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 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith] This trickery is allowing the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, and the Chairman to vote to hold onto that Bill as if it was their little baby, to keep it hostage, and to not allow it to move forward when they already voted for the motion I put yesterday to lay a report before this House and to allow the Bill to proceed to the select committee in order that everybody can come in and amend and change it. The Bill is about doing something meaningful, courageous and even trailblazing. When the Taoiseach himself has accused us of being laggards when it comes to climate change, why does he not now use his power and instruct his Minister and the Chairman to let the Bill go and to release it so that we can become a leader in climate action instead of a laggard?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank the Deputy. I believe our duty as a Government and as politicians is to make sure that we pass our planet on to our children and grandchildren in a better state than we found it and that means taking action on climate change and protecting the environment. We have taken a lot of action in recent years. For example, there is legislation working its way through the House at present to outlaw the use of microbeads and certain plastics. We passed legislation last year to prevent the Government and Government investment funds from investing in the hydrocarbon industry. We have taken measures to support renewable energy, to take coal off the grid by the end of the decade and to take peat off the grid. Other actions under way include the fact that from this summer, all new buses bought by Dublin Bus or Bus Éireann in our cities will be low-emission or no-emission vehicles. We are taking climate action both as an Oireachtas and as a Government.

On this particular issue, the Deputy has it wrong in terms of climate action, energy security and the economy. The truth is that we will need natural gas and oil as transition fuels for the foreseeable future, whether to fuel aircraft so that they can fly, to produce plastics necessary for medical devices or to power our towns, cities and industries when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Most people who are interested in climate science understand that natural gas is a transitional fuel and that we will need it as part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future if not for decades to come. The question is therefore, if we have our own natural gas, should we use it or should we import it? Of course, importing it as opposed to using our own is worse for the environment because the gas we might import from the United States is very often shale gas, which is much more damaging to the environment than our own natural gas from Corrib. Some of the gas we import from Russia or eastern Europe gets lost along the way, so it is actually worse for the environment to import gas from the US, Russia or Venezuela than to use our own gas. From a climate science point of view, the Deputy's proposal is wrong-headed. Second, there is the issue of energy security. Do we want to use the gas we have or would we prefer to import it from Canada, the United States, Venezuela, Russia and the Middle East?

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Excuses, excuses.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Perhaps the Deputy would like that, but it is my view that it is wrong-headed. If we have our own natural gas we should use it and should not be dependent on Russia, countries in the Middle East and Venezuela for our energy needs. Third is the issue of imports and exports. Surely it makes more sense to use our taxpayers' money and our people's money on things like public services than on importing oil and gas from other countries.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I would dearly love to have this debate with the Taoiseach's party and with every other Deputy in this Dáil. That is why I want the Taoiseach to tell his Ministers to let go of the Bill and to let it go to the select committee where we can have precisely the type of debate the Taoiseach is trying to engage in with me here. The Taoiseach did not answer the question I asked. I am asking him why procedural trickery is being used by the Minister of State and the Chairman in order to hold the Bill in limbo when there is no justification for doing so under Standing Orders. There is no precedent in Dáil Éireann to carry out such administrative trickery in respect of a Bill which should proceed. I believe the reason the Taoiseach is doing this is that he is wed to fossil fuel industry. Last February, after this Bill passed Second Stage, the chief executive officer of Providence Resources, Tony O'Reilly Jnr., wrote to the then Minister saying he was deeply concerned and that he wanted the Government to deal urgently with the question of this Bill. The Taoiseach is wedded to the fossil fuel industry and he is dancing to its merry tune rather than to the tune of the young people who will go on strike on 15 March and who will be outside the gate of this House consistently to demand that something meaningful happen. Will the Taoiseach tell his Minister of State to get that Bill out of limbo, to stop breaking Standing Orders, to follow procedures correctly and legally, as they should be followed, and to allow the Bill go to the select committee where we can have the debate the Taoiseach wants to have here now?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I note the Deputy did not actually address any of my substantive arguments around climate science, around-----

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I want to do that on Committee Stage.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I note the Deputy did not answer any of my substantive arguments around climate science, import substitution-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Taoiseach did not address the Deputy's arguments about holding the Bill hostage.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----and energy security.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I am the one asking the questions of the Taoiseach. He did not answer my questions.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Her question was entirely a procedural question. As the Deputy should be well aware, the procedures of a committee-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is the Taoiseach's Minister of State and his Chairman.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----are a matter for the committee. If the Deputy has a question for the Chairman of the committee-----

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It has nothing to do with Members from the Taoiseach's party or with his Ministers. Will the Taoiseach give us a break?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----that question should surely be addressed to the Chairman.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith The Taoiseach's Government and his Ministers are holding this Bill hostage. The Taoiseach can admit it and do something about it or answer to the young people of this country.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Will the Deputy please desist from heckling?

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I am not heckling. I am speaking in a loud voice because my microphone was turned off.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy should try to be constructive around the issue of climate change and climate action. I understand that she offended the Senators at the committee, which is one of the reasons she found it difficult to get support for her Bill. She does not really want it passed.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Those Senators were not even there for the debate.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith The Senators did not even bother attending pre-legislative scrutiny to hear the debate.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As is always the case, the far left does not actually want to solve any problems. They want to politicise problems so that they can get airtime, attention, likes, retweets and all of the rest of it.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I advise the Deputy to work harder, to be respectful and polite to colleagues, to try to build support for her Bill, to try to build a coalition for it-----

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I will not grovel to people who came in deliberately to stop the Bill proceeding. They are disgraceful.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----and to work much harder at the Joint Committee on Climate Action on the issue of carbon tax. The truth is that the far left has no interest in climate change. It just wants to do this stuff.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith The Taoiseach is using Senators and Deputy Lowry to play the tune of the fossil fuel industry. That is exactly what he is doing. It is disgraceful.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy does not care about the environment, she should stop pretending.

Deputy Catherine Martin: Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin The Taoiseach certainly does not care about the environment.

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We now proceed to expressions of sympathy on the death of the former Fine Gael Member, Donal Creed, father of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed. Before calling on Members to offer their tributes to our distinguished former colleague, I welcome his family to the Distinguished Visitors Gallery. I welcome Donal's wife, Madeleine; our good friend and colleague, Michael; Donal's daughters, Michelle, Madeleine, Suzanne and Louise; and his grandchildren and extended family members who are here. They are all very welcome to Leinster House this afternoon. We know that this is a poignant day for them, tinged with bittersweet memories, as they join us in the Dáil Chamber where Donal spent so many years serving his country and the people of his beloved Cork. As we gather to reflect on Donal's life and political legacy, I hope that the memories shared here in the Chamber will serve to support his family in some small way. We also pause to remember Donal's daughter, Claire, who passed away a short time before his own death in late 2017.

I did not know Donal personally, but this proud son of Macroom had an electoral record which we experts in this Chamber can only admire. Serving from 1965 to 1989 was a fine achievement, particularly when constituency reconfigurations created the three-seat constituency of Cork North-West in 1981. As a Deputy from another competitive three-seater, I salute Donal's enviable achievement. He served with distinction at many different levels, including local, national and European, and in a number of Ministries of State, as well as in senior positions within the Fine Gael Party. It must have been a source of great pride for him to see his son, Michael, promoted to the key portfolio of agriculture. In his 24 years in this Chamber, Donal Creed assisted many people who were experiencing difficulties locally and nationally. As a hard-working Deputy, he reassured many people and made life better for many of them. He did this out of a strong sense of public duty. This public service was clearly supported by a loving family and an enviable political network in Cork North-West.


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