Order of Business

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 729 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It is proposed to take No. 5, motion re Standing Orders 26 and 36; No. 7, statements on the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr; and No. 8, Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2010 [Seanad] — Second Stage (Resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 5 shall be taken without debate; and the proceedings on No. 7 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. and that the following arrangements shall apply: the statement of the Taoiseach and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the statement of each other Member called shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share [175]time, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply, which shall not exceed 15 minutes.

Private Members' business shall be No. 20, motion re referendum on the bank bailout and the IMF-EU arrangement.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  There are two proposals to put to the House. I call Deputy Martin on the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  On No. 5, motion re Standing Orders 26 and 36 and the proposed Government amendment, our Whip has written to the Government Whip setting out our position in relation to this matter. We wish to be constructive in terms of amending Standing Orders given the number of votes and lengthy debate which took place during the Order of Business in the last Dáil. In this regard I do not look to Deputy Durkan or any other Member of the Government side in terms of the degree to which many of them indulged in raising matters on the Order of Business during the last Dáil.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  They are quiet now.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  This is boring. Deputy Martin should stop looking up to the Gallery.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  I suggest the Opposition has been constructive in terms of its engagement on the Order of Business of this Dáil.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  The Deputy’s colleagues are good. It is he who creates the problem.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  What is proposed is a unilateral change to Standing Orders and I do not believe that is the correct process in which to engage. I ask that the Whips meet to agree a comprehensive series of changes to Standing Orders. The Government’s programme and indeed the policy documents of most political parties suggested changes in terms of how we conduct our business in this House and in regard to amendment of Standing Orders. If what we seek is a consensual approach in this regard, we should then create a process for so doing. I ask, in the spirit of co-operation, that the Government withdraw this motion. Let us approach this in a consensual manner with all Whips meeting to earnestly discuss reform of how we do our business. The Taoiseach will find us forthcoming in that regard. We have no wish for disruption of the Order of Business. We believe that it is not the Executive who should dictate the pace or nature of Standing Orders of this House but rather all Members of the House and their respective Whips who represent them in discussions.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  I, too, oppose this change in Standing Orders. All of us in this House wish to facilitate Dáil reform. I was a member of the sub-committee on Dáil reform for many years, the work of which was obstructed not by me or the smaller parties but by others. I believe any changes made should not be to Standing Orders alone but in the context of overall change. Many parties have proposed reasonable changes which would facilitate reform of the Dáil. I do not have a problem with facilitating a once-off change, for instance, to accommodate someone who cannot or does not wish to be present for Taoiseach’s questions tomorrow. However, there are more effective and efficient means of giving effect to such a change. One option would be to have an earlier sitting. Another proposal has been made to have topical questions. Rather than forcing the issue, I concur with Deputy Martin’s suggestion that the motion be withdrawn until such time as a full plan for Dáil reform has been brought forward. Last Thursday’s discussion on committees marked a start with regard to the agenda [176]the Government has stated it will pursue. As we have not yet received its proposals in totality, it would not be appropriate to adopt this proposed change on its own.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Why does the Order of Business not refer to the shocking revelations in today’s edition of The Irish Times concerning gardaí abusing and threatening with rape individuals they had detained at protests in County Mayo?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  The matter does not arise on the Order of Business.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  I am asking the reason it does not feature on the Order of Business.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  The Deputy should submit a request to have the matter discussed on the Adjournment.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  It is a serious issue which should feature on the Order of Business.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  The Deputy can pursue it by other means.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Surely I can ask the reason certain matters do not feature on the Order of Business.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  We are discussing the first proposal put to the House which relates to No. 5. I ask the Taoiseach to reply.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  I wish to raise another matter.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  The Deputy may do so later.

Deputy Enda Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I will try to help Deputy Boyd Barrett if I may. Three issues must be decided on the Order of Business. The first relates to Standing Orders 26 and 36. On the first day I took questions I indicated to Deputy Martin and others that I hoped Deputies would have a rational discussion of how we would make this Chamber more effective, vibrant and energetic. I also spoke of requiring Ministers to be responsive to issues of the day and the questions asked.

