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Order of Business.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Order of Business today shall be as follows: No. 9, motion re report by the Minister for Defence pursuant to section 4 of the Defence (Amendment) Act, 1993, back from committee; No. 10, motion re release of documents to the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Facts and Circumstances Surrounding the Fatal Shooting of John Carthy at Abbeylara, County Longford, on 20 April 2000 and related matters; No. 11, motion re Leave to Introduce Supplementary Estimates, Votes 2, 5, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33 and 44; No. 12, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates, Votes 2, 5, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33 and 44, to Select Committee; No. 4, British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Bill, 2002 – Order for Second Stage and Second and Subsequent Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m., Nos. 9,10 and 11 and, subject to the agreement of No. 11, No. 12 (referral to Select Committee) shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded on Nos. 11 and 12 shall be taken forthwith. Second and Subsequent Stages of No. 4 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: Second Stage will conclude at 10 p.m., if not previously concluded; Committee and Remaining [45] Stages shall conclude at 10.30 p.m., if not previously concluded, and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion by one question in each case 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 Foreign Affairs. Private Members' business shall be No. 36, motion re terms of reference for tribunal of inquiry into Garda activities in County Donegal.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 9 to 12, inclusive, without debate, agreed?

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I have a question on No. 11 which is the motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates. The Taoiseach has informed the House that Supplementary Estimates, to the tune of about €450 million, are being sought today. Is this the full and final list of Supplementary Estimates that will be sought by Government for approval from the Dáil? There is considerable confusion at the moment with Government spending running nearly 20% ahead while the Minister is insisting that he will come in at 13.5%, excluding benchmarking which was provided for in the original Estimates. Will the Taoiseach assure us that this is the full and final list of Supplementary Estimates? Will he furnish to Opposition spokespersons on finance the position relating to balances and demand-led schemes as there can often be confusion as to the amount of money owed by agencies like the health authorities at the end of the year? We want to have a full and accurate picture of end year finances before we face into the budget tomorrow week.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I wished to raise the same matter. In addition, given the extent by which the Minister for Finance has missed his figures, should these matters not be debated in the House rather than in committee? Before agreeing to No. 10 on the Abbeylara inquiry, is the Taoiseach aware of recent publicity to the effect that the sole member, Mr. Justice Barr, has not been provided with premises from which to conduct his inquiry? Has that matter been resolved? To where are the documents being released? Has any work already been carried out by this tribunal or is the work impeded as a result of not having premises?

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent I agree with previous speakers and seek clarification on the actual spending proposed between this year and next year. It is clear from previous changes in Government policy that we do not always agree in this House on what the Government actually does. Will the Taoiseach clarify what the Government is proposing in these motions? Motion No. 9 refers to the report by the Minister for Defence pursuant to section 4 of the [46] Defence (Amendment) Act, 1993. Given the level of activity at Shannon Airport at the moment, many people outside the House will be interested to know if there is an unwritten aspect to this referring to the defence forces of another jurisdiction – the United States of America. This issue of whether we need to debate that matter in the Dáil is important.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern On the matter of Supplementary Estimates, at this time of year there are normally a number of Estimates passed. I cannot confirm that this is the only list of Supplementary Estimates but I can confirm that their number this year will be reduced from previous years. Only those absolutely necessary will be passed and the total amount will be less. This is most of them but there may be others. Deputy Bruton is aware that the figures come in up to the end of November and there are likely to be some switches and balances both in savings and expenditure. They will be resolved within the Department of Finance. I cannot say there are no more.

Deputy Rabbitte asked about the Abbeylara inquiry. I understand there are some issues in regard to accommodation. I do not have the full facts but I will ask that the details be given to the Deputy?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Is the question agreed?

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Is it the case that—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Each party has an opportunity for one Member to speak at this stage. I am putting the question now.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I do not wish to divide the House on this but I would like more clarification from the Taoiseach.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison If the Deputy is opposing the motion he is dividing the House. There is no provision for other contributions. On this particular Standing Order only one contribution is allowed from each party.

Mr. R. Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government wants to pass Estimates for over €500 million today and expects us to approve the money before—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Only one contribution from each party.

Question, “That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 9 to 12, inclusive, without debate, be agreed to”, put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 4 agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I wish to clarify the Order of Business. Is the Taoiseach saying, although the inquiry was established six months ago, that no work is able to be carried out as a result of the absence of premises?

[47]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison That does not arise on this.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Let the Taoiseach answer the question. Does he know the answer?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern As I understand it the issue of accommodation has not been resolved yet.

