Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 1, Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2011 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed); and No.5, statements on the recent developments in the eurozone. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 15 shall be taken at 6 p.m. and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: statements shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, and who may share their time, and shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case and a Minister or Minister of State shall take questions for a period not exceeding 30 minutes. Private Members’ business shall be No. 28 — motion re closure of Army barracks (resumed) — to conclude at 9 p.m. if not previously concluded.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: I do. The eurozone economy is plunging yet further into crisis. The more certain countries impose their stupid policies of austerity and bank bailouts the worse it gets. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, lives in a land of delusion and thinks the Irish economy can thrive when the rest of the European economy is going down the toilet. Faced with this unprecedented crisis all we get is an hour and a half to discuss the situation. We need much more time for a full and proper debate on this most serious crisis which will effectively determine the future of our economy and society for years to come. We should be given a little more time for a proper debate on this matter than the Taoiseach has allowed.
Deputy Micheál Martin: Yes. I raised the matter yesterday and last week. Without question, the euro crisis is the most grave crisis facing not only this country but the European Union and the European monetary system. It is extraordinary that in this House we are giving so little time to proper debate and questions in regard to the most fundamental issues now facing the euro currency. I find it extraordinary that over the past month we have had precious little time for this, even in terms of debating the outcome of the July summit. It would have been normal for the Taoiseach to have reported on it to the House at this stage. The forthcoming October summit will clearly be the key summit in terms of the Greek crisis, the Italian downgrade and international questions raised about the eurozone itself.
Yesterday I asked if the Taoiseach would be taking questions on this subject today. I may have picked it up wrong but I understood he said he would participate in the debate. However, I note from the Order of Business that questions will be taken by the Minister. I realise the Taoiseach has taken a very hands-off approach to the entire issue, given his failure to meet eurozone leaders and so on. The Taoiseach should take questions today at the end of the debate. I ask him to do so, given the gravity of what is before us. It is the leaders of Europe who will have to deal with this in the forthcoming summit in a comprehensive and resolute way, something they have not done to date. There has been a fundamental failure of vision and leadership at the top of the European Union. There is an obligation on the Taoiseach to come before the House, answer questions and give the Government’s approach to the forthcoming summit and to the current euro crisis.
Deputy Gerry Adams: I have a slightly sharper point to make. It is the mark of this Government not to have a full debate. We raised this issue of a debate on the euro crisis at least twice, perhaps three times, before the Taoiseach conceded it should be allowed. Given the news that came overnight about Italian bonds, does the Government’s original budget target of €3.6 billion to be taken out of the economy in December still stand?
The Taoiseach: The Deputy’s colleagues had an argument last week about wanting a debate on the eurozone crisis. They are getting that today. Now, judging by what the Deputy said, he wants me to take the full debate and answer the questions. I want him to understand this. Before the Heads of Government meet later this month the House will debate this matter, and again afterwards, so the Deputy’s party can have its full say and give its views. We have had to renegotiate the deal that party made.
The Taoiseach: I do not find it in any way extraordinary, because we changed the rules. We will have debates both before and after European Council meetings take place. We did not have one after the July meeting. I concede that is the case but we are having the debate today.
In answer to Deputy Adams’s question, the Minister for Finance has made it perfectly clear on numerous occasions that in order to get to the 8.6% deficit we may have to have an extraction from the economy of between €3.6 billion and €4 billion. We do not yet know what the figure is because all the information relevant to making that decision is not yet available. However, these are matters the Deputy can raise. I look forward to hearing his contribution on how the Sinn Féin party proposes to deal with the situation in which the country finds itself and to hearing its suggestions for getting ahead of the curve of the markets in the European context. It will be very interesting to hear what Sinn Féin has to say. I note the party, which is an all-island one, is party in the North to serious cuts.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Some six hours will be devoted to the Second Stage debate on the Road Traffic (No. 2) Bill 2011 this week and the Taoiseach is only allocating 90 minutes for the debate on the crisis in Europe.
