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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 4 May 1995

Vol. 452 No. 4

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 4, Nos. 5-38, inclusive, and No. 43.

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) No. 4 shall be decided without debate; (2) Nos. 5-38 shall be moved together and decided without debate by one question which shall be put from the Chair; (3) The following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 43:

(i) Opening statements shall be made by the Minister for Education, the main spokespersons for the Fianna Fáil Party and the Progressive Democrats Party;

(ii) Other Members may be called upon to contribute to the statements; and

(iii) A Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply.

(4) Private Members' Business, which shall be the Criminal Law (Bail) Bill, 1995, shall take place today at 1.00 p.m. and the proceedings thereon shall adjourn at 2.30 p.m.

Is the proposal that No. 4 be decided without debate satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Is it satisfactory and agreed that Nos. 5-38, inclusive, shall be moved together and decided without debate? Agreed. Are the arrangements for dealing with statements in relation to No. 43 agreed?

Am I to take it that it is proposed to have no time limit on speakers? Normally in such motions there is a limit of either 45 minutes or 30 minutes for opening speakers and a shorter time for subsequent speakers. Are you suggesting no time limit?

It is a wise observation.

No time limit is proposed. Obviously Members will expect one another, in the interest of various points of view being heard, to keep their contributions reasonably brief.

There are no restrictions in respect of time limits. Are the proposals on that basis satisfactory and agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' Business agreed? Agreed.

In view of the very regrettable scenes in Derry yesterday, the widespread speculation all over the world this morning and the remarks of Andrew Hunter, the leading Tory backbencher, regarding the ministerial talks next week between Sinn Féin and the British Government, has the Taoiseach had any contacts this morning and can he give the House any information regarding the status of the talks?

The matters referred to by Deputy Bertie Ahern are not relevant to the Order of Business.

They are relevant to the world.

On behalf of all Members of the House I would like to express my deep regret at the events that occurred in Derry yesterday. It is fair to say these scenes have undone to a small extent the painstaking work that has been done over many many years to make Derry the attractive city it is for investment and tourism. This work has been carried through on a cross party and a cross community basis. I hope any injury that may have been done to that positive image will be undone very quickly in the interests of the economic development of Derry. It is true to say that nobody who starts, initiates or organises a street demonstration can control completely the course of the demonstration once they have decided to have such a demonstration.

That cuts both ways. It means that those who organise demonstrations must be prudent in doing so, but it also means that those who might criticise the organisers should recognise that no organiser has complete control. In this peace process we must all show respect for the other participants. If a Prime Minister is visiting a city he should be received with the utmost courtesy, whatever one's disagreements with him. That may have been absent yesterday in some respects. It is important that respect should be shown to all persons involved in the peace process and street demonstrations are of limited value in that regard.

I agree with the Taoiseach's remarks; courtesy should be shown to the British Prime Minister who has done so much to develop the peace process. Following the remarks on a number of radio stations this morning by Mr. Andrew Hunter, a person who is usually close to the view at Westminister, can the Taoiseach reassure the House as to the status of next week's talks? Everybody in this House hopes that, after the events of yesterday, we can move on.

I have to dissuade Members from any tendency towards debate at this time. There are many other ways of raising such important matters.

I did not answer that part of the Deputy's question, and I wish to do so. My understanding — and that of the Tánaiste and the Government — is that the meeting will go ahead as planned. We have no reason to make any other assumption. I will make no contact that would suggest any other assumption on our part. In our contacts with our opposite numbers the Tánaiste and I will do everything to ensure that these discussions are fruitful and constructive and that there is a willingness to meet those on both sides of the table.

I join the Taoiseach and the Leader of Fianna Fáil in condemning what happended in Derry yesterday. It is true that somebody who organises a demonstration cannot be in total control, but it is interesting to note that Sinn Féin has not condemned what happened, which I very much regret. If we are committed to democratic politics then we must strongly condemn what occurred yesterday because the British Prime Minister deserves our respect by virtue of the office he holds and because of what he has done for the peace process. I am delighted that the talks will go ahead next week, but what happened yesterday will damage the kind of trust required to ensure the success of those talks.

I want to raise on the Order of Business an urgent matter which pertains to the Child Care Act and reform of the 1908 Industrial Schools Act. Will the Government take urgent action to secure a place for a 12 year old Cork girl who is currently without accommodation——

I am anxious to facilitate the Deputy in respect of that matter, but he should consult my office as this is not the time to raise the matter.

Will the Taoiseach indicate when the amendment to the Arterial Drainage Acts will be brought before the House?

Within the next two weeks.

The previous Government had at an advanced stage of preparation a Bill to protect women and children from domestic violence and to provide for safety orders. Will the Government now tell us when this Bill will be published?

This Bill is at an advanced stage of preparation. I expect it will be published within the next two months at the most, probably sooner.

At what stage of preparation are the Employment Equality Bill and the Equal Status Bill?

The Equal Status Bill will be published in 1996 and the Employment Equality Bill later this year.

Following the walk-out of the professional taxation bodies from a meeting between the Taxation Administration Liaison Committee and the Revenue Commissioners yesterday, what is the position with regard to the Finance Bill and the infamous section 153?

The Finance Bill will go to committee as usual and all the points Deputies wish to make can be made there.

When can we expect the publication of the Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill which might provide some assistance to the Garda Síochána in dealing with those who try to abduct people from their own homes and reducing the level of crime?

The Bill mentioned by the Deputy, which concerns saving Garda time, is at an early stage of preparation. A criminal law Bill is also in preparation to provide power to arrest without warrant for serious offences, to abolish the distinction between felonies and misdemeanours and to abolish penal servitude, hard labour and prison divisions. That Bill is at a comparatively early stage of preparation also. This list of Bills at various stages of preparation in the area of criminal law is quite exhaustive. Perhaps the Deputy would be more precise.

When can we expect legislation which will assist the Garda in the fight against crime which is at its highest level in the history of the State?

The Deputy's party was in Government long enough and did nothing about it.

People are being abducted from their homes and the Government's attitude to crime is one of complacency.


Will the new electoral boundaries be in place in advance of the divorce referendum in the autumn? Is it anticipated that the writ for the Wicklow by-election will be moved in this session?

The Deputy is jumping ahead.

It is promised legislation.


I do not know the answer to the Deputy's question about whether the boundary legislation will be published before the divorce referendum. However, I expect that the electoral Bill will be published quite soon because the work has been completed, and the Government will be proceeding with the proposed changes as recommended by the Commission. In regard to the by-election writ, no decision has been made.

I was about to ask the Taoiseach when he was going to legitimise the massacre of my constituency.