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 Header Item Cabinet Committee Meetings (Continued)
 Header Item Appointment of Tánaiste: Announcement by An Taoiseach
 Header Item Order of Business

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 847 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] There is a greater crisis in health now than ever before. There is no sense of any profound change taking place. If anything, the situation is getting worse in terms of waiting lists and so on. The Taoiseach said the mortgage committee met once in February, and I am not sure if it met in May. That is one Cabinet committee that has singularly failed to deal comprehensively with a chronic, ongoing problem, with up to more than 90,000 people in arrears over three months and more than 24,000 people who have not paid their full mortgage in two years. There are major social issues emanating from that. It seems that the only result one can detect from the policy of increasing the number of Cabinet committee meetings is that less Government activity is now open to public scrutiny. As the Taoiseach is aware, all of these meetings are covered by Cabinet confidentiality, therefore, many of the policy workings in the groups that meet to feed into these Cabinet committees are not subject to public discussion. Will the structure be revisited after the Cabinet reshuffle? Given the nature of the frequency of the meetings, they do not seem to having any impact other than to take from the role of public scrutiny?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Higgins has a question tabled in this grouping.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins The Taoiseach said that the Economic Management Council met three times in the period we asked about. It comprises the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Considering that the new Tánaiste bitterly criticised the workings of that committee and the dictatorial powers that she thought it took to itself, does he foresee a major change in the membership of that Cabinet sub-committee or in how it would work, or will the fact that the Tánaiste is inside the tent now rather than outside it calm her down in regard to that particular issue?

Second, when will the Taoiseach announce his revised Cabinet and will there be a discussion-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a separate question altogether.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins -----or an opportunity for a debate in the Dáil on that?

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan Are you volunteering, Joe?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The committee on justice was set up to deal with the presentation of options for the setting up of a statutory independent authority for the Garda. It has met, I believe, on two occasions and the officials have met on a number of occasions in between to follow on its work programme. I expect it will meet again next week. The intention is that there should be a set of proposals to deal with the setting up of the statutory authority available this month which can be debated in the House. Another element of that was the competition being put in place and in process by the Minister for Justice and Equality in respect of the appointment of the Commissioner of the Garda.

In regard to Deputy Higgins's comments, the Economic Management Council met three times in February, twice in March and once in May.

Deputy Martin asked whether the structure of the Cabinet sub-committees will be revisited. These used to operate irregularly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays - I tend to do them one Monday in the month. They are substantial meetings and, from my point of view, they are a very good facility to bring a conclusion to processes that are going on in Departments for a very long time, then they go to Cabinet for decision, acceptance or whatever, having been discussed and concluded at the Cabinet sub-committee meetings. I find they are a method of being able to timeline and force conclusions on issues that have been around for a long time. I do not propose any change in that structure; I find it works well. It is quite important to say that the outcome of them goes to Cabinet for final decision and obviously for discussion afterwards.

In regard to Deputy Higgins's comment, any time new people are appointed to Cabinet, there must be a debate and a vote on it in the Dáil and that will take place in the event of new faces in new places in the not too distant future and the Deputy will have an opportunity to make his comments.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins When?

Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Appointment of Tánaiste: Announcement by An Taoiseach

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I understand that the Taoiseach now wishes to make an announcement for the information of the House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I do.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley Some of his colleagues have been out on this before him but the Taoiseach should continue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I wish to announce for the information of the Dáil that, following the resignation of the Deputy Eamon Gilmore as Tánaiste last Friday, 4 July 2014, I nominated Deputy Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection, to be the Tánaiste.

Deputy Joe Higgins: Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins Lads, keep clapping, you might make it yet.

Order of Business

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Order of Business is No. 24, National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Bill 2014 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 25, the Forestry Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members' business, which shall be No. 154, motion re free travel scheme, Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members’ business shall adjourn after 90 minutes; tomorrow’s business after Oral Questions shall be No. 26, Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 27, State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 25, Forestry Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed? Agreed. I call Deputy Martin on the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I extend my congratulations to the new Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, on her elevation. She clearly received an overwhelming endorsement from Labour Party activists across the country. It is the pinnacle of a long career and she has enjoyed very good support from her family and friends. I wish her the very best in her portfolio and in her role as Tánaiste, giving very strong support to the Taoiseach no doubt in the months ahead. In that context, will the Taoiseach ever take other Ministers out of their prolonged misery? It is very disconcerting and discomforting-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett He cannot do it on the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----for members of the Opposition to have to watch on a daily basis the very pained look on certain individuals coming into the House who are living in a kind of limbo-land in terms of whether they will survive. We are very concerned-----

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring The Deputy might tell us how to do it. He did a good job on that.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It has been heartening to see almost the full complement of the Labour Party members come into the House for the first time in a long time-----

Deputy Arthur Spring: Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring Do the Deputy's colleagues present comprise the full complement of the Fianna Fáil Party?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----to witness the elevation of the Tánaiste.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We are on the Order of Business.

(Interruptions).

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Our day will come too, Ruairí.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Let us quieten down and get back to business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin To stay within the parameters of the Order of Business-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I would appreciate that very much.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----to which I am leading, the Taoiseach might indicate when he intends to bring resolutions before the House to give effect to the long speculated Cabinet reshuffle. Will the Opposition be given due new notice in terms of the timelines for debate and contributions on what will be a substantive debate on the issues surrounding that Cabinet reshuffle? We have some idea who will be coming in. Deputy Quinn has resigned and I wish him the best.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett This is not really relevant to the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister of State, Deputy Kelly, has already announced unilaterally that he is going into Cabinet.

A Deputy: He did that about a month ago.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley He did that on the day he got elected here.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Martin has had his say.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister, Deputy Reilly, is ringing all round him. I do not know who among those who have been talked out will talk themselves back in but in any event it would be useful if the Taoiseach could bring that to a conclusion and let us know when we can expect to hear that.

Deputy Sandra McLellan: Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan On a need to know basis.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin In a more serious vein, although my first issue is a serious one, the second issue I wish to raise-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Seeing as the first two were out of order, the Deputy might be in order on his third one.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The first one was in order; it was about promised resolutions to come before the House in regard to the Cabinet.

My second matter relates to the fact that legislation has been brought forward by Deputy Timmy Dooley on creating a system of appeals to the licensing laws in regard to concerts. This is in the context of the five Garth Brooks concerts being cancelled officially, which represents approximately a €50 million loss to the Dublin economy-----

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

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----and very significant reputational damage to the country in terms of the importance of Ireland and Dublin as its capital city-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy should remember my guidelines.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----in attracting such significant events to the country, which create employment and activity for a range of interests.


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