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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (An Ceart chun Féinriarachta Pearsanta agus Sláine Colainne) 2014: An Chéad Chéim
 Header Item Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Personal Autonomy and Bodily Integrity) Bill 2014: First Stage
 Header Item Standing Orders: Motion
 Header Item Standing Orders: Motion
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2014
 Header Item Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2014: Second Stage (Resumed)

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 859 No. 3

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Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins While I understand the point made by the Tánaiste, can she provide the background as to why she is introducing this amendment before the House this afternoon?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy, it is not really on the Order of Business.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins But it is an amendment to a Bill.

The Tánaiste: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton It is an amendment that is being worked on by the lawyers and by the Attorney General's office. I set out in yesterday's note what it is about.

Deputy Joan Collins: Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins Can the Tánaiste repeat that?

The Tánaiste: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Deputy heard me read the detailed note. It pertains to pension schemes where there has been a double insolvency. I read that out to the committee yesterday but it is being worked on at present by the Attorney General's office and the drafters.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I understand there will be a debate on the issue in the House.

The Tánaiste: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There will be a debate on the motion.

The Tánaiste: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy, there will be a debate on the motion.

An Bille um an gCeathrú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (An Ceart chun Féinriarachta Pearsanta agus Sláine Colainne) 2014: An Chéad Chéim

Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Personal Autonomy and Bodily Integrity) Bill 2014: First Stage

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly Tairgim:

Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.

  I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.

I will make a few brief points in seeking leave to introduce the Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Personal Autonomy and Bodily Integrity) Bill 2014. The purpose of this Bill is to provide for a referendum to delete Article 40.3.3o, the controversial eighth amendment to the Constitution, which equated the life of a woman with that of a foetus. Its purpose is to delete that provision and replace it with a simple sentence declaring and acknowledging the rights of all citizens to personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

  The basis for this Bill originated in the incredibly successful and well-attended conference organised by the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment in September 2014 in the city. Hundreds of delegates attended, including medical practitioners, legal people, young women and men, campaigners for women's rights over decades and for human rights, as well as civil society organisations. There were discussions at the conference about what needed to be done to take forward important issues of women's health and bodily integrity. The conference welcomed the fact that Fine Gael backbenchers had recognised the need to repeal the eighth amendment. The delegates recognised that a number of Labour Party Ministers had also stated that a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment was necessary. However, the conference rejected the suggestion that this should be left to the next Government.

  The reason the conference did so was very much in the context of the tragic Y case that occurred over the course of the summer, which was another verification of how our laws mean that it is poor people and those of vulnerable immigrant status who pay the price for this amendment. The delegates decided we could not wait for the next Government and we should take on board and avail of the facility afforded by the Government's agreement to hold other referendums next year. Consequently, the Technical Group decided to use its Private Members' time to discuss this issue on 16 and 17 December. Members do so while being very much cognisant that the Constitution as it stands actually enshrines hypocrisy. I wish to use the words of the former Minister for Justice and Equality, who put it more eloquently than did I when he was the Minister for Justice and Equality and when Members last discussed this issue in the House. He stated:

It can truly be said that the right of pregnant women to have their health protected is, under our constitutional framework, a qualified right [as is their right to bodily integrity]. This will remain the position. This is a republic in which we proclaim the equality of all our citizens but the reality is that some citizens are more equal than others.

He also stated that "In the absence of constitutional change, there will continue to be a British solution to [an] Irish problem". I simply do not accept this is valid. It endangers women, it undermines human rights in our society and because of the interests of all our citizens, it cannot wait until the next Government takes office. Members must discuss this issue now and will discuss it on 16 and 17 December. Hopefully, the Government will be persuaded by these arguments in order that this proposal can be put to the people next year. It actually will tally with the opinions of the people, which repeatedly have been in favour of the need to deal with this constitutional block to women's health and bodily integrity rights.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Is the Bill being opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe It is not opposed.

  Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I declare the motion for leave to introduce agreed. Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly Tairgim: "Go dtógfar an Bille in am Comhaltaí Príobháideacha."

