Skip to main content
Normal View

Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 18 Oct 1995

Vol. 457 No. 2

Order of Business.

I submitted questions to the Tánaiste today regarding his approach to the Lowry affair and in particular his role as Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs in relation to semi-State bodies under his aegis.

This is an abuse of the Order of Business.

It is on the Order of Business. They were priority questions.

I have no control over that. If the Deputy was serious about it and required positive action he might have done me the courtesy of letting me know he would raise the matter.

It has only come to my notice now.

It is not in order now.

It is. It has only come to my attention.

Desist, Deputy, immediately.

It is wrong and it is saving that side of the House.

This is an abuse of the Order of Business.

It is proposed to take items Nos. 4, 5 and 1. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Private Members' Business shall be No. 12 and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

Are the proposals satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

I assure the Taoiseach that we welcome the first sign of movement at last on the part of the British Government to break the impasse on decommissioning. As I said during my speech at Bodenstown at the weekend, we will require international help to assist with that. We should all be grateful for the continued efforts of President Clinton's administration.

I am sure that is welcome and if the Taoiseach wishes to respond he may do so but it is not strictly in order and the Chair is bound to say so.

I am very pleased at the progress and wish to compliment everyone involved particularly the Tánaiste who had a very successful meeting with the Secretary of State, Sir Patrick Mayhew. There are problems which remain to be overcome but, as I have said repeatedly, there is the will on all sides to overcome them however difficult they may be.

As regards the decision of the European Court of Justice yesterday — which is being referred to as a landmark decision in Europe — on EU job quotas which affect women particularly and the positive discrimination towards assisting them in the workplace——

I am sure the Deputy will find a more appropriate way to raise the matter.

If the Chair will hear me through, it affects legislation——

It does not arise now.

It does and I will tell the Chair why. All our affirmative action programmes and legislation for women is affected by this decision. Will the Taoiseach review or examine the decision today and what form will that review take?

Anyone who listened to "Morning Ireland" heard Ms Carmel Foley deal with the concerns raised by the Deputy much more eloquently and with greater knowledge than I could. She explained that our programme of positive action as distinct from positive discrimination is not affected. Differential training arrangements to ensure women are given adequate opportunity to compete equally is in order. What is problematic in light of the decision is deciding that one gender should be chosen over the other where candidates are equal. As she explained this morning, we are not pursuing that here and therefore the concern raised by the Deputy does not arise. The Deputy would have been in order had he raised this under the Equal Status Bill which is promised legislation.

I take it the matter is being raised under the Equal Status Bill.

I will talk about that or any other Bill but there is other legislation on the Statute Book. I would prefer to hear the Taoiseach take his briefing from his Minister rather than from "Morning Ireland". I put two Bills on the Statute Book and I remember enough about them to know how they are directly affected by this decision. I would like the Minister for Equality and Law Reform to look at these matters during the course of the day. I will give the references if he requires them.

The Government will examine this and all other relevant court judgments as a matter of course. It is important to bear in mind that we have had a very clear statement this morning by a distinguished public servant who is an authority in this area.

Given that the CIE board under a new chairman has stood over its original decision on the Cork site, additional information has not been given to the Garda and the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications has misled the House on three occasions, what action does the Taoiseach propose to take in the matter?

The matter is before the House and the Deputy, or his colleagues as the case may be, will be entitled to intervene at the appropriate time.

This House has been misled on a number of occasions.

I observe Deputy McCreevy wishes to offer on a matter which I hope is relevant to the Order of Business.

Under a new chairman the CIE board has stood over its original decision and the Taoiseach remains silent on the matter.

I am not silent. My position is well known. It does not coincide with that of the Deputy.

Deputy Brennan, this may not give rise to argument or debate now.

My question relates to promised legislation and particularly the programme for Government. Will the Taoiseach agree there has been a change in the proposal in the programme for Government regarding a third banking force and matters relating thereto in light of a report in this morning's newspapers which quotes a spokesperson from the Department of Finance to the effect that the Minister for Finance will not factor in any income from the sale of——

To what legislation, if any, is the Deputy referring?

