Order of Business.

Thursday, 17 February 1994

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 139 No. 6

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Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  Today's Order of Business will be Item 1, the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill, 1993, Committee Stage, which will be taken until 1 p.m. There will be a sos between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Item 2, Statements on the Developing the West Together report entitled A Crusade for Survival, will be taken from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. We will also come back to Item 2 on a later day. There will be 15 minutes per speaker.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Some 15 minutes to save the west.

[538]Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  I noticed that many papers dealing with European affairs were laid before the Seanad on both yesterday's and today's Order Papers, some of which are of considerable importance. I felt for a long time that the way in which this and the other House — this House has a better track record in this regard — debates European matters of importance leaves a great deal to be desired. Once again I wish to raise my party's proposal that Members of the European Parliament — it may not be appropriate at the moment — would have the right of audience in this House. We could then discuss some of the important matters referred to in the Order Paper.

I also noticed on the Order Paper yesterday, and I thought it would have been raised by the parties on the opposite side, under the heading “Papers Laid before the Seanad”, the filling of a casual vacancy in the European Parliament. I am surprised at the silence from the Government benches on this matter and, lest their silence is misconstrued, may my party offer our commiserations to Ms Bernie Malone on her election to the European Parliament?

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I would certainly like to back up Senator Manning's point. Even on today's Order Paper, two of those papers are of extreme interest. One concerns the disposal of State lands and property by the Department of Finance. That report hides a multitude of matters every year. It is involved in various practices such as the disposal of old Garda stations and residences, national schools and other property in which the State has huge investments. One often sees in that report large properties changing hands for sums as small as £5 or £10 and I wish to draw the attention of the House to it. I am also intrigued by the Resolution on conscientious objection in the member states of the European Union. Perhaps the Leader could explain the details of this paper to the House.

Will the Leader consider having a full discussion on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work? The development and negotiation of that programme [539] involved the elected democratic representatives of the State. Although——

Mr. Mooney: Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Having a singsong in Dublin Castle.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  ——the farmers think they are the only ones who can negotiate with the Government, in these talks the Government negotiated with all the social partners. This has created problems for some Members of the House. However, I would like to knock on the head the notion that democracy was not represented. These talks were organised by, and with, the Government and all decision-making in which it was involved took place in the same way. It is important to have a discussion on the outcome of those negotiations as soon as possible because there is much uninformed and misinformed comment in the media on the negotiations and the outcome and it is time to correct that.

On a related matter I ask the Leader of the House for a full debate in this House on the public service. It is time that people recognised the value for money the public service and elected public representatives give at all levels.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  That is a very big question.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  It is an issue rarely discussed. One hears people talking about the pay deal lining the pockets of public servants.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  The Minister must not want to come in this morning.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  This issue needs to be addressed. It is in all our interest that the facts be made known and that we rebut the idea of poorly paid public servants lining their pockets in a pay deal that is barely keeping up with inflation.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  Well done, the Senator will be the next President. He is following Mary Robinson very well.

[540]Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  We should recognise this kind of negative thinking——

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  Use the Order of Business as best you can.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Could I appeal for your help, a Chathaoirligh?

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I want to highlight what the Senator said.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  Senator Lanigan, please.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  The general approach that money can be taken out of people's pockets in order to pay——

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam T. Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam T. Cosgrave  We are into Second Stage.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  ——others will eventually take us out of the cash economy. It is nonsense and we need to address it in this House. I look forward to a debate on it.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  I support Senator O'Toole's call for a debate on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, Item 5 on the Order Paper. I suspect it might originally have been called the programme for work and competitiveness until some bright spark discovered the initials would be PWC and decided to change it.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  It is more PC this way.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  I do not dispute what Senator O'Toole said about the democratic process in the creation of the programme but in this system these matters should be discussed in Parliament.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  We are not having a debate, Senator Dardis. Have you a question for the Leader of the House?

