Order of Business

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 712 No. 4

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The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is proposed to take No. 12, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims, repealing Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA, back from committee; No. 13, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, back from committee; No. 14, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 and for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA; No. 15, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of three interim economic partnership agreements, back from committee; No. 5, Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 Second Stage (resumed); and No. 16 motion re Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 5 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2.45 p.m. today; the proceedings on No. [624]16 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 45 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the speeches shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, and which shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; Question Time today shall be taken on the conclusion of No. 16 or at 3.30 p.m., whichever is the later and shall be brought to a conclusion at 4.45 p.m.; and in the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken at 4.15 p.m. for 30 minutes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 12, 13, 14 and 15 agreed?

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Included in that group is No. 15, with regard to the approval of economic partnership agreements between the European Union and three groups of African countries. On Tuesday, 25 May 2010, I raised this issue and at the end of the discussion the Taoiseach suggested something which I am afraid was not strictly accurate:

The agreements have not yet been before the European Parliament, but this is not the most important point. At the end of the discussion the Taoiseach stated:

The Taoiseach did not state by whom we were asked, and most importantly he then stated, “I can undertake that the matters can be debated in the House when they have been dealt with at committee.” They have been dealt with at committee and yesterday a limited number of Deputies had a good discussion. Even the Minister of State would agree that it is in everybody’s interest that a wider number of Deputies in a plenary session of the Dáil have an opportunity to discuss the African issues and the European Union and Africa relationship issues involved. There is also the question of the Parliament being involved in a vigorous sense in debating policy, particularly in the circumstances we have post-Lisbon treaty. Will the Tánaiste give an indication that the Taoiseach’s words meant something and that we will debate these issues here as promised now that they have come back from committee?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  I do not want to disrupt or delay the Order of Business but I strongly support my colleague, Deputy Michael D. Higgins, on this issue on the grounds he has raised. I will not go over them again. It is particularly important in the aftermath of the Lisbon treaty that national parliaments such as ours are seen to be playing the role intended for them in the European sphere, in particular with regard to the relationship between the member states of the European Union and other countries, such as those on the African continent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I cannot allow Deputy Shatter to speak because under Standing Order 26(2) it is not allowed to members from a party——

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I want to make a reference——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I cannot allow Deputy Shatter. The Standing Orders——

[625]Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I want to refer to No. 14 to which no one has referred in the context of the order being proposed before the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I advise the Deputy that Standing Order 26(2) is quite explicit on this matter. One member from each party speaks on the Order of Business. That is the position.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The only matter——

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  You are breaching Standing Orders. You should remember that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy can make a very brief reference because of the particular circumstances. I will then call Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I want to make the point that this particular proposal, which deals with combating sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, should be discussed on the floor of the House——

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Hear, hear.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——and should not simply be nodded through. It should be discussed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, can you leave the remark at that?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  No, no. It is outrageous on an issue of importance such as this——

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——that I can utter only one sentence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  In the spirit of generosity I allowed you to make a remark when there is no provision for you to come in.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We have had revelation after revelation on the sexual abuse of children and accessing pornography.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, I am not allowing you to continue. I allowed you a brief remark and that is it. We are moving on.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  One sentence is outrageous.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am ruling on it. I am not allowing you to continue the remarks.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Garda has no modern equipment at its disposal to access child pornography——

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

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Go raibh maith agat.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——and identify individuals who are exploiting children——

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

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——in the context of accessing pornography.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Resume your seat Deputy or leave the House.

[626]Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  It is outrageous——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, resume your seat or leave the House.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I cannot fathom why the Government would close down a debate——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy resume your seat when the Chair is on its feet or leave the House.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——on an issue of such national importance.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will leave the House.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We have had the Ryan commission report. We had the working group.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, leave the House.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  On an issue where there is an attempt the bring about a uniform approach across Europe——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, you must leave the House.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——we need to discuss in this House the failure of this Government——

Minister for Transport (Deputy Noel Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  It was referred to committee.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  ——and its failure to protect children.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, will you leave the House?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  We had yet another——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am suspending the House for ten minutes because of your level of disorder. The House is suspended.