  I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

  Question put and agreed to.

Standing Orders: Motion

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

That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, the following additional Standing Orders be adopted as Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business:

Absence for witness evidence

94B. (1) Subject to Standing Order 94C, in the event of any member of a Committee which is conducting a Part 2 inquiry (where the inquiry has the power to make findings of fact) being absent for any witness evidence at a meeting of the Committee, the Chairman shall table a motion for a Resolution of Dáil Éireann to remove the member from the Committee in accordance with section 20(4) of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Inquiries, Privileges and Procedures) Act 2013.
(2) For the purpose of this Standing Order and Standing Order 94C, a witness is any person giving oral evidence to the Committee save for employees of, and any person with technical knowledge or expertise engaged by, the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.
Absence for witness evidence due to exceptional circumstances

94C. Where a member of a Committee which is conducting a Part 2 inquiry (where the inquiry has the power to make findings of fact) is or will be absent for any witness evidence at a meeting of the Committee, and the Committee agrees that the absence is due to exceptional circumstances:
(1) it may decide not to proceed with the witness evidence or to postpone the commencement of the witness evidence; or

(2) where the Committee is of the view that it is necessary to proceed with the witness evidence, it may, following the consideration of legal advice, proceed with the meeting where:
(a) the witness consents to having their evidence heard without the member; and

(b) the witness agrees to any other measures that, according to the legal advice given to the Committee, is necessary and/or appropriate,
and the Chairman will not table the motion (under Standing Order 94B) for a Resolution to remove the member from the Committee.’.”

  Question put and agreed to.

Standing Orders: Motion

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

That, pursuant to Standing Order 99(1)(a) and (b), the Committee on Procedure and Privileges recommends that the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business are hereby amended by the insertion of the following subparagraph in Standing Order 99(1):
‘(g) consider and report on matters standing referred to the Committee pursuant to the Protocol on the Provision of Procedural and Legal Advice to Committees of the Houses Established Pursuant to Standing Orders, as adopted by the Committee and the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.’.”

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2014

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I move the following Supplementary Estimates:

Vote 20 — Garda Síochána (Supplementary)
That a supplementary sum not exceeding €75,240,000 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 Garda Síochána, including pensions, etc.; for the payment of certain witnesses’ expenses, and for payment of a grant-in-aid.
Vote 21 — Prisons (Supplementary)
That a supplementary sum not exceeding €9,250,000 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 Prison Service, and other expenses in connection with prisons, including places of detention; for probation services; and for payment of a grant-in-aid.


Vote 22 — Courts Service (Supplementary)
That a supplementary sum not exceeding €1,000 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 such of the salaries and expenses of the Courts Service and of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Special Criminal Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court and of certain other minor services as are not charged to the Central Fund.

  Votes put and agreed to.

Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2014: Second Stage (Resumed)

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

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin As I noted yesterday, this legislation represents an updating of the regulatory regime for the health insurance sector in this State. Some of the Bill continues what I acknowledge, as the health delivery system currently is structured, is the necessary system of community rating, which helps to ensure that consumers are charged the same premium for a particular plan regardless of age, gender or health status, thus preventing price discrimination against those more likely to require medical treatment. Unfortunately, it is also but a way of propping up the ailing health system. Members still await details of the Government's long-promised universal health insurance proposals. In the interim, many people continue to take out private health insurance because they cannot rely on the health service when they or their loved ones are unwell and this, as I already have stated, in itself is a tragedy.

As long as the type of health insurance market and the type of health funding system that exist in this State are retained, the regulatory regime provided for in this Bill will be necessary. Accordingly, I record that Sinn Féin will not oppose the Bill's passage. It involves a complex system of risk equalisation to support the community rating principle. This entails the transfer of compensation from insurers who carry lighter risk burdens than those who carry heavier risk burdens. All this requires regulation, monitoring, enforcement and as provided for in this Bill.


Last Updated: 02/08/2018 23:00:56 First Page Previous Page Page of 71 Next Page Last Page