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Will the Taoiseach say if lawyers are being paid?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Deputy Rabbitte, the time for Leaders' Questions is over. There is a procedure and I expect party leaders to give good example.

Mr. Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy With regard to promised legislation in the justice area, within the past 48 hours another citizen has been murdered, execution style, in Ballinascorney woods. What is being done about the rising rate of murders in the country?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern Numerous Bills are proposed for the criminal justice area but there is already more than adequate legislation for the kind of issue about which the Deputy is inquiring.

Ms McManus: Information on Liz McManus Zoom on Liz McManus The Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Martin, promised in this House, a template for an inquiry into the role of international drug companies in poisoning haemophiliacs in Ireland. He indicated that he hoped to have it in by Christmas and obviously legislation will be required to underpin this inquiry. This matter has now been put in jeopardy by comments made by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Will the Taoiseach make it clear that he is pursuing the approach that has been stated and promised by Deputy Martin? Will he also undertake that we will have a motion in the House as soon as possible to ensure this matter is inquired into?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern There is no conflict in the approach taken by the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. The matter is proceeding and conversation and discussions with the Irish Haemophilia Society are continuing.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin On the same matter, to state there is no conflict while, on the other hand, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform said it would be a monumental waste of time—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison That is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Will the Taoiseach bring forward legislation?

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell The Deputy should check the record. He is wrong again.

[48]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison That matter has already been dealt with.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Will the Taoiseach—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The question has already been asked.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin We have not had the Taoiseach's response. He has not given an indication to the House—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Deputy is being repetitive. The Taoiseach has responded to Deputy McManus. The Deputy must resume his seat. He knows he is being disorderly.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell The Taoiseach may have given a response but I did not hear him. In view of the extraordinarily contradictory remarks regarding what was promised to the House by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, will he clarify the position and will legislation be brought forward?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Taoiseach has already answered the question.

Ms O. Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell Nobody heard him, which is often the case in this House.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I know Deputy Ó Caoláin heard me because he got upset about it.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Deputy Ó Caoláin was upset by the—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison We do not want interruptions from either side of the House that provoke disorder.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore In view of the declaration by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government that it is Government policy to encourage people to rent rather than buy their homes—

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen That is not what I said.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore That is what the Minister said. He said they should rent, as they do in Europe.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison We must have a question on legislation.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell What a great socialist the Deputy is.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Deputy should come to the legislation.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte This is the first time the Government has shown any life today.

[49]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore I refer to two Bills, the Housing (Private Rented Sector) Bill and the Electoral (Amendment) Bill which will be required to change the registration of political parties to accommodate the President of the Progressive Democrats.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Housing (Private Rented Sector) Bill will be available early in 2003 as well as the Electoral (Amendment) (No. 2) Act, 2002, which I understand is required by the Deputy's party to change its president too.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell Touché.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore He is not forming his own party in any case.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell He has already been through too many.

Mr. Boyle: Information on Dan Boyle Zoom on Dan Boyle In view of the unhappiness expressed by the Parents for Justice group in relation to the organ retention scandal, when will the Coroners (Amendment) Bill come before the House?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern This will not be until late 2003.

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton On mature reflection, since the Book of Estimates was published last week, will the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste reverse their decision to make 5,000 people redundant next year through the abandonment of the CE schemes?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Mr. Connaughton: Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton This is an important matter.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Of course it is but the Deputy has been in the House a long time and he is aware of the various ways he can raise the matter, through parliamentary questions or on the Adjournment.

Mr. Costello: Information on Joe Costello Zoom on Joe Costello Arising from the recent Supreme Court decision that interim barring orders were unconstitutional, what proposals are there for legislation to protect the victims of domestic violence?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern I have answered this question. The matter was looked at and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is finalising the drafting of legislation to amend the Domestic Violence Act, 1996, to deal with the outcome of the recent Supreme Court decision. The Minister intends to publish and introduce the legislation in the current Dáil session. I hope it will be before Government next week and will be published soon after.

[50]Mr. Crowe: Information on Sean Crowe Zoom on Sean Crowe My question has already been answered.

Mr. Sargent: Information on Trevor Sargent Zoom on Trevor Sargent Many people want to see the Gas Regulation Bill urgently implemented, given the undue influence that has come from the Department and the Government on Mayo County Council regarding the gas field which will not benefit this country or County Mayo. One wonders whether the Government is acting in the national interest by supporting multinational oil companies.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen The Deputy is living in cloud-cuckooland.

