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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item European Council Brussels: Statements

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 4

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett This is the Order of Business. I call Deputy Durkan and ask him to refer to promised legislation.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I am trying to raise promised legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are over time. I ask Deputies to allow the speaker to continue. I am trying to be helpful but if the House does not co-operate, I will conclude the Order of Business. I ask Deputy Durkan not to give a preamble.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The companies (miscellaneous provisions) Bill and criminal justice (proceeds of crime) Bill are listed as promised legislation.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I know that.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan In view of comments made by the outgoing Director of Corporate Enforcement last year and again last week, is it intended to address the weaknesses he identified in the system given that they are an obstacle to bringing before the courts those who may have matters to answer for?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy may not discuss the contents of legislation.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Will the two Bills be brought to the House at the earliest possible date to address this specific issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett When are the Bills due?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny While I do not have a definite date for the Deputy, I can confirm that discussions are taking place with the Criminal Assets Bureau in respect of the criminal justice (proceeds of crime) Bill. However, a great deal of work remains to be done both on that legislation and the companies (miscellaneous provisions) Bill.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara When will legislation be introduced to give courts discretion to refuse to permit banks to repossess family homes when the banks in question have unreasonably refused offers-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett To which legislation is the Deputy referring?

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara I am referring to the promise to introduce legislation in the latest update of the memorandum of understanding with the troika.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher The Deputy should not mind such promises.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett To which Bill is he referring?

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara Paragraph 33 of the memorandum of understanding provides-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I do not have the memorandum of understanding.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara -----that the authorities will introduce legislation remedying the issues identified by case law in the 2009 Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act, so as to remove unintended constraints on banks to realise the value of loan collateral under certain circumstances. In other words, a promise has been made to legislate for the repossession of family homes.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny This will be done after the insolvency service has been set up arising from the Dunne case. Appropriate legislation will be put in place that will recognise a right the banks have always enjoyed when contracts for lending are set out. It will be done after the first insolvency service has been set up to provide clarity in respect of something that is already in existence.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher It will provide for evictions.

Deputy Michael McNamara: Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara Will the legislation provide rights for owners of family homes who are trying to restructure their loans?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are not having a discussion on the matter.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Coming from Mayo, the Taoiseach will know all about evictions.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan What is the status of the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill? As a result of the rí-rá in the Chamber yesterday, I did not hear the Taoiseach's answer to a question on Priory Hall. Does he expect Mr. Justice Finnegan to report early in the new year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Bill has been passed by the Seanad and we are waiting for it.

Deputy Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan It was passed in the Seanad three months ago.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny As the Deputy is aware, we have a packed agenda. In regard to Priory Hall, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Phil Hogan, has been awaiting developments on the issue. Progress has been made and I hope the matter will be resolved in due course. I feel for those who have been out of their homes and apartments for some time now.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, recently issued a directive to all post-primary schools and local authorities requiring them to buy from one supplier. This requirement is causing considerable hardship to small businesses and will result in the loss of eight jobs in Galway alone.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett To which legislation is the Deputy referring?

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish I am referring to the consumer and competition Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Is the Deputy referring to schools?

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish Yes, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform issued a directive to all post-primary schools requiring them to purchase all stationery supplies from one supplier by April 2013. This directive will cost many jobs and will achieve minimal savings.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny A pilot scheme is being done in regard to savings in schools, whereby if they procure their requirements from-----

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish Little savings will be made.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It was not the case that schools were being mandated to buy from a particular supplier. The Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, has done substantial work on the concept of public procurement which offers the potential to make significant savings. The Bill in question is being progressed.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea It is anti-competitive.

Deputy Noel Grealish: Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish Eight jobs are being lost in Galway.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The survivors of the Magdalen laundries were excluded from institutional redress schemes and have not received an apology from the State or a recognition of the abuse visited on them. When will the House have sight of the interdepartmental report on the Magdalene laundries? Will the Taoiseach assure Deputies that time will be provided for the Dáil to debate the report early in the new year?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Senator Martin McAleese has indicated that the report will be available for the end of the year. While only a short period is left, I spoke to the Senator some time ago and he is confident the date will be met.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The sale by Coillte this week of 1,000 acres of public land, bringing to 40,000 the number of acres of public forestry sold by the company in the past 20 years or thereabouts, indicates that our forest heritage is being sold from under our feet. I have asked repeatedly, in this context and in the context of the Government's stated commitment to sell off the harvesting rights of Coillte, when the forestry Bill will come before the House in order that Deputies can discuss in public what is happening to State forestry.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Two issues arise. The Government has considered the sale of timber from forestry lands as potentially a sale of a State asset. I refer to the timber rather than the land. The forestry Bill, which was due to come before the House in this session, will not be taken before the session ends. It will be taken early in the new session next year.

European Council Brussels: Statements

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I am pleased to brief the House on the outcome of last week's European Council meeting in Brussels on 13 and 14 December. This was the final Council meeting before Ireland's Presidency begins in less than two weeks. The meeting focused on economic policy but also covered common security and defence, enlargement and foreign affairs. I am happy to report that progress was made on all issues, in particular, on economic and monetary union and delivering the commitments agreed by the Council last June.

The meeting began on Thursday evening with the usual engagement with the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, MEP. Mr. Schulz made a call on leaders to improve democratic accountability within EU decision making, making the reasonable point that many would struggle to explain the full range of measures deployed in response to the eurozone crisis to an ordinary person in the street. As we in Ireland know very well, this is a vitally important question. Issues debated at EU meetings, including the European Council, are complex but we need to factor in the legitimacy that can only come through public engagement and understanding.

Improving the perception of the European Union and eurozone will be an important aspect of Ireland's Presidency and 2013, including through the discussion that will take place at the informal meeting of Ministers for European Affairs which will be held in Dublin in January. As Deputies are aware, next year is also the European Union year of the citizen. We will engage closely with the European institutions in making this a meaningful exercise. None of us can take our electorates for granted.

As I stated last week when I briefed the House, progress on banking union, especially the single supervisor, was of pressing urgency not only for Ireland but for the euro area as a whole. The breakthrough agreement by EU Finance Ministers, including the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, in the small hours of Thursday morning was, therefore, particularly welcome. They agreed and set out an ambitious timetable for the next elements of banking union and a framework for the single supervisory mechanism, SSM. The agreement provides for a differentiated approach to supervision depending on the size and significance of the banks concerned. It provides for equal treatment for euro area and non-euro area member states to allow banking union to be attractive to all 27 member states and protect the Single Market. While smaller institutions will not automatically come under the direct supervision of the European Central Bank, the ECB will remain responsible and will be able to step in to supervise these institutions.

The European Council built upon this by setting a deadline for the operational framework for the single supervisory mechanism, to be agreed as soon as possible in the first semester of 2013.


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