The issue before us was raised at last week’s meeting of the Whips and has been placed on the Order Paper because the flow of business in the House has not been right for some time. It is proposed that, following Leaders’ Questions, we will have the Order of Business for 30 minutes and that this will be followed by Taoiseach’s questions. The change would only apply on Wednesdays. It is not my intention to have this individual measure continue in perpetuity as I have a range of ideas which I have put to my party Whip. The Whips will discuss a series of radical changes to the way in which we do business at their meeting next week and this proposal can be thrown into the melting pot.

Whips were sent text messages and e-mails about this proposal yesterday. The change which was also discussed at last week’s meeting of the Whips would only apply on Wednesdays. In the context of discussions at next week’s meeting of the Whips on a whole series of changes to make the Dáil more relevant, effective and responsive, I ask the parties opposite to leave the proposal in place. I do not want to withdraw it because it would provide for a better flow of business. I hope we will agree on it because, as Deputy Martin will know from his years on this side of the House, the committee dealing with Dáil reform met until its members were blue in the face but nothing happened. We will see to it that something happens now.

[177](Interruptions).

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  On No. 5——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I will accommodate a brief intervention by Deputy Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  I ask the Taoiseach, in the spirit of what he said——

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  On a point of order, is there a new Standing Order allowing party leaders to make two interventions rather than one?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I am allowing Deputy Martin to make a brief intervention.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Deputy Martin’s first contribution was supposed to be brief, but it was not. While we welcome the Fianna Fáil Party’s new wish for consensus, having been in opposition for the past 15 years, I recall being told at Whips’ meetings to take it or leave it. Fianna Fáil will get reform, regardless of whether it likes it.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Militant is back.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  It is always good to witness the poacher becoming gamekeeper.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Order, please.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  The principle the Taoiseach has missed is that I agree with the need to reform Standing Orders and that my party is anxious to co-operate in that regard.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Time will tell. Fianna Fáil has never co-operated.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  There is an important principle at stake. If the Government is genuine about all the rhetoric we have heard since its formation about the House reforming Standing Orders and so forth, let the House do so and the Fianna Fáil Party will co-operate.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We have a mandate to do so.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  All the reform documents stated the Executive should not dictate to Parliament how it did its business. All I am asking is that the proposal be withdrawn and that the Whips meet to agree a variety of reforms quickly.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  We discussed the issue two weeks ago.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  We should not be selective in this regard. A comprehensive series of reforms has been proposed. What we have is selective imposition by the Executive as to how the House should do its business. That is not good enough and not in keeping with the spirit of the reform proposals included in the various policy documents of all parties.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  The majority in the House will decide the matter.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  While it is all very well for Deputy Stagg to endeavour to impose himself again and be whatever he wants to be, there is an important point of principle at stake. The Taoiseach may ignore it or put the matter to a vote if he wishes, but I respectfully ask him, in the spirit of our agreed co-operation, to withdraw the motion and approach this issue correctly. Although the matter was raised at the Whips’ meeting, the Government Whip stated [178]he would revert to the matter at the subsequent meeting of the Whips. It was not agreed by the Whips by any means. It was raised at the end of the meeting in a sort of a sleeveen way rather than in an up-front manner.

  5 o’clock

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Fianna Fáil Party will not be denied any rights. At present, we have Leaders’ Questions followed by Taoiseach’s questions followed by the Order of Business. A number of people have suggested business would flow better if Leaders’ Questions were followed by the Order of Business to allow matters of national interest to be raised. This would then be followed by Taoiseach’s questions. As Deputy Martin will recall, on the first day I answered questions I indicated that we would perhaps change questions to the Taoiseach on one day to allow Deputies to raise topical issues and receive replies from Ministers. The proposal relates to Wednesdays only and Deputies would not be denied an opportunity to raise matters on the Order of Business. Although the time allocated to the Order of Business under the proposal is 30 minutes, this period would be extended if a vote or votes were called and Taoiseach’s questions would be pushed out further. No one would be denied the right to raise an issue on the Order of Business. The proposal would provide for a better flow of political business in the Chamber and refers only to Wednesdays.

