Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 10, Revised Estimates for Public Services 2010, Votes 1 — 41, (back from committee); No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Post-Release (Restrictions on Certain Activities) Orders Scheme 2010 (back from committee); No. 12, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 (back from committee); No. 13, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann 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 (back from committee); No. 18, Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 — Second Stage (Resumed) and Remaining Stages; and No. 19, Adoption Bill 2009 [Seanad] — Report Stage (Resumed).
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m.; Nos. 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall be decided without debate and in the case of No. 10 [Votes 1 — 41] shall be moved together and shall be decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 18: the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 30 minutes and the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Private Members' business, which shall be No. 78, motion re patient safety authority, shall be taken at 7 p.m. tonight or on the conclusion of No. 18, whichever is the later, and shall be adjourned after 90 minutes; the proceedings on the resumed Report and Final Stages of No. 19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Health and Children.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: No, it is not agreed. A Cheann Comhairle, what mechanism can you advise that this House can use to hold the Minister for Health and Children, her Department and the HSE to account——
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: I am asking a question before I agree to the ordering of the business of the day. That is a valid position for me to adopt. I am asking you, a Cheann Comhairle, for your steer. This matter on the Adjournment nonsense simply will not suffice when we look at the seriousness of what is involved in the closure of accident and emergency services at the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk and their transfer to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. I will conclude with this point and await your answer, a Cheann Comhairle. It will have escaped the notice of many in this House that the so-called transformation plan in 2008 that presented an enhanced ambulance service for the people of Monaghan when they lost the acute services of our hospital there, we had a rapid response vehicle——
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: I will conclude with this point. Let the House know that with the transfer of those services from the Louth County Hospital, it has now transferred those support ambulance services — vehicles and personnel — from——
Deputy Enda Kenny: I have already made the point that I object to the guillotine procedure being used here. I understand six amendments have been tabled. This is a very short time with only 30 minutes for the rest of Second Stage and all Remaining Stages to be concluded by 7 p.m. On that basis I object to the proposal to guillotine the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: ——the use of the guillotine by the Government to rush legislation through the House. Thirty minutes is not sufficient time for the completion of Second Stage of the Bill and given the commitments that the Minister has given on introducing amendments to the Bill, the remaining period of time is not sufficient for Committee and Remaining Stages.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Hark, do I hear something from the Green benches? My goodness, it is a long time since there was anybody there, never mind a voice to be heard. I wish to object to the guillotine applying in this case. Members of the House have every right to participate in all Stages of this legislation as it presents.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: As the other speakers have indicated, the imposition of the guillotine is absolutely unnecessary, unwarranted and anti-democratic in terms of proper address of legislation presenting.
In conclusion, a Cheann Comhairle, I very much record my disappointment at your earlier refusal to give me a due response to the points I made on my objection to the first proposition on the Order Paper. You have not yet and never have previously given any substantive reply to give guidance and support to Members of this House as to how they can hold that Minister and this Government to account on the disgraceful decisions that have been taken on our health services. Shame on them.
