Order of Business (Resumed)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 710 No. 2

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are no proposals to be put to the House today. I call Deputy Kenny on the Order of Business.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I wish to raise a number of matters on the Order of Business. The Taoiseach and the leaders of other parties have received a letter from the sole member of the Moriarty tribunal. This tribunal was set up by the Oireachtas for a particular purpose. The letter from the sole member indicates he is considering the drafting of an interim report dealing with what is known as the money trail, although he has not made up his mind finally in this regard. In view of the fact that this is a matter of considerable interest to the Oireachtas, could [384]I suggest to the Taoiseach that he call a meeting of the leaders of the parties to consider a response to the letter? It might not be helpful if the leaders of the parties were to have differing responses, in view of the fact the Oireachtas agreed to set up the tribunal.

I note the House has about 18 sitting days left before it rises for the summer recess. Is it the intention of the Government to bring forward the legislation giving effect to an extension of the remit of the elected members of Údarás na Gaeltachta? Elections are due this year and if they are not going to be held, there will have to be an extension of responsibility given to the members. In that case, is it expected this legislation will be brought before the House before the summer recess?

I refer to a matter which I know is of considerable interest to that redoubtable Deputy from Tipperary, Deputy Mattie McGrath. There seems to be some confusion about the bringing forward of the wildlife Bill. The Minister, Deputy Gormley’s people seem to be very anxious to get this Bill through as quickly as possible while others do not. When is the wildlife Bill expected to stalk itself into the House or walk into the House, as the case may be?

In view of the announcement yesterday about the bringing forward of emergency legislation dealing with the number of children who have died in the care of the State, is the Taoiseach in a position to say that this legislation will be introduced during the next couple of weeks to give effect to the transmission of the documentation from the HSE to the review group?

Last week, the Tánaiste said she was of the view that a referendum on children’s rights should be a stand-alone issue. Has the Taoiseach had a report from the Minister of State with responsibility for children and youth affairs in the meantime as to the progress on producing the Bill and giving effect to a wording which would be put to the people? Is this work in progress and what progress has been made in the past fortnight?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I brought this matter to the attention of the House last week and there has been no advance on last week with regard to that matter. It is still being considered and work is continuing. On the question of legislation being brought to the House, this was discussed at Leaders’ Questions. It is now being prepared as a matter of urgency. It will be considered by the Government for approval and brought to the House as soon as possible thereafter, in a matter of weeks.

The wildlife Bill has been published. It was discussed at our parliamentary party meeting and the Minister of State, Deputy Finneran, will bring back some of the views. We all know the issues in the programme for Government. The Minister of State, Deputy Finneran, has heard the views of some of our parliamentary party members and he is reverting to the Minister with regard to those views.

The purpose of the Údarás na Gaeltachta ( Amendment) Bill, which is a short Bill, will be to increase the maximum interval between the elections and this Bill will be brought forward during this term in time for the elections.

We have received correspondence from the sole member of the tribunal, Mr. Justice Moriarty and this will be considered and discussed in due course.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  With regard to the correspondence we have received this morning from the sole member of the Moriarty tribunal, I welcome the fact that this letter has been sent to us. It arises from the suggestion that I made here on 11 May that the House might request Mr. Justice Moriarty to make an interim report to the House. While he draws a distinction between what would constitute an interim report I think he has set out for us some explanation as to why at least some of the delays in the working of the tribunal have taken place. He reminded us of the successive legal actions which were taken, including those by the late [385]Mr. Haughey, which have delayed the progress of the tribunal. He has said he is breaking the remaining matter into two separate reports, one dealing with the money trail and a second dealing with the other matters. He is suggesting he is considering issuing a separate earlier report on the money trail and a later report on the other matters.

A number of points in this letter will need to be considered. Deputy Kenny has suggested to the Taoiseach that there might be a meeting of party leaders to discuss the letter. This is a good suggestion and I recommend it to the Taoiseach. I also think there needs to be a means by which the House itself can consider the letter as it is a letter addressed to the House on the tribunal established by the House and we need some means of addressing it. I appreciate we have just received the letter this morning but it does have to be considered. It is not something we can just simply note and move on.