Question put: “That the proposal for dealing with No. 5 be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 101; Níl, 41.

Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. 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 Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Ray Butler  Zoom on Ray Butler  Butler, Ray. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Eric J. Byrne  Zoom on Eric J. Byrne  Byrne, Eric.
Information on Ciaran Cannon  Zoom on Ciaran Cannon  Cannon, Ciarán. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Michael Conaghan  Zoom on Michael Conaghan  Conaghan, Michael.
Information on Sean Conlan  Zoom on Sean Conlan  Conlan, Seán. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul J.
Information on Ciara Conway  Zoom on Ciara Conway  Conway, Ciara. Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel.
Information on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Zoom on Marcella MarcellaCorcoran Kennedy  Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Jim Daly  Zoom on Jim Daly  Daly, Jim.
Information on John Deasy  Zoom on John Deasy  Deasy, John. Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy.
Information on Patrick Deering  Zoom on Patrick Deering  Deering, Pat. Information on Regina Doherty  Zoom on Regina Doherty  Doherty, Regina.
Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal. Information on Robert Dowds  Zoom on Robert Dowds  Dowds, Robert.
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 Alan Farrell  Zoom on Alan Farrell  Farrell, Alan.
Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank. Information on Anne Ferris  Zoom on Anne Ferris  Ferris, Anne.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Peter Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Peter.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Griffin  Zoom on Brendan Griffin  Griffin, Brendan. Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic.
Information on Noel Harrington  Zoom on Noel Harrington  Harrington, Noel. Information on Simon Harris  Zoom on Simon Harris  Harris, Simon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Martin Heydon  Zoom on Martin Heydon  Heydon, Martin.
Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil. Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan.
Information on Heather Humphreys  Zoom on Heather Humphreys  Humphreys, Heather. Information on Kevin Humphreys  Zoom on Kevin Humphreys  Humphreys, Kevin.
Information on Derek Keating  Zoom on Derek Keating  Keating, Derek. Information on Colm Keaveney  Zoom on Colm Keaveney  Keaveney, Colm.
Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul. Information on Alan Kelly  Zoom on Alan Kelly  Kelly, Alan.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Seán Kenny  Zoom on Seán Kenny  Kenny, Seán.
Information on Seán Kyne  Zoom on Seán Kyne  Kyne, Seán. Information on Anthony Lawlor  Zoom on Anthony Lawlor  Lawlor, Anthony.
Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán. Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen.
Information on John Lyons  Zoom on John Lyons  Lyons, John. Information on Michael McCarthy  Zoom on Michael McCarthy  McCarthy, Michael.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Tony McLoughlin  Zoom on Tony McLoughlin  McLoughlin, Tony. Information on Michael McNamara  Zoom on Michael McNamara  McNamara, Michael.
Information on Eamonn Maloney  Zoom on Eamonn Maloney  Maloney, Eamonn. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor  Mitchell O’Connor, Mary. Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin  Mulherin, Michelle.
Information on Dara Murphy  Zoom on Dara Murphy  Murphy, Dara. Information on Eoghan Murphy  Zoom on Eoghan Murphy  Murphy, Eoghan.
Information on Gerald Nash  Zoom on Gerald Nash  Nash, Gerald. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Derek Nolan  Zoom on Derek Nolan  Nolan, Derek.
Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael. Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordán  Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
Information on Patrick O'Donovan  Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan  O’Donovan, Patrick. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie. Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John.
Information on Ann Phelan  Zoom on Ann Phelan  Phelan, Ann. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul.
Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí. Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan.
Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  Shatter, Alan. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Sean.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Arthur Spring  Zoom on Arthur Spring  Spring, Arthur.
Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet. Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Liam Twomey  Zoom on Liam Twomey  Twomey, Liam.
Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack. Information on Brian Walsh  Zoom on Brian Walsh  Walsh, Brian.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  