|Ahern, Bertie.||Ahern, Dermot.|
|Ahern, Michael.||Ahern, Noel.|
|Andrews, Barry.||Andrews, Chris.|
|Aylward, Bobby.||Blaney, Niall.|
|Brady, Áine.||Brady, Cyprian.|
|Brady, Johnny.||Browne, John.|
|Byrne, Thomas.||Calleary, Dara.|
|Carey, Pat.||Collins, Niall.|
|Conlon, Margaret.||Coughlan, Mary.|
|Cowen, Brian.||Cregan, John.|
|Cuffe, Ciarán.||Curran, John.|
|Dempsey, Noel.||Devins, Jimmy.|
|Dooley, Timmy.||Fahey, Frank.|
|Finneran, Michael.||Fitzpatrick, Michael.|
|Fleming, Seán.||Flynn, Beverley.|
|Gogarty, Paul.||Gormley, John.|
|Grealish, Noel.||Harney, Mary.|
|Haughey, Seán.||Healy-Rae, Jackie.|
|Hoctor, Máire.||Kelleher, Billy.|
|Kelly, Peter.||Kenneally, Brendan.|
|Kennedy, Michael.||Killeen, Tony.|
|Kitt, Michael P.||Kitt, Tom.|
|Lenihan, Conor.||McEllistrim, Thomas.|
|McGrath, Michael.||McGuinness, John.|
|Mansergh, Martin.||Moloney, John.|
|Moynihan, Michael.||Mulcahy, Michael.|
|Nolan, M.J.||Ó Cuív, Éamon.|
|Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.||O’Brien, Darragh.|
|O’Connor, Charlie.||O’Dea, Willie.|
|O’Flynn, Noel.||O’Keeffe, Batt.|
|O’Keeffe, Edward.||O’Rourke, Mary.|
|O’Sullivan, Maureen.||Power, Peter.|
|Power, Seán.||Roche, Dick.|
|Ryan, Eamon.||Sargent, Trevor.|
|Scanlon, Eamon.||Smith, Brendan.|
|White, Mary Alexandra.||Woods, Michael.|
|Bannon, James.||Barrett, Seán.|
|Behan, Joe.||Breen, Pat.|
|Broughan, Thomas P.||Bruton, Richard.|
|Burke, Ulick.||Burton, Joan.|
|Carey, Joe.||Connaughton, Paul.|
|Coonan, Noel J..||Costello, Joe.|
|Coveney, Simon.||Crawford, Seymour.|
|Creed, Michael.||D’Arcy, Michael.|
|Deenihan, Jimmy.||Doyle, Andrew.|
|Durkan, Bernard J.||English, Damien.|
|Enright, Olwyn.||Feighan, Frank.|
|Ferris, Martin.||Flanagan, Charles.|
|Flanagan, Terence.||Gilmore, Eamon.|
|Hayes, Brian.||Hayes, Tom.|
|Hogan, Phil.||Howlin, Brendan.|
|Kehoe, Paul.||Kenny, Enda.|
|Lynch, Ciarán.||Lynch, Kathleen.|
|McCormack, Pádraic.||McEntee, Shane.|
|McGinley, Dinny.||McGrath, Finian.|
|McHugh, Joe.||McManus, Liz.|
|Mitchell, Olivia.||Naughten, Denis.|
|Neville, Dan.||Noonan, Michael.|
|Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.||Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.|
|O’Donnell, Kieran.||O’Dowd, Fergus.|
|O’Keeffe, Jim.||O’Mahony, John.|
|O’Shea, Brian.||O’Sullivan, Jan.|
|Penrose, Willie.||Perry, John.|
|Quinn, Ruairí.||Rabbitte, Pat.|
|Reilly, James.||Ring, Michael.|
|Shatter, Alan.||Sheahan, Tom.|
|Sheehan, P.J.||Sherlock, Seán.|
|Shortall, Róisín.||Stagg, Emmet.|
|Stanton, David.||Timmins, Billy.|
|Tuffy, Joanna.||Upton, Mary.|
Deputy Enda Kenny: The Government produced a substantial list of legislation to be introduced before the House rises for the summer recess. Perhaps the Taoiseach will tell us the proposed schedule of legislation to be taken next week.
Deputy Emmet Stagg: I am clearly indicating now that the Labour Party is not agreeable to the proposal in respect of No. 5 and as such it has not yet been agreed to by the House. We are not agreeing to it because this House is supposed to hold the Executive to account by debating legislation. The number of guillotines applied this week make it impossible for us to do our constitutional duty and to hold the Executive to account. What is happening in this House daily at the end of each term is that legislation is being passed by the Executive and not this House. Legislation is simply being rubber-stamped by the majority, which is not the way to pass legislation. We object to these guillotines.
Deputy Enda Kenny: In view of the list of legislation with which it was proposed the House would deal prior to its rising for the summer recess, perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate what legislation will be dealt with in the House next week.