With regard to the legislation which the Government has promised to allow for the transfer of the files from the HSE to the Gibbons-Shannon investigation, the Taoiseach has said this legislation will be before the House in a matter of weeks. The problem is that the House will only sit for a matter of weeks before the summer recess. Is it the Government’s intention to have that legislation enacted so the investigation is not delayed further? If that legislation is not through before the summer recess, for example, the logic would be that these files cannot be transferred until the autumn and then there will be another delay. Or would the Taoiseach consider the suggestion that I made on Leaders’ Questions that the investigation might be established under the commission of investigations legislation, which would allow it to proceed?

May I ask the Taoiseach about the comments that were made by the Financial Services Ombudsman? The latter is seeking power to exercise discretion to identify financial institutions he is investigating where the public interest so requires. Will the Government consider agreeing to that request in the context of the Central Bank Bill, which is before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As regards the tribunal issues, I have brought to his attention and have at all times kept the member informed of any developments or issues that were being suggested here. I have conveyed that to the member in writing. As regards any further contact, I can keep Deputies informed in addition to whatever consideration I wish to give to the letter before us at the moment.

It is our intention to bring forward that legislation as a matter of urgency during this session and get it enacted before we rise. That is the intention. It is important that the legislation would be brought forward in that way, so we are seeking to achieve that as a matter of urgency.

As regards the Financial Services Ombudsman stating that he should have the power to name institutions where it is in the public interest, that matter has been notified to the Minister for Finance. The Department of Finance has been in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Ombudsman to see in what way that issue can be progressed. The Office of the Attorney General has confirmed that primary legislation would be required if the decision was to proceed along those lines. The matter will have to be considered in more detail in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, following which the Minister can then consider the issues.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Yesterday, the Taoiseach indicated that he was willing to schedule statements and questions on the crisis in child protection. He said this would be facilitated to address the progress being made and the implementation of the recommendations in the Ryan and Monageer reports, as well as the recent report by the Ombudsman for Children. The value of the commitment was lost, however, when the Taoiseach said it would not happen next week or the week after.

[386]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is drifting. There is a serious overrun on the Order of Business this morning.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  In light of the serious situation that has pertained for a considerable period, when the Taoiseach is ordering business will he allow time in the coming week to address these issues properly on the floor of the House? I ask him not to defer it all into the month of July, as seemed to be the sub-text of his answers yesterday. I am asking him to give that commitment.

On promised legislation, I note that on Monday the Minister of State with responsibility for children, Deputy Barry Andrews, indicated that legislation was not required to compel the release of the necessary information, including reports, to the inquiry team which has now been established concerning the deaths of children in the care of the State.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have detailed statements on inquiries about legislation.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am talking about promised legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I accept that, but the Deputy should confine his remarks to a brief framework.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I would ask the Ceann Comhairle to apply his rulings equitably. He constantly holds me to particular requirements and standards, but does not apply them to others in this House. That is in evidence every day in this Chamber. I will finish what I have started. Given the fact that the Taoiseach indicated yesterday that legislation would be required, is such legislation now being prepared? Given the seriousness of what is involved, will he ensure that this emergency legislation — as it must now be described — will be accommodated by setting aside other planned work in ordering the Dáil schedule over the coming weeks, so that the legislation can be brought before the House expeditiously and that we can deal with it effectively and speedily?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy’s co-operation is needed.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  As regards the information that gave rise to the difference of opinion between the Minister of State’s position on Monday and the Taoiseach’s views yesterday, was it the report of the Attorney General that indicated that legislation would now be necessary?

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Why has it taken such a time for the Attorney General’s report to be received? If that is not the guidance and steer, will the Taoiseach explain why there is a difference of opinion?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have question time on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am asking about promised legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There is far too much detail.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am asking why on one day this week we were told legislation was unnecessary, but the following day we were told that it was.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy can pursue the matter some other way, but not on the Order of Business.

