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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Membership of Committees: Motions
 Header Item Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012: Second Stage (Resumed)

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 778 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan] It is because of the negligence of the previous Administration-----

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins The Deputy is only wasting time.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputy Bernard Durkan please resume his seat, co-operate with the Chair and adhere to the rules applying to the Order of Business, which require Deputies to ask when promised legislation is likely to be brought before the House?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Just like I did. Did Deputy Bernard Durkan see what I did?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will Deputy Bernard Durkan please tell the Taoiseach what Bill he is talking about?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I will not repeat what I said.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I hope the Deputy will not.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley He has forgotten it already.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The criminal records information system Bill has been promised for some time, with other similar legislation, the introduction of which is hugely important. Is it intended to expedite the processing of this legislation through the House in order that we can make a real impact on the criminality taking place?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I can confirm that the heads of the criminal records information system Bill were cleared in April, but it will be next year before the Bill is actually published.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Regarding the proposed new housing agency, will it be funded properly in order that local authorities can purchase-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is the subject of a parliamentary question.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae No, it comes under the housing Bill.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We do not discuss the contents of Bills on the Order of Business. We only inquire when promised legislation is likely to be introduced.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I want to know if local authorities will be funded in order that they can buy properties currently for sale at very affordable prices.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy should table a question to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae In that way, they would be able to provide housing for those on housing waiting lists.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Has a housing agency Bill been promised?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Yes; it will be introduced next year.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley The programme for Government promised reform of local government. We have a situation where 235 staff of local authorities are being paid in excess of €100,000 and there are 203 directors-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are not having a debate on that matter now.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley Will the Taoiseach confirm that there will be measures in the-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No, not on the Order of Business. What legislation is the Deputy inquiring about?

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley Before the summer recess we were promised legislation, but we still have not seen it.

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

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins The Ceann Comhairle did not ask Deputy Bernard Durkan to resume his seat.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe He did, actually.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett This is codology. Every single morning this happens. Deputies know exactly what issues they are entitled to raise on the Order of Business and I ask them please to do so. However, we do not want speeches.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Ceann Comhairle did ask Deputy Bernard Durkan to resume his seat and the Deputy sat down.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins He did not.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy can check the record.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am fed up having to ask Deputies to stay quiet.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins The Ceann Comhairle is very one-sided.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputies should stick to the rules of the House. If they do not like them, they should change them. I have to apply them.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Deputy Niall Collins should withdraw he remark made.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputies can table parliamentary questions, raise Topical Issues and attend committee meeting, but they should not use the Order of Business every single morning to raise issues that they should not. I have to cut them off when they do so, even though I do not want to do so.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon My question is very relevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No speeches, please.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley I did not receive an answer to my question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I do not know the legislation to which the Deputy was inquiring.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon Given the abuses at all levels within the body politic, can the Taoiseach give us a more definite date for publication of the registration of lobbyists Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I believe it will be published next year. We will not get to it in this session.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Deputy James Bannon can take another chill pill in the meantime.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Will the Dolphin report be published in full? Can we have a debate in the Dáil on the proposed location of the new children's hospital and the detail of that report?

Primary legislation is required to abolish the 50 cent prescription charge. As the Minister has made a commitment in the matter, will the Taoiseach indicate if the required legislation will be published in the near future? The Minister made the promise in March 2011 to abolish the charge.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I will have to get back to the Deputy on the legislation to which he refers. The Dolphin report is in the hands of the Minister. When the Government makes its decision, there will be an opportunity to have a full discussion in the House. Clearly, the report can be published at that stage.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer First, I express my disappointment that Deputy Micheál Martin did not have a copy of the Evening Echo when he was canvassing in Rathgar last week. I am glad he was canvassing there and not in Cork-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will the Deputy please get on with it?

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Is Deputy Jerry Buttimer questioning the editorial content of the Evening Echo?

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer I am aware of the reaction Deputy Micheál Martin received when he was canvassing in Rathgar.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I was in Ranelagh actually.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer On the Irish Aviation Authority Bill, the Dublin Airport Authority has written to Cork Airport seeking redundancies. Obviously, there is huge concern in Cork regarding the airport-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is the Deputy asking about an aviation Bill?