Níl
Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Adams, Gerry. Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  Boyd Barrett, Richard.
Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John. Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  Calleary, Dara.
Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  Collins, Joan. Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall.
Information on Michael Colreavy  Zoom on Michael Colreavy  Colreavy, Michael. Information on Barry Cowen  Zoom on Barry Cowen  Cowen, Barry.
Information on Sean Crowe  Zoom on Sean Crowe  Crowe, Seán. Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Doherty, Pearse.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Dessie Ellis  Zoom on Dessie Ellis  Ellis, Dessie.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Sean.
Information on Seamus Healy  Zoom on Seamus Healy  Healy, Seamus. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn  Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
Information on Charlie McConalogue  Zoom on Charlie McConalogue  McConalogue, Charlie. Information on Mary Lou McDonald  Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald  McDonald, Mary Lou.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. 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 Sandra McLellan  Zoom on Sandra McLellan  McLellan, Sandra. Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Martin, Micheál.
Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael. Information on Catherine Murphy  Zoom on Catherine Murphy  Murphy, Catherine.
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 Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus. Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  O’Brien, Jonathan.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen.
Information on Thomas Pringle  Zoom on Thomas Pringle  Pringle, Thomas. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Brian Stanley  Zoom on Brian Stanley  Stanley, Brian.
Information on Peadar Tóibín  Zoom on Peadar Tóibín  Tóibín, Peadar. Information on Robert Troy  Zoom on Robert Troy  Troy, Robert.
Information on Mick Wallace  Zoom on Mick Wallace  Wallace, Mick.  

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Question declared carried.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Is the proposal for dealing with No. 7, statements on the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr, agreed to?

Deputies:  Agreed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On that point, the Whips may discuss that we might agree a unanimous motion at the end of the statements.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin  Zoom on Micheál Martin  Yes.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Tánaiste circulated a draft to the Whips for their agreement. We will consult on that during the course of the statements and hope to have it agreed at the end.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  I call Deputy Adams on the Order of Business.

[180]Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  I raised the issue of the minimum wage with the Taoiseach last week in the context of the example of the five Davenport Hotel workers who had their wages lowered without their consent. The Labour Party and Fine Gael made commitments before the election to reverse the cut and restore the minimum wage. Does the Government remain committed to this and when will it be done? I was very perturbed that the Taoiseach said in response to me that he would need the approval of the EU and the IMF to reverse the decision by the last Government to reduce the minimum wage. At some point, the Taoiseach has to stop blaming the last Government for the actions of this Government. I am caught on what authority the Government has if it must get the permission of the EU and the IMF to rectify the reduction of the minimum wage. Does it remain a Government commitment and when will it be brought forward?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I know Deputy Adams is new to this House of Parliament. He is obviously aware a deal was done between the previous Government, on behalf of the country, and the IMF-EU. One of the commitments we gave as an incoming Government was to reverse the decision in respect of the minimum wage. It is not a budgetary matter, so it is not just a matter for the Minister for Finance, and it requires the approval of the IMF-EU. In fact, it was mentioned this morning and we have asked the Attorney General for her advice as to whether it will require legislation to do this. We will report to the Members of the House when that advice is available.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  What is the clarification being sought from the Attorney General? Is it in regard to the power of the Government or in regard to the IMF-EU?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The question being put to the Attorney General is whether it will require legislation to reverse the decision in respect of the minimum wage.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams  Zoom on Gerry Adams  Is it the intention of the Government to do that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Attorney General will report to the Government on whether it will require legislation.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary  Zoom on Dara Calleary  The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste both promised last week that the legislative programme would be published today. I notice it has yet to be published. Will it be published this week or will it go into another week?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  It went out at 4 p.m.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  I understand legislation is required to hold a referendum. Is the Taoiseach aware a debate is taking place today on a motion put forward by the Technical Group that we should have such a referendum? Whether the Taoiseach or the Government agree with that, I invite him and a few more Members of the Government side than often turn up at Private Members’ time to do us the courtesy of having a discussion on an issue that is of such grave importance, namely, the economic future of this country. This would allow for a proper debate on whether this country should be allowed to decide whether it wants to proceed with the bank bailout and the IMF deal. Will the Taoiseach instruct a few of the troops to come along, and perhaps he could also come along, and participate in a real way in that debate about——

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  I hear there is a split. Is there a split?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett  Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett  We do not do splits.

