Order of Business

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 713 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Post-Release (Restrictions on Certain Activities) Orders Scheme 2010; No. 21, the Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Bill 2010 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 22, Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 6 Health (Amendment) Bill 2010 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m.; No. 11 shall be [35]decided without debate; Report and Final Stages of No. 21 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Private Members’ business shall be No. 81 — motion re tourism, which shall be taken at 7 p.m. tonight, or on the conclusion of No. 21, whichever is the later, and shall be adjourned after 90 minutes tonight; and Report and Final Stages of No. 22 shall be taken tonight and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance.

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  It is not agreed. Will the Government facilitate an opportunity for the House to address the serious issues that have arisen recently in the course of the leaving certificate and junior certificate examinations? Given that there is no ministerial provision in that regard, the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills will not have an opportunity to address those matters between now and the summer recess. In effect, what will happen is that the serious questions that need to be addressed will not be addressed on the floor of the Dáil until the autumn session. Will the Taoiseach provide time for the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills to make a statement on the serious matters concerning errors in some of the examination papers and the omission of several pages——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy will have to pursue the matter at another time.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  ——from an important leaving certificate accountancy exam.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  This is not the way to do it at all.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but it is absolutely in order. What is not in order is cutting me off every time I try to ask an important and salient question. I ask again in the interests of the address of those important matters, and the questions that must arise in terms of whether the State Examinations Commission is properly resourced or if serious questions may be directed towards its conduct of its remit and responsibilities. Will the Taoiseach accommodate such an opportunity before we break for the summer recess?

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Widespread concern is being expressed about the competency levels of the State Examinations Commission having regard to what happened last year and this year. Could the Whips or the Taoiseach consider whether some time could be made available to comment on the point that has been raised by Deputy Ó Caoláin?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  We are under considerable time constraints in terms of legislation we need to put through the House. There are other methods and means by which those matters can be raised such as Private Notice Questions, on the Adjournment and in committee hearings. The State Examinations Commission carries out a review each year in respect of errors and issues that have arisen. I very much regret that errors of the type we have seen in recent days have occurred. A comprehensive review is necessary. These are avoidable errors and need to be addressed fully. I would not like to see them repeated given the anxiety and concern they cause students. I thank those, many in schools, who were able to get the matter rectified without the examination being compromised in the 16 schools concerned.

