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 Header Item Nomination of Taoiseach (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 906 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan] To a certain extent, the statements from the Independents are, aside from history, part of the process, given that we have moved on from the requirement for parity of esteem which existed during recent days. To a certain extent, it is moving to the next step.

  As Deputy Micheál Martin is involved in the process, I will give him some advice. He is right to address the issue of Irish Water first and remove it from any programme for Government negotiations that may take place in the establishment of a minority Government. I listened to what Deputy Jan O'Sullivan and others said, that holding a referendum on public ownership might be one of the ways of addressing some of the fears about which Deputy Catherine Murphy spoke, that it is about something much wider. I hope it is possible for some sort of agreement on it.

  I also have a sense from all sides that there is widespread agreement that if we can form a Government and avoid an election - Deputy Coveney said an election would be a failure on all our parts - we want a greater degree of social equity and justice and a new Government to tackle income inequality and poverty. If there is one outcome of the election, discerning what people were saying, I sense this in the result. Given the statements here, I do not sense that people disagree with it. If some sort of minority Government is formed, let this be at the core. The Green Party's vision is that an ecological and social justice approach go hand in hand.

  How we engage in the process and strive to seek such social justice is also important. I am glad we do not have an adversarial Chamber but that there is a bit of a curve in the House. If, as Deputy Micheál Martin said, we are going to reach an historic moment in which we take a minority rather than a majority approach, facing each other and shouting and screaming at each other will not work. If, as Deputy Catherine Murphy said, we are to take the changes we are agreeing in the Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, it requires that all of us, in opposition and in government, start addressing each other and working with each other in a consensual manner. As just one reflection of what I have heard this afternoon, I quote from Bertolt Brecht's poem "To Posterity":

For we knew only too well:

Even the hatred of squalor

Makes the brow grow stern.

Even anger against injustice

Makes the voice grow harsh. Alas, we

Who wished to lay the foundations of kindness

Could not ourselves be kind.

Let us be slightly kind to each other in the next week, give each other a little space, talk to each other with a little respect. We all have social justice in our hearts and aspirations. Let us try to achieve it through co-operation in whatever evolves during the coming weeks.

Deputy Katherine Zappone: Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Today, I reached a decision on Government formation and voting for a Taoiseach. My Independent colleagues issued a statement that went otherwise. I was not invited to the meeting from which the statement came, which I believe was inadvertent. I agree with the statement that we need to hasten the formation of a Government and give stability to the people. I also agree with the statement in that I hope Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael can agree to give mutual support to each other. I hope what Deputy Eamon Ryan said and what we heard from both leaders is true. I also agree that we need a minimum of three budgets to give stability.

While I am in agreement with my fellow Independent Members, I believe the best way to move forward with this is to identify which minority Government we would be willing to support. This is the way to practice the new politics about which we are all talking. The housing agencies, one of which Deputy Connolly quoted, the business leaders, disability groups and medical professionals are all calling for a government. The Opposition is calling for a government. The people are calling for a government. It is time for us to act on these calls. Given that a second election will not change the outcome, we must examine how to deliver our promises through a minority government.

Since I was elected, I have worked tirelessly to assist in the formation of a government. I have never accused those who were not at the talks of not doing so. Almost 100 hours of talks have taken place. It has been an incredible experience to hear the views of the constituents of other Independent colleagues which are coming onto the table and of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Deputies. During the election, I promised to share the views of my constituents with everybody who would listen and to talk to anyone who was willing to form a stable government. Therefore, I vigorously shared, and continue to share, the concerns and issues of the people of Dublin South-West and passionately represented the voice of those facing inequality due to social background, gender or minority status, concern with housing, child care, health, disability and the referendum on the eighth amendment. I vigorously and passionately argued these issues and learned a considerable amount in the discussions from those who shared them, listening to the diversity of views.

Full equality is possible, but not without a Government that is willing to consider it as an integral part of its vision to build a vibrant economy and a just society. I stand with the groups which Deputy Connolly identified, as I have demonstrated. In light of my decision today, I think Fine Gael is willing to take on, and make integral to its vision, a belief that full equality is possible. This is the future, if it is not the past, to which Deputy McDonald referred. I hope my vote today for Deputy Enda Kenny as Taoiseach brings us closer to forming a minority government so we can get on with the work which all our constituents want us to do. After seven weeks, while the public has waited, I believe it was the right thing for me to do.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Before moving to the next business, at the request of the Sub-Committee on Dáil Reform, I wish to update the House on the work of the sub-committee, which has met on four occasions since its establishment.

The sub-committee agreed a formal work programme at its first meeting on 23 March based on the broad range of submissions it had received. At the meeting, the sub-committee also discussed the establishment of a business committee, rules governing Technical Groups allowing for more than one Technical Group and fewer Members to form a Technical Group, dedicated committee time, fixed times for voting and provision to allow for formal abstentions in votes. The sub-committee completed its deliberations on these matters at its second meeting on 5 April, the details of which were set out in the interim report laid before the House last week.

The intention is to bring forward new Standing Orders which will permit the business committee to be established. The committee will agree the sessional and weekly agenda of business for the Dáil and will give all groups represented in the Dáil access to and control over the business coming before the House. The sub-committee has also agreed a fixed time for voting, which it is envisaged will take place on Thursday afternoons. There will be a number of exceptions, such as for the Order of Business, the naming of a Member for disorderly behaviour, which I am sure will not happen, and for Committee and Report Stages of Bills. Apart from these, all votes will take place together and Members will be able to register their intention to abstain.

The combined impact of the more effective planning of business and the new voting arrangements will be to improve the working environment, particularly for Members with young families. It is very evident from the submissions to and discussions at the sub-committee that Members are faced with competing demands on their time due to the fact that the Dáil and committees meet at the same time. The sub-committee has, therefore, proposed splitting committee and plenary time. Committees will meet on Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and plenary time will commence at 12 noon on those days and at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

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