Thursday, 29 April 2010
Dáil Eireann Debate
The Tánaiste: It is proposed to take No. a9, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 9, motion re payment to the social insurance fund under section 9(9)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005; No. 22, Merchant Shipping Bill 2009 — Report Stage (resumed); No. 22a, statements on development in child welfare and protection services. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. a9 and 9 shall be decided without debate, and any division demanded on No. 9 shall be taken forthwith, that the proceedings in relation to No. 22a shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m. today and the following arrangements shall apply; the statements of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; the statements of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and Members may share time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes. The Dáil, on its rising today, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 5 May 2010.
Deputy Enda Kenny: No. 9 is a payment to the social insurance fund under section 9(9)(a) of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005. This matter was agreed at committee. The note from the Government Whip states that this is for a sum not exceeding €1.551 billion, to come from the Social and Family Affairs Vote to the social insurance fund, for people who are paying into contributory pensions, unemployment benefit and so on. The provision was made in the 2010 Estimates for the payment of an Exchequer subvention. Was the figure of €1.551 billion calculated as the amount by the Government when it presented the budget? In other words, was it understood that in the Social and Family Affairs Vote a subvention would have to be made to the social insurance fund to meet payments for contributory pensions and so forth? Was the figure calculated higher or lower than €1.551 billion? The fact that this payment must be made from the Social and Family Affairs Vote is testament to the scale and magnanimity of the Government’s incompetence in getting the country back to work.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The Labour Party cannot agree to this proposal on the Order of Business this morning because the Government has broken its promise to 300,000 low-income families whose costs for home heating oil will be increased on Saturday with the introduction of the new carbon levy. When the levy is imposed, it will increase the price of heating oil by 9% which comes on top of an increase already this year of 37%.
When the Government cut the pay and social welfare payments of low-income families, it justified it on the grounds that prices were coming down. This is a case, however, where the Government itself is increasing prices. When it announced this during the budget, the Government promised a special allowance to offset the increase for low-income families dependent on home heating oil before the carbon levy would be introduced. That promise was made by the Minister for Finance and repeated by the then Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Deputy Mary Hanafin, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Eamon Ryan, and the Tánaiste. This promise has now been broken.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Many families will be severely impacted by this levy’s introduction. A promise was made to them but it has been broken. The carbon levy will be introduced on Saturday but there is no sign of the special allowance. Yesterday, the Taoiseach said they can wait until October for it which is unacceptable. Accordingly, the Labour Party is not prepared to agree to the Order of Business.
On the issue of home heating oil increases, as the Taoiseach said, the relevant Ministers are working towards a new scheme which will be available at the time heating supplements were heretofore made available.
Deputy Enda Kenny: It is not agreed to. We should be here next Tuesday. Matters are in a serious state but this House has refused to change its way in how it accepts responsibility, accountability and transparency in the interests of the people. There is no reason, except for a long outlived tradition, that the House should not be sitting again on Tuesday to debate urgent and important business.
We are now hearing reports from the European Commission regarding the Government’s attitude towards Anglo Irish Bank. There are serious matters to be considered concerning the international markets and Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. It is important these issues are debated. I see no reason the House cannot come back next Tuesday to debate this important business in the people’s interests. I object to this proposal to come back on Wednesday.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: There is no justification for the House adjourning until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday. The public holiday is on Monday. This House should be sitting as normal on Tuesday. I understand the 2.30 p.m. arrangement on Wednesday is to facilitate the commemorative event at Arbour Hill earlier in the day which is an added reason that we should be sitting on Tuesday. There is no shortage of business to be dealt with next week.
On the matter I raised earlier, the Tánaiste is wrong. She herself made a promise that the special allowance would be brought in before the carbon levy was introduced. This is an issue the Labour Party would like to return to on Tuesday if the House were sitting.
Other matters which could be addressed on Tuesday include the plight of the 800 workers in Quinn Insurance, the implications of what is happening in Greece for the euro and our economy and the messages from Brussels on the Government’s plans for Anglo Irish Bank. This is apart from the long list of legislation the Government has promised but not delivered.
