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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

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Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin On a point of order, during Leaders' Questions, I invited the Taoiseach to volunteer the Minister for Justice and Equality to come to the House, do the honourable thing, make a statement on what is probably one of the worst crises to hit An Garda Síochána and take questions on it. That was the way for many years in this House when crises happened. Private notice questions were the order of the day when a crisis happened in any Department. The Taoiseach knows in his heart that the raising of issues during Topical Issue debate is not a question and answer format. Let us not try to mislead or cod the public on that. That is not an accountability exercise. The Order of Business was obviously organised in advance of the revelations of these issues, so therefore there is an opportunity for the House to reorder business, as we did some weeks ago about the crisis relating to the Charleton inquiry.

Deputy Jonathan O'Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien The Taoiseach may not be aware but we requested last Saturday that the Minister would come to the House and make statements. The Taoiseach knows that if he makes a request to the Ceann Comhairle to set aside time today for the Minister to come to the House and make statements, the Ceann Comhairle will contact all of the Whips who will meet and agree to that. It is very unfair for the Taoiseach to say that this is the Ceann Comhairle's decision. The Taoiseach can make a request to the Ceann Comhairle to set aside time and I ask him to do so.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald This will come to a vote so we need the Ceann Comhairle's guidance. He needs to tell us how we can get this matter on the agenda for today. This cannot be beyond his wit or ingenuity. As Deputy O'Brien said, we made the request on Saturday that there be a statement and an opportunity for questions. That is clearly what needs to happen. The Ceann Comhairle should advise us on how that will come to pass.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger I certainly would not have thought that the Government would have the effrontery to think that the Topical Issue debate was an appropriate place to deal with the biggest scandal that has emerged in recent days. The public is outraged. We are talking about a million breathalyser tests being lied about and people paying the price in terms of extra penalty points, wage deductions, etc. The Minister must answer today. It will go to a vote and I can guarantee that we will make an issue out of this because we had to make an issue to get the Taoiseach to answer questions before. There are two solutions. We either take Government Business during those two hours later in the evening or the Taoiseach can scrap questions to the Taoiseach. I have two questions to the Taoiseach which I am happy to allow to be scrapped in favour of the Minister coming to the Dáil, but she should answer today. Only two people can get in during the Topical Issue debate. It must involve all parties and all groups.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Perhaps the Deputy should let the Minister answer. She has already been invited by the Ceann Comhairle to answer questions in the Dáil and give a briefing to the House. She is prepared to do that and that is in accordance with the rules for which Deputy Coppinger voted and which apply here. The Deputy wants to change them when it suits her. The Minister for Justice and Equality is attending here and will deal with this and give the same briefing she gave the Cabinet. She will take questions from the Deputies who raised the Topical Issue matter. The members of the Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality will deal for hours on Thursday with issues relating to this and I welcome that because it will provide an opportunity for information that we do not know to be made available directly to the Oireachtas by the Garda Commissioner. I understand the Garda Commissioner is meeting with the chairperson of the independent Policing Authority, which has independent oversight responsibility for An Garda Síochána.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Vótáil.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We can vote but I point out to Deputies that if we vote, we are not voting on anything that has anything to do with the Garda Commissioner because that is what is before us. If Members see fit, we can convene a meeting of the Business Committee at 3.30 p.m to come up with a proposal about how to move forward. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked a question about my refusal of a private notice question. I want to be very clear that in considering a private notice question, one must consider first and foremost whether it is a matter of urgent public importance, which it is, but one must also take into account whether there are other avenues available to Members to address the particular issue.

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