[36]Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Just very briefly——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  The Deputy cannot make a second contribution. I am sorry but I cannot allow Members to speak twice. There are many other ways to raise the matter such as to ask a Special Notice Question or to raise the matter on the Adjournment. We will consider the matters sympathetically if they are raised.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Are you saying, a Cheann Comhairle, that a Special Notice Question will be sympathetically considered?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I suggest that is one avenue and raising the matter on the Adjournment is another one.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  We look forward to a discussion on the matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am not promising anything. I said the matter will be considered. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Post-Release (Restrictions on Certain Activities) Orders Scheme 2010 without debate agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21, the Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Bill 2010 agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  This is the annual reoccurrence of the guillotine, an unusual weapon used in the French Revolution. I do not wish the situation to arise where we have a series of guillotined Bills between now and the summer recess. Only four or five amendments have been tabled in respect of the Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Bill. I am informed that perhaps an hour’s discussion is required. That is not the way we should proceed. I have objected in principle previously to guillotines being imposed and I object to it now. I will vote against the proposal.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I raised the issue on Thursday that the Government is planning to use the guillotine a number of times on legislation this week. It is intended to guillotine five Bills during the course of this week. That is bad habit on the part of the Government. It is done every year when we come towards the end of the session. It is a device which the Government is using serially in order to avoid proper debate in the House on legislation and then rushing it through at the last minute using the guillotine. The irony in the case of this Bill is that it is our view that the guillotine is not necessary at all. I understand from our spokesperson, Deputy McManus, that it would be possible to have the Bill dealt with in the normal way. In all probability it might not run until 7 p.m. when it is proposed to introduce a guillotine but the Government has become so addicted to its use that it would appear that on this occasion it is proposing to use it where in fact a guillotine is not necessary.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I wish to speak on the same matter, namely, the imposition of the guillotine. Where previously it was a feature in the run-up to recesses both prior to the summer and Christmas, in the past year the guillotine has been employed quite freely at various times throughout each of the sessions. It is completely unnecessary. As recent experiences will show, some legislation passes through the House much quicker than the Chief Whip and the Government side have anticipated. I believe that will also apply to the Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Bill. The guillotine is also to be applied to the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill which is due to conclude at 10 p.m. this evening. I do not believe that [37]is necessary. The guillotine should not be employed in that way. I urge the Taoiseach to remove the guillotine and to allow the House to freely debate each of these matters.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  During the course of the session many Deputies have been asking for the enactment and progression of legislation and as we come towards the end of the session it is unfortunate that a sizeable number of Bills require to be dealt with. I made the point last week, which is something we need to address, namely, that when Bills are referred to committees it is totally in the hands of the committee to decide how long it will stay on Committee Stage before returning to the House. There should be a time limit applied so committees that receive legislation would regard it as their priority work, thus allowing Report Stage to proceed in the House and preventing the pushing back of legislation. I take the point on some legislation that has only recently been published. We are trying to deal with issues that need to dealt with immediately by legislation before we rise. However, there are a number of problems and they are not all on the Government side. I make that point for future reference. I hope that, during the next term, some means will be found by committees, Departments and Ministers to determine how soon legislation can return to the House. There are some cases where it does not come back as quickly as would otherwise be the case.

  5 o’clock

With regard to Second Stage Dáil debates on these matters, approximately one hour and 30 minutes was allocated for the Electricity Regulation (Amendment) (Carbon Revenue Levy) Bill and an hour and 17 minutes was allocated for the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill. It may be the case that we will not require the use of the guillotine for the legislation going through the House this evening but it must be provided for by the Whip in the event that it will take the time allocated because he must proceed with other legislation. It is not for the purpose of being gratuitous but for the good order of the House. If we can get the Bill through before 7 p.m., all the better. In this case, the guillotine will not be utilised and we will move on to the next Bill and have more time to consider it.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  I want the Taoiseach to explain how he has apportioned——

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 21 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 73; 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 Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on John Curran  Zoom on John Curran  Curran, John.
Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy. Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy.
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 Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on 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 Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M. J.
Information on 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 Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on 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 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 Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick.
Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon. Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor.
Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon. Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan.
Information on 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 Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford  Crawford, Seymour.
Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael. Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda.
Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael. Information on 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 Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles. Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence.
Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon. Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian.
Information on 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 Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on 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 Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on 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 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 Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P. J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Cregan and John Curran; 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 Private Members’ business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 22, Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2008 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages, agreed to?

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I have made my point about guillotines. I do not wish to unduly hold up the time of the House by voting against it, except to say to the Government Whip not to come in with a rash of guillotines between now and the rising of the Dáil for the summer recess.

[39]Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  An unfortunate choice of words.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I concur with Deputy Kenny. This is another example of a Bill where, frankly, the guillotine is not necessary. This Bill could have been dealt with in the normal course of events. If we needed extra time to deal with it, that is fine and is already agreed. There is no need for a guillotine on this Bill.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  On exactly the same point, I appeal to the Taoiseach and the Government team to heed the Opposition’s appeal. The guillotine is totally unnecessary.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with No. 22 be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I ask the Taoiseach if he can report any progress on the wording for the children’s referendum and if the referendum is likely to be held this year.

Last week, following the publication of the Saville report, I asked that an agreed motion be unanimously passed by the House in respect of it. Has anything happened in that regard?

Is it expected that the Government will hold a debate next week on the European Council meeting?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  On the question of the referendum, the answer is the same as I gave last week.

