Thursday, 12 January 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): It is proposed to take No. 8a, Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 [Seanad] — allocation of time motion for select sub-committee; No. 12, Patents (Amendment) Bill 2011 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 4, Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Bill 2011 — Second Stage (resumed).
It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders and notwithstanding the Order of the Dáil of 11 January 2012, Private Members’ business, which shall be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes, shall take place immediately after No. 8a, which shall take place immediately on the conclusion of the Order of Business; No. 8a shall be decided without debate; and Second Stage of the Local Authority Public Administration Bill 2011 shall be considered tomorrow and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening speech of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Technical Group and of a Minister or Minister of State, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, Members may share time, a Minister or Minister of State, who may speak twice, shall be called upon not later than 1 p.m. to make a speech which shall not exceed 15 minutes, and the main spokesperson for Fianna Fáil shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes.
Deputy Joe Higgins: It is not agreed. This is a proposal for a variation of the Order of the Dáil yesterday and I oppose it on the basis that a further variation is required. It is unthinkable that there would not be a substantial feature in the House today of the disaster in Ulster Bank, notwithstanding the short exchanges by the Leaders this morning. We need the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, to make a statement to the House on the loss of 900 jobs, 600 of which are in this State and the bulk of which are low and middle income workers——
An Ceann Comhairle: I must interrupt the Deputy. I do not like interrupting speakers but this is a technical issue. If the Deputy wishes to seek time later in the debate, I will certainly facilitate him.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members’ business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8a, allocation of time motion for select sub-committee, without debate, agreed to?
Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: No, it is not agreed. This involves the use of the guillotine on the Water Services (Amendment) Bill. We oppose this because there are a significant number of outstanding issues still to be resolved with regard to this Bill, the most fundamental of which concerns what standards will apply when the inspectors come out to the houses. We have suggested at the committee, in order to try and get more information on this, that we should invite in the EPA to address the committee and inform us of the standards. When we know the standards, we will then know the likely cost implications for householders and what assistance they will need to get for the costs associated with the required upgrades. There is significant debate to take place.
The Minister could expedite the Bill by dealing with the serious issue we have raised. We ask him to agree that the Environmental Protection Agency, which under the proposed Bill must advise the Minister on the standard, be asked to come before the committee as the next step to advise on what standards will apply. Then we can move forward with the Bill in a logical process.
Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: I object to the use of the guillotine. This legislation is highly contentious and it has caused grave concern across rural Ireland. Time is required to examine it in great detail and to take the amendments. At least time must be given to consider the proposition and perhaps for the Government to reconsider it. The practice of using guillotines in important debates should not be tolerated in this Chamber or on Committee Stage. If we are to have our rightful say and to fulfil our representative duty, the Government cannot guillotine debate in an arbitrary and routine manner. It has become reminiscent of its Fianna Fáil colleagues with its increasing penchant for guillotines. We object to this proposal.
Deputy Joe Higgins: The Deputies representing rural constituencies are well aware of this issue, but any Deputies from urban areas who ventured into rural Ireland over the Christmas period or who went back to their ancestral homelands will also be aware that this is a major issue which is causing huge concern to ordinary people in rural Ireland who have not had the benefit of the investment that went into the urban drainage schemes over past decades, at taxpayers' expense.
We want clean water and want our underground water resources protected absolutely. However, the level of cost that may be imposed on individuals and families is causing concern. Therefore, I agree that we need certainty. At a minimum, the EPA must outline the standards in advance in order that there is clarity. Then the Government needs to think further about how to ensure equivalence and justice for rural people through the type of public investment equivalent to what was done in the cities in past decades.
Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Deputies are familiar with the background to this issue. It has nothing to do with the troika or the bailout, but has everything to do with our treaty and legal obligations regarding clean water and ensuring our neighbour’s water, whether in urban or rural Ireland is clean. It also has everything to do with the fact that this Republic was cited as being in breach of the obligations and undertakings we gave. Deputy Higgins, as a former Member of the European Parliament, will be more aware of this than anybody else and knows the strength of the European Court of Justice.
I need not remind the Deputy of how the City of Galway was closed down some summers ago because of the poisoning of the water. That is what this is about. It is because we have failed to implement a clean water requirement in rural Ireland——
Deputy Ruairí Quinn: ——and because we have been in breach of undertakings that were given by representatives of this Chamber in the European Commission that if we do not have this legislation enacted by 3 February, we will be subject to a fine of €26,000 a day.
Deputy Ruairí Quinn: There are three issues involved. There is the necessity to deal with this or otherwise we will be fined substantial amounts. We are agreed on that point. Is the Deputy agreed that we must have the legislation in place by 3 February? It seems he is not in agreement.