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  Is Senator O'Toole seriously suggesting that our elected representatives should not have a say in how this programme might be perceived or an [541] input to it? Of course they should. If we are to be consistent with the spirit of open government professed by the Government side it is important to discuss the programme.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Farmers like sharing the space in Government buildings.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  I reject that suggestion. I am not here to represent farmers.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  We are not having a debate on open government. Have you a question for the Leader on the Order of Business?

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  May we debate Item 5 at the earliest possible date?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  That could have been said five minutes ago.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  I have not been speaking for five minutes. We have at regular intervals in the past debated the presidency. We should do so again because we are interested in hearing the reasons for the Attorney General's ruling on the presidency and the reasons the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste considered it necessary to go to Áras an Uachtarán.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  It is not a matter for the Order of Business.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  In supporting Senator Manning's call for a debate on European affairs we hope——

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  I am sure Senator Gallagher will support the Senator on that.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  ——that in the near future there will not be any procedural difficulties about hearing Members of the European Parliament.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  Including Senator Gallagher and Senator Crowley, there are three of you. We have three possibilities and we wish you well.

[542]Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  European papers and the presidency were mentioned, things are getting desperate. I would support Senator O'Toole if I had an earthly clue as to what he was saying in any of his long and distorted speeches.

Mr. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  At least the Senator did not misquote me.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  I did not know whether he was asking us to be delegates to his union or to take part in a vote. Will the Leader arrange time for a debate on a report published by the ESRI today which welcomes the minor tax reform in relation to residential property tax?

Mr. Manning: Information on Maurice Manning  Zoom on Maurice Manning  By the Minister's husband.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  The report says in effect that it was a necessary——

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam T. Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam T. Cosgrave  Who wrote it?

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  ——prerequisite to equity and justice in this economy.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam T. Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam T. Cosgrave  It was written by one family.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  I support Senator O'Toole's view that there should be a debate on this issue. I am amazed that empowering wider groups of Irish people to be participants in their own affairs should somehow strike a——

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  That is a total misrepresentation.

Mr. Roche: Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  ——a chord with the right. I also believe we should debate on the ESRI report and the broader issue of the future form of taxation. Would it be possible to make time for that because we could have a calmer debate in the post budget period?

Time should also be made available for a discussion on the draft final report of the DTI which is widely available and clearly indicates there has been some extraordinary rifling of the Structural [543] Funds by a number of State bodies with a view to looking after their particular activities.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Will the Leader arrange a debate on the Kentz Corporation? We are all aware of its position and the possibility of considerable job losses, which is very worrying. It is important to debate this matter at the earliest opportunity as it affects so many people. In my constituency a number of people are concerned about their jobs and in my neighbouring constituency of Tipperary it is far more worrying for the people concerned.

Mr. Daly: Information on Brendan Daly  Zoom on Brendan Daly  I would like an opportunity to discuss with the Minister for Labour the developing crisis in De Beers in Shannon in which 600 people are employed and thousands of others depend on the company for their jobs. A crisis is developing as strike notice has been served although temporarily deferred. These matters of grave urgency will have serious implications for the whole region. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minister for Labour.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  A number of the points raised seem to be more suitable for discussion on the Adjournment.

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  As was the case yesterday, many of the issues raised are more suitable for other occasions. With regard to the EU papers, the Whips will announce in the next week or two that we will sitting three days a week.

Mr. Enright: Information on Tom Enright  Zoom on Tom Enright  Only three?

Mr. Wright: Information on G. V. Wright  Zoom on G. V. Wright  We will ensure a full day's debate on the EU as I agree with those who called for it. Senator O'Toole mentioned Item 5; I gave a commitment yesterday that this will be discussed extensively. I am sure the Whips will be able to accommodate a debate on the ESRI report, the same applies to the DTI report. The matters raised with regard to Kentz and De Beers are very important [544] and I am sure Senators will find a way of bringing them to the House.

Mr. Cosgrave: Information on Liam T. Cosgrave  Zoom on Liam T. Cosgrave  What about MEP Malone?

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  Worry about yourselves.

Order of Business agreed to.


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