[181]Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins  Zoom on Joan Collins  We are not that agile.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  The first item on the agenda — the split.

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Technical Group and the non-Technical Group.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Order, please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  I usually deal with promised legislation on the Order of Business. The people voted in a general election and gave the incoming Government a very strong majority. We will move on to make decisions in the country’s interests. If I am not in the Chamber, I will certainly listen to the Deputy’s contribution, split or no split.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  I would say he will.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  Send in the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty  Zoom on Pearse Doherty  Having examined the legislative programme, I have three questions with regard to proposed legislation. First, I see in the pink pages that we will deal with the finance (No. 2) Bill, which will give effect to the issues in regard to civil partnership but also in regard to the mini-budget that is to be introduced. What is the date of that mini-budget? While I understand it is expected in May or June as there is talk of it being within the first 100 days, can we have some clarity as to when it will be introduced?

Second, nowhere in the legislative programme is there reference to the strategic investment bank, which is a promise made in the programme for Government. Is that binned or is it still on the agenda? When are we likely to see any relevant legislation?

Another omission in the legislative programme is a measure relating to mortgages, specifically, the difficulties being experienced by the many who are already struggling to pay their mortgages. In light of the interest rate hike by the ECB that is expected shortly, are there any proposals by the Government, as promised, to bring forward measures that will reduce the severity of such hikes, as well as in regard to restructuring mortgage debts of customers? We have dealt with the banks in terms of the stress tests. Is there legislation pending in regard to ordinary customers? Will the Taoiseach indicate when there will be a mini-budget, whether the investment bank is binned and whether the Government intends to bring forward proposals in terms of mortgages?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  On the first issue, that will take place before the end of May. Second, in respect of the press release, there are a number of issues to be decided in respect of the strategic investment bank and the NewERA programme, and these are being advanced because they cover more than one Department.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  The Taoiseach is diluting it already.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Third, the Minister for Finance is considering a number of initiatives in respect of mortgages and distressed mortgages, and will report to the House when those are finalised.

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  The legislative programme does not mention a Bill relating to the promised referendum on children’s rights. Is that an oversight or has it dropped off the programme for Government?

In regard to the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, is this the legislation that will force people to work until they are 68 and will close off job opportunities from young people while forcing [182]older people to work? Will there be an impact assessment done before this legislation is produced? A document produced here some years ago, called “Regulating Better”, included a recommendation that prior to the publication of legislation there should always be an impact assessment. In this case it would probably be a victim impact study.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  A great deal of good work was done by an all-party Oireachtas committee on a proposed wording for a children’s right referendum. The previous Attorney General gave a view on that and a different form of wording was produced. The children’s rights advocacy groups were somewhat upset about this when I met with them before the election. They were of the opinion — without being definite about a referendum — that it might be possible to arrive at an agreed position whereby a referendum on children’s rights could be held, presumably on the same day as a presidential election which will happen some time in November. That is not definite and the Minister for Children is looking at the advice given by the previous Attorney General in respect of the wording for what is a sensitive and serious issue. There was no commitment to hold a specific referendum on the date of a presidential election, but it is a matter that can be considered. If there is a referendum there will also have to be a Bill giving effect to it, which would impact on the legislative programme as published at 4 p.m.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill deals with changes in the budget for 2011, PRSI issues and some pension changes. If the Deputy requires further details I will have them supplied to him.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  I have been in the Chamber for several hours so I apologise if my question is answered in the legislative programme. In regard to the proposed division of responsibilities in the Department of Finance, I am sure the Minister, Deputy Howlin, is anxious to get his teeth into his new portfolio of public expenditure and public sector reform. However, he currently has no portfolio and we in opposition have no opportunity to direct questions to him in the Dáil. How quickly will that situation be dealt with?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  The Minister, Deputy Howlin, is anxious to be able to answer questions as quickly as possible. The Bill giving legal effect to the setting up his Department is being pursued as a matter of urgency.


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