Deputy Ruairí Quinn: I am bound by the Chair. This is a matter on which there has been extensive discussion at committee. I listened to Deputy McGrath over Christmas also. We can deal with concerns about how this will function after the legislation is enacted. We no longer have the time to deal with it now, because on 3 February we will face a fine of €26,000 a day.
|Bannon, James.||Barry, Tom.|
|Broughan, Thomas P.||Butler, Ray.|
|Buttimer, Jerry.||Byrne, Catherine.|
|Byrne, Eric.||Carey, Joe.|
|Coffey, Paudie.||Conaghan, Michael.|
|Connaughton, Paul J.||Conway, Ciara.|
|Coonan, Noel.||Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.|
|Coveney, Simon.||Creed, Michael.|
|Daly, Jim.||Deasy, John.|
|Deering, Pat.||Doherty, Regina.|
|Donohoe, Paschal.||Dowds, Robert.|
|Doyle, Andrew.||Durkan, Bernard J.|
|English, Damien.||Farrell, Alan.|
|Ferris, Anne.||Fitzpatrick, Peter.|
|Flanagan, Charles.||Flanagan, Terence.|
|Harrington, Noel.||Harris, Simon.|
|Hayes, Brian.||Hayes, Tom.|
|Heydon, Martin.||Humphreys, Heather.|
|Humphreys, Kevin.||Keating, Derek.|
|Keaveney, Colm.||Kehoe, Paul.|
|Kelly, Alan.||Kyne, Seán.|
|Lawlor, Anthony.||Lynch, Ciarán.|
|Lynch, Kathleen.||Lyons, John.|
|McCarthy, Michael.||McEntee, Shane.|
|McFadden, Nicky.||McHugh, Joe.|
|McLoughlin, Tony.||McNamara, Michael.|
|Maloney, Eamonn.||Mathews, Peter.|
|Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.||Mulherin, Michelle.|
|Murphy, Dara.||Nash, Gerald.|
|Naughten, Denis.||Neville, Dan.|
|Nolan, Derek.||Nulty, Patrick.|
|O’Dowd, Fergus.||O’Mahony, John.|
|O’Sullivan, Jan.||Penrose, Willie.|
|Phelan, Ann.||Quinn, Ruairí.|
|Reilly, James.||Ryan, Brendan.|
|Shatter, Alan.||Spring, Arthur.|
|Stagg, Emmet||Stanton, David.|
|Timmins, Billy.||Tuffy, Joanna.|
|Twomey, Liam.||Wall, Jack.|
|Boyd Barrett, Richard.||Browne, John.|
|Calleary, Dara.||Collins, Joan.|
|Colreavy, Michael.||Cowen, Barry.|
|Crowe, Seán.||Daly, Clare.|
|Doherty, Pearse.||Donnelly, Stephen S.|
|Dooley, Timmy.||Ellis, Dessie.|
|Fleming, Tom.||Halligan, John.|
|Healy-Rae, Michael.||Higgins, Joe.|
|Kelleher, Billy.||Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.|
|McDonald, Mary Lou.||McGrath, Finian.|
|McGrath, Mattie.||McLellan, Sandra.|
|Murphy, Catherine.||Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.|
|Ó Cuív, Éamon.||Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.|
|Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.||O’Brien, Jonathan.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||Ross, Shane.|
|Smith, Brendan.||Stanley, Brian.|
|Tóibín, Peadar.||Troy, Robert.|
An Ceann Comhairle: All Members should show some respect for the House. I am moving to the next proposal. Are the proposals for dealing with the Local Authority Public Administration Bill 2011 agreed to? Agreed.
Deputy Joe Higgins: Yes. Will the Minister ensure the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation will come to the Dáil this afternoon to make a statement and answer questions on the disastrous loss of jobs proposed at Ulster Bank? I ask him to forget the corrosive fatalism and institutionalised pessimism which states nothing can be done. If the banks were lending to small enterprises and individuals as they should be in order to recreate the domestic economy, none of these jobs would be lost. That is the road we should be going down.
Deputy Ruairí Quinn: The House shares the Deputy’s concern on this matter. However, we do not yet have all the information necessary for an informed debate. We must let the facts emerge in the discussions that are ongoing between Ulster Bank and the IBOA. I suggest Deputy Catherine Murphy who is sitting beside the Deputy is well equipped to request that this matter be raised at the next Whips’ meeting and that time be made available in due course to debate it. As the Minister for Finance is out of the country, I cannot give an undertaking that he will be here this afternoon. This matter should be raised with the Whips and I am sure a satisfactory outcome can be achieved.
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