhaps he will make it his business to ensure the 1,200 jobs at Cadburys in Dublin are retained. The last thing we need in this country is more people joining the dole queues.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is full-scale engagement with the company on the matter.

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

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Will the Taoiseach confirm to the House if the mid-west task force is working towards producing its final report and, if so, when is it expected the chairman will report on the matter? Also, will the Taoiseach facilitate a debate on the report when concluded?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We will deal with the report when it is brought forward.

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

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Given the Taoiseach has stated he has confidence in the Minister for Health and Children, perhaps he will tell us the reason the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, did not inform her in June of the situation at Tallaght Hospital. How is it possible that the word of the CEO that there were only 4,000 cases involved when it transpires [619]that there are 58,000 cases involved, was accepted? This is the worst scandal yet we have had in this country.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I wish to be of assistance to the Deputy on the matter.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  It is not credible that HIQA did not inform the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  A special notice question on the matter has been tabled——

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  That may be so but——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  ——-for this afternoon——

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——the Minister needs to come back immediately——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  ——and the intention is that it will be allowed.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I put it to the Ceann Comhairle that if a whistleblower had not given this story to Mr. Fergal Bowers and he had not broken it, we still would not know about it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have time to debate the matter this afternoon.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  The reality is that the Minister needs to come back to the House to address this question.

Deputy Brian Lenihan: Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  The Deputy should send his helicopter.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  The Taoiseach of this country said he has confidence in the Minister for Health and Children. I say the remainder of the country does not and that she should resign.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Hear, hear.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  This is one scandal too many.

Deputy Terence Flanagan: Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Yes, it is one too many.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  How many people have suffered?

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

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  People have died and people have suffered because of Portlaoise, the north-east, Galway and Limerick.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy must resume his seat. I have advised him we are allowing a special notice question on the matter this afternoon——

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  This is one scandal too many.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  ——at which stage he will have an opportunity to make all those points.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  When will the whistleblowers charter be introduced? When will the legislation promised in the programme for Government, which the Taoiseach and Minister for Health and Children appear to be putting on the long finger, be brought before this House? Will the Taoiseach, Minister and HIQA assure this House that this situation does not pertain in other hospitals around the country?

[620]Deputies:  Hear, hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have advised the Deputy of the position. While I am allowing him a great deal of latitude, he is abusing the Order of Business.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I say to the Ceann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have advised the Deputy that we are allowing a special notice question on the matter this afternoon.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——that thousands of people in this country are being abused by our health service, which is being mismanaged——

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

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  ——-by an incompetent, lethargic, detached Minister for Health and Children who should be gone.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. I call Deputy Jan O’Sullivan.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I was going to raise the following matter when dealing with the relevant legislation but it is appropriate that I raise it now. It is simply not credible that when the Minister was told about this in December by the CEO of Tallaght Hospital, she was not told the extent of it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I have advised the House that we are allowing a special notice question on the matter this afternoon.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The CEO knew the extent of the problem. He knew that it involved nearly 58,000 patients.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  You will have the opportunity to make these points at that stage.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  This is much broader than the immediate issue. It is a matter of the Minister’s competence. The Minister handed over complete responsibility for the health service to the HSE, and because of that, she is now hiding behind the fact——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy O’Sullivan, will you resume your seat please?

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The Minister needs to take that responsibility for the health service.

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

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It is a disgrace.

Deputy Deirdre Clune: Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  It is reported in the newspapers that the Taoiseach is launching the innovation task force report tomorrow. This report claims that 120,000 jobs can be created. Does the Taoiseach have any plans to bring the report to the House? We can then have a full debate on it and hear the Government’s detailed response to the recommendations of the report.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is a matter for the Whips.

Deputy Deirdre Clune: Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  It is a matter for the Taoiseach.

[621]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I was going to reply. This report will be launched tomorrow by the task force that wrote it and it will be considered by the Government. It is a matter for the Whips to decide when this or any other report will be debated.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  The Taoiseach will be in the arms of President Obama next week. Will he raise the issue of the undocumented Irish? It is very important. Many of our Irish illegals are caught in limbo over there, and I hope the Taoiseach will raise it with the President next week. We were promised legislation on the issue by the US Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is a difficult issue on the domestic agenda, but it will be raised.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Ireland is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which recognises the right to free movement of people. There is an explicit right in our Constitution to free travel. That explicit right has been denied to people due to the actions of staff at the passport office. Will the Taoiseach get the Minister for Foreign Affairs to do something about it? It is disgraceful that people all over the country are arriving at the office but cannot get their passport. Perhaps the Taoiseach has his own passport in order for next week, but it is unacceptable that people cannot travel abroad. We are a laughing stock abroad and the CPSU is running rings around the Government.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  It is pure blackguarding where people have had to travel to and from the passport office. It is outrageous. We do not have a passport office in rural Ireland.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  How long is the Government going to stand by and let this happen?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  You have made your point.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I dealt with this in Leaders’ Questions and in parliamentary questions. I will refer the Deputy to the note I already sent on the issue.

Deputy Jack Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I asked the staff of the Oireachtas Library to do some research on local authority loans. They informed me that 43% of such loans across the country were in arrears. When I asked officials at Kildare County Council what could be done about this, they told me that their hands were tied and they could do nothing about it. They said that if the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government gave a ministerial order under section 34 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, it would allow them to negotiate with people who had loans to ensure that proper facilities were put in place to deal with arrears.

The Minister has approved ministerial orders for other sections of that Bill, but I am asking the Taoiseach——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We really have to do this some other way.

Deputy Jack Wall: Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  I am going to ask the question. When will the ministerial order for section 34 of the Act take place to allow local authorities deal with people who have taken out local authority loans and who are in arrears?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is a matter for parliamentary questions, but I will inquire about it.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, we are entitled to ask about secondary legislation on the Order of Business.


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