Before coming to the Order of Business I propose to deal with a number of notices of motion under Standing Order 30 from Deputies John Bruton and Pat Rabbitte. I observe that the notices relate to the same subject matter and I propose to call the Deputies in the order in which they submitted their notices to my office. I call, therefore, on Deputy Pat Rabbitte to state the matter of which he has given notice to me.
Requests to move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 30.
In accordance with Standing Order 30 I request leave to move the Adjournment of the Dáil to discuss the following specific and important matter of public interest, namely, the current industrial dispute in the ESB which is causing serious difficulties for industry leading to workers being laid off, major problems for agriculture and inconvenience for domestic consumers, and the urgent need for the Government to intervene to secure a negotiated settlement to this dispute. In view of the virtually unprecedented extent of the power cuts and the serious implications for the country of this dispute continuing it is essential that the Dáil should be allowed to debate the matter today and I, therefore, urge you, Sir, to agree to my request.
I wish to request the Adjournment of the Dáil under the provisions of Standing Order 30 to discuss the urgent matter of the permanent damage to the economy, the loss of jobs and the effect on vulnerable sections of the community arising from the continuing dispute in the statutory body which is responsible for the supply of electricity, the ESB.
Having considered the matters fully I do not consider them to be contemplated by Standing Order 30——
——and, therefore, cannot grant leave to move the motion. The House will recollect that this matter was discussed here yesterday by way of five Private Notice Questions representative of each of the Opposition parties and Independents in the House. There are other ways of pursuing the matter.
We will be in the dark by then.
On a point of order, I in no way wish to contest your ruling in the matter but you may recollect that when I asked the Taoiseach if he agreed that there should be an ongoing procedure for the House to be kept informed on this matter he indicated his agreement to that. This seems to suggest that there is a desire on both sides of the House to ensure that the House is kept informed on the matter. I wonder, Sir, if in reviewing your ruling on this matter you would take into account the will of the House in this matter. Would it be possible for the Standing Orders under which you very correctly act to be suspended so that this matter can be dealt with?
I want to say in reply to Deputy Bruton that the House is supreme in such matters and the Chair will gladly implement its will.
If I can help the situation, I will be glad to find some way of reporting to the House some time today but I would urge on the House the need for caution in this area. At present the matter is fully before the Labour Relations Commission and very sensitive negotiations are in progress before that commission. In my view it would be wise to wait for some time before I report to the House on the matter.
Will the Taoiseach consider the potential usefulness of an agreed resolution, signed by all the party Leaders in this House, calling on all the parties concerned to ensure that the interruption of work ceases? I urge on the Taoiseach the possibility that such an agreed approach from all parties could provide a pretext towards a solution. Perhaps the Taoiseach, without necessarily responding to this now, could enter into discussions with me and other party leaders with a view to seeing whether such an approach might be useful?
I will be very glad to do that.
I do not dispute the Chair's decision in this matter in relation to Standing Order 30 but it is extraordinary that an issue of such major national importance cannot on an emergency basis be debated in this House today. I take the point the Taoiseach has made with regard to the sensitivity of the issue, but I am quite certain that Deputies would bear that in mind in their contributions to any debate that might take place. I do not accept that because questions were put to the Minister for Energy here yesterday, it is an adequate response by this House to the situation.