[387]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am trying to get an understanding of the genesis for the change in opinion and attitude by the Minister of State and the Taoiseach over a 24-hour period. Will the Taoiseach avail of the opportunity to explain this to the House? Will he speed up the processing of that legislation for the reasons I have outlined? Will he accommodate an opportunity for Members of the House to address progress — although there is a question mark there — on the recommendations contained in a series of reports that I have already mentioned?

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am happy to deal with any misrepresentations of the facts through the Deputy’s assertions. I have explained all morning that the Minister was notified of the HSE’s legal concerns on Monday. On Tuesday morning, the Government made a decision as to what would be required. On Tuesday afternoon, there was a meeting between the Attorney General’s office, the HSE and the Minister for Health and Children’s legal officials to decide what could be brought forward or passed in the absence of that in the meantime. There is no question of delay. The minute the matter was brought to our attention, we dealt with the issue.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The inquiry team had been set up.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I am sorry but I have listened to the Deputy and I am now answering the questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Please Deputy Ó Caoláin.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy is not entitled to interrupt other Deputies when he is getting an answer. He spent ten minutes asking the question and the minute I open my mouth to give an answer he has something to say about it.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Not at all.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  If he wants factual information, but if he does not like what he is hearing he should take it up somewhere else. He cannot take it up here.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I can take it up here and that is what the Taoiseach does not like. I will continue to take it up here whether or not the Taoiseach likes it or, indeed, his front man in the Chair.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  He cannot do so because he is constantly interrupting.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  If the Taoiseach cannot answer----

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy does not have much graciousness.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is out of order to refer to the Ceann Comhairle in that way.

Deputy Arthur Morgan: Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  The Taoiseach is not the Ceann Comhairle.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I did not say I was. I am just bringing to the Deputy’s attention that what he had to say was discourteous. Luckily the Ceann Comhairle did not hear it.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  If the Taoiseach would answer the questions we would not have these exchanges.

[388]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Ceann Comhairle is a far better man in that position than the Deputy would be in any context, including football and politics. I can assure the Deputy of that. I will proceed with an answer.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am not going to be over-ruled by him.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is it. Sin é. There is absolutely no point in continuing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Tá go maith. We will now move on to Deputy Ruairí Quinn.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  With respect, a Cheann Comhairle, the Taoiseach does not have the facility to ignore a Deputy’s question. He is making snide remarks.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  That is what the Taoiseach resorts to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should resume his seat. He is spreading disorder in the Chamber. I call on Deputy Quinn.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Is it safe to get up?

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Mind the crossfire.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  By my calculations we have about six weeks left before the House rises on 9 July. Under normal circumstances, a period of two weeks is given before a Bill is moved on Second Stage in the House. Against that background, when are we likely to see the legislation to provide a proper statutory basis for the community national school model, which is under the patronage of the Minister for Education and Skills? It has been promised for the past two years.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand it is expected in two weeks.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Given the presence of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, I wish to ask the Taoiseach about the tens of thousands of people who are subject to management companies in terms of the homes they are purchasing. What is the position and does the Government have a timeline to bring the Multi-Unit Developments Bill back from the Seanad to complete it? Is there any hope for the tens of thousands of people who are mired in difficulty and must pay very high service charges? Developers are in liquidation and are living in Spain.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Bill is in the Seanad.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Developers are responsible for the management companies and the poor people who bought very expensive homes that are now in negative equity, who have 35 year and 40 year mortgages, have no recourse.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Please, Deputy. We cannot have detailed statements on inquiries about legislation.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, is present.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I advise the Deputy that the Bill is in the Seanad. We are awaiting its arrival in this House.

