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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] It was a very considered and detailed statement in which he said the whistleblowers were distinguished and so on. That was followed by the Tánaiste and almost all the Labour Party Ministers. We tabled a private notice question asking the Minister for Justice and Equality about the resignation of the Garda Commissioner and were told it did not meet the criteria. I believe it is a matter of national importance that the Garda Commissioner has resigned in these circumstances. There have been revelations today-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Where is the Deputy going?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I am going to ask a question. These are very serious issues.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I appreciate that, but this is the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I have a lot of experience in the House. It beggars belief that there is no statement in the House - that the Minister for Justice and Equality has not come before the House to comment on the resignation of the Garda Commissioner following the statements of a succession of Ministers about the Commissioner's comments to the Committee of Public Accounts, and about the Minister’s position. It is absolutely extraordinary that the Government has not made time available today for the Minister for Justice and Equality to come in and answer questions.

The Taoiseach asked me and the Leader of Sinn Féin to meet him approximately 20 minutes before Leaders' Questions and briefed us on another emerging issue that goes to the heart of the administration of justice. It is incomprehensible that the Taoiseach thinks it is okay to mark all of that with absolute silence in the House today-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy will have to sit down.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----and that no formal mechanism is provided for the Minister for Justice and Equality to come in to answer basic questions about why the Commissioner is resigning now. He left certain things in the air in his briefing with me on the most recent issue. The Taoiseach suggested it would do on Thursday, but the statements on Thursday are on the Garda Inspectorate's report on the fixed charge processing system, which was published on the last day before the week-long recess for St. Patrick’s Day. One could be cynical and say this was deliberate. I understand the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport was not at the Cabinet meeting when that was discussed, even though the Minister had had it since January.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy will have to sit down.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny This is the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There is a lot of cynical stuff going on here. The only way the Taoiseach can cut through that is by making this House relevant to the issues of the day.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are procedures to be followed to do that.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Deputy Adams is correct. This was all fed to the media. That is fine. The Government does that all the time. We are becoming-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would the Deputy also respect the Chair?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is fine. Surely the Taoiseach agrees that in any other Dáil – I have been here – the Minister would have come in here on the day? Will the Taoiseach make time available today?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin is as hypocritical as ever. I asked him to come to Government Buildings to brief him and Deputy Adams on an issue that is of considerable importance to security and justice in the State and so on. The Garda Press Office issued its statement, as I said to the Deputy-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin About what?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----at 12.17 p.m.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I am talking about the Garda Commissioner’s resignation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I will tell the Deputy what the issue was. Deputy Martin never listens.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I do listen.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The first sentence of the statement is “In the best interests of An Garda Síochána and my family I have decided to retire”. The word is "retire".

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin What is the Taoiseach saying?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin is talking about resignations. The Garda Commissioner-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is semantics.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Every radio programme in the country is saying the Commissioner resigned.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Garda Commissioner-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister for Justice and Equality should come in here.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley There is plenty of time now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Garda Commissioner made his own decision and issued a statement through the Garda Press Office.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Taoiseach will make the situation clear and that is it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I remind Deputy Martin that last week we decided that there would be statements and questions and answers on the Garda Inspectorate report on Thursday. I have responded to Deputy Martin in the House already.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach is being cynical. He has not responded to me.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I said the Minister for Justice and Equality would deal with the issue that Deputy Martin raised.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Martin should respect the Chair.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin never listens. I already said to him-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin This is appalling.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----in respect of the other issue I raised - and Deputy Martin never listens-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I listen.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----as the information comes to us about a new issue there could be statements in the House tomorrow on that issue, if the Deputy wanted that. I offered that to the Leaders of the Opposition.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Taoiseach did not ask us.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny On Thursday the Deputy will have all day – and I hope he sits here – on the Garda Inspectorate report on penalty points. The Minister for Justice and Equality will deal with the matter the Deputy raises. I have already said that, but of course Deputy Martin never accepts anybody’s word.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We have raised a point-----