Sitting suspended at 10.41 a.m and resumed at 10.51 a.m.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Deputy Higgins raised an issue which I understand was the subject of robust debate in the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs. We provided additional time for that debate but if it is agreeable to the House, I propose that we set aside time after the Order of Business for further discussion on No. 15.

Deputy Michael D. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  I thank the Tánaiste for her offer. This is a welcome development given the importance of the issue.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  My objection was to the grouping of the motions and not solely to No. 15. I concur with Deputy Shatter that grouping together various issues in motions taken without debate makes it difficult for us to put our points across. We are expected to vote for a range of issues without debate. Two of these issues come from committees.

I have a problem with the referral to joint committee of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 for approval because this is a matter which we have agreed should be debated in the Dáil. I seek a commitment from the Tánaiste that it will be debated in this House when it returns from committee. The matter concerns the suspension of certain rights of people arrested in connection with gangland crimes. I ask the Tánaiste to make a similar commitment to that [627]which she gave on No. 15 so that we can debate the matter in the House. At least we will be debating the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998.

We should have debated Nos. 12 and 13 in the Dáil and not only in committee because Deputies cannot attend every committee. As Deputy Shatter noted, the issues arising should be discussed by the entire House rather than in committees.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I presume the Chief Whip will return to the House with detailed arrangements. Alternatively, will he outline them now?

Deputy John Curran: Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  They will be discussed at a meeting of the Whips.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  In regard to No. 14, we refer matters to joint committees to allow a better discussion to take place on issues of importance. The Minister for Justice and Law Reform, on behalf of the Government, has rightly decided that we will opt into this directive, which is important, and we should not divide the House on the proposal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Proposal No. 1 is agreed, subject to the modifications suggested. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 5 agreed?

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  It is not agreed.

Deputy Beverley Flynn: Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Deputy Ring’s moment has arrived.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  And it was clean.

Deputy Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  They were distracted by the other thing.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  He will have to temper his voice.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I oppose the guillotine on the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010. This is an important Bill and we want more time to discuss it because it is having an awful effect on the poor. Members of this side of the House are fed up with supplying money to the banks and taking it from the poor. We oppose the motion and call for a vote on it.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Deputy Ring could be the compromise candidate.

Deputy P. J. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  They tell me Deputy Dermot Ahern is running too.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask Members to desist from banter.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I agree fully with Deputy Ring and see great potential for agreement on this side of the House if we can follow this morning’s precedent.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I would have no problem with Deputy Gilmore as my Tánaiste.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Like Deputy Ring, I oppose the guillotine on the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010. I draw Members’ attention to the contrasting ways in which different sections of our society are treated by the Government. Yesterday, the Government announced another €250 million for the EBS and the chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank told an Oireachtas committee that the lion’s share of the €22 billion put into his bank will never be seen again.

[628]Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  He also said it would cost a further €20 million if we did not put in the money.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Never again and then another €22 billion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Allow Deputy Gilmore to continue without interruption.

Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Tell the full story.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance have told us——

Deputy Michael Ahern: Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  If the Deputy was in power it would cost us €20 billion more.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputies should refrain from engaging across the floor.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  ——that dealing with the banks would not cost the taxpayer any money. We spent €22 billion and this man stated that the lion’s share will never be seen again. It seems there is no end to the billions the Government will commit when it comes to the banks and the better off in our society but it will literally not give the poorest the time of day because it is guillotining the debate on issues of concern to them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I call Deputy Ó Caoláin for a brief comment.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Sinn Féin Deputies object to the imposition of a guillotine on Second Stage of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010. The measures proposed in the Bill will present serious difficulties to lone parents and those who depend on jobseeker’s allowance. We resolutely oppose the Bill against the backdrop of yesterday’s revelation that, despite all the alleged belt-tightening, former taoisigh are being provided State moneys to employ two special assistants for five years subsequent to their departure from office and one for a lifetime thereafter.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  A serving Deputy is entitled to two special assistants or support staff.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy’s comments are inappropriate at this time.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It appears that one Member of this House could have four people working for him——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Second Stage contributions are not contemplated on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——which is an outrageous situation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am putting the question.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  At the same time we are targeting the most needy and deserving in society. That is the continued approach of this Government and it is a disgrace. We will not agree to the imposition of a guillotine on this Bill.

Question put.

