It is proposed to take Nos. 5 and 16. Private Members' Business will be No. 23 (resumed). By agreement the proceedings on No. 23, if not previously concluded, will be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. The concluding speaker will be called not later than 8.15 p.m.
Order of Business.
Would the Taoiseach make time available to discuss the very serious implications of the matter on which he has made a personal statement this morning? They relate to a reply by the Taoiseach yesterday which he hinged on the basis that there was only one medical certificate that was tampered with. In fact a second medical certificate was falsified in toto, as the Taoiseach is aware.
Deputy Lenihan, please listen to the Chair for a second.
I will conclude by asking if the Taoiseach intends to submit this matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions with a view to criminal prosecution.
Deputy Lenihan is being disorderly. I have permitted him to ask a question and I will permit the Taoiseach to answer that question but there it will have to sit.
I reserve my right to put down a Private Notice Question because it is a serious matter.
That is another day's work.
The Chair is getting a little choleric.
Who would blame him when he is meeting with such gross discourtesy?
I have allowed the question by the Deputy and if the Taoiseach wishes to reply he may do so.
I answer "no", Sir.
The Taoiseach does not propose to say anything about the matter. The Minister misled him and caused him to mislead the House and he has nothing more to say about it. Is that the position?
I have clarified the position in my statement.
Who is the ham actor now?
Order in a House where the Taoiseach tells us untruths day after day.
Deputy Noel Treacy on the Order of Business.
The Minister is guilty of a criminal offence and a private person can submit the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions if the Taoiseach is not willing to do so.
Off you go then and do it.
I am calling on Deputy Lenihan to withdraw the accusation that the Minister is guilty of a criminal offence.
I will not withdraw it. Prima facie a criminal offence is disclosed in the falsification of documents.
Charges that a Member is guilty of a criminal offence cannot be made in this way. There are ways and means open to Deputy Lenihan, as he well knows, of making such charges. I do not want any scenes but I am asking Deputy Lenihan to withdraw that accusation, please.
On a point of order, my recollection is that Deputy Lenihan on a number of occasions yesterday made the accusation very clearly that there was prima facie evidence of a criminal offence and you did not——
I will not have a post mortem on what happened yesterday. The Chair's recollection is that Deputy Lenihan asked that the matter be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for action. This morning Deputy Lenihan has specifically stated that the Minister is guilty of a criminal offence and the Chair simply cannot allow that.
On the evidence as I now know it and as disclosed by the Taoiseach this morning, there is prima facie evidence of the falsification of documents in order to gain from the public purse.
First of all, Deputy Lenihan abused the tolerance of the Chair when the Chair allowed him to ask a question. The Chair specifically heard Deputy Lenihan accuse the Minister of being guilty of a criminal offence. The Chair must have that withdrawn. Otherwise I will have to take action.
The Chair should listen to me carefully. What I said at all stages, and I repeat it now, is that on the evidence before me, particularly on the evidence disclosed by the Taoiseach, there is a prima facie case of a criminal offence——
Will the Deputy listen to the Chair? I am asking Deputy Lenihan——
I am asking the Minister to submit this prima facie case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Deputy Lenihan accused the Minister, without qualification, of a criminal offence and he will either withdraw that or leave the House.
I will say to you that there is a prima facie case of a criminal offence and I will not withdraw the allegation that there is such a prima facie case in relation to falsification of public documents, and the Minister has been protected by the Taoiseach and the heat has been turned on this side of the House.
The Member has the right to put down a motion. He has not done that.
That will be done.
The Deputy accused the Minister without qualification and I am asking the Deputy, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, for the last time to withdraw.
When the Taoiseach came in he told an untruth in the House. He has misled the House and now you are turning the heat on this side of the House.
I am adjourning the House until 11 a.m. and I will expect Deputy Lenihan to withdraw.
Business suspended at 10.45 a.m. and resumed at 11 a.m.
I am calling on Deputy Brian Lenihan to withdraw the accusation against the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs that he was guilty of a criminal offence.
I have considered the matter. I have looked at the script of what I said yesterday, I know what I said this morning and at all stages I was very concerned to say that there was a prima facie case involved in which the Taoiseach should take action against Minister Mitchell——
I am not going to permit a speech.
The Government side want to destroy democracy but we will not allow them.
I am asking all Members to leave this matter to the Chair.
Remember President Ó Dálaigh and what happened to the Minister involved in that case.
The Chair regrets the position in which it has been put. The Chair cannot allow any further speeches, statements or equivocations. I am calling on Deputy Lenihan to withdraw, without qualification, the charge he made this morning that the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs is guilty of a criminal offence. If he does not withdraw that I will have to take action, I am sorry.
I refuse to withdraw and I am very satisfied to leave the House in those circumstances on an issue such as this.
Deputy Lenihan will leave the House for the remainder of today's sitting.
Thank you very much indeed for your very honourable behaviour.
Deputy Lenihan withdrew from the Chamber.
Did the Chair hear that last remark from the Government side?
No, I did not; I cannot hear my ears. I will adjourn the House again.