The Programme for Government refers to a third banking force and changes in the banking sector.

Deputy Harney asked several questions on this matter——

It will not happen.

——and I have answered them with the same degree of repetitiveness as they have been posed. I welcome Deputy McCreevy's interest in the matter too, but the position has not changed from the answer I gave to Deputy Harney which is that no decisions have been taken on the matter at this juncture.

That is not correct. A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said yesterday that the Minister for Finance will not factor in any income from the sale of banks in the 1996 budget calculations.

I would like to bring to the attention of the Taoiseach a very serious matter in Cork city and county relating to the city prison which is overcrowded, with prisoners sleeping on the floor. Considering that there is a vacant site in the city will the Taoiseach recommend that it be made available——

The Deputy should raise that matter at the appropriate time.

I wish to draw attention to the serious position whereby prisoners are sleeping on the floor——

I respectfully suggest that the Deputy put down a question on that matter.

——something that would not happen in the Third World.

While welcoming the announcement about County Kildare, has the Taoiseach specific plans for a major job creation project in Cork city given that no jobs will be created on the site referred to by Deputy McCreevy? That will remain the position for the foreseeable future.

Like yourself, a Cheann Comhairle, and the other Whips I received a letter last week from one of the three business people involved in allegations made by the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in the House, alleging a serious breach of Dáil privilege. As chairman of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges I ask you, Sir, to immediately convene a meeting of that committee to investigate this allegation.

That matter is being attended to in the normal way.

What steps does the Taoiseach intend to take to correct the Official Report regarding a report by the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications on alleged surveillance——

Sorry, Deputy O'Donoghue, you are out of order.

In light of the very welcome news that a pistol used in the conviction of Mr. Erskine Childers is being returned to the Defence museum and the long history of that weapon of shooting people in the foot, will the Taoiseach confirm that it has been in the possession of the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications since June?

Will the Taoiseach confirm that the Government, in line with its negative policy on job creation in Cork, has shelved the Cobh regional task force report which has been available for a year or so?

The Deputy should raise that matter in a more appropriate manner. I must dissuade Members from offering. I will call the two Members who indicated their wish to speak.

Will the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht say if there has been a change of policy in his Department on public tendering in view of the fact that the Department is about to sign a contract for what is not the lowest tender for a courthouse in Carrick-on-Shannon?

In view of the allegations made at the weekend about the 1994 dog derby and drug testing, will the Taoiseach say if legislation is proposed to update the random testing of dogs before a race?

Given the Deputy's interest in this industry, which I share, I am sure he is aware that legislation is promised on restructuring the greyhound industry and it is expected to be presented to the House next March.

A Cheann Comhairle——

I have heard the Deputy.

I have not heard the Minister.

The Deputy should raise the matter in another way.

Under the 1993 social welfare legislation does the Taoiseach still condone the position where by the personal secretary of a Minister of State was in receipt of an invalidity pension while working? I raised this matter last week but did not get an honest reply to my question.

It is not in order now.

It now transpires that the personal secretary in question was also in receipt of free electricity allowance, free fuel allowance, free travel allowance and free television allowance.

The Deputy is not in order in raising that question.

I would like a comprehensive reply to the matter.

It is a serious matter and should be treated as such.

A cover-up is being perpetrated in this instance and I would like full elucidation of the matter.

If charges of that kind are to be made they may not be made in a flippant way across the floor of the House; it must be done by way of positive motion.

I sought to raise this matter last week but did not get a satisfactory reply.

Deputy Walsh will now resume his seat.

Does the Taoiseach condone these illegal activities?

If the Deputy is dissatisfied with the Minister's reply he has a remedy. Procedures are laid down to which all of us must conform.

Is the Taoiseach aware of the recent report indicating that there may be 25 per cent job losses in the food industry if the underlying problems are not tackled? In the programme for development which the Minister for Agriculture Food and Forestry and An Bord Bia——

The Deputy must deal with that matter in the ordinary way.