The Taoiseach: The Whip has indicated to his colleagues the workload for this and next week. It is unfortunately the case that there are Bills which must be dealt with before the end of term and we want to proceed with them. The House will conclude the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill 2010 today. Second Stage of the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 [Seanad] will be taken later this week. The House will take Report Stage of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad] on Thursday and the European Financial Stability Facility Bill 2010 has passed all Stages in the Dáil and is now listed for the Seanad. The Central Bank Reform Bill 2010 will be taken this Thursday. The Road Traffic Bill 2009 and Health (Amendment) Bill 2010 have passed all Stages in the Dáil and are now listed on the Seanad Order Paper. It is intended that the House will also deal with the Prescription Charges Bill 2010 and Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill 2010 [Seanad]. Report Stage of the Social Welfare Bill 2010 will be taken all next week in this House and will then go to the Seanad. Report Stage of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2010 will be taken in the House this week and will then go to the Seanad.
Deputy Enda Kenny: I thank the Taoiseach for that information. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate if there has been any progress in regard to his commitment to introduce legislation in respect of on-line betting, which is an important issue in terms of the racing industry in this country. I am aware the Bill is not yet ready but perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate when its heads might be prepared.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: The European Commission today approved the extension of the credit institutions eligible liabilities guarantee scheme to the end of the year. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate if the Government intends bringing this matter before the House at any point, by what means this will be done and if it will happen before the summer recess.
It is now several months since the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children agreed a wording for a referendum on the rights of children. This is a matter on which there is now all-party agreement. We are into the second last week of this Dáil term and it is high time the Government told us when the referendum on children’s rights will be held and when the referendum Bill to enable that referendum to be held will be brought before this House. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate when this will happen.
The Taoiseach: As stated previously in this House and again recently, work on that matter is continuing. The matter is receiving the priority of the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with responsibility for children who is liaising with the Attorney General’s Office. A Cabinet committee is also working on the matter. As soon as all of the relevant issues have been cleared and each Department has had an opportunity to study what has been a comprehensive report the Government will bring legislation before the House.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore: That is a load of nonsense. There is not a comprehensive report. The matter is a simple one. There is agreement on the wording. We are continually told work on the matter is continuing. The only work continuing is on the part of Government to delay holding this referendum for as long as possible. It beggars belief to see what order of priorities this Government has that a referendum on an issue as important as the rights of children, on which there is all-party agreement, is being delayed in this way by Government.
The Taoiseach: I reject the Deputy’s assertion. Work on this matter is ongoing. The Government is seized of the issue and is proceeding to deal with it. The Deputy will be aware that the bringing forth of a referendum is an important and serious matter which must be given due consideration by any Government, including this one.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Again in the health domain, a series of legislation has been promised by the Department of Health and Children. Is the Taoiseach in a position to confirm that the health information Bill 2010 will be published in the current year? It is indicated under Section B as due for publication in late 2010. Has the Taoiseach at any time following the request of Opposition Deputies made any inquiry as to the reason health Bills tend always to arrive in the last weeks of any session and are invariably given little time for serious scrutiny? Is there any prospect of the health information Bill 2010 and others within the health portfolio being presented earlier in the session post summer recess to allow Deputies to properly engage, evaluate and amend as appropriate?
The Taoiseach: Bills are published having been duly decided upon by Government. There is no set trend in this regard on the part of Government. Bills come before Government and are published. It is then a matter for the Whips as to when they will be taken in the House. The Deputy will be aware there has been a great deal of work before the Oireachtas as a result of the economic situation in recent times. This has greatly increased our workload, a challenge which the House has been able to meet commendably. Some Bills have passed all Stages in the Dáil and others have yet to be decided upon. The legislation mentioned by the Deputy is due for publication at the end of the year, work on which we will try to speed up.