On the question on the Saville inquiry report, I understand we can arrange that for next week. I had indicated that we would do it this week. However, I will arrange it for next week and use this week to get an agreed motion.

On the other question,——

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Progress on the European Council.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  ——that is next week also.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  What are the Government’s current plans regarding the Dublin mayor Bill? I noted over the weekend that the Minister, Deputy Gormley, now seems to think that the Bill might be published, but not enacted, before the summer recess. When will the Bill be published and when is it now anticipated by the Government that the election for the directly-elected mayor of Dublin will take place?

My second question is in respect of the decision yesterday by the Government to withdraw its appeal to the Supreme Court in the case of transgender persons, the effect being that the previous High Court ruling now stands, that Ireland is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

I understand that, arising from yesterday’s decision, the Taoiseach must report the court’s decision to the Dáil within 21 sitting days. What is his intention in this regard and when will we see his report on the court’s decision?

I understand that the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív, will need to introduce legislation recognising transgender persons in their new genders and allowing them to get new birth certificates in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. When will the Minister introduce this legislation to the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  The arrangements are being made to have the order of the High Court in the Foy case laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is intended that this will be done before the summer recess.

[40]Regarding the Minister for Social Protection, he has established an interdepartmental group to advise him on the legislation required to comply with the ruling of the High Court in the Foy case. That work has begun and representatives of the relevant Government Departments are involved. It has met in recent weeks and will hold a public consultation as part of its deliberations as well, but I have no timescale for when it will finish its work.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  What is the story with the Dublin mayor Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Obviously, the Minister is hoping to be in a position to bring it to Government for the purpose of its publication. As the Deputy knows, there is a commitment in the programme for Government on this matter, but we are waiting for it to be brought to Government by the relevant Department.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Government is waiting for the Minister.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  He is working on the Bill, since he is the line Minister involved, just as other Ministers do in respect of their own legislation.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  He is taking a long time.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Last week, I tried to establish whether the Multi-Unit Developments Bill 2009 is likely to reach Second Stage so that we can deal with Committee Stage over the summer. There is serious grief for all of the reasons the Taoiseach knows. I hope it can be taken.

While I am on my feet, I wish to raise a second matter on the Order of Business. The chairperson of the rights of the child committee, Deputy O’Rourke, recently made a speech that I took to mean that, if the Opposition did not persist with demands to hold by-elections, the referendum could go ahead. Is this Government policy or was she speaking for herself?

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Was it ever else?

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  A solo run.

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  She is well able to speak for herself.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Similar to Deputy Rabbitte, I am sure she speaks for herself.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I am not sure she has such a narrow view of her role.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Neither has Deputy Rabbitte. I am——

Deputy Dermot Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I will convey his views to Deputy O’Rourke.

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

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  She is contradicting the——

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Ask Miriam O’Callaghan.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is hoped that we will get Second Stage of that Bill completed before we rise.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I have two matters to raise, one with the Ceann Comhairle and another through him on legislation. As the Chair of the House and the protector of the rights of Deputies, can he advise a Deputy who, having tabled a question to the Minister for Education [41]and Skills, did not receive a reply, was refused an answer or received an answer in which the information was vague? At what point do the rights of Deputies kick in as distinct from the position of the Minister?

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  We do not have any.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Quinn, who is a long time in the House, will be well aware that the Chair does not have a rights commissioner role in the House. Some occupants might like that power, but it is an issue that may need to be deliberated on for a while.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  The Ceann Comhairle exercises the power of deciding whether a question is in order.

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

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Surely he could exercise the power to decide whether a reply is in order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We have various committees to consider these matters. The Whip of the Labour Party is active on them and I am sure he would like to pursue the matter for Deputy Quinn.

A Deputy:  It is a waste of time.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  We are not being effective. This matter was raised previously and the Department in question is getting worse, in that it is refusing to give information. What are the rights of Deputies in the House if this is the case?