How can the Chair hear anything?
On a point of order, is the Chair aware of the statement made by a Member of the House about a Member from this side as he was leaving the Chamber which was "good riddance"?
No, I did not hear that.
The Chair should ask the Deputy concerned to withdraw that remark. I think the Chair has selective hearing.
Deputy Leyden should resume his seat.
The Chair seems to hear what is said on this side of the House but not what is said on the other side.
Deputy Leyden should resume his seat and I am asking him to withdraw the charge that the Chair has selective hearing.
I am not aware of the medical situation of the occupant of the Chair or whether the Chair has hearing on one side of his head or not but I heard clearly a statement made by a colleague of the Chair about the Deputy Leader of my party. I object to that statement as a Member of the House. I object to the statement made by a Member on the Government side about the Deputy Leader of Fianna Fáil and the Chair should object to it.
I am asking Deputy Leyden to withdraw the charge made against the Chair that the Chair has selective hearing. I am serious about this and I am going to insist on a withdrawal.
I am not a medical person but if the Chair says he has not selective hearing I accept that. I withdraw the remark but I would still say it——
Deputy Leyden must withdraw the charge he made against the Chair that the Chair has selective hearing thereby obviously implying that the Chair is partisan.
The Deputy has already withdrawn the remark.
I am asking Deputy Leyden to withdraw the charge without qualification.
I have withdrawn it three ways. How many ways does the Chair wish me to withdraw it?
The Deputy should withdraw it without qualification.
I will withdraw the charge against the Ceann Comhairle.
Will the Chair advise us as to how we can raise, within the Order of the House, the issue of the falsification of two medical certificates, not just one? How can we raise this issue? Will we get time from the Government or can we raise the matter by way of Private Notice Question?
I should like to refer the Deputy to Standing Orders.
This is a unique situation that has not occurred before, where a Taoiseach misleads the House and apologises the following morning.
I am not allowing any further discussion on this matter.
Last week the Chair told a Member that he could by way of Private Notice Question, or on the Adjournment, raise an issue. Can we do the same?
As the Deputy is aware, there are procedures to be followed for Private Notice Questions.
Will the Chair allow this Private Notice Question?
I will consider any matter that is put to me by way of Private Notice Question or for the Adjournment.
And on this occasion because of the circumstances involved my request will be granted?
Is the Chair refusing my request?
I will consider anything that is put to me pursuant to the Orders of the House.
I recall that last week when Deputy Gregory had a problem in raising a matter in the House the Chair said he would be only too willing to guide him along the way in which he could raise such a matter. Perhaps the Chair will be as helpful this morning.
I did not. On that occasion I was dealing with a comparatively new Deputy and a delicate situation and subject.
The subject is very delicate in this case.
I will adjourn the House if this continues because I am being obstructed.
This is an even more delicate and serious matter because the House has been misled by the Taoiseach and where a Minister of his Government has——
Deputy Reynolds should resume his seat and I am moving on to the next business.
Why can I not ask for guidance? The Chair helped Deputy Gregory on a serious and delicate matter but not us.
The Deputy should resume his seat.
The Opposition have tried to raise a serious matter of forgery by a Government Minister, an irresponsible act——
I must ask Deputy Andrews to withdraw that charge.
A serious allegation of forgery has been made against a Minister in the House. Some time ago we had a situation where a President's reputation was impugned by a Minister but action was not taken against that Minister.
I am not going to have the name of a former President dragged into the House.
We have a very serious situation——
I will adjourn the House if I do not get order. I appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to assist me.
On a point of order. While you are trying to keep order in this House the most scurrilous remarks are emanating from the other side of the House.
I did not hear them.
They are of a very personal nature. It is not good enough in a democratic situation that you should allow this to continue.
Order. If I had heard them I would have ruled on them. I am asking the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party to assist me.
Mention has been made of the delicate nature of this matter, but the most delicate thing of all is our democracy. Here we have young people in the Public Gallery watching us this morning——
That is not a point of order. Sit down.
We would be prepared to leave this matter at this point on your giving me an assurance that you will favourably consider a Private Notice Question.
Any question put to me will be given full consideration. I do not want to use the word "favourable" but——
I am sure you give everything——
I give everything fair consideration.
I wish to raise on the Adjournment the threat posed to the Dodder Valley Park by a recent court decision.
The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.
In view of the decision of the Board of Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann to wind down the operations of the Tuam sugar factory at the end of the beet campaign, could the Taoiseach give an assurance to the House that the operations of the sugar factory will not be run down at the end of the present campaign?
There are questions down on the Order Paper dealing with that subject.
This is a very important issue.
I know it is, but we cannot anticipate questions put down in the name of another Deputy.
I wish to raise on the Adjournment the withdrawal of £100,000 from the Estimates provided for sporting organisations. I want an opportunity to ask the Government why on this occasion they were not prepared to honour the Fianna Fáil Estimates.
The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.
I wish to raise on the Adjournment the totally unacceptable conditions that now exist in Mountpleasant national school, Claremorris, County Mayo.
I will communicate with the Deputy.