[389]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It has been there for the past year.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Bill has been promised for seven years. Fianna Fáil is 13 years in power today. The Bill was promised by the former Taoiseach and the current Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  If other Deputies are out of order on the Order of Business, Deputy Burton will be also if she continues along those lines.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Could the Taoiseach please give us a timeline of when the Bill might be completed in the Seanad and brought to this House? The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is present. Does he have a timeline or a time plan for the legislation? People are in desperate situations. We have seen the television programmes about the ghost estates. They are all held by management companies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please. Could the Taoiseach clarify the position on the legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand Report Stage of the Bill will be taken in the Seanad next week. Redrafting of the Bill in many respects has taken place on foot of the good suggestions that were made in the Seanad and elsewhere to try to ensure we get the legislation right. Having progressed in the Seanad the Bill will come into the House as soon as possible. I do not know whether it will be possible to get beyond Second Stage before the term ends. We are all anxious to move the Bill along as quickly as possible.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I wish to inquire about a number of pieces of legislation. The Taoiseach has clarified today that he had a meeting yesterday with the Attorney General but there appears to be confusion. The Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, told us there was no planned legislation but the Taoiseach told us today there would be.

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

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I wish to inquire on this important matter which has already been raised by Deputy Gilmore. Deputy Shatter raised the problem in March 2009.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  On the Order of Business inquiries about legislation do not provide for long dissertations on the matter.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I would be much shorter if I was not interrupted.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy would not be interrupted if he was in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I urge Deputy Reilly to bring his contribution to a conclusionsoon.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I will. I wish to ask the Taoiseach when the legislation will come before the House. Is it really credible that the Health Service Executive, renowned for being full of bean counters, cannot tell us how many children are in its care or have died in its care?

The second question is on Loughloe House which I visited only two days ago. I met a gentleman with the same name as myself who is so stressed out through being coerced into moving out of that institution that he is now in hospital with a serious medical condition.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  That is not an inquiry about legislation.

[390]Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  I am inquiring about the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill and whether patients will be protected under the legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are going to find out when the legislation will materialise.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  If patients do not wish to leave what they consider to be their home, will they be harangued and harassed into ill health in order to remove them?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Reilly. I call on the Taoiseach to respond on promised legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no date for the second piece of legislation on which the Deputy inquired. The first piece of legislation is being drafted as a matter of urgency and it should be in the House this session.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  You will be glad, a Cheann Comhairle, to hear that I will be very orderly this morning.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  You always are.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I will not go over the points raised previously other than to ask in the context of the issue raised by all the party leaders and by Deputy Reilly whether the Taoiseach can indicate who in the HSE raised in the first instance the question of legal difficulty in terms of the release of information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Durkan, we cannot have a debate about promised legislation on the Order of Business.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  This will only take a second. It is a simple question. It is relative to the points raised on the Order of Business already and to yesterday’s Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is merely prolonging the debate on the issue.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I would have finished by now if you had not interrupted me. The next part of the question is whether the Taoiseach has been given that information. Were the deaths of the children who died while in care published in the national newspapers at the time? If so, why is there such a difficulty in releasing the information now?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  All these questions would be much more appropriate to the line Minister.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  All right.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The line Minister does not answer questions.

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The Minister is very reluctant to answer questions.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have a full-scale debate.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Members are getting away with murder.

[391]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Is it not true that all the information requested has already been compiled and collated within the Health Service Executive going back for as long as is necessary?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call the Taoiseach to reply to the question on promised legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The promised legislation will be in the House in two weeks.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  That is not an answer.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The question was not in order.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle, hold on a second——

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

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please. We cannot have Question Time on the Order of Business. The Deputy is a long time in this House and he knows its rules.