Mr. McDowell: Information on Michael McDowell Zoom on Michael McDowell It is stone age economics.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Bill is expected to be published by the end of this year and will be before the House next year. I do not have a date for it.

Mr. Kenny: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Ós rud é go bhfuil imní ar chuid mhór daoine faoi Bhille na Gaeilge, an féidir leis an Taoiseach a rá cathain a thabharfar isteach é? An chéad bhliain eile is dócha.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern April 2003.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins I refer to legislation that is the responsibility of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Disability Bill. My understanding is that the Minister is using the advice of the Minister for Finance to establish a complete difference between the view represented at the UN on the disability commission and his Department. What is the status of the Bill? When will it be introduced and will it be on a rights basis?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Disability Bill, 2001, lapsed on the dissolution of the 28th Dáil. The Department did not re-instate it but a consultation process has begun on disability legislation and a new Bill is expected to be published in 2003. The Deputy will remember he asked me to withdraw the Bill and have a consultation period which is now coming to an end.

Mr. M. Higgins: Information on Michael D. Higgins Zoom on Michael D. Higgins Am I right in thinking the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is being guided in blocking the rights-based legislation?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison We cannot have a debate on the contents of the Bill.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan In view of the fact that the Tánaiste announced last year that 2,000 immigrants were required to fill job vacancies—

Ms Harney: Information on Mary Harney Zoom on Mary Harney I announced it four years ago.

[51]Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan Zoom on Philip Hogan She announced it last year. I know she is sensitive about it. When will the Employment Permits Bill be introduced?

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern In early 2003.

Mr. Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In the light of the breaking up and sinking of the Prestige oil tanker in the Bay of Biscay last week and the environmental pollution that will result, will the Government prioritise the Sea Pollution (Amendment) Bill which aims to improve our marine emergency capabilities in relation to oil spillages? Will it also bring forward the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill which deals with increasing the levels of compensation for people who suffer environmental damage as a result of oil spillages.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The heads of the Oil Pollution of the Sea (Civil Liability and Compensation) (Amendment) Bill are expected to be cleared shortly. It will give effect to internationally agreed increased limits of compensation payable to victims of oil tankers. On the Sea Pollution (Amendment) Bill, which will give effect to the protocol on the international convention on oil pollution, the heads are being worked on and the Bill will be available next year.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan In the context of the Private Rented Houses Bill and other promised legislation, how does the Taoiseach propose to respond to the recent report from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul which shows that there are 5,000 people homeless after five years of a thriving economy?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison We cannot discuss what should be in the legislation.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Some 300 people are sleeping rough and they include children—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison There are other ways the Deputy can raise the matter. He has asked a question on legislation and the Taoiseach is anxious to answer it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern Early next year.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison I call Deputy O'Dowd.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Will the people who are homeless have to remain homeless until next year?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Deputy must allow his colleague to ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan Homeless people have nowhere to go. The Minister for the Environment and Local Government is sitting over there speechless. He should be ashamed of himself.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen The Deputy should calm down.

[52]Mr. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The Government has produced nothing.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen Zoom on Martin Cullen That is not true.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison I ask the Minister not to interrupt as he is provoking the Deputy.

Mr. O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd In relation to the Official Languages (Equality) Bill which, I understand, will shortly be introduced in the Seanad, will the Taoiseach bring in an amendment to protect the budget of An Foras Teanga which is one of the North-South Implementation Bodies? As a result of the Government's cuts—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison The Taoiseach on promised legislation.

Mr. O'Dowd: Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd —in the Estimates, An Foras now requires an additional €400,000—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Sorry, Deputy, we cannot discuss the contents of the legislation.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern The Official Languages (Equality) Bill was published last spring. Amendments are being considered and I understand it will shortly come to Committee Stage in the Seanad.

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins Given that two of the main farm organisations have pulled out of the national pay talks and with respect to No. 49 on the Order Paper, will the Taoiseach allow some Government time for a debate on the state of the agricultural and food sector?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison That is really a matter for the Whips. We must move on to No. 9.

(Interruptions).

Mr. Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins With respect, a similar question was allowed on a previous occasion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison It is a matter for the Whips, Deputy.

The Taoiseach: Information on Bertie Ahern Zoom on Bertie Ahern If there is time, we can have a debate on some of these issues but, as I have said previously, there is huge pressure on time in the House.


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