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 Header Item Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 938 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy] It is very important that the Government would make that request and would also publish all the information it has so far.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has not seen the report to which the Deputy referred either. The security forces here would be very concerned about agents from an another country operating in this jurisdiction. We have had incidences of that in the past. I would prefer, if I may presume so, to allow the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, on behalf of the Government, to meet the Secretary of State, to have this matter and matters pertaining to it discussed, and for him to issue a statement after that meeting.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Before proceeding to questions on promised legislation, I want to call on the Government Chief Whip, being conscious of the request made yesterday to propose arrangements for the taking of statements on hospital waiting lists tomorrow.

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty I ask for leave to withdraw the arrangements proposed yesterday in regard to statements on the recent US executive order on immigration due to take place this Thursday morning. The statements have been substituted for statements on hospital waiting lists. It is proposed, notwithstanding previous orders of the Dáil this week, that: the Dáil shall sit at 9.30 a.m. to take the statements on hospital waiting lists; the statements shall be brought to a conclusion after two and a half hours; the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for parties or groups, or Members nominated in their stead, will have ten minutes each; a Minister or Minister of State will take questions for a period not exceeding 70 minutes; all Members may share time; and if the item is concluded before 12 noon, the House shall suspend until 12 noon, when Leaders' Questions shall commence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Do Members have any comments on that?

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I would like to raise my concerns about this arrangement. Obviously, I welcome that this debate is commencing and the length of the time allocated for it is fine but backbenchers like myself will be denied the right to contribute to it because there is no time provided for Fine Gael Members to contribute. Certainly there is time provided for the Minister, and that is right and proper but given that we have 50 Deputies in our party, we will not be able to make a contribution in the ten minutes the party will have to contribute. I respectfully ask that the committee-----

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh The Deputy's parliamentary party had an opportunity to raise that.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I did not interrupt anybody. I know the Deputy might not like what I am saying. The right of a backbencher to speak on a matter of utmost national importance is recognised by the committee organising the business of this House and it must allow me and people like me to speak in this important debate.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl What is the Deputy's proposal?

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd My proposal is that the debate would commence earlier than 9.30 a.m., whether it be 8.30 a.m or 8 a.m., I do not mind, that it would continue until every Member of the House who wishes to speak on this biggest scandal about hospital waiting lists would speak and that we would have that right. That is what we are elected to do, that is what I am looking for and that is what my constituents want me to say.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl With respect, Deputy, every Deputy has a right to speak on every matter that they might want to but-----

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd That is correct.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl -----practicality requires us to order the business in the course of the working week.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd Yes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl It is not realistic to expect that all 158 Members will have an opportunity to contribute on this or any other matter but-----

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I am not suggesting that would be the case.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl If the Deputy has a practical implementable proposal, I ask him please to put it.

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I will repeat what I said. Notwithstanding the wisdom of the Ceann Comhairle's comments, the Labour Party, the Anti-Austerity Alliance, the Independents 4 Change, the Social Democrats and the Green Party are all smaller parties. That is a fact. Why can I as a Member of Fine Gael not speak for five minutes like any Member of the other parties? The point is-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Has the Deputy a specific proposal?

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd My proposal is that we would ask, if it would be helpful-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy wants the House to sit at 8.30 a.m. Is that what he is proposing?

Deputy Fergus O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd I do not have a problem with that, or at 8 a.m. I have no problem with that. I propose that.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl At 8 a.m., yes. Thank you, Deputy. Does any other Member wish to comment?

Deputy John Curran: Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran I want to put on the record that what the Deputy said about his party applies to this side of the House. The business that had been scheduled to be transacted at that time tomorrow had made additional time available for the three larger parties - there was an extra hour to be divided. That is not in the new arrangement and it makes it virtually impossible for the vast majority of Members from our party, the party opposite and a significant number of the Members of Sinn Féin to contribute. That needs to be examined.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I thought the Deputy's party was happy with-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Ciúnas.

Deputy John Curran: Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran It is happening time and again that the vast majority of Members on this side and on the opposite side of the House do not have an opportunity to contribute. Yesterday's Order of Business was the first time that was acknowledged and an effort was made, but the revised business does not reflect that and it should return to that.


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