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

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  This is an issue that affects us all.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We fully accept that but there are other ways of raising it.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  What other ways?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The matter can be raised with the line Minister.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The line Minister does not answer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is entirely inappropriate for the Order of Business. Deputy Durkan should resume his seat please.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  A Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is now 12.30 p.m. and we are still on the Order of Business. I call on Deputy Durkan to please resume his seat.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I am sorry that your attitude——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Durkan is spreading disorder in the House.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  This is either a House of Parliament or it is not.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It certainly is, but we have Standing Orders.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Let us have information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The House must be run on the basis of Standing Orders which should be respected.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  The information is available——

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

[392]Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is the same old story. You need to look at that yourself, a Cheann Comhairle.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  I note that the publication of the geothermal energy Bill is expected in 2010. Will the Taoiseach indicate whether it is still on course and if it will be taken before the summer recess?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the earliest the Bill will be ready is later in the year.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Ms Kathleen O’Toole, the head of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate, was reported in the newspaper the other day as saying that the role of Garda Reserve members needed to be expanded. It appears that many members of the Garda Reserve are applying for jobs with the PSNI because of the recruitment embargo in the Garda Síochána. That is one of her suggestions. Does the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform have legislation planned in that regard?

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No legislation is promised.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  On the issue that was previously raised and the legislation to facilitate the Health Service Executive to provide documentation to the review group, what consideration has been taken to ensure the matter is finally addressed correctly? What consideration is being given in the context of the promised legislation to giving a statutory function to the review group that has been formed to investigate the number of child deaths in care? Has consideration been given to the fact that if information is finally furnished by the Health Service Executive that requires the two individuals, Geoffrey Shannon and Norah Gibbons, to conduct inquiries about it, they have no statutory powers and they cannot compel any additional information to come from the Health Service Executive? They cannot require people within a managerial position nor social workers working within the Health Service Executive to clarify anything contained in documents they receive. This inquiry is going to run into obvious difficulty.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have a debate on the matter at this stage. Deputy Shatter should be asking a question.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  What I am asking, Sir, is in the context of the legislation that has been promised — the Taoiseach has truthfully told the House that until Monday of this week he was given no indication, nor was the Government given any indication — that there was a difficulty on the part of the Health Service Executive in co-operating with this group. We now know that the Government will be alerting staff on Monday——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to find a different time to raise this matter, not on the Order of Business.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I wish to signpost the Taoiseach that other difficulties will arise. If we are going to get to the root of what occurred, which has resulted in an unspecified number of children dying in care, there will be a necessity to give Norah Gibbons and Geoffrey Shannon a statutory role to ensure that further inquiries they need to make are responded to and we get to the bottom of what has occurred, namely, the scandal within our child care system. Instead of us dealing with this on a piecemeal basis, would the Taoiseach please take this matter back to Government——

[393]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, we will be teasing out this issue in the House in two weeks.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——because it is quite clear that when Geoffrey Shannon and Norah Gibbons were appointed no thought was given to what difficulties——

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——might be encountered by them in carrying out the functions——

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——with which they have been bestowed?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have been teasing out this issue for weeks here.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Quite clearly, when Mr. Shannon and Ms Gibbons were appointed, no thought was given to the difficulties they might encounter in carrying out the functions bestowed on them.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  That is correct.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  As I have said, I cannot get into the detail of the legislation now being prepared. I remind the House that the review group has been asked to examine existing information on all deaths of children in care over the past ten years. It will produce an overall report for publication which includes, on an anonymised basis, key summary information regarding each child and the circumstances leading up to his or her death. That is what the review group has been asked to do. We will ensure that amending legislation gives a legal basis to the exchange of information between the HSE and the Department, the sharing of which might otherwise be legally restricted. We will ensure that all the necessary information is available to the review group, so that those who have been asked to carry out this task can do so in a manner that is fit for purpose.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The important thing is——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot debate this matter on the Order of Business.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I am trying to be helpful, rather than obstructive. The important thing is that the review group gets the information.

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The inquiry arising from that information needs to get the co-operation of those in managerial positions in the HSE and the social workers who have been involved in individual cases.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy Broughan on the Order of Business.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  That is the gap. That is the lacuna that has to be addressed.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  I have two brief questions for the Taoiseach. The State Airports Act 2004, which provides for the separation of Cork, Shannon and Dublin airports, has not been implemented. Is it intended that the Act will be implemented? Is new legislation needed in that regard? Will Aer Rianta, which still exists, be restored?

