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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald]  An internal audit of primary care centres was conducted. A review of departmental files and other documents was undertaken in early October by the internal audit unit, IAU, at the request of the Secretary General. The purpose of the review was to determine whether any documentation generated from 2011 to date would connect the Minister, Deputy Reilly, any of his advisers or anyone acting on behalf of the Minister to the selection of sites for the proposed primary care centres in Balbriggan and Swords. The scope of the request did not relate to any policy decision to locate a centre in either town. The checks carried out by the internal audit unit confirmed that no documentation relevant to the request was found.

The report, which issued to the Secretary General on 9 October, referred to his request for the internal audit unit to ascertain whether any documentation generated from 2011 to date was available within the Department that would connect the Minister, Deputy Reilly, and-or his advisers or anyone acting on his behalf to the selection of sites for the proposed primary care centres in Balbriggan and Swords. The internal audit unit asked the primary care unit and the offices of the Minister and the former Minister of State, in addition to the Minister's three advisers, to undertake a search with a view to locating any relevant documentation. All parties advised the IAU that no records relevant to the request could be located.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Tánaiste's monotonal response does not take from this scandal. I have in my hand the briefing document prepared for and used by the Minister at that meeting on 20 April. Explicitly in the document, black on white, there is a mention of a particular site, namely, 68-70 Dublin Street. This is the site in the town centre that is currently being used as a surface car park.

I am astonished on two fronts. First, the Minister, Deputy Reilly, and the Government have the brass neck to act in such an improper fashion. Second, but perhaps more astonishingly, the Tánaiste will not just stand by this Minister, but by these obvious, sharp, corrupt practices that cost the Tánaiste a junior Minister.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly That is outrageous.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald We said at the time, and let me repeat it-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am sorry, but we cannot make allegations. Be careful.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I challenge Deputy McDonald to say that outside the House.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Let me say this-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We cannot make allegations inside the Chamber.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald -----and I said it at the time-----

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Deputy McDonald should withdraw her "corrupt" remark.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The wrong Minister resigned. The former Minister of State, Deputy Shortall-----

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan On a point of order-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald -----was punished for doing the right thing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am sorry, but a point of order has been requested.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald She was punished for standing by proper standards in public office.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan On a point of order-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald The Tánaiste rewards another senior Minister by turning away his gaze and by not tracking the Minister's activities. This is a disgrace.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am sorry, but a point of order has been requested. Will Deputy McDonald please stop?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Is it now allowable in the House to make allegations under the cover of privilege that cannot be made outside the House without litigation? Has that become standard practice in the House and will it be practised in future? Are our Standing Orders going to be amended to remove privilege from people who use the cover of privilege-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett That is not a point of order.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn On a point of order-----

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan -----to make allegations against the character of other people in the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputy Durkan please resume his seat?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Since when has this been the standard practice?

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn On a point of order, I was thrown out last week for doing what Deputy Durkan just did.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Exactly. The Deputy was.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn The Ceann Comhairle threw me out for doing the exact same thing.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Chair has ruled many times that allegations of a serious nature against an officeholder can only be made by way of a substantive motion in the House-----

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Correct.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett -----and not by way of innuendo or otherwise across the floor of the House.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald It is not innuendo. I have the document in front of me.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I have made this point quite clear.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Repeat the charge outside the House.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins It is unprecedented that Leaders' Questions would be interrupted by a point of order. That has never before been allowed in the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are over time. If Deputy McDonald would just put her question, she has only one minute to ask a supplementary.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I am not working on the basis of innuendo or supposition.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We do not-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I have in my hand the briefing note that came from the Department-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy can table a motion.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald -----and it states very clearly that a particular site-----

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Go outside and say that.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald -----was discussed with NAMA, the same site that the Minister slipped onto the list. My question to the Tánaiste is simply this - what will he do about this whole scenario from which he has deliberately turned his face?