[629]The Dáil divided: Tá, 71; Níl, 65.

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 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 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 Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on 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 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 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 Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál. 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 Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie. Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie.
Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John. Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel.
Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory. Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt.
Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward. Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary.
Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy. Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter.
Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán. Information on 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 Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.
Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  Woods, Michael.  


Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on 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 Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew. Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J.
Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien. Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin.
Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia. 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 Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on 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 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 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 John Curran and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 16, motion re Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998, agreed to?

  11 o’clock

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is not agreed to. Sinn Féin has objected to renewal of the measures in the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act in each of the years of our representation here, particularly since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. We have made the objection consistently on each occasion on the grounds that this is legislation with no application whatsoever. It is superfluous to the needs of the legislative measures that exist to address matters that have been or may be addressed under its terms now or at any time in the future. We would call for the Offences against the State Acts to be removed from the Statute Book. The Good Friday Agreement committed to remove all repressive legislation from the Stature Books in both jurisdictions — here and in the neighbouring island. The continuation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have a long speech on this matter on the Order of Business.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am not making it long; it is short and to the point. The measures in the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 should not be renewed here today. It would be a statement of confidence in the primacy of the democratic process and peaceful and political pursuit of honourable objectives validly held by Members in this House and people throughout the island if there was sufficient strength among the political voices here to state that we no longer need this legislation. We believe it was never needed. We make the case again that it should not be renewed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Long speeches are not contemplated on the Order of Business.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 16 be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is the proposal for dealing with Question Time today agreed to? Agreed.

I call on the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach to clarify the arrangements on No. 15.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy John Curran): Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  It is proposed that No. 15 be taken immediately on the conclusion of the Order of Business and be brought to a conclusion after 20 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply — the speeches shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, and which shall not exceed five minutes in each case.

[631]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Yesterday the directors of Anglo Irish Bank appeared before Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service. They confirmed to the committee that €22 billion of taxpayers’ money had already gone into that bank. It was appalling to hear that much of that money will not be recovered by the taxpayers.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Even allowing for a bit of time, it is not appropriate at this point.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I have a question. I ask the Ceann Comhairle to give me some latitude this morning because I will be doing this for a long time. Does the Government plan to continue the taxpayers’ guarantee for existing bond investors in Anglo Irish Bank after September? The €22 billion represents three times the budget for the Department of Education and Skills. It is outrageous that taxpayers are still bailing out this bank and we do not know when it will end.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  That was a question the Tánaiste did not expect.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  It would be more appropriate for the Minister for Finance.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I wore green to have a calming effect on these guys today, but it does not seem to be working at all.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It is a bit tigerish looking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should table a parliamentary question to the Minister for Finance.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  A parliamentary question would be most appropriate, but we will not be continuing with the same type of guarantee.

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

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Did the Tánaiste hear my comment? It is a bit tigerish looking.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am being distracted by my party’s deputy leader.

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  The Deputy is not nearly as distracted as the leader of Fine Gael.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  In the proposed business for next week the Government is back to its old bad habits. There are six pieces of legislation, which it proposes to guillotine. We get this coming towards the end of a session with a Government that cannot find enough business for the House to deal with for most of the year. Last week, for example, we had a short week with truncated business. When we come to the last few weeks of the session the Government introduces lots of legislation, guillotines it and gets it through as fast as possible. It is proposed to take the Health (Amendment) Bill 2010 and the European Financial Stability Facility Bill 2010, both of which the Government intends to complete next week. In other words it seeks to complete all Stages of those two Bills but neither has yet been published. At a minimum, when will we see these Bills that the Government wants done and dusted in one go next week?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The health (amendment) Bill will be published tomorrow and the other legislation was signed off by the Cabinet on Tuesday. I assume it will be published tomorrow but I will revert to the Deputy on the matter.

[632]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  The Civil Partnership Bill will next come to Report and Final Stages. My understanding is that all parties support the passage of this Bill so will the Tánaiste confirm that it will come before this House for final passage before the summer recess?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It will go through the House, although it must go through the Seanad first. We are continuing with the timeframe set down by the Minister.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I ask about the legislation to put on a statutory basis the community national schools. If the text is to be published, when will that happen?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I hope to have it by the end of the session.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I have two questions. One relates to the Criminal Law (Insanity) Bill 2010. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is leaving the Chamber but it is one of his pieces of legislation. It concerns the process of releasing people from the Central Mental Hospital with some kind of supervision. Will that come to the Dáil in this session before the summer?