There is no justification whatever for adjourning the House until Wednesday. This is happening because the Government is taking every opportunity and excuse to be out of the House so it will not be answerable to the Dáil and Members of the Opposition. It is running away from the problems of the country and being accountable to the House for them.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: The Sinn Féin Deputies support the proposition that the Dáil returns on Tuesday as normal to engage in its business. It is important given all the serious matters that have presented and are in the offing, in particular, this morning’s announcement of the threatened loss of a significant number of jobs in Quinn Insurance.
It is incredible that the House would vote itself a day in lieu of a bank holiday Monday. It is as if we only worked for three days and we should get a day off because Monday is a closed day. We work every day of the week and with Monday as the bank holiday we should be back as normal on Tuesday as there are serious matters that need to be addressed. It is imperative the Dáil should start on Tuesday as normal.
|Ahern, Bertie.||Ahern, Michael.|
|Ahern, Noel.||Andrews, Barry.|
|Andrews, Chris.||Aylward, Bobby.|
|Blaney, Niall.||Brady, Áine.|
|Brady, Cyprian.||Brady, Johnny.|
|Byrne, Thomas.||Calleary, Dara.|
|Carey, Pat.||Collins, Niall.|
|Conlon, Margaret.||Connick, Seán.|
|Coughlan, Mary.||Cregan, John.|
|Cuffe, Ciarán.||Curran, John.|
|Dempsey, Noel.||Dooley, Timmy.|
|Finneran, Michael.||Fitzpatrick, Michael.|
|Fleming, Seán.||Flynn, Beverley.|
|Gogarty, Paul.||Gormley, John.|
|Grealish, Noel.||Hanafin, Mary.|
|Harney, Mary.||Haughey, Seán.|
|Healy-Rae, Jackie.||Hoctor, Máire.|
|Kelleher, Billy.||Kenneally, Brendan.|
|Kennedy, Michael.||Killeen, Tony.|
|Kitt, Michael P.||Kitt, Tom.|
|Lenihan, Conor.||Lowry, Michael.|
|McEllistrim, Thomas.||McGrath, Mattie.|
|McGuinness, John.||Moloney, John.|
|Moynihan, Michael.||Mulcahy, Michael.|
|Nolan, M. J.||Ó Cuív, Éamon.|
|Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.||O’Connor, Charlie.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||O’Donoghue, John.|
|O’Flynn, Noel.||O’Hanlon, Rory.|
|O’Keeffe, Batt.||O’Keeffe, Edward.|
|O’Rourke, Mary.||Power, Seán.|
|Roche, Dick.||Ryan, Eamon.|
|Sargent, Trevor.||Scanlon, Eamon.|
|Smith, Brendan.||Treacy, Noel.|
|Wallace, Mary.||White, Mary Alexandra.|
|Bannon, James.||Barrett, Seán.|
|Behan, Joe.||Broughan, Thomas P.|
|Burton, Joan.||Byrne, Catherine.|
|Carey, Joe.||Connaughton, Paul.|
|Coonan, Noel J.||Costello, Joe.|
|Coveney, Simon.||Creed, Michael.|
|Creighton, Lucinda.||D’Arcy, Michael.|
|Deasy, John.||Deenihan, Jimmy.|
|Doyle, Andrew.||Durkan, Bernard J.|
|English, Damien.||Enright, Olwyn.|
|Feighan, Frank.||Ferris, Martin.|
|Flanagan, Charles.||Flanagan, Terence.|
|Gilmore, Eamon.||Higgins, Michael D.|
|Hogan, Phil.||Howlin, Brendan.|
|Kehoe, Paul.||Kenny, Enda.|
|Lynch, Ciarán.||McCormack, Pádraic.|
|McEntee, Shane.||McGinley, Dinny.|
|McHugh, Joe.||Mitchell, Olivia.|
|Morgan, Arthur.||Neville, Dan.|
|Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.||Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.|
|O’Donnell, Kieran.||O’Dowd, Fergus.|
|O’Mahony, John.||O’Shea, Brian.|
|O’Sullivan, Jan.||O’Sullivan, Maureen.|
|Penrose, Willie.||Perry, John.|
|Rabbitte, Pat.||Reilly, James.|
|Ring, Michael.||Sheahan, Tom.|
|Sheehan, P. J.||Sherlock, Seán.|
|Shortall, Róisín.||Stagg, Emmet.|
|Stanton, David.||Timmins, Billy.|
|Tuffy, Joanna.||Upton, Mary.|
Deputy Enda Kenny: Perhaps the Tánaiste will explain to the House the current Government position in regard to Anglo Irish Bank. The Tánaiste will recall that in January 2008 Fine Gael indicated clearly its view that Anglo Irish Bank should be wound down in an orderly fashion. This has been since then completely resisted by Government as a matter of policy. Fine Gael, which has been the only party to call for a wind-up of that bank, has since January 2008 made clear its position in this regard.
The Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, when addressing the House on 30 March 2010 in regard to banking stated in respect of Anglo Irish Bank that winding up that bank is not and was never a viable option. He went on to point out that an immediate fire sale would cost upwards of €30 billion and that in addition the State would have to fork out a further €70 billion. The Minister further stated that he could not, as Minister for Finance, countenance such a course of action and that winding up the bank is not and was never a viable option. In response yesterday on Question Time to a question from Deputy Bruton the Minister clearly indicated he is now considering a wind-up of Anglo Irish Bank and a break up of that bank into a good and bad bank.
Deputy Enda Kenny: This is a matter that affects every person who must now pay for the carry on inside Anglo Irish Bank and for the manner in which the Government has transferred Mr. FitzPatrick’s loans on to the backs of the taxpayer.
Deputy Enda Kenny: In addition to informing the House of what is now the Government’s attitude to Anglo Irish Bank, perhaps the Tánaiste will confirm if the Government has had any soundings from the European Commission on this matter. I understand that Commissioner Almunia has a view, not yet expressed publicly, about the Government putting further money into Anglo Irish Bank. Has the Government received any soundings or advice from the Commission in this regard? What is the Government’s position on Anglo Irish Bank in view of the changed position of the Minister for Finance who yesterday indicated that he is now coming round to the view put forward by the Fine Gael Party in January 2008 that this bank should be wound down in an orderly way, that the deposits should be protected and that the bank should be broken up into a good and bad bank?
An Ceann Comhairle: Before I call on the Tánaiste to reply I must point out to the House that the matters being raised are serious and it is not appropriate for Members to try to deal with them on the Order of Business. I ask the Tánaiste to be brief in her reply. These matters are serious and there are other ways of raising them in the House——
Deputy Enda Kenny: I can relate this issue to the legislation which this House debated and which was guillotined and forced through by Government who would not listen to any voice other than its own. It is entirely appropriate that the Ceann Comhairle show flexibility——
The Tánaiste: Perhaps Members will wait to hear what I have to say. The cost of an immediate liquidation is prohibitive and that option was not taken up. Members will be aware that a plan is being developed by Anglo Irish Bank. That plan was sent to the European Commission, the views of which are being taken on board and which I will not reiterate here because I do not base any of what I say on whispers or innuendo. This is a matter in process. The bank is developing a plan and it will have various options. It will be subject to analysis by the Minister for Finance. It will come before Government at that stage. To reiterate once again, the most important thing from the Government’s perspective is that any plans for the future of the bank must be in the best interests of the taxpayer.
Deputy Enda Kenny: Did I or did I not hear the Minister for Finance say he would consider the question of an orderly wind-down of Anglo Irish Bank? The Tánaiste, speaking on behalf of the Government this morning, stated there is no change in the Government’s position in so far as Anglo Irish Bank is concerned. This position was outlined repeatedly by Ministers, including the Minister for Finance on 30 March when he stated: “I cannot, as Minister for Finance, countenance such a course of action. Winding up the bank is not and was never a viable option.” Did I or did I not hear him say yesterday that “I am now prepared to consider the question of an orderly wind-up of this bank”?
The Tánaiste: This story will gather legs again. As the Minister for Finance has always indicated during parliamentary questions, he will always take on board suggestions from people on the Opposition benches on any issues and he has done so vociferously in all the debates.
Deputy Enda Kenny: He stated that “I cannot, as Minister for Finance, countenance such a course of action”. If there is no change in policy, why would the Minister for Finance say what he said yesterday?
