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Business of Dáil (Continued)

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 906 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy] This was the issue we discussed at length in the debate on the Order of Business on the last occasion. At least in theory, Fianna Fáil should not be against discussing Irish Water and water charges. There should be a majority in this House in favour of discussing that issue. Could we at least agree to discuss it? We are discussing housing and homelessness today. Can we discuss Irish Water and water charges?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The point is made. I call Deputy Halligan.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his kind deliberations. We need to bring some commonsense to the House today. Today we are to discuss the issue of housing, homelessness and migration within the European context. We have spent the past two years discussing these issues. We need ideas to come from the House. We need motions on which we can deliberate and vote so decisions can be made. I know of a couple that will lose their house within the next week and who will be added to the list of homeless in Waterford or Ireland. We cannot wait until 6 April to discuss and deliberate on these issues, bring them into some context and vote on them. Are we seriously telling people who voted for this Dáil that the next decision on whether we will elect a Taoiseach will not be until 6 April and that we will allow this House to close until 6 April while critical issues are affecting people who voted for us? We might as well give up if that is the case. What is the point in being here at all if we are just going to talk about homelessness, unemployment, agriculture and migration and do nothing about them, and not even be in a position to vote on them or make a decision on them? What is the point? That is not why I was elected. I was elected to come here and make decisions, even decisions with which I might not agree, and pass them on to the people. I was elected here to see democracy working within this House. I do not believe any of us should be prepared to walk home from here today and not come back until 6 April and still not make any decisions on the issues affecting very many citizens, including people who are living on the street or in hotels. People will be walking the streets with their children until 6 o’clock this evening before they can go into a bed and breakfast. Hundreds of thousands of people are locked in Turkey in crisis and in terrible conditions. That we are to debate these issues again rather than make a decision is disgraceful.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl As we meet today, we are bound by the Standing Orders this House has adopted. The House has spoken about reform for 40 years. Tomorrow we are going to meet and, I hope, begin the process of reform. I hope some of the reforms can be enacted, by consensus, on 6 April. However, until 6 April there will be no facility to stray beyond the terms of the Standing Orders we have. The question now is-----

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams May I appeal to the Taoiseach to at least extend to me the courtesy of responding?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Does the Taoiseach want to make a brief comment in response to the points that have been raised?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny We had agreed on the last occasion that the Dáil would meet today and again on 6 April. In respect of recognising the changed circumstances that apply, I proposed two amendments to what was agreed on the last occasion. The first was to extend the period for discussion, ideas and issues surrounding housing and homelessness and the second concerned the very important matter of giving recognition to those elected Members who are not aligned to any grouping, affiliation or party such that their contributions may be heard in these debates. For those reasons, I proposed those two minor changes to what was agreed on the last occasion. It is an indication from many Deputies who look to the new Dáil to be able to have greater engagement and responsibility in respect of how it goes about its business.

Three things have happened with the commencement of this Dáil. The first is the election of the Ceann Comhairle by secret ballot of the Members of the Dáil. The second is that when a Government is formed, the committees of the House will be constituted according to the d’Hondt system. The third is that the Taoiseach of the day will have to attend committees on a number of occasions each year.


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