The revised Limerick regeneration plan was to come before the Cabinet this week. There seems to be some lack of clarity on whether it was decided. Will the Tánaiste confirm if it got the Government’s backing and if there is a decision to allocate funding this year in order to implement the regeneration plans in Limerick?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  I doubt the legislation will be facilitated this session. There have been deliberations and the Minister will make an announcement.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Will an announcement be made this afternoon?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Minister will decide when the announcement is made.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  Will the Tánaiste confirm if the decision was made at Cabinet?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is seeking detail.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It does not relate to legislation.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  It is more than me. The people of Limerick are also seeking it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are on the Order of Business.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  There has been no Government announcement since Tuesday except from a certain Fianna Fáil Deputy. I am not sure if the Minister of State has made an announcement.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Has it been signed off?

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  People are seeking clarity on it and I want to know if the Cabinet signed off on it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Matters going before the Cabinet are not matters for the Order of Business. The Government is committed to the delivery of the Limerick regeneration programme and the Minister of State in charge of it will make a public announcement. I do not have a date for that.

[633]Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Another piece of legislation promised to the House and the people and which was to be passed before the summer recess is the psychoactive substances Bill, which is the legislation dealing with head shops. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has just left but when will it be published so we can have a look at it and have enough time to properly debate it in the House on Second Stage? Given the short time available, it should be left until the autumn to have a proper debate on Committee and Report Stage.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  That legislation was sanctioned by the Cabinet and we are ad idem that the legislation should be passed before the Houses rise for the summer recess. I am sure we will get the co-operation from everyone to ensure that legislation will get through.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  When will it be published?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The publication is imminent.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The Saville inquiry investigated the killing of 14 people in 1972 in Derry, which is very close to the Tánaiste’s constituency. The outcome of that inquiry was welcomed across the political and religious divides. In 1974, 34 people were killed in the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, most in my own constituency in Dublin Central. The justice committee produced a report, arising from the Judge Barron investigations, requesting that the Government seek through negotiations and meetings with the British Government for the British authorities——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is being inappropriate and is not doing the subject justice by raising it like this on the Order of Business.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It relates to the establishment of an inquiry under an independent chairperson that would have access to the relevant documents. Some 56,000 documents were not made available by the British authorities. It was a tragedy in the Republic and no action has been taken on an inquiry.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is seeking detail on the Order of Business, which is inappropriate.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  I am asking the Tánaiste——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  If there is a query on legislation, we should have it.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It relates to a legislative inquiry. A tribunal of inquiry involves legislation. That is the recommendation from the justice committee that the Irish Government would pursue the matter with the British authorities so the documents which were not accessible to the Barron inquiry or the justice committee would be made available to an independent chairperson who would consider those documents with a view to coming to some finality.

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

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  These are serious legislative matters.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy should submit a parliamentary question. It is a serious subject and I do not for a moment want to diminish its importance.

[634]Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Will the Minister give some indication on this? The previous Taoiseach raised the matter with the previous British Prime Minister. The Tánaiste might give some indication on the intentions of the Government in this matter.

Will the funding that has been withdrawn by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform from the Justice for the Forgotten group, which is carrying out all the good work on behalf of victims and relatives——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have that on the Order of Business. The Deputy should submit a parliamentary question on the matter.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Will it be retained?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is abusing latitude on the Order of Business.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We will revert to the Deputy.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  The other matter is the continuation of funding from the Department.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  We will get back to the Deputy.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I have two questions. With regard to the Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill, the elections were to be held this year, so will the legislation changing the law on the periods come before the House? When will it come before the House as people want to know if the election will be postponed this year?

