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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 868 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] Negotiations are still going on with the Criminal Assets Bureau in respect of some elements of the criminal Bill to which the Deputy referred.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan The proceeds of crime Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Yes.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan What of the bail Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is still locked up at present.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I presume it is in the embryonic stages.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I must come back to the Deputy on it.

Deputy Frank Feighan: Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan I understand a merger of Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Valuation Office and the Property Registration Authority is envisaged. When will the Tailte Éireann Bill come before the House to ensure this will happen?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Clearance was given by the Government a few weeks ago for the heads of the Bill to be developed and that work now is ongoing. I assume it will go for pre-legislative discussions at the committee, but I will advise Deputy Frank Feighan of the current state of play.

Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I wish to raise with the Taoiseach the issue of the four outstanding reports from the Constitutional Convention. I was privileged to be a delegate to that convention and while one could not but be impressed by the superb nature of the organisation of all of it, one was particularly impressed by the commitment of the 66 citizens. Everyone who participated did so on the basis of a timescale the Taoiseach and the Government had outlined. The Government devised and offered that timescale but sadly, none of the deadlines set by the Government in respect of that Constitutional Convention has been met and four reports remain outstanding. This is particularly problematic, not least for the citizen members. I understand the Taoiseach would wish that something be done about that. It has been discussed repeatedly at Whips' meetings and while the Government Whip is anxious to see it moving on, it appears that the Taoiseach's colleagues in government do not share his personal enthusiasm for the reports of the convention.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I do not think that is accurate. There were some what I will call reflections on elements of the reports that had to be considered by some Departments. My understanding is that as these matters have been finalised, there should not be any restriction on naming a date for the discussions in this Chamber about the four outstanding reports. I acknowledge the Government missed the deadlines but some of the reasons were that some issues raised by the Constitutional Convention required detailed discussion within Departments. I agree with the Deputy that the people who served on the convention were absolutely committed to their job and felt privileged to be chosen under the particular system, which allowed ordinary citizens for the first time ever to involve themselves in discussions about the Constitution and about recommending changes to it. Some of these will be decided on by the people at large when the referendums take place.

Deputy Anthony Lawlor: Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor I wish to ask the Taoiseach whether regulations will be brought forward shortly on wind turbines. Many rural communities are in turmoil at present because companies have made planning applications. These regulations have been promised since before Christmas but January has passed, people still are waiting and there is some angst with regard to applications before the planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála. The regulations in existence come from 2006, when turbines were 50 m high but they now are being regulated on at approximately 160 m. Will the Taoiseach indicate when those regulations will be brought forward?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I will, but I cannot do so today. This involves two Departments, namely, the Departments of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Environment, Community and Local Government. I am aware that they are engaged with each other and I will advise Deputy Lawlor as to what is the current state of play. While there was a commitment to having these regulations published by now, it has not happened because of those negotiations. I will let the Deputy know.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy I wish to raise two items of legislation, the first being the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs, EPSEN, Act 2004. This Act has not been fully enacted and its primary objective was to ensure that children with special educational needs shall be educated in an inclusive environment with children who do not have such needs as long as this is in the best interests of the child. I understand the Minister for Education and Skills has initiated a report into how best to allocate resource hours and special needs assistants because at present, such allocation is highly inconsistent and unfair across the country. Last night, I met a delegation from Down Syndrome Ireland, which is extremely worried about the implementation of this Act. The delegates were extremely worried about a report the Taoiseach's colleague in government was meant to bring forward this week. When will parents of children with special educational needs and when will parents of children with Down's syndrome know how the Government will ensure they will get the required resource hours and special needs assistants? They absolutely need to know this in advance of next September.

The second item of legislation is the health (miscellaneous provisions) Bill. The nurses in the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, which services counties Longford and Westmeath, have voted on industrial action because 60 nurses are needed to bring the hospital to an appropriate level of safety.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please, Deputy.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy When will Members have an opportunity to debate the disastrous consequences of cuts to the health service in the future?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett To what Bill is the Deputy referring?

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The health (miscellaneous provisions) Bill.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny While I do not have a date for the health (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, I can inform the Deputy that approvals have been given for additional staff in Drogheda and Limerick, as well as for paramedics in various locations nationwide and where they are needed.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy What about Mullingar?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I cannot give the Deputy an accurate figure on Mullingar but it should be treated no differently from other hospitals.

In respect of the EPSEN Act, it was necessary to conduct a considerable amount of research on those sections. There has been no cutback in resource teachers or special needs teachers and the opposite has been the case. I understand the reason for the delay in this regard was the research it was necessary to carry out into some of those sections of the Act on the part of the Minister for Education and Skills. Obviously, she will make a public statement when she is ready to move on that.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Has the Taoiseach any indication as to when that may be?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I do not, but I will find out for the Deputy.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Within the ambit of the programme for Government and, in particular, the acute crisis facing the new Greek Government, perhaps Members should have a debate in this House about the solidarity they must show in terms of debt sustainability for debtor nations. I do not refer simply to national debt in countries as in Ireland, we have particular problems with non-financial corporate debt and household debt which, when combined in aggregate with national debt, puts us even above Greece which is declared by anybody who knows anything about political economy to be unsustainable.

Members will have seen Cormac Lucey's recent analysis of the up-to-date debt position of this country.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am sorry, but we cannot debate it now.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews A Cheann Comhairle, I brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, in September 2011.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I know, but this is the Order of Business.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Does the Ceann Comhairle recall the paper by Cecchetti, Mohanty and Zampolli on the real effects of debt, the unsustainability of debt and what happens to a political economy when it is overburdened?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I suggest the Deputy table a Topical Issue.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell Is there a question?

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Inequality now presents itself-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett We cannot debate the issue in the House.

Deputy Olivia Mitchell: Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell Is the Deputy asking a question?

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews The Taoiseach will remember the book I gave him before Christmas 2012, The Price of Inequality, which was worthy of a read.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Will the Deputy, please, recognise the Chair?

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews It outlines Stiglitz's view about what happens to an economy when education and health come under pressure and the middle economy of ordinary households-----

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey The Deputy is out of order.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am sorry, but the Deputy is out of order.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews It is just a gentle reminder.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett The Deputy has had a good run, but he cannot go on forever.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews I acknowledge the Ceann Comhairle has great forbearance as the Chair.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I know. I have been obliged to listen.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews I am appealing to his forbearance to allow me to remind the Taoiseach of these hugely important matters.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Yes, but we cannot do this on the Order of Business. Table a Topical Issue and I certainly will consider it for the Deputy.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews It has gone forward as a Topical Issue, but it has not been drawn.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Just keep it there and it will come eventually.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews I understand the pressure.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I will look at it tomorrow for the Deputy.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews We should show solidarity with Greece. Mr. Tsipras and Mr. Varoufakis are worthy people.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please, Deputy.

Deputy Peter Mathews: Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews Are we going to show solidarity and will Members have a debate?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I met the Greek Prime Minister the other day and we had a discussion.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I am sorry, but we must deal with that issue in some other way.


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