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Order of Business.

Wednesday, 12 June 1996

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 466 No. 7

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Minister of Finance (Mr. Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn It is proposed to take No. 18, Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 1995 — Report and Final Stages — and No. 19, Garda Síochána Bill, 1996 — Second Stage (Resumed). It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that: (1) the proceedings on the Report and Final Stages of No. 18, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m. today by one Question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Social Welfare; (2) the proceedings on the resumed Second Stages of No. 19, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight; and (3) Private Members' Business shall be No. 29 — Motion re hepatitis C (Resumed) and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Are the proposals for dealing with No. 18, the Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 1995, Report and Final Stage agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with No. 19 the Garda Síochána Bill, 1996, Second stage (Resumed) satisfactory and [1746] agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals relating to Private Members' Business this evening satisfactory? Agreed.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern For the first time in 20 years, last night the House rejected a Government Bill on Second Stage. In the normal course of events under our rules it would be a further six months before the Bill could come before the House. Deputy Séamus Brennan, on a point of order which the Chair allowed, offered to consult the Government on the basis that we were in favour of light rail but were against the draconian powers that this Bill gave the Minister——

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Scrambling back.

Mr. Lowry: Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry Making excuses.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern ——making provision for knocking houses and business premises——

Mr. Lowry: Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry Hoping for excuses to try to justify it——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Clearly we cannot debate the matter now.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Government has two choices.

Mr. Lowry: Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry Anti-light rail, anti-Dublin.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I negotiated the money for the light rail, as we negotiated everything else, but the Minister did nothing. This is an incompetent Government that is spending everything.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy is putting it in jeopardy.

Mr. Lowry: Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry The Deputy is sabotaging light rail.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Chair is not being helped by interruptions from the Government side of the House.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern Under Standing [1747] Orders the Government cannot reintroduce this Bill within six months. If this House believes in openness, transparency and accountability, the Government certainly cannot do it but it can discuss how the Bill can be amended. Last night we made a decision on behalf of the people whose houses would be knocked.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Deputy may raise a procedural point but may not make a speech.

Mr. Sheehan: Information on P. J. Sheehan Zoom on P. J. Sheehan What did Fianna Fáil do with the west Cork heavy rail system? It is well known what it did.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern Will the Minister for Finance proceed with this Bill in the normal way — amending it before bringing it back to the House in six months' time — or engage with the Opposition in amending the Bill substantially and removing the grounds for objection, on which the Opposition won the vote last night, because there was no proper consultative procedure for ordinary people to have a say in how it will operate? That is what the victory was.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy That should be adequate, Deputy.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Government cannot reintroduce a Bill that was negatived by this House under a phoney order, as it is suggesting to the media. The Government has the alternative of waiting six months or dropping the sections and I ask the Minister to confirm the option he will take.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Will the Minister reply now or does Deputy Harney wish to comment on the same subject?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I would not like to intrude on the partnership.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Minister had some partnership last night.

[1748]Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney We have heard a great deal in recent days about democracy. If democracy means anything, it means that when this House votes in a certain way the Government follows it and does not seek to undermine democracy. I agree with Deputy Costello that it was a blinkered approach from the Government which should consult the Opposition parties with a view to amending the legislation to ensure we get the most effective and appropriate public transport system for the city and county of Dublin.

It was not the Opposition who defeated the Government last night, it was the Government's own incompetence. We will not see the rules of this House undermined because the Government has been incompetent. I appeal to the Minister to go back to the drawing board, to talk to Opposition parties and bring an amended Bill before the House which can win the support of all the parties in the House, not just the parties in Government.

Mr. Taylor: Information on Mervyn Taylor Zoom on Mervyn Taylor Very convenient.

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney The Minister was not even here.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government will take note of the fact when it meets later today that the Fianna Fáil Party, the Progressive Democrat Party and the environmentally friendly Greens voted on Second Stage against the principle of a light rail system for Dublin.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Minister was not listening.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn It is what the Opposition did last night and there is no fudging that.

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke Where were your Deputies?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Dempsey: Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey Five Labour Deputies did not come in to vote.

[1749]Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The question of amendments proposed by Deputy Bertie Ahern — and he has been in this House as long as I have been here — is what I used to consider Committee Stage was all about. We have endless examples where there were problems with specific details that were dealt with on Committee Stage.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern When Deputy Quinn was in Clanbrassil Street he was against that.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The two and a half Opposition parties have been caught in their opportunistic phase——

Mr. R. Burke: Information on Ray Burke Zoom on Ray Burke The Minister could not mind the shop when the two boys were away.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn ——they voted against the principle thinking they would lose the vote but they have voted against the principle of light rail for Dublin.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern We should be caught more often then and have some of the Minister's own people go AWOL.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn We voted for it, the parties opposite voted against it. That is democracy.

Mr. S. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan I cannot let that stand on the record of the House.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Did the Deputy's party not vote against it?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Before Deputy Brennan proceeds I must dissuade Members from the notion that we can debate the matter now.

Mr. S. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan Fianna Fáil voted against the principles of no consultation, riding roughshod over the wishes of local communities and draconian measures in a clumsy Bill brought before the House by an incompetent [1750] Government. Having been defeated last night it should withdraw the Bill and introduce a fundamentally changed one.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I seem to recall that a Government of which the Deputy was a member accepted the principle of a Bill, proposed by Deputy Alan Shatter, on Second Stage which was subsequently amended on Committee Stage.

Mr. S. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan Not the principle of no consultation.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The reality is that the parties voted against the principle of the Bill.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern There was no consultation.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy We are having much repetition. I assert again that I will not allow a debate to ensue on this issue now. There will be ample time for a debate later.

