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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Electoral (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2014: First Stage
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2014: Motion
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2014

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 840 No. 2

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Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl All Members have been supportive and admiring of the work of the Magdalen commission and the report it issued. One of the commission's proposals is that the restorative justice Bill be brought before the House. What is the position with regard to that Bill and in respect of the implementation of the report of the Magdalen commission?

I have just received a text from the Whip's office. Matters on the Order of Business are often referred to the Whips for decision. The agenda for today originally included a debate on a motion to establish the banking inquiry but I am informed that this has been cancelled. The matter to which I refer is extremely important and it was scheduled to be dealt with as part of today's business. Why was it pulled at this late stage?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I can answer the Deputy's second question. Under Standing Order 30, four days' notice is required in respect of such a motion. Such notice was not given and I made that clear. I also made it clear that if there was agreement among all the parties in the House to the effect that it be taken tomorrow, then I would have no difficulty in that regard.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Ceann Comhairle laid down the law in respect of that matter. The restorative justice Bill is due to be taken this session.

Deputy Pearse Doherty: Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty On a point of clarification, the Ceann Comhairle indicated that the motion would be taken tomorrow if there was agreement in the House. Is it necessary for such agreement to be reached now?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett No. I will leave that matter to the Whips. That is why we have them.

Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin: Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin The former Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, was extremely supportive of the Employment Equality (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2013, which was introduced in the Seanad last year. When will the Bill, the purpose of which is to ensure that State employees of religious-run institutions will have the same rights as all other employees, be introduced in this House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy is referring to a Private Members' Bill that was introduced in the Seanad. I am not sure where it is on the conveyor belt at present.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick When will the gambling control Bill, the purpose of which is to update and consolidate the law on betting and gambling, be introduced? Many families have been destroyed as a result of gambling and I am seeking clarity in respect of when the legislation will be forthcoming.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is due early next year.

Deputy Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer In light of the fact that there was a reduction in the number of passengers passing through Cork Airport in the first quarter of this year, will the State airports (Shannon group) Bill contain specific reference to Cork or will the latter be the subject of specific legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Bill in question is awaiting Second Stage in the Seanad. I do not have the details but obviously people will reflect on what they believe it should contain before and during Second Stage.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Will the Taoiseach make time available next week - or certainly before 23 May - for a debate in order that we might clarify the Government's position in respect of water charges? I analysed the figures the Government released yesterday and discovered that the claim to the effect that the additional allowance of 38,000 litres per year in respect of each child under 18 years of age will mean that the latter will receive free water is absolutely false.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We cannot have a debate on that issue.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins That figure falls way below the normal amount of water used by those between 15 and 17 years of age.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I can only deal with the Deputy's request for a debate.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins The Taoiseach's proposal is therefore based on a complete falsehood.

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

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Families and others must be made aware of that fact. When will clarification on this matter be forthcoming in order that we might tell people the truth about this issue?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy has requested a debate and I am going to find out for him if and when one will be held. Is it intended to hold such a debate?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny No such debate is promised. However, the matter will obviously feature in some of the debates that will take place in the coming weeks.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Perhaps the Deputy might raise the matter in the form of a Topical Issue and I will consider whether we might discuss it.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins I will be obliged to do so, because it is not possible-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett And I will certainly consider it.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins We cannot allow to stand a figure in respect of so-called free water for those under 18 which is utterly false. Families throughout the country have been given false information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett This is the Order of Business and we cannot debate the issue of water charges now. I must move on to the next item.

Electoral (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2014: First Stage

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Electoral Act 1992, the Referendum Act 1994, and the Presidential Elections Act 1993; in order to change island voting; and to provide for related matters.

