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 Header Item Constitutional Convention Agenda (Continued)
 Header Item Order of Business

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams]  We were talking earlier about the diaspora. The importance of President Obama coming to Ireland, whatever part of the island, is not just because he is the President of the United States of America, although that is a huge thing because the US is such a powerful nation, but because of the connections we have with the USA. Despite this, we have no place for the diaspora in the convention. Next year we will ask them to come for The Gathering and we ask them all the time to assist us in our economic regeneration. We know of all the nascanna idir an oileán seo agus an oileán úr. The Government must repair them.

The issue of our ethnic minority is not raised very often. Our ethnic minority, the Traveller community, are treated dreadfully. They are discriminated against dreadfully and yet they are part of what we are and, rightfully, demand to be treated as an ethnic minority. Could that not be looked at by the convention?

Similarly, there are new folk who have come to live on this island. Some people refer to them as the new Irish. They bring great colour, history and culture to mesh with our history and culture. Do we not do outreach with them? Why can we not go into the North, into Gaeltacht areas or the Border corridor? Why can we not make this a living example of what a constitutional convention can be?

On a previous occasion I commended the approach of the conference put in place in South Africa as it moved into democracy. A wonderful job was done there. We, obviously, have to do it within our own lights.

I throw these ideas forward. I commend and congratulate Mr. Tom Arnold and I wish him well in his role as chairman of the convention. I still think the Government is missing a great opportunity to re-imagine Ireland and to re-imagine a real constitution for a real republic.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon In light of the fact that our independence and our sovereignty was handed to the International Monetary Fund by the previous Administration and the banking debt of this country has become the personal debt of every man, woman and child in the country, our sovereignty needs to be debated. The previous Administration handed our sovereignty over to the EU.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Bannon, we are discussing the Constitutional Convention.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Was that a question or a statement from Deputy Bannon?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It was symbolic that the leaders of different parties and representatives from Northern Ireland attended the launch of the Constitutional Convention in the great hall of Dublin Castle.

I apologise for not giving a full answer to Deputy Martin. Any proposal that comes from the convention, be it about same-sex marriage or whatever, will be responded to by the Government within a four-month timeframe. We are not going to hang around. There may be a recommendation regarding the Traveller community. That is a matter for the convention itself. There may be a recommendation about Irish sign language. I know this is a small issue but it is important for those who use sign language.

It will be up to the chairman to take the convention to locations throughout the country. That was done with the forum on Europe. It remains to be seen whether the members of the convention will speak to one another or whether there will be sufficient interest from groups who might want to watch the proceedings or listen to the discussions that take place.

With regard to the diaspora, the convention website is flexible and vigorous. It may well be extended to video links to groups on the far side of the United States or to individuals who want to speak from New Zealand or wherever. These are all matters that the convention can consider.

I would like this to work and to work well. The convention has been inaugurated and is in place now. It has got its remit and independence and has a very good chairman. Let us see how it operates at its first meeting when it meets again in the spring and move on from there. It may be that the excitement I felt from the citizens in Dublin Castle will be reflected in the energy that is put into the work of and the output from the convention. At this end of the spectrum we will not be found wanting in giving a response to the convention. Let us see how effective it can be. It is new and untried in Ireland. It is an opportunity for ordinary men and women to work with politicians from all parties, North and South, on a document that belongs to them and to no one else.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Order of Business

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39; No. 12, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39 - to select sub-committee; No. 17, statements on the report of the expert group on the judgment in the A, B and C v. Ireland case, to adjourn after the opening statements if not previously concluded; and No. 18, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2012 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

  It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; matters may not be raised under the provisions of Standing Order 32, there shall be no Oral Questions taken on Wednesday, 5 or Thursday, 6 December and there shall be no Topical Issues taken on Wednesday, 5 December; No. 11 and, subject to the agreement of No. 11, No. 12 shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 17: the opening statements of a Minister or Minister of State and of 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, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes, and such Members may share their time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; the Report and Final Stages of No. 18 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. 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 Health; and Private Members’ business shall be No. 79, motion re disability funding and services, which shall also take place immediately after the Order of Business tomorrow and which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are six proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the business of the Dáil tomorrow and Thursday agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39, and No. 12, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39 - to select sub-committee agreed to?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We oppose these motions on the basis that they relate to three Supplementary Estimates, one of €685 million for the Department of Social Protection, another of €360 million for the Health Service Executive, and a third of €1 million for the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. We have serious issues with the Supplementary Estimate for the HSE. Last year, a fraudulent Estimate was introduced in the House which bore no relation to reality and has led to extraordinary difficulties within the health service. Given the fundamentally flawed nature of last year's Health Service Executive Estimate, we need a plenary debate on this Supplementary Estimate.

There have been savage cutbacks in home help hours in recent months because of the absence of a Supplementary Estimate coming through and because of the absence of a proper HSE Estimate in the beginning. People with disabilities were hit very hard as a result of the flawed nature of the Estimate. Personal assistants were taken from people who wanted to live independent lives, and many people had access to hospital and medical facilities delayed. During the week, I met nurses at the opening of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation centre in Cork. They told me they cannot advocate or articulate on behalf of patients who are at risk because of the HSE Estimate and the failure to provide adequate funding. They are gagged.

There is a request for a Supplementary Estimate of €360 million. Given the flawed nature of the Estimate given to the House last November, there is a need for a plenary discussion before the Estimate is referred to the sub-committee.

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