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny In times gone by Ministers of the Deputy’s Government rejected all of this-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----and the Taoiseach has refused it. The Taoiseach has not said where he stands on this issue. He is the one member of the Cabinet who has not said where he stands on this issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I will suspend the sitting if the Deputy does not sit down.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Does the Taoiseach believe the Minister for Justice and Equality is correct? Does he believe the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, is correct?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I will suspend the sitting if the Deputy does not sit down.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Taoiseach has not responded to any of the questions I asked him in three weeks on this issue. He has ducked and dived on it all the time. He owes it to the country and he owes it to the Dáil and to the State-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy is an ex-Minister and a long-serving Deputy. Would he please respect the Chair?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is because I am long-serving that I know a private notice question would have been accepted in any other Dáil before today. There would have been a private notice question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are things called Standing Orders. If the Deputy wishes to come to my office afterwards-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I have asked a very simple question.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It should have been allowed.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett If the Deputy comes to my office afterwards I will explain the situation to him. There are Standing Orders and if the Deputy had learned them he would know about them.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin With the greatest respect, I have asked a very simple question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy should sit down and stay quiet.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams We put in a Standing Order 32 request in order to have a discussion on this matter. I made the point earlier that the Taoiseach should have come into the Dáil to make a statement. I welcome the fact that we were briefed. I was telling the Taoiseach that on my way to see him a journalist told me the gist of what he told me. This has nothing to do with the Garda Commissioner’s-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are on the Order of Business. Would the Deputy please adhere to the rules of the House?

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams My point is that the Dáil has to be treated with respect by everyone, especially the Government, because it is not every day that a Commissioner resigns. We do not even know whether he was aware of this morning’s revelations before his retirement. That is the point the Taoiseach is grandstanding on. Rather than face up to the reality that we are playing catch-up, some other revelation will be fed out and we will play catch-up again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Would the Deputy please put his question on the Order of Business?

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Will the Taoiseach not allow special time on this issue to have proper discussions so that all of the people who respect the Garda Síochána can have confidence that the administration of that service is being conducted properly?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The answer is "No." I already offered on Leaders' Questions the opportunity for statements in the House tomorrow on the emerging situation on which I briefed Deputies Adams and Martin. When I met the Deputy he said he had met a journalist who said there was another issue, but did not point out what it was.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I did.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Actually, the Deputy did not. Whether the journalist knew is no business of mine. If he or she had information to that effect it did not come from Government, because we had only concluded the Cabinet meeting making decisions about this matter very shortly before that. I note the statement from the Garda Press Office was issued at 12.17 p.m.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is a different statement.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Whether Deputy Adams likes it or not, the senior counsel Mr. Guerin and Mr. Justice Cooke have been appointed to inquire into sensitive issues, the report of the Garda Inspectorate is due for debate and question and answer on Thursday, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality is dealing with the terms of reference, and the status of the whistleblowers has been referred to many times. I have already acknowledged that these changes would not be taking place but for the fact that this information was brought into the public domain by whistleblowers, which provides us with an opportunity----

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher That is why the Minister for Justice and Equality vilified them. Their characters were assassinated.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----to follow through on the decision made today by the Government to work towards the setting up of an independent authority suitable for this Republic, with An Garda Síochána, where there is still political accountability to the Oireachtas. That serious body of work is going on and the Minister for Justice and Equality is conducting and overseeing it.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher That is the problem.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny All the Opposition wants in here - particularly Deputy Martin, who never listens to anything but only follows through with his false anger-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I only want to know whether the Taoiseach agrees with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar. That is all.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I can remember time and again when Ministers of Deputy Martin’s ilk refused to answer any questions or to have any debate-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We did not.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley The Taoiseach learnt that lesson well.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----or statements with questions and answers, but went around the country with a condescending arrogance that was breathtaking to behold.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I agree with the Tánaiste and with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Varadkar, and many other Ministers.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly That is a lot of agreement altogether.

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy The programme for Government referred to new thinking and new approaches to politics. A feature of past governments has been a very centralised, managed approach to matters.


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