Deputy Liz McManus: The Cabinet sub-committee on climate change met only twice last year and six times the previous year. It has not yet met in 2010. Perhaps the Taoiseach in his capacity as Chairman of that sub-committee will indicate when the heads of the Bill on climate change law, which has been repeatedly promised, will come before the House. I understand from the Department that it was expected that the heads of this Bill would be published in March. I understood it would be published in June but there is still no framework, other than an original document which is thin on the ground in terms of detail, in place.
Is the Government serious about tackling climate change? I am aware it has other matters on its mind. However, at the end of the day we must all work together to meet targets which are onerous on all Departments. Without climate change law, which is part of a commitment made by Government, we will not achieve those targets.
The Taoiseach: The outcome of the Copenhagen conference in December has meant the preparatory process has taken longer than expected. The Cabinet committee meets when there are decisions to be taken. A great deal of work is being done at a technical level and a policy level in preparation for this sort of legislation. It is important that we get it right. That ongoing work is at an advanced stage. I hope the Cabinet committee will meet as soon as decisions are ready to be considered by it.
Deputy Tom Sheahan: I welcome the recent adjustments to the scheme of PRSI contribution on behalf of the employer. The matter needs to be considered further, however, as the new arrangement is very proscriptive in so far as only those who have been out of work for over 12 months will qualify for it. Several people have approached me——
Deputy Tom Sheahan: It is a matter for the Minister for Finance. This measure applies to people who have been out of work for over 12 months. People who have been out of work for three or six months are quite willing——
Deputy Tom Sheahan: As they have not been out of work for over 12 months, they have been told they should not apply. If we are to make a genuine and serious attempt to get people back to work, we should reduce the relevant timeframe to six months.
Deputy Joan Burton: The Department of Finance announced today that the bank guarantee will be extended until 31 December 2010, through the use of the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme. I understood that the legislation introduced after the bank guarantee provided that the guarantee would end on 29 September 2010. Can the Taoiseach tell the House whether the extension of the bank guarantee scheme and the eligible liabilities guarantee scheme to the end of December of this year will require legislation or a ministerial order to be brought before this House? If a minimum of €200 billion of debt is to be guaranteed for a further five years——
Deputy Joan Burton: I am asking the same question that was asked by the leader of the Labour Party earlier this afternoon. On that occasion, the Taoiseach consciously decided not to answer it. We would like to know whether legislation will be required in the Dáil in respect of the covered institutions financial support scheme.
The Taoiseach: There was no conscious effort on my part not to respond to Deputy Gilmore. I apologise if I did not respond to him at the time. He did not try to ascribe bad faith to me. Deputy Gilmore will confirm that I always try to get back to him on the issues he raises with me.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: I raised an issue of promised legislation with the Minister for Finance when he took the Order of Business last Thursday. Since then, the IMF has suggested that national governments should take some initiatives to assist home owners who find themselves in negative equity, in arrears with their mortgages and possibly unemployed. In the meantime, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has made a reference to robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: There is no other time or place. Can I finish my question on promised legislation? Can I ask the Taoiseach if the Government intends to proceed with the legislation that was promised to the House in November 2009, during the debate on NAMA? In that context, will those who are engaged in discussions with the lending institutions remember that the issue relates to compound interest being charged on arrears of instalments?
The Taoiseach: We expect the group that is considering the issues of mortgage arrears and personal debt to make interim recommendations soon, with fuller recommendations to be made in the autumn, perhaps. I will not be in a position to say anything further until we get those recommendations.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: I thank the Taoiseach. My other question relates to promised legislation as well. Deputies on this side of the House have repeatedly raised what has now been described by a representative of the Garda as a breakdown in law and order. In that context, can I ask the Taoiseach if any effort will be made to enforce the legislation that has already been passed by this House or to introduce the bail (amendment) Bill that has been promised? I ask the Taoiseach to have particular regard to the fact that it has been clearly indicated that people who are on bail are openly involved in serious crime throughout the country.
The Taoiseach: It is not a question of a problem — it is a question of logistics. Regardless of whether it is published next week or the following week, it will be published during the summer and discussed during the next session.