Mr. Gregory: Information on Tony Gregory Zoom on Tony Gregory The result of the vote last night was a victory for the small communities in Arran Quay Terrace and Mount Brown who were ignored and trampled on by the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Deputy may not raise that matter now. There will be ample time for comments of that kind later.

Mr. Gregory: Information on Tony Gregory Zoom on Tony Gregory The Government Members who represent those two communities voted by their absence from the House last night. This was a victory for the people of Arran Quay Terrace, Mount Brown and the other little communities and businesses who were ignored and trampled on by the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy That will do, Deputy. Let us have no more about this light rail measure until we see it in the House again.

[1751]Mr. D. Ahern: Information on Dermot Ahern Zoom on Dermot Ahern I read the newspaper this morning and heard the media comments on what the Government intends to do. In this regard I waited for the Government Chief Whip to make contact. Will the Minister outline what the Government intends to do? My colleague, Deputy Seamus Brennan, suggested last night that the Government Chief Whip and the other Whips should consult on this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy That is a legitimate question on the Order of Business.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government will consider the situation. We take it that the parties opposite are not opposed to light rail and, on that basis, will reintroduce the Bill as early as possible. We will take note of the points which have been made.

Mr. S. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan Not the same Bill.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan The Brennan Bill.

Mr. H. Byrne: Information on Hugh Byrne Zoom on Hugh Byrne It should have the support of all the parties in Government.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am surprised that the Deputy with his experience of Government would not realise the implications of what he has just said.

Mr. S. Brennan: Information on Seamus Brennan Zoom on Seamus Brennan What I said was that the Government cannot introduce the same Bill.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government will consider the situation and reintroduce the Bill as early as possible following consultation with the Whips.

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell A Bill.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern Is the Minister saying that the Government will introduce a new Bill? It is not good enough for Government spokespersons to say overnight that, because a few people did not [1752] turn up, it can re-run the same Bill. It cannot do so. I do not want to engage in criticism, but whoever said this does not understand the Standing Orders of this House. As pointed out this morning on radio by Deputy Molloy, this would be in breach of Standing Order 52. The Minister is correct that last night we voted against the principle——

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Of light rail.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern No. The Minister's colleague, Deputy Michael D. Higgins, fought a battle in relation to Luggala and Mullaghmore, but the Supreme Court ruled that he had to consult about the building of visitor centres and car parks, that he could not overrule ordinary people.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins I provided for consultation, but the Deputy ignored it.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I agree that there should be consultation.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern Last February I asked the Taoiseach on the Order of Business if the Minister, Deputy Lowry, would consult the Chamber of Commerce and others about this legislation.

Mr. Lowry: Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry Several times.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Minister issued a statement within two days condemning them——

Mr. M. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell A diktat.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern ——and said that he would not consult. He went ahead with a plan to knock houses and move people out, but he lost. The Bill cannot be reintroduced.

Mr. Lowry: Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry The Deputy is anti-light rail. He voted against the Bill, as the people of Dublin know.

[1753]Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I have much to say about light rail, but that is another issue.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy I have allowed matters to be raised on the procedure to be adopted in relation to this measure, but we cannot debate the pros and cons now.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Bill in question was defeated on Second Stage. By definition, any Bill introduced will have to be a new one. The Government will consider the situation today. It is our intention to have a light rail system in this city as soon as possible and we will introduce legislation to give effect to this. In the course of its introduction, naturally, we will consult with the Whips.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue In the context of the Courts and Court Officers Act, 1996, when will additional judges be appointed by the Government? Serious criminal trials——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy With respect, this is not Question Time.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I will be brief. Serious criminal trials are being adjourned every second day in Dublin city and throughout the country. Will the Minister outline his own role in this scandal? Is there a lack of finance——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy I want to assist the Deputy in raising pertinent matters at this time, but the appointment of judges is certainly not one.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue On a point of order, it relates to the implementation——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy I will hear no point of order now. As the Deputy knows, he is out of order.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue ——of the Courts and Court Officers Act. I am entitled to an answer from the Minister.

[1754]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Deputy did not refer to an Act but to the appointment of judges.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I did, Sir, with respect. I am entitled to a reply because I am in order.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Not on the Order of Business.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Did the Deputy refer to legislation?

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue I did — the Courts and Court Officers Act.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The question put to me was when the Government proposes to take certain executive decisions on foot of legislation which has been passed. Is that in order, a Cheann Comhairle?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy I have said that this is not Question Time.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue This is an absolute scandal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy The Deputy should raise the matter in another way.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue The facts are that if somebody is charged with murder tomorrow, they may not be tried until 1998. In the meantime they will be out on bail. This is a serious matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy It is, but not one for the Order of Business.

Mr. O'Donoghue: Information on John O'Donoghue Zoom on John O'Donoghue Does the Minister now want to respond?

Miss Harney: Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney When will we see the proposed freedom of information Bill?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Work on that very complex Bill is advancing satisfactorily and we hope to publish it in the autumn.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1996 was first introduced in the House six months ago by [1755] my colleague Deputy Wallace. It has been on the merry-go-round, so to speak, and was debated for three hours in the Dáil and four hours in the relevant select committee. I understand the Bill received the unanimous support of that select committee and we are grateful to the Government parties for that. The principle of the Bill is not at issue and I understand the Government does not intend to introduce its own legislation. Will the Government allow the Bill to proceed during this session?

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The House will be aware that a recent judgment of the Supreme Court raised fundamental questions about the Bill.

Mr. Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister is referring to a different Bill.

Mr. B. Ahern: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Bill to which I referred concerns the voting rights of people with a disability.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I do not have that information to hand. I apologise as I thought Deputy Ahern was referring to another Bill. I will obtain the information requested and communicate with him.


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