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  We do not have rights.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Deputy Quinn should try being an Independent Member.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Could Deputy Quinn ask his Whip to pursue the matter through the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, CPP?

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On that point, the CPP has considered this matter under the Ceann Comhairle’s chairmanship and written to the Department of Education and Skills specifically and other Departments, insisting they answer the questions put to them by Deputies. Under the Ceann Comhairle’s guidance, the CPP drew up new Standing Orders, but the Government side en masse, which was unusual at the CPP, voted them down in a partisan manner. They would have given the Ceann Comhairle authority to make the Minister provide an answer to a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  We will consider it in that context.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  I have a specific question on legislation promised for this autumn, namely, the qualifications, education and training Bill. Have its heads been agreed by the Government?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I understand the heads of the Bill are almost completed, but they have not been brought to the Government yet.

Deputy Ciarán Lynch: Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Will the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appear before the House this week to explain his announcement of a review of a number [42]of local authorities? I listened to today’s lunchtime news when Cork City Council’s manager, Mr. Joe Gavin, seemed quite bewildered as to why this investigation has been requested. The Department’s website seems to be sending two signals. First, this is a general investigation of practices. Second, there is a suggestion of complaints of a particular nature. Will the Minister appear before the Dáil and let us know what notification was given to individual local authorities on this matter? Why were these ones targeted specifically?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I suggest that the Deputy submit a parliamentary question to the Minister on the matter.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  I have three questions for the Taoiseach. First, is the mental capacity Bill still going to be published before we rise for the summer recess? Second, on the promise to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, must we deal with other serious human rights before doing so? Third, regarding No. 82 on today’s Order Paper, where stands Dáil reform from the Government’s point of view? Will there be proposals from the Government side this year, next year or any year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  On the first question, it is hoped that Bill would be published this session.

Deputy David Stanton: Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Will it be before the summer recess?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  That is the hope of the Department. On the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ireland was in the first group of countries to sign, subject to ratification. It is the Government’s intention to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure that all necessary requirements under that convention are being met. There will be no undue delay in the State’s ratification of it, I understand.

Regarding the third matter, the Whip must deal with it in due course.

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan: Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  I am sure it was purely coincidental, but while others and I were announcing two weeks ago that we would introduce Private Members’ legislation on sun beds, the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, issued a press statement to the effect that she was ready with her legislation on the same issue. When will that Bill be introduced and what point has it reached? I believe its heads have been agreed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I do not think it would be this session. It will probably be next session.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  When will the White Paper on Local Government be published? Does its proposal, taken from the Green Paper, on abolishing town councils have any connection with the fact that Fianna Fáil has lost control of most town councils?

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  No. That is just the Deputy’s conspiratorial mind working overtime.

Deputy Eamon Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is a coincidence, though.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  When will the White Paper be published so that we can know?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  No legislation is promised.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  It is a legitimate question and I am entitled to know the date of the publication.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  It is currently being finalised, so I cannot give a date at the moment.

[43]Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  I thank the Taoiseach.

Deputy Jimmy Deenihan: Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  As the Taoiseach is aware, he has made a number of private and public commitments regarding the introduction of legislation on offshore betting. Concern is growing among the horse and greyhound racing fraternities to the effect that the greyhound fund will collapse because of the proliferation of offshore betting.

It would help if this legislation was published before the summer. Only two weeks remain in this session. Does the Taoiseach expect it will be published over the next two weeks? Can the Taoiseach provide an assurance it will be published over the summer? It is a critical matter.

The Taoiseach: Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  I indicated the Government’s intentions in these areas. The legislation must be prepared. An effort has been made to provide the legal means by which this might be achieved. I have indicated where this might happen. I cannot provide the commitment to have this published in the next couple of weeks as sought by Deputy Deenihan. It is being dealt with in the Department of Finance in consultation with the Department of Justice and Law Reform. I will keep a close eye on it.


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