Deputy Phil Hogan: The Bill to provide for a directly elected mayor for Dublin has been promised on a number of occasions. It seems to be moving backwards at this stage. When can we expect the legislation to be before the House and the election to take place?
Deputy Seymour Crawford: An absolute commitment was given to us that no services would be removed from the health structure until better services were provided. Once again, however, services have been removed from Louth County Hospital.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is going to have to find another way to raise this matter. If he raises it on the Adjournment, we will consider it sympathetically. He could also ask a parliamentary question on the matter.
Deputy Seymour Crawford: When will the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill be brought before this House? That Bill, and the health information Bill, would allow us to discuss the outrageous conduct——
Deputy Pat Rabbitte: The Taoiseach will agree that Deputies on this side of the House have been very responsible in not seeking to make political capital out of the extent of gun murders in recent years, compared to the conduct of Fianna Fáil when in Opposition. The two assassinations of last evening showed that this is out of control. Has the Taoiseach any special measure in mind to deal with the situation?
My second matter is one I have raised with the Taoiseach previously. It is the number of abandoned horses, particularly in County Dublin but also in other counties, and the manner in which they are being abused or left starving and, in some cases, dead. People concerned with animal welfare tell me the local authorities cannot deal with the problem because they cannot get the necessary assistance from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. What can the Taoiseach do on this matter?
The Taoiseach: With regard to the first matter, we all deplore these killings. They show a callous disregard for human life. The fact that a young person was injured in last night’s shooting is also appalling. The Garda is carrying out intensive investigations of these and all such killings and they will devote all necessary resources to the investigations. Gardaí face severe challenges in dealing with gangland murders. Often, they receive no co-operation. In some cases, persons whom the Garda identified as being at risk, rather than co-operate, seek to thwart the Garda so they can get on with their activities. Despite that, a number of people are before the courts in connection with the recent gangland killings and some important legislation has been passed, particularly the surveillance legislation. The Defence Forces and the Garda can use surveillance mechanisms, in some case, to overcome the problem of persuading witnesses to come forward. Many legislative changes have been brought forward. On every occasion the Garda sought extra support it has been provided by the Government and debated in this House. We must continue to be vigilant with regard to this matter. The legislation enacted has helped the Garda in its efforts to protect law abiding citizens from these horrible happenings. Everyone shares the Deputy’s concern and appreciates the need for us to continue to work with the Garda. It has had some successes in this area.
Deputy Denis Naughten: While the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government was bounding around the country after stags, one of his Department’s agents placed an advertisement in today’s Irish Independent that is 25 months out of date. Even the telephone number is out of date. The environment (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is promised. Who will pick up the bill for an advertisement that is 25 months out of date? The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government should keep an eye on this matter, instead of running around with his hare-brained ideas. When will be see the promised legislation?
Deputy Billy Timmins: It appears from reports that, once again, an Irish passport has been falsified and used in an illegal act. Will the Taoiseach inform the House of the circumstances of this latest incident, in view of the fact that the Minister for Foreign Affairs is out of the country.
Deputy Joe Carey: The eligibility for health and personal social services Bill is on the list of promised legislation. Repite care services are being affected by cutbacks in funding. The Taoiseach was in Limerick yesterday and he spoke with people who are affected by the cuts. In counties Clare and Limerick, 63 families are affected. Can the Taoiseach convey some good news to them of a Government commitment to restore their funding?
Deputy Joe Costello: The Taoiseach did not answer Deputy Rabbitte’s question as to when the animal welfare Bill would come before the House. The Taoiseach attended a European Council meeting two weeks ago. When does he intend to debate the issues dealt with there, considering that he signed a ten year agreement relating to strategy and policies for this country? It is reasonable to expect that the normal practice would be followed and that the House would have the opportunity to debate the conclusions of the European Council meeting.
The Taoiseach: I accommodated a request that we debate the Saville inquiry instead. It took the slot which would normally be given to the European Council meeting. We will have many opportunities to discuss economic employment policy in the European context, including the European 2020 document, which has been passed.
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