The head shops legislation is very important. As Deputy Gilmore stated, in the last week of the session we do not want to see guillotines and the House sitting until midnight, with legislation being pushed through before coming to the courts in six months because it is unconstitutional. The head shop issue is very important and people are very concerned about it. Will the Tánaiste confirm that we will have enough time to go through the Bill and that it will not be pushed through this House without proper thought and time?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It is the Government’s intention to have the head shops legislation on the floor of the House and everyone is anxious for it to be enacted quickly. The Údarás na Gaeltachta legislation will be this session.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  The Bill on the European stabilisation fund — a type of IMF for Europe — is coming before the House on Thursday. It is an important Bill with implications for Ireland and significant amounts are involved. We can view this in the context of statements yesterday concerning the €20 billion of the €22 billion given to Anglo Irish Bank having gone down the drain, according to the chief officers of that bank. We have been given no information or briefing on the matter and I do not know if the European affairs committee has got any either.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy is going into detail.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  This is on the Order of Business. It is being rushed in next Thursday and I believe everybody in the House will support it. Rushing finance Bills with no information or detail on the small print is a recipe for disaster. The Taoiseach, Deputy Brian Cowen, did this when Minister for Finance and it allowed Anglo Irish Bank to get involved——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We cannot have a Second Stage debate at this time.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——in the securitisation of bonds.

[635]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy has made her point.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  It was also done earlier with Irish Nationwide on the eve of a recess. The track record——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy has made her point well.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  ——in respect of the House passing rushed finance legislation, containing special little provisions for special people, is bad.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Will the Deputy please extend some co-operation to the Chair in respect of the Order of Business?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Will the Tánaiste ask the Minister for Finance if he will provide a written briefing to Opposition finance spokespersons and also to the members of the Joint Committee on European Affairs, who are heavily involved with this matter? There is a need to properly monitor and examine the position in the best interests of the country. The legislation is extremely important.

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  The Minister for Finance has been more than forthcoming in respect of these issues and in briefing his colleagues. It is appropriate to state that the legislation relating to banking matters that has been passed by the House has been extensive in nature and was the subject of much discussion here. I do not accept the Deputy’s view that legislation which was passed by the House in the past two years was inappropriate. It is time people reiterated that if we were to proceed with the Labour Party’s proposal in respect of Anglo Irish Bank, the cost to the taxpayer would be €42 billion.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  On that point, the representatives from the bank who appeared before the committee said the opposite. We see the Bill for what it is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We are not going to engage in a debate on that matter.

Deputy Michael Mulcahy: Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Deputy Burton should sit down. She had her say.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Burton will have ample opportunity to comment when the legislation is introduced.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  They said the opposite.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, it is not appropriate for the Ceann Comhairle to place what is an untruth and a lie on the record of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Ceann Comhairle did not place any untruth on the record.

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  One could see the jaws of the Fianna Fáil members of the committee drop when they were informed that €20 billion of taxpayers’ money——

Deputy Noel Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Did not the Deputy’s jaw drop when she heard that Labour’s plan for the bank would cost €42 billion?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  That €20 billion has disappeared down the drain. That is a scandal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I ask Deputy Stagg to either withdraw or amend the phrase he used. The Ceann Comhairle did not place any lie on the record of the House.

[636]Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The Ceann Comhairle would never do so.

Deputy Joe Costello: Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  It was an untruth.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Multi-Unit Developments Bill was due to be taken last week. We have been waiting six or seven years for this legislation and it is important that the Second Stage relating to it be completed prior to the summer recess. Will the Tánaiste ensure this happens? In view of the number of companies that have gone bust, there are major difficulties for young people in the type of apartment blocks to which the legislation relates.

Deputy O’Rourke, who was the Chairman of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children, recently gave an interview in which she appeared to indicate that the referendum on the relevant amendment should be held this year. She also appealed to the Opposition not to require that the three outstanding by-elections should happen simultaneously. Is that now the Government’s position and will the amendment to the Constitution be the subject of a referendum this year?

The Tánaiste: Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  It was unfortunate that our deliberations on the Multi-Unit Developments Bill could not be completed last week. However, we will try to get it through because it is long awaited and much needed.

The Government is anxious to pursue the constitutional amendment. However, a decision has not been taken with regard to either what will be the format of the referendum or when it will take place.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Before we proceed to the next item, I wish to inform the House that we had some visitors earlier, namely, Senator Therese Murray, President of the Massachusetts Senate, and her colleagues. However, the Senator and her group have since left.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I do not blame them.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I hope they have a successful and enjoyable visit.


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