[394]I am a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, which is currently beginning an investigation into the failures of the Department of Finance, the Financial Regulator and the Central Bank in the period from 2002 to 2010. I wonder if the Taoiseach would be available to attend, or interested in attending, a meeting of the committee to brief members on his period as Minister for Finance?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Does the Deputy have an inquiry about promised legislation?

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Is the Taoiseach interested in briefing the committee on the events of that era?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  It is a great idea.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I look forward to the opportunity.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  If the Taoiseach wants to come down to the committee, he will be very welcome.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is a very good idea.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Deputy Broughan is sharpening his knives.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I thank the Taoiseach’s office for getting back to me last week on the Adoption Bill 2009. The information was appreciated. On March 22 last, the Minister for Foreign Affairs indicated that he intended to do everything possible to deal with the 40,000 unprocessed passport applications in Molesworth Street.

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

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I will be brief.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It is an important issue, but there are other ways of raising it.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I will be succinct.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It should not be raised on the Order of Business.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  As of today——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  No, I cannot allow it.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  This is a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No respect.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  There are 63,000 unprocessed applications in Molesworth Street.

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

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I need to know——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should submit a question to the Minister.

[395]Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Those who are about to apply for a passport——

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

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  What does the Minister for Foreign Affairs intend to do? Will he speak to the CPSU? Will he provide additional staff?

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

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Will he provide overtime? What will he do about the 23,000 extra unprocessed passports?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The Deputy is being succinct.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  We are coming into the summer. People are going on their holidays and travelling for commercial reasons.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are other ways of raising the matter.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  This morning, a man who was going to Abu Dhabi was turned away.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will be asked to leave the House if he does not resume his seat.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  He was going to Abu Dhabi on business, but he was turned away.

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

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  There are 63,000 unprocessed applications.

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

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  A Cheann Comhairle, I am sure you will be going on holiday this summer.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am going to ask you to leave the House unless you resume your seat.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I am not leaving. I want to get my message through to the Department of Foreign Affairs.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Yes.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  I want to warn those who may be going on holiday this summer that they might not be able to get their passports.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is being disorderly. I ask him to resume his seat.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Even the Taoiseach might want to go on holidays.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  We might as well leave the House open because nobody will be going on any holidays this summer.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  So much for succinctness.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  It is a holiday home.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Passports must be provided.

[396]The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Dún na nGall.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The only way the Government can keep people in the country is by stopping them from getting passports.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I think my question relates to the previous issue in some ways. Many people use sunbeds before they go on holidays, to get what they call a base for their tan.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Sunbeds are not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I am asking about promised legislation.

Deputy Willie Penrose: Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  If one goes out an a bog, one will get plenty of sun.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  There is a promise to introduce legislation to control the use of sunbeds and to ban their use by people under the age of 18. Can the Taoiseach tell the House when that legislation will be introduced? Will it be in the House before the summer? It has been proven that sunbeds can cause serious damage, including skin cancer.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  There is no date for that legislation at the moment.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Can I raise a second issue? Many other Deputies have spoken about the Government’s belief that special legislation is needed to transfer files to the relevant people, with regard to the number of children who have died in care.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, please. We are into serious repetition yet again.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  We all want the legislation to be expedited as quickly as possible. The Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2009 is due to come to this Chamber from the Seanad.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have been discussing the introduction of legislation to deal with this general area all morning.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The legislation to which I refer will come here from the Seanad. It might be more expeditious to amend that legislation to provide for what the Government believes is needed. The Bill in question has been passed by the Seanad and is due to come before this House. We all want this legislation to be introduced as quickly as possible. I wonder if the Bill in question could operate as a vehicle to enable the Government to do what it considers necessary, so the entire community can find out how many children died in care and why they died.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We will give consideration to all of these matters and avail of the quickest way of doing it.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  The Taoiseach’s enthusiasm is really encouraging.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I have been here for two hours.


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