Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 15, Water Services (Amendment) Bill 2011 — Order for Report Stage and Report Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on No. 15 shall be taken today and, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. tomorrow 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, Community and Local Government. Private Members’ business shall be No. 38, motion re promissory notes (resumed), to conclude at 9 p.m., if not previously concluded.
Deputy Gerry Adams: No. This legislation discriminates against citizens across rural Ireland and has not been properly discussed. Like others, my party has brought forward a series of amendments, some of which might not even be reached. We are proposing, for example, a grants system to ensure those who cannot bear the cost involved would be assisted. The standards against which septic tanks will be measured have not yet been set down and homeowners do not even know the size of the bill they could be faced with to upgrade their septic tank.
I am mindful that this issue dates back to 1975 and was dealt with by a number of Governments involving the Labour Party, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and that there is now a rush to deal with it. It seems to be a characteristic of the Government to rush measures through the House. However, I ask the Taoiseach to allow adequate time for discussion of a raft of amendments to the Bill.
The Taoiseach: I understand the debate on Committee Stage of the Bill concluded last Wednesday three hours ahead of schedule. This is a matter on which the debate should continue in the way proposed by the Chief Whip. I do not see any reason it should not proceed in that way. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has listened to a great range of arguments and will shortly be in a position to make his decisions known.
|Bannon, James.||Barry, Tom.|
|Breen, Pat.||Broughan, Thomas P.|
|Bruton, Richard.||Burton, Joan.|
|Buttimer, Jerry.||Byrne, Eric.|
|Cannon, Ciarán.||Carey, Joe.|
|Coffey, Paudie.||Conaghan, Michael.|
|Conlan, Seán.||Connaughton, Paul J.|
|Conway, Ciara.||Coonan, Noel.|
|Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.||Creed, Michael.|
|Deasy, John.||Deenihan, Jimmy.|
|Deering, Pat.||Doherty, Regina.|
|Donohoe, Paschal.||Doyle, Andrew.|
|Durkan, Bernard J.||English, Damien.|
|Farrell, Alan.||Feighan, Frank.|
|Ferris, Anne.||Griffin, Brendan.|
|Hannigan, Dominic.||Harrington, Noel.|
|Harris, Simon.||Hayes, Brian.|
|Hayes, Tom.||Hogan, Phil.|
|Humphreys, Heather.||Humphreys, Kevin.|
|Keaveney, Colm.||Kehoe, Paul.|
|Kenny, Enda.||Kenny, Seán.|
|Kyne, Seán.||Lawlor, Anthony.|
|Lynch, Ciarán.||Lynch, Kathleen.|
|Lyons, John.||McCarthy, Michael.|
|McEntee, Shane.||McFadden, Nicky.|
|McGinley, Dinny.||McHugh, Joe.|
|McLoughlin, Tony.||Maloney, Eamonn.|
|Mitchell, Olivia.||Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.|
|Mulherin, Michelle.||Murphy, Dara.|
|Murphy, Eoghan.||Nash, Gerald.|
|Neville, Dan.||Nolan, Derek.|
|Nulty, Patrick.||Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.|
|O’Donovan, Patrick.||O’Dowd, Fergus.|
|O’Mahony, John.||O’Sullivan, Jan.|
|Phelan, Ann.||Rabbitte, Pat.|
|Sherlock, Sean.||Spring, Arthur.|
|Stagg, Emmet.||Stanton, David.|
|Timmins, Billy.||Tuffy, Joanna.|
|Wall, Jack.||Walsh, Brian.|
|Adams, Gerry.||Browne, John.|
|Collins, Joan.||Collins, Niall.|
|Colreavy, Michael.||Crowe, Seán.|
|Daly, Clare.||Donnelly, Stephen S.|
|Ellis, Dessie.||Ferris, Martin.|
|Fleming, Tom.||Grealish, Noel.|
|Halligan, John.||Healy, Seamus.|
|Healy-Rae, Michael.||Kitt, Michael P.|
|Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.||McGrath, Finian.|
|McGrath, Mattie.||McLellan, Sandra.|
|Murphy, Catherine.||Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.|
|Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.||O’Brien, Jonathan.|
|O’Dea, Willie.||Pringle, Thomas.|
|Ross, Shane.||Smith, Brendan.|
|Stanley, Brian.||Tóibín, Peadar.|
|Troy, Robert.||Wallace, Mick.|
An Ceann Comhairle: I call Deputy O’Dea. Can I have order in the Chamber, please? Only ten minutes more remain for the Order of Business and those who are chatting are wasting time. I ask Deputy O’Dea to proceed.
Deputy Willie O’Dea: In an uncharacteristic outburst of magnanimity the Minister for Justice and Equality has promised to pardon various members of the Irish Army who deserted to join the British Army during the Second World War. Can the Taoiseach advise if legislation will be necessary to make that pardon a reality or can it be done by way of statutory instrument?
Deputy Gerry Adams: Tá ceist agam faoi reachtaíocht atá fógartha, a Cheann Comhairle. In regard to the fiscal responsibility Bill, if I heard the Taoiseach correctly, he said he intends to bring in some of the outworkings of the treaty. When does he expect the fiscal responsibility Bill to be published and is it possible to publish the heads of that Bill?
The Taoiseach: The Bill is due this session. I cannot give the Deputy an exact date for it. Clearly, the Government wants to deal with this as a matter of some priority. I will send the Deputy an update from the Minister for Finance as to when that is likely to happen but it is due this session.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy is speculating again, and not for the first time. I explained yesterday how this will work. When the Heads of Government agree, disagree or whatever in respect of the final text of the intergovernmental treaty on Monday, that will then be sent for signature and it is at that stage that the Attorney General here will give formal legal advice. While it is correct to say that personnel from the Attorney General’s office have looked at the draft as it moves along, it is not until the text is complete in its entirety that a full formal response can be given.
Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: There is much concern about legislation proposed by the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Sean Sherlock, for Tuesday next. I have been contacted, as I am sure many Deputies have, by many people who are concerned about this. I have just got off the phone from someone who runs a major Internet company in Ireland. His concern, and that of his colleagues who are running other Internet companies, is that they will immediately have to shut down all operations because this legislation would force them into the courts because they cannot control all links to IP. There is huge concern about this.
Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: It is due to be passed as secondary legislation by ministerial order on Tuesday. Would it be possible to pause the ministerial order, even for a few days, and to have the legislation published and debated by the House? I have spoken to some very credible people in Ireland who are saying this has serious implications for Internet provision in Ireland, for American multinationals here and for the smart economy and so forth.
The Taoiseach: I have read the report of this. The Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, is dealing with the matter. In the High Court judgment of 11 October 2010, in the case of EMI & Others v UPC, Mr. Justice Charleton decided he was constrained by the wording of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 and thus could not grant an injunction to prevent infringement of copyright against UPC, which is an information service provider, ISP, in the circumstances of mere conduit, or transient communications. In doing so Mr. Justice Charleton stated that Ireland had not fully transposed the relevant directive. The mere conduit principle provides that if an ISP does not initiate a transmission or modify the material contained in the transmission and does not select the receiver of the transmission it is granted safe harbour against liability by virtue of the eCommerce Directive 2000/31/EC. However, according to the same directive this freedom from liability does not affect the power of the courts to require service providers to terminate or prevent copyright infringements.
The Attorney General, at that time, was asked by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources for his advice as to the implications of the High Court judgment. While the Attorney General considered that the position is not as clear cut as Mr. Justice Charleton suggests, his advice was that as long as the Irish courts take the view that subsection 40(4) of the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 does not implement Article 8.3 of the relevant directive, Ireland is exposed to a claim for damages for failure to implement EU law. The prudent course he advised was to introduce a regulation to ensure compliance.
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: I wish to raise two issues on promised legislation. In light of what is proposed by the European Union with regard to doubling the stocking density and retention period for sheep and cattle on farms in order to qualify for the single farm payment——
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: I have a second issue. Regarding the Fines Act 2010, last week I asked the Taoiseach if the Government was bringing forward proposals to stop people’s money at source if they failed to pay the household charge——
Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: I did so, and the Taoiseach gave me an answer, but ten minutes later Deputy Martin Ferris asked the same question and was given a different answer. I need to know, from the Taoiseach.
Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: We are facing potential meltdown in our public health system with the departure of thousands of health care workers by the end of February. With the publication last week of the HSE National Service Plan 2011 which implements serious cuts in the current year and beyond, will the House have an opportunity to debate the national service plan and to ask pertinent questions? When is it intended to schedule that opportunity for Members, given the enormity of what is involved?
The HSE governance Bill was promised for publication during the spring session. This Bill is to tweak the overarching governance of the HSE for the future and until its possible abolition. When will the legislation be published?
The Taoiseach: Deputy Ó Caoláin is normally up to speed on matters related to health. I answered the question yesterday, maybe in his absence. The HSE service plan will be debated in the Dáil next week. The Bill is due this session. I cannot give the exact date. As it says in the Bible, “you do not know the day nor the hour”. It is due this session.
Deputy John O’Mahony: Can the Taoiseach clarify an issue related to the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2011. Last week, the Minister for Social Protection stated that funding to community employment schemes whose existing contracts have time to run would be honoured in full, yet local FÁS offices are saying cuts are to be implemented immediately. Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister to issue a directive to FÁS officers to do as she said last week?
Deputy Dan Neville: Tomorrow, the Irish Council of Psychotherapy will mark its 21st year with a conference in Dublin Castle. When will the social care professionals (amendment) Bill, promised for this session, be published?
Deputy Ciara Conway: Legislation is promised on the registration of lobby groups and lobbyists. In light of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Health and Children on the misuse of drugs and alcohol, can the Government ensure that the recommendations are implemented and that no undue influence is brought to bear by any particular lobby? Will the registration of lobbyists Bill come before the House sooner rather than later so that we can get on with our business?
The Taoiseach: I have seen some publication from the party opposite. The Bill is not on the A list, as far as I know. I am aware of work being done by the Minister of State, Deputy Róisín Shortall, on the alcohol issue. Deputy Conway’s point is valid. The Chief Whip will give her an indication of what is happening from this end.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: I previously brought to the attention of the House the increasing number of cases of Members of the Oireachtas not being given information to which they are entitled. It is being refused to them on the basis of data protection.
Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: The confidential communications with Oireachtas Members Bill has been promised. Increasingly, we have to seek permission from the Data Protection Commissioner before we can receive communication from State and semi-State agencies. This is a violation of everything we ever stood for. When we are elected, we are given permission to speak on behalf of the public. I would like to ask the Taoiseach whether it might be possible in the context of the Bill in question, which is No. 109 on the C list, to review the impact——
The Taoiseach: I share Deputy Durkan’s thoughts about the right of elected representatives to be able to communicate with their constituents. The Bill he mentioned is listed for later this year. In view of his comments, I will inquire as to whether it might be expedited.
|Last Updated: 08/03/2013 16:24:35||Page of 177|