Order of Business.

,Limerick East): It is proposed to take No. 8, Financial Resolution re Finance Bill, 1996; No. 16, Statements on the White Paper on Foreign Policy (resumed) and No. 17, Statements on “Developing a Policy for Women's Health” (resumed).

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 8 shall be decided without debate.

Is it agreed that No. 8 shall be decided without debate? Agreed.

On behalf of Fianna Fáil I condemn the bombing last evening at Hammersmith Bridge. None of these matters is helpful to the ongoing work of developing and reactivating the peace process. Now that the way is clear for all parties to participate in the electoral process, will the Minister highlight to the Taoiseach as soon as possible the fact that parties must not be excluded from the electoral process? The IRSP is one such party. The people will decide the issue but to exclude parties creates an unnecessary obstacle and gives excuses to people. This is unhelpful and could be used in various ways to block the progress we all want to see. There is much support in the British system for not making the mistake of excluding parties from the electoral process.

While the matter is not strictly relevant I hesitate to rule it out having regard to its delicacy.

I, too, condemn the bombing last night. It is the second bomb in a week and a further cynical exercise. Does the Minister agree that the absence of the IRA ceasefire remains the greatest obstacle to meaningful negotiations on 10 June? If the IRA ceasefire is not restored those negotiations cannot be meaningful or successful. Will he join me in calling on Sinn Féin to use its enormous influence, as the political wing of the IRA, to have the ceasefire fully restored?

(Limerick East): I join Deputy Ahern in welcoming the fact that all parties, including Sinn Féin and the SDLP, have stated their intention to contest the election in Northern Ireland. It is the Government's objective to have all parties at the negotiating table on 10 June. The bomb detonated in Hammersmith last night does not improve the position or do anything to help us to achieve that objective. In reply to Deputy Harney, the only matter which would prevent Sinn Féin from attending talks on 10 June is that the ceasefire has not been reinstated. Sinn Féin is aware of the views of all parties in this House and I hope that it will do everything in its power to reinstate the ceasefire. Rather than having dialogue here talks will continue at official level to achieve that end.

The Minister for Finance stated yesterday that he was not very optimistic about a new national agreement to succeed theProgramme for Competitiveness and Work. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will endeavour to negotiate a new national agreement or has it already thrown in the towel?

That matter is clearly not relevant to the Order of Business.

I was about to congratulate the Minister for Health as I thought he had been elevated to a new position. I know it is one to which he assiduously aspires.

(Limerick East): Eat your heart out, Deputy.

Watch your back.

Watch out, Deputy Lowry.

Twelve weeks have elapsed since the Taoiseach promised the House on 31 January that he expected the Government's proposals on bail to be ready within six weeks. When will the proposals be ready? Has the Government serious intentions in this area——

The Deputy may not elaborate on the matter.

——or will it continue to be deterred by the reservations of the Tánaiste and his revolting backbenchers.

There are not too many of them.

(Limerick East): The matter is under discussion at Government level and proposals will be drafted in due course.


Is the Government prepared to allow time to debate the motion on tourism in view of the extension until tomorrow of the deadline for the World Equestrian Games?

The Deputy can raise that in another way and at another time.

It is an important issue.

It is a matter for the Whips.

Will the Minister indicate when the telecommunications Bill to give effect to the strategic alliance arrangements for Telecom Éireann will be introduced? Is he aware of any obstacles that might prevent it?

(Limerick East): Before the end of 1996.

It did not take the Minister long to learn.

He is in the Mensa class.

Are there any obstacles?

Is it intended to seek compensation for Irish beef farmers as this was probably the worst year they experienced?

It is a good question, please table it.

In view of the discrimination against women in the workplace, will the Minister state when the employment equality Bill will be brought before the House? Will it be debated in this session?

(Limerick East): It is at an advanced stage and I hope it will be introduced in this session.

Does the Government propose to put social partnership on a statutory basis? Is it true that the NESC report which is being developed for the next round of social partnership talks has been put on hold?

(Limerick East): There are no proposals to that effect at present.

In light of the fact that the Misuse of Drugs Bill will be discussed next week by the Select Committee on Legislation and Security, why did the Government accept on Second Stage the Fianna Fáil Misuse of Drugs Bill? A poorly watered down version of Part I of that Bill was introduced in the House and put before the committee. What is the status——

This is not a time for argument.

I am dealing with legislation.

If the Deputy has a precise question to ask about promised legislation let us hear it.

The Government accepted the Fianna Fáil Misuse of Drugs Bill, 1996, and then brought in its own Bill. What is the status of the Fianna Fáil Bill?

The question is purely argumentative.

It is not meant to be. I want to know where our Bill stands.

We can have clarification.

Why did the Government accept the Fianna Fáil Bill if it was not going to proceed with it?

(Limerick East): The Government always finds Deputy O'Donoghue's arguments helpful, but the Government's Bill was published and that now takes precedence.

With all due respect——

There can be no argument.

I am in order.