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: There is an issue that arises for the Order of Business. When will the House be informed by the Government as to current Government policy in respect of Anglo Irish Bank? It is clear the Government’s position in respect of the bank is a moving feast. It started out with the blanket guarantee and it then moved on to nationalisation. We were told at the time there would not be any cost to the taxpayer.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Gilmore, please. We have heard the exchange between myself and Deputy Kenny. We have a problem with this matter at this time on the Order of Business. It is a serious issue but the parties should find an alternative time to deal with it over a prolonged period.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: With the greatest of respect, the problem the Ceann Comhairle has with this being raised on the Order of Business pales into insignificance compared to the problem the taxpayers of the country have in paying for this cesspit of a bank. We need to know where exactly the Government is on this issue now. The bank was guaranteed and then it was nationalised. The Government has been back to the House on several occasions looking for money and more money. Thousands of millions of euro was sought time after time to pour into the bank. As Deputy Kenny stated the last time the Government came back looking for the House to approve money for this, we were told there was no question of winding down this bank. Yesterday, the Minister for Finance signalled that is now under consideration. We hear there are considerations in the Commission in Brussels in respect of what the Government is doing.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The Tánaiste has now acknowledged that this is a changing situation again, that the Government will be reconsidering the issue and that it will come back to the House again. My question is perfectly in order, which the Ceann Comhairle will acknowledge. When will the Minister for Finance come back to the House and inform us of the position?
I understand it is the Minister for Finance’s intention today to announce proposals for a national recovery bond, something the Labour Party has argued in favour of for some time. I am very glad this is taking place. The only thing about which I remind the Government is that we are now two years into the recession. Albeit late, I welcome the fact that a national recovery bond is to be announced. However, when he announces it today at whatever press event is organised, will the Minister for Finance take questions? Will he inform the public at that stage about his plans for Anglo Irish Bank? Will he come into the House and make a statement on the current Government position on Anglo Irish Bank? It would at least be useful to know what is this week’s position. We will wait for next week to hear next week’s Government position.
The Tánaiste: I wish to reiterate the facts. The situation is that Government policy has not changed. The situation is that the Government would have been prohibited at the time from winding up the bank. The situation and the facts are that a revised plan is being prepared by the new management in the bank. It is being drafted at present and it will be analysed by the Minister and his advisers. The matter will go to Government and will then go to the European Commission at which stage the European Commission will make a decision. The timeframe for the plan to be with the Commission is the end of May.
The Tánaiste: I do not have an exact date as to when the plan will be completed and brought before the Government but it will await that decision in due course. I will not add to any innuendo, assimilations, soundings, soundbites or anything else.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: He has them all lined up. That will be very useful for next week. I refer to the legal costs Bill. I have asked the Tánaiste previously about it in the House. There is much concern among the community in general about legal costs. Is there any indication from Government as to whether it intends to bring it into the House as a matter of urgency or maybe next year or maybe never? I have two more questions.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: There has been painful progress of the Multi-Units Developments Bill which my colleague has also repeatedly raised in the House. My colleagues on all sides of the House have raised this matter.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: This is in order and the Ceann Comhairle knows it as well as I do. Will the Tánaiste indicate when that Bill might appear in this House? Many people are concerned about it and wonder about the answer to the question. Will the Tánaiste give some indication? She is getting advice.
The Tánaiste: We are anxious to get it moved along. The committee amendments have been brought to the Upper House. Hopefully, we will be able to deal with it as quickly as possible when it has been completed in the Seanad.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Can I ask the question again? Can the Tánaiste, the Ceann Comhairle or somebody else tell me when the Bill will appear in this House? Will it be here before the summer recess? It is an important question.
Deputy Tom Sheahan: In April of last year, the Minister for Finance gave a commitment that, as a matter of urgency, he would find a comprehensive solution for credit union members whose financial circumstances have required them to seek to refinance their loans. We have been told that a strategic review of credit unions has been commissioned, to take place over the next 18 months, and that appropriate legislative reform will follow on from the results of that review. I urge the Tánaiste to ask the Minister for Finance not to proceed with section 35 of the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 until this review has been carried out. I do not see any point in——
Deputy Tom Sheahan: ——pushing through changes in the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 at a time when a strategic review of the credit unions is taking place. These measures should be sidelined, rather than being introduced as part of the Central Bank Reform Bill 2010.
Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: My question is within the bounds of legislation. Is it proposed to introduce amending legislation to deal with the situation in Grangegorman? The Minister has said that ideas and proposals will be considered by the Cabinet soon. We have not seen any progress since we passed the Grangegorman legislation a number of years ago. Is it proposed to introduce amending legislation if the sale of the other institutes of technology does not go ahead? In such an eventuality, the Government will not have the money to proceed with the Grangegorman plan, as set out in the Grangegorman Development Agency Act 2005.
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: I would like to ask about an issue I raised last Tuesday, in advance of that evening’s meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. Has it been decided to introduce legislation in relation to the victims of thalidomide, to issue them an apology and to negotiate an agreed settlement with them? I understand that this matter was debated on Tuesday evening by the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. On a second matter, according to the media the Minister for Health and Children will announce later today that approximately €200 million is to be taken out of the health budget. She has not come before this Parliament in that regard. No such measure was provided for in the Estimates we discussed earlier this year, which were referred back from the committee.
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: We have been told in no uncertain terms that the health services cannot take the cut that is apparently to be announced today, by which time the House will be about to go into recess until next Wednesday afternoon.
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: The Minister, Deputy Harney, never comes in here to tell us what she is doing. She did not even come in last night to respond to a cross-party motion on the victims of Michael Neary.
Deputy James Reilly: On the same matter, representatives of the Irish Thalidomide Association have met members of Fianna Fáil. I understood that the matter was to be discussed at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party, but we have not heard any news on any decisions that were taken or any improvements that are to be made.
Deputy James Reilly: I raised Deputy O’Sullivan’s second matter — the impact of the breakdown in the talks — two days ago. Where will the €200 million cutbacks be made? What will be the implications of those cutbacks for patients?
Deputy James Reilly: I would like to raise three other matters. I can do so now while I am on my feet, or I will sit down and raise them later. The first issue is the proposed public health (alcohol) Bill.
The Tánaiste: I am delighted that members of the Opposition are so interested in the deliberations of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. Unfortunately, one needs to be a member of that party before one can hear what is discussed at it.
The Tánaiste: On the issue that has been raised, all I can say is I will get further clarity on whether legislation is necessary to establish the fund. While I do not think it will be necessary, I will revert back to the Deputies when that is clarified. A decision has been made on the provision of new support measures and special care packages, the designation of a senior manager and the payment of a once-off ex gratia payment. I will have to get clarity on whether legislation is needed to establish the fund. I doubt that we do, but I will revert back to the Deputies.
Deputy Mary Upton: On 29 March last, the clients and staff of the Ballyfermot and Inchicore home help service received a letter informing them that due to cuts in funding imposed by the HSE, the service was forced to implement drastic cuts in the home help service.
Deputy Mary Upton: I sought an Adjournment; it was refused. I sent two e-mails to the HSE and got no reply. I submitted a question to the Minister and her reply stated, “If these matters remain of continuing concern to you, however, I would invite you to raise them with me again in due course”. Meanwhile, the staff and clients of the Ballyfermot Inchicore home help service do not know what is happening.
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: ——which state that if a Deputy is concerned about a matter he or she should submit another question because the Minister cannot answer it. Can the Ceann Comhairle explain why other Ministers are able to answer our queries?
Deputy Joe Costello: We will shortly have statements on developments in child welfare and protection services. One of the findings of the Murphy report, which was produced by the Murphy commission, was that the legislation on HSE protection for children was seriously defective and inadequate, and that there was a need for urgent legislation to be put in place. Where is that legislation? The report has been with the Government for 12 months at this stage. Is there any sign of that legislation?
Deputy Joe Costello: ——have established it. Given that there is so much trafficking of children in this country and that so many children go missing, when will we establish that hotline and pass the necessary legislative mechanism?
Deputy Joe Costello: What about the legislation which was sought by the Murphy report? We will discuss the issue shortly. The Murphy report contends the HSE is seriously defective in terms of legislative provisions to deal with the protection and welfare of children and that urgent legislation is required. That was published 12 months ago.
The Tánaiste: As the Deputy knows, the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children indicated that, arising from the Murphy report, a number of initiatives were being taken by him. Those have been articulated by the Minister of State——
The Tánaiste: ——and a number of actions have been taken, in particular in the context of new resources being made available for social work. On the specific legislation, I will have to revert to the Deputy. It is not listed.