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Is this smoke and mirrors? Changing the facts.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is a Sinn Féin tactic-----

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Come on.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----which is to enter the House, wave a piece of paper around, claim that it has the goods on-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald It is a departmental briefing note.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please, Deputy.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Please, listen to the answer.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley What about the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Rabbitte?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It is a Sinn Féin tactic to enter the House-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald It is called opposition.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----wave a piece of paper around, claim that it has the goods on us and then make all kinds of allegations, including of sharp, corrupt practices and so on. Sinn Féin has a neck.

Deputy Tom Hayes: Information on Tom Hayes Zoom on Tom Hayes Fair play, Tánaiste.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald A bit like the Tánaiste's neck.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore So much illegal activity. How many bodies are buried on this island because of Sinn Féin? It has a neck.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn What about the dodgy fivers?

(Interruptions).

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It enters the House-----

(Interruptions).

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn The Tánaiste has a brass neck.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will the Deputies please allow the Tánaiste?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore It enters the House with its orders-----

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris What about the Tánaiste's past?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----from Belfast to-----

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn Was the Tánaiste ever in the IRA?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----make allegations.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputies, please.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore There is a long-established way. If a Deputy wants to make an allegation against any Member of this House, there is a way in which-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I want the Tánaiste to answer the question. He is the Tánaiste, is he not?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore No, that is the trick.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The Deputy wants to twist the facts. Repeat that charge outside this House.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Is Deputy Gilmore not the Tánaiste? Does he-----

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Minister for Health has challenged the Deputy to say outside of this House what she just said inside it. Say it outside the House and stand over it. Do not enter the House and abuse its privilege.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald It is called opposition.

(Interruptions).

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore If she wants to put any question to the Minister for Health in respect of any meeting he has had, I am sure that he will answer it, but this is a clever little trick.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald No, the trick is on the Tánaiste's side, as he will not answer my question. What will he do about this?

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Sinn Féin enters the House waving allegations about the Minister for Health and then tells me to answer, and if I do not-----

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig MacLochlainn Zoom on Pádraig MacLochlainn Why does the Tánaiste not ask his own former Minister of State?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Tánaiste makes allegations as well.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Ask your question. Make your allegation outside of the House if you want to stand over it.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Is this how the Tánaiste responded to Deputy Shortall when she raised the matter with him?

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh He is avoiding the question.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore If Deputy McDonald wants to stand over that allegation, she should make it outside of the House.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Right. We have the Tánaiste now.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore If she wants to put the question to the Minister for Health, she should put it to-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald No, I put the question to the Tánaiste.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan These are Leaders' Questions.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore She should put any question she wants to the Minister for Health-----

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I asked the Tánaiste the questions because the Minister will not answer them. The Tánaiste is a disgrace.

The Tánaiste: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore -----but she should not come in here swinging around political allegations. She is stooping to a new low.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan It is called opposition.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring Deputy McDonald is wrong about Mr. Noonan. He is not Fine Gael.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I call Deputy Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I wish a happy Christmas to all of the Deputies in the House, all of those who work here and to the public outside. I wish to ask the Tánaiste a "Christmasy" question.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Does he have his hat?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett One of the aspects that I love about Christmas, and I suspect that many do, is the Christmas tree. Most families in this country will have a Christmas tree in their homes. It is like having a little piece of Ireland's woodlands in the sitting room over Christmas. When one is surrounded by family, friends and the community, it is a time around the Christmas tree when people consider those matters that are important.

A matter that might be considered important at this time of year as one looks at one's Christmas tree is the woodlands. They are a part of our heritage and our culture and are a vital resource for the State. People might also wonder whether the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, believes the fairy tale that money grows on Christmas trees. Perhaps it is money that could pay for the property charges that will be imposed on families that will not be able to pay them next year.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Is a question coming?

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell What is the Deputy's question?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett He is nearly there.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Money does not grow on the trees that are in people's front rooms during Christmas.

A Deputy: It might in the Deputy's part of the country.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett However, does the Tánaiste agree with me that money and jobs grow on those trees on Coillte lands and that, when our country is being crucified with unemployment, austerity and cuts, it is a crime against the nation that the Government is planning to sell our nation's trees to private interests when those trees could generate thousands of desperately needed jobs and revenue for the State?


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