|Barry, Tom.||Breen, Pat.|
|Broughan, Thomas P.||Bruton, Richard.|
|Burton, Joan.||Butler, Ray.|
|Buttimer, Jerry.||Byrne, Catherine.|
|Byrne, Eric.||Carey, Joe.|
|Coffey, Paudie.||Collins, Áine.|
|Conaghan, Michael.||Connaughton, Paul J.|
|Conway, Ciara.||Coonan, Noel.|
|Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.||Costello, Joe.|
|Creed, Michael.||Daly, Jim.|
|Deasy, John.||Deenihan, Jimmy.|
|Deering, Pat.||Doherty, Regina.|
|Donohoe, Paschal.||Dowds, Robert.|
|Doyle, Andrew.||Durkan, Bernard J.|
|English, Damien.||Farrell, Alan.|
|Feighan, Frank.||Ferris, Anne.|
|Fitzpatrick, Peter.||Flanagan, Charles.|
|Griffin, Brendan.||Hannigan, Dominic.|
|Harrington, Noel.||Harris, Simon.|
|Hayes, Brian.||Hayes, Tom.|
|Heydon, Martin.||Hogan, Phil.|
|Howlin, Brendan.||Humphreys, Kevin.|
|Keating, Derek.||Keaveney, Colm.|
|Kelly, Alan.||Kenny, Enda.|
|Kenny, Seán.||Kyne, Seán.|
|Lawlor, Anthony.||Lynch, Ciarán.|
|Lynch, Kathleen.||Lyons, John.|
|McCarthy, Michael.||McFadden, Nicky.|
|McGinley, Dinny.||McHugh, Joe.|
|McLoughlin, Tony.||Maloney, Eamonn.|
|Mitchell, Olivia.||Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.|
|Mulherin, Michelle.||Murphy, Dara.|
|Murphy, Eoghan.||Nash, Gerald.|
|Naughten, Denis.||Neville, Dan.|
|Nolan, Derek.||Noonan, Michael.|
|Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.||O’Donnell, Kieran.|
|O’Donovan, Patrick.||O’Dowd, Fergus.|
|O’Sullivan, Jan.||Phelan, Ann.|
|Quinn, Ruairí.||Rabbitte, Pat.|
|Reilly, James.||Ring, Michael.|
|Ryan, Brendan.||Shatter, Alan.|
|Sherlock, Sean.||Shortall, Róisín.|
|Spring, Arthur.||Stagg, Emmet.|
|Stanton, David.||Timmins, Billy.|
|Tuffy, Joanna.||Twomey, Liam.|
|Varadkar, Leo.||Wall, Jack.|
|Walsh, Brian.||White, Alex.|
|Adams, Gerry.||Boyd Barrett, Richard.|
|Browne, John.||Calleary, Dara.|
|Collins, Joan.||Collins, Niall.|
|Colreavy, Michael.||Cowen, Barry.|
|Daly, Clare.||Donnelly, Stephen.|
|Dooley, Timmy.||Ellis, Dessie.|
|Ferris, Martin.||Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.|
|Fleming, Sean.||Fleming, Tom.|
|Grealish, Noel.||Halligan, John.|
|Healy, Seamus.||Healy-Rae, Michael.|
|Higgins, Joe.||Kelleher, Billy.|
|Kitt, Michael P.||Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.|
|McConalogue, Charlie.||McDonald, Mary Lou.|
|McGrath, Mattie.||McGrath, Michael.|
|Martin, Micheál.||Moynihan, Michael.|
|Murphy, Catherine.||Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.|
|Ó Cuív, Éamon.||Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.|
|Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.||O’Brien, Jonathan.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||Pringle, Thomas.|
|Ross, Shane.||Smith, Brendan.|
|Stanley, Brian.||Tóibín, Peadar.|
|Troy, Robert.||Wallace, Mick.|
Deputy Micheál Martin: Will the Taoiseach update us on the banning of corporate donations Bill which was committed to by the Government? The Opposition brought forward such a Bill, but it was voted down by the Government parties. I presume the reason was to allow corporate donations to flow in for the presidential campaign. Will the Taoiseach outline the timetable for the Bill which was committed to by the Government?
The Taoiseach: It will not be introduced in this session. We wanted to make it a priority, but because of the requirements of the troika legislation which had to be published and dealt with, it was pushed back a little, although not far.
Deputy Gerry Adams: I will make two points. The first concerns how debates, questions and answers are provided for. I took the opportunity to examine the work done by the last Government, when former Deputies Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen held the post of Taoiseach, and it is almost as if places have been switched. Many of the remarks made by the Taoiseach and the leader of the Labour Party when in opposition reflected the same frustration I am voicing. It is very difficult to have a proper debate. Earlier I cited the eurozone crisis as an example. Another is what has been referred to as the sale of non-strategic assets, in respect of which the Government has set out its intention to sell off such assets. Although it has qualified its intentions, we want to see the details. What will it do about Coillte, Bord Gáis and so on?
The Taoiseach: As I said to Deputy Martin, the Government has as part of its programme the realisation of €2 billion from the sale of State assets. These assets would be considered to be non-strategic which it would be appropriate to sell at the proper time in accordance with the best evaluation to be made. There will be negotiations with the troika as to how the proceeds should be used; the troika’s preference would be that they be directed towards debt reduction, while the focus of the Government would be on job creation and investment in infrastructure.
The Taoiseach: We have not planned a discussion on this issue, but if and when decisions are arrived at, there will be a debate. Deputy Adams mentioned Coillte. There is no question of the ground and the land being sold. If a decision is made, it will be in respect of the crop. There has been no decision made. On any potential sales there will be a proper discussion following evaluation by NewERA and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as well as consideration by the Government, including the relevant Ministers, and everybody else involved. The Deputy will have his chance, but no specific debate has been promised on the issue.
Deputy Niall Collins: With regard to NewERA, mention has been made of the potential disposal of the remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus. Given the importance of the Heathrow Airport landing slots to business and balanced regional development——
Deputy Niall Collins: ——will the Taoiseach bring forward legislation, in the context of disposal of the shareholding in Aer Lingus, to ring-fence the landing slots at Cork, Shannon and Dublin airports?
Deputy Martin Ferris: With regard to selling strategic assets on foot of the demands from the IMF and legislation that is due to come before the House, the stated purpose of the forestry Bill is to support the development of the modern forestry sector——
Deputy Sean Fleming: In view of the number of small subcontractors who are facing bankruptcy due to their participation in publicly funded contracts, when can we expect the Construction Contracts Bill to be brought before the Dáil?
Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: With regard to the EU directive to be transposed into law this year, will the Government ensure that rural dwellers will be assisted if they must replace their septic tanks? Will that legislation be introduced this year?
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