Deputy Charles Flanagan: As there are serious social and health problems associated with the proliferation of head shops in this State, what is the position with regard to promised legislation? We hear from the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform outside the House, from the Minister for Health and Children, from the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Pat Carey and the Government Whip, Deputy John Curran, all of whom have indicated that they will tackle this problem, but none of whom has commenced any form of initiative. In terms of discussing promised legislation, what is the exact policy of the Government on head shops? Who is the lead Minister? What is the precise legislative framework, as promised by the Government on numerous occasions? It appears that one hand does not know what the other is doing.
The Tánaiste: ——by the Minister for Health and Children, which have been forwarded to the European Commission. An interdepartmental group, headed by the Ministers, has been working on a number of initiatives to deal with these issues and to determine what actions need to be taken in the Department of Health and Children, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. All of that is being done under the auspices, and with the support, of the Attorney General. We have drawn up the regulations, they have gone to the European Commission and there are a number of other initiatives being taken, in a multifaceted way, to deal with this issue.
Deputy Joe McHugh: Is the Tánaiste aware of the recommendation from the HSE to amalgamate two call centres following a review of the out-of-hours GP service? If she is aware of it, what is the Government’s plan? Does it intend to close the centre in Galway or Letterkenny? That is the choice on the Tánaiste’s desk. Does she intend to follow through on that recommendation? It is important that we know of the plans for it.
Deputy Joe McHugh: I was going to raise this issue under the Health Information Bill but after listening to some comments this morning and given the lack of information which we were getting from parliamentary questions——
Deputy Joe McHugh: ——-the new Whip, Deputy Curran, should perhaps rename it the lack of information Bill because trying to get information from the HSE at the moment is a scandal. Stalinist Russia would not have a look-in.
Deputy Michael Ring: In good order. The Tánaiste has a very important function in Bunbeg on Saturday night. She might be making an announcement on the forthcoming Údarás na Gaeltachta elections. Fianna Fáil used to love elections but it no longer likes them. It does not like general elections, by-elections or Údarás elections. When will the Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill come before the House? The elections are due this year and we have to start planning for them. If they will not take place, a regulation will have to come before the House. The Tánaiste might have a cake in Bunbeg on Saturday night for my colleague, Deputy McGinley, whose birthday it is this week. I would like the Tánaiste to have a little cake for him.
The Tánaiste: I am seriously worried that the Deputy knows all about my social life. If things were right I might jump out of the cake. I do not recall that I am in Dunbeg on Saturday night. There is promised legislation on Údarás na Gaeltachta. A review is taking place as part of the plan for fiche bliain don ghaeilge and I understand the Minister will bring proposals to the House quite soon because the Údarás na Gaeltachta elections are an issue.
Deputy James Reilly: I wish to inquire about three Bills. The Ceann Comhairle has alluded to another Deputy being in order, even though it was the first time she came near to being in disorder. Does that not ring an alarm bell for him about the frustration Members feel about the lack of information coming back from the HSE? We cannot get answers out of the Minister for Health and Children or her Department.
I refer to No. 69, the public health (alcohol labelling provisions). When will it come before the House? Will the Minister take the opportunity to ensure there is clear labelling of the calorie content of alcohol? That is currently not the case but it should be. We are experiencing an obesity epidemic and this legislation will help to inform people that there is more to the damage that alcohol can do because calorie content is also an issue.
When will No. 65, the human tissue Bill, come before the House? Will the Minister take the opportunity in this legislation to set up a transplant organisation? A national transplant office is needed. We have an appalling record in lung and heart transplants, particularly for cystic fibrosis sufferers. The transplant programme in the Mater Hospital is not delivering for our people and we need to know why. One of the reasons is there is not a proper co-ordinated service.
I also want to inquire about the public health (sunbeds) Bill. This simple legislation would ban the use of sunbeds by those under the age of 18. Their use causes skin cancer. Children under 18 need to be protected from that.
The Tánaiste: On the alcohol Bill, public consultation has been completed and submissions are being considered. Heads of the Bill and proposals will be circulated afterwards. There is no date for the human tissue Bill but heads have been circulated for consideration within Departments. They will then go to the Government. Consultation has been completed on the sunbeds Bill. I mentioned to the Minister that the issue has been raised in the House and I asked her to try to expedite it.
|Last Updated: 15/12/2010 12:27:18||Page of 224|