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer It is important that we allay the concerns of workers and recognise that Cork Airport is a hub and a gateway to the south. When will that legislation be brought before the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a Topical Issue matter.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I can inform Deputy Jerry Buttimer that discussions and consultations on the Irish Aviation Authority Bill are ongoing. It will be next year before the Bill is published.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews I hope I will be in order, a Cheann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett So do I.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews I am learning the rules slowly. Regarding Bills in preparation touching on the security of citizens, gangland crime, the proceeds of crime and so forth, I ask the Government to consider the possibility, if not the necessity, of providing for the visible arming of the Garda Síochána. The news today that a 16 year old boy was shot at 9 p.m. is yet another example of the problem. We are seeing it day by day. With such a move we would have manners and decorum on the streets.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That sounds like a Topical Issue matter to me.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It does, a Cheann Comhairle. I regret the incident in which a 16 year old boy was shot and I hope he recovers fully. The changed rosters after discussions within the Garda Síochána have meant a greater level of activity and greater visibility on the streets, which I welcome. The Minister for Justice and Equality is concerned, as is the Garda Commissioner, about the ongoing level of violent crime on the streets of Dublin, in particular, and every effort will be made to deal with it effectively.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen Will the Taoiseach confirm that the Thornhill report has been with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government since June? Has the Minister read it yet? Has he passed it on to the Cabinet and when will it be made public?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is not a matter for the Order of Business but the subject of a parliamentary question.

Membership of Committees: Motions

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I move:

That Deputy Ciarán Lynch be discharged from the Select Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht and that Deputy Michael McCarthy be appointed in substitution for him.

  Question put and agreed to.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I move:

That Deputy Alex White (Minister of State at the Department of Health) be discharged from the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform and that Deputy Ciarán Lynch be appointed in substitution for him.

  Question put and agreed to.

Fiscal Responsibility Bill 2012: Second Stage (Resumed)

  Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Deputy Paul J. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton I thank the Ceann Comhairle for giving me the opportunity to speak on this very important Bill. When the electorate went to the polls on 31 May, it endorsed the contents of the fiscal compact treaty and the Bill marks the enactment of its wishes. Since the vote at the end of May, the need for Europe-wide agreement on budgetary rules has become even more apparent. It is only through greater budgetary discipline that the European project will be steered through the current impasse. Passing the Bill is crucial if the country is to meet its obligations under the treaty before the deadline of the end of the year. I am, therefore, heartened by the Government's commitment to enacting the Bill at the earliest possible opportunity.

The Bill imposes a duty on the Government to stay within the budgetary rules and if there is a deviation from any medium-term budgetary objective by more than 0.5% of GDP, the Government will have to introduce corrective mechanisms, as agreed in the common principles adopted by the European Commission. It will be difficult for Ireland to meet all of its budgetary objectives in the coming years, but the upside of the Stability and Growth Pact is stability, the key factor in creating the conditions in which the country's economic fortunes can be turned around.

Unprecedented shocks to the economy prior to the Government taking office created a precarious financial position which eventually led to the institution of a deficit procedure involving the troika of the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund. I note that the debt rule provisions of this Fiscal Responsibility Bill will require Ireland to reduce debt in excess of 60% of GDP by one twelfth each year. This will apply for the three years after Ireland has exited the deficit procedure.

The Bill will assign monitoring and assessment functions to the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. My only regret is that the council was not instituted ten years ago because perhaps then we might not have plummeted to the economic depths experienced in recent years. This independent body will be tasked with assessing the official spring and autumn macro-economic and budgetary forecasts produced by the Department of Finance. It is also welcome that if the Government does not accept the assessments of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, it must explain its reasons publicly, a necessary underpinning of the principles involved.

The Fiscal Responsibility Bill represents a growing acknowledgement at European level that the structures in place were inadequate. They allowed the current impasse to develop by permitting some countries, including Ireland, to incur massive debt which now must be addressed if the European Union is to move forward. The coming months will see the debt issue addressed properly. Addressing the debt legacy is the obvious next step in the process, as the European Union acknowledges the mistakes of the past, decides on the structures necessary to ensure there will be no repeat of these mistakes and puts the structures in place.


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