Ba mhaith liom cead a fháil an Bille seo a chur faoi bhráid an Tí. Is é údar an Bhille ná fáil réidh leis na forálacha sna hAchtanna Toghcháin a cheadaíonn toghchán a chur ar bun ar na hoiléain ar dháta éigin roimh dháta an toghcháin ar an mhórthír. Faoi láthair, is é an ceann comhairimh a shocraíonn dáta an toghcháin ar na hoileáin. Tá an fhoráil seo sa reachtaíocht de bharr an easpa deiseanna iompair chuig na hoileáin san am atá imithe. Le 15 bliain anuas, tá feabhas mór tagtha ar na seirbhísí chuig na hoileáin. Níl aon ghá leis an bhforáil seo níos mó. Go deimhin féin, bíonn na toghcháin ar na hoileáin i gContae Chorcaí ar an lá céanna leis na toghcháin ar an mhórthír. Tá Oileán Chléire chomh fada amach ón gcósta le haon oileán eile in Éirinn. Má ghlactar leis an mBille seo in am tráth, beidh an scéal amhlaidh ar na hoileáin i gContae na Gaillimhe, i gContae Mhaigh Eo agus i gContae Thír Chonaill. Thabharfadh sé seo deis i bhfad níos mó do na hoileánaigh filleadh abhaile agus vótáil, go mórmhór nuair a bhíonn toghchán ar siúl ar an Aoine. Tá go leor oileánaigh ag obair ar an mhórthír. Sílim go bhfuil sé in am é seo a athrú. Tá súil agam go mbeidh an Bille seo achtaithe ní roimh an 23ú lá den mhí seo ach roimh an chéad toghchán eile ina dhiaidh sin.

  The purpose of the Bill is abolish the provision contained in existing legislation which allows a returning officer to arrange for an election to be held on an island on a date which is before polling day on the mainland. This provision was introduced as a result of the very poor transport services to the islands in the past. However, in the past 15 years the position has changed and there are now very good transport services available to the islands. It is worth noting that in recent years elections have been held on the islands off the coast of Cork on the same day as those held on the mainland. This was despite the fact that Cape Clear Island is located as far out to sea as many of the other islands and has piers which are inferior to those which obtain on those islands. If the Bill is accepted, it will ensure that those who live on the islands off Donegal, Mayo and Galway will vote on the same day as their counterparts throughout the remainder of the country. This is particularly important in view of the fact that elections are often held on Fridays. For those from the islands who are either working or studying on the mainland, it is much easier to return home and vote on a Friday than on any other day of the week.

  I hope there will be a widespread welcome among Members of the House for this Bill and that it will be enacted prior to the next election after those due to be held later this month. I do not expect that it will be enacted before 23 May next, but in view of the number of islands off the coast of Mayo, perhaps the Taoiseach might facilitate its being rushed through. I will not live in hope in that regard. I do hope, however, that the Bill will receive unanimous support and that it will be enacted in advance of the next general election.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is the Bill opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2014: Motion

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I move:

That leave be given by the Dáil to introduce the following Supplementary Estimate for the service of the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014:
Vote 2 — Department of the Taoiseach (Supplementary Estimate).

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2014

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I move the following Supplementary Estimate:


Vote 2 - Department of the Taoiseach (Supplementary Estimate)
That a supplementary sum not exceeding €2,000,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2014, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain services administered by the Department and for payment of grants and grants-in-aid.

A Supplementary Estimate is required by my Department for the funding of the commission of investigation to examine certain matters of public concern relating to An Garda Síochána and other persons. The reasons for establishing the commission are well known at this stage.

  Following consideration of very serious matters relating to the operation of An Garda Síochána's telephone recording systems, the Government decided that the implications were potentially of such gravity that it was appropriate to establish a statutory commission of investigation to examine all matters of public concern relating to the issue. The Government also decided to establish a new Cabinet committee on justice reform to oversee the development of proposals for an independent police authority, and other associated reforms to the policing and justice system. We need to ensure full public confidence in, and support for, the Garda Síochána given the very difficult and important task it fulfils. We therefore wish there to be a full public debate on the issue of policing and justice reform, and the Government will very shortly commence a public consultation process on the issue of an independent policing authority.


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