Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 13, Finance Bill, 1996, Second Stage (Resumed), and, subject to the motion for the Second Reading of the Bill being agreed, the Order for Committee. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or in the Order of the Dáil of 16 April, that business shall not be interrupted today until the decision of the Order for Committee of the Finance Bill, 1996 has been declared from the Chair; and that such Order shall be made without debate.

That is the only matter to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the Order for Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, 1996, satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Arising out of statements made in the House last night by the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications on light rail, on 28 March in a speech to the Dublin City Traders' Association the Minister said: "There is a fixed timescale for EU funding that underpins the project, and there is no guarantee that this money will be obtained unless the timetable is adhered to". Is the Taoiseach satisfied, now that the European Commission ordered a further study last November, that the timescale will be achieved?

The first point——

Reference to this matter is not relevant to the Order of Business, and it should not be seriously suggested that we can have a repeat of a debate which took place last night.

I would love to debate this with Deputy Ahern, in view of his own record in the matter.

So would I.

If the Taoiseach wishes to intervene, he can, but I cannot allow a precedent to be created in matters of this kind by allowing a discussion of the previous night's business the following morning.

In view of the Taoiseach's remarks, will he give some hours of Government time for a debate on this issue?


The record speaks for itself. Anybody who reads the papers this morning will see the facts.

It is important to put on the record of this House this morning that last night's bombing in London was a cynical exercise. If it was meant to draw concessions from the Governments, they must be firm and not give concessions to those who hold that threat over the peace process. We must ask the Sinn Féin leadership in particular to use its influence to achieve a full and total cessation of IRA violence. The proposed talks cannot succeed if a threat of violence such as we saw last night is held over them.

It is not relevant, but if the Taoiseach wishes, he may intervene.

I would like to thank Deputy Harney for raising this matter. I am sure everybody in this House will join her and me in condemning last night's bombing in London. It is another setback for those who are working for a peace process, and in a peace process there is no halfway house between violence and peaceful politics. One must decide which path one is following — one cannot pursue the two paths simultaneously. As far as I am concerned, the only acceptable path, and the only path that represents the true will of the Irish people of both traditions, is the path of peaceful politics and peaceful politics exclusively.

On the same matter, I too join in condemning the bombing in London last night. The people responsible are acting against the will of the Irish people, North and South, who have overwhelmingly indicated their desire for peace and for all-inclusive negotiations. In order that those negotiations can be all-inclusive, we want to see a cessation of violence at the earliest date. We condemn unreservedly what occurred in London last evening.

In view of the very welcome decision by the Joint Committee on the Family on the Kelly Fitzgerald report yesterday, would the Taoiseach indicate whether he would be prepared to allow Government time to discuss that report?

The Joint Committee on the Family will consider this matter in a detailed and systematic manner. My view would be that the deliberative approach is the best way of going through points raised in this report in a careful manner and drawing the appropriate conclusions. At this juncture a debate in the House would not be appropriate. The joint committee should be allowed to do its work first.

In view of the promises given in this House of relief for flood victims in the Suir Valley, will the Taoiseach say when the relevant application forms will be forwarded? In the fourth month after this flooding occurred perhaps something might be done to alleviate its consequences.

While the Chair is anxious to facilitate the Deputy in this matter, he is choosing the wrong time to raise it.

It is what you might call a conflict of interests, a Cheann Comhairle.


Do not worry, we will look after Clonmel.

In view of the finding of the Law Reform Commission that the family justice system is in crisis and the urgent need for a family courts system, bearing in mind also that the Taoiseach promised earlier in the House to introduce a new system along with the referendum on divorce and the Divorce Bill, can he inform the House what are his plans in this respect? He will remember that we had proposed an action plan in this area with which he said he was generally sympathetic and would be prepared to support.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. As he will know, this very comprehensive and detailed report has only just been received and is deserving of very careful study which I can assure the House will be done. Any legislative or other changes required following its consideration will be given priority. I cannot go further than that at this juncture.

Would the Taoiseach ensure that this report is considered in conjunction with the forthcoming legislation on divorce?

A question has been asked and a reply given. Let us not engage in debate now.

I have already answered and told the Deputy that we will consider this report very sympathetically.

Regulations pertaining to health insurance were laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas by the Minister for Health some time ago. Under the rules of the House those regulations pass after 21 sitting days in the event that a resolution annulling them is not placed before the House. I have been attempting unsuccessfully to lay such a resolution before the House. There has been an attempt on the Government side to push that resolution into a Private Members' time. May I ask the Taoiseach's and the Minister for Health's assistance in ensuring that Government time will be given to debate this resolution. which involves Government regulations?

I understand the Deputy has tabled a Private Members' motion on the matter already.

No, a resolution.

I take it she is now saying she would prefer not to pursue the matter in that manner but to proceed by some other method. I suggest that the Opposition Whip discuss the matter with the Government Whip and we will see what can be done.

Since three months have elapsed since the Minister for Justice announced her intention to bring forward legislative proposals to change the bail laws within six weeks, can the Taoiseach say what is the present position or identify the difficulty?

The Minister for Justice has prepared detailed proposals on the matter which are at present being considered by the Cabinet.

Is it still the Taoisach's intention to hold a constitutional referendum on votes for emigrants this year and, if so, will that be the only matter put to the electorate or are there others under consideration?

That matter is being considered by one of the committees of the House following the publication of a discussion paper prepared by the Minister for the Environment. The question of a referendum will fall to be considered following the deliberations of that committee. At this stage it is not possible for me to say when those deliberations will be concluded, nor is it possible for me to answer the other part of the Deputy's question which is not unrelated to that posed by Deputy O'Donoghue.

Deputies H. Byrne and Lenihan rose.

I had indicated that we must move on to resumption of the Second Stage of the Finance Bill. I must be obeyed in these matters. I allow Members a certain amount of latitude on matters appertaining to business at this time. I will hear the two Deputies offering but let them not take it as a precedent that the Chair can be imposed upon any time Members feel like it.

A Cheann Comhairle, I do not interrupt you too often. I thank you for your leniency.

I hope it was worth waiting for.

Is the Minister of State, Deputy Doyle, worth waiting for?

I sincerely hope so and I will be seeking the support of the Minister of State who also represents Wexford. The people of Wexford will be delighted if they can obtain her support.

Will the Taoiseach say whether the Government proposes to introduce legislation or amend existing legislation to allow unlimited numbers of live animals to be exported since there are some 3,000 sheep at Rosslare destined for a ready market in France but, because of an agreement on limitations reached between the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and ferry companies, they cannot be exported?

Deputy Hugh Byrne is clearly raising another matter by a circuitous route.

While we are delighted that the Minister for Agriculture is endeavouring to reopen markets there is more than a prospect of a further disruption of our exports. Is it proposed to introduce legislation on the matter?

The Deputy must raise that in another way.

Will the Taoiseach indicate when the legislation on wandering horses will be introduced in the House?

I hope that legislation will be ready late next month.