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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 27 Nov 1997

Vol. 483 No. 5

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 8b, motion re membership of Joint Committee on Tourism, Sport and Recreation and No. 15, statements on Agriculture (Santer Proposals).

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) No. 8b shall be decided without debate; and (2) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 15: (i) The opening statement of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; (ii) The statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (iii) Members may share time; and (iv) A Minister or Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed 15 minutes.

There are two proposals before the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 8b agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 15 agreed? Agreed.

What is the present state of work in regard to the Employment Equality Bill?

It will be published next week, to the best of my knowledge. I will let the Deputy know if that is incorrect.

Can the Taoiseach indicate why the report of the steering group on Garda efficiency, which he said yesterday would be placed in Members' pigeonholes, did not become available until late yesterday evening? I know he was trying to be helpful yesterday but is he aware that when people from my office went to get the report at 6 p.m. it was not available and we had to get it from a member of the press?

I will raise that issue. The report should have been there.

I wish to raise the issue of the Incitement to Hatred Act in light of the clearly racist statement made by Deputy Callely the other day.

Does this relate to promised legislation?

Has the Taoiseach asked Deputy Callely to——

It is not in order for Deputies to make statements on the Order of Business.

Can I ask the Taoiseach to insist——

He repeated it on the Adjournment last night.

The Deputy must find another way to raise this matter. It is not in order at this stage.

——that Deputy Callely apologises and withdraws the statement and if he will examine the issue with a view to a prosecution under the Incitement to Hatred Act?

The question is not in order at this stage.

Will the Taoiseach take whatever steps are necessary to avert the craftworkers' strike, in view of the fact it will bring hospitals to a standstill after 5 p.m. and all sewerage and water systems——

I understand the Deputy has submitted a private notice question on the matter and it will be considered at that time.

The Taoiseach will not be here when that question is taken and I wanted to raise the matter with him.

The question will be considered at that time.

On a point of order, is it not inappropriate for the Taoiseach to remain seated when an important question is put to him about a serious statement made by a Deputy which seeks to incite hatred against people coming into this country? It is deplorable that a Government Deputy should engage in that.

That is not a point of order.

He should disown him.

The matter is not in order at this stage.

It may not be, but it is not in order for Deputy Callely to make such statements.

The matter was referred to during the debate on the Estimates yesterday.

Deputy Callely has an obligation to apologise and the Taoiseach has an obligation to insist he withdraw his statement or else take disciplinary action.


The Deputy should resume his seat. The matter is not in order.

I hope you will agree it is in order for me to ask the Taoiseach if he intends to provide Government time today within which Deputy Callely may wish to repudiate statements——

The matter is not in order.

It is an important matter.

As I wish to comply with the rules of the House, will you clarify if it is in order for me to ask the Taoiseach whether the Government intends to make time available today to enable Deputy Callely to withdraw his apparently illegal statements, which could be construed as an offence under the Incitement to Hatred Act?

The question the Deputy raised is not in order. I ask Deputies to resume their seats.

Is it in order for a Member of this House to raise the matter of serious incitement to hatred by another Member?

The Deputy should find a proper way to raise the matter. It is not in order on the Order of Business.


If it is not in order for me to ask the Taoiseach on the Order of Business if time will be made available for such a statement to be made, would it be in order to table a private notice question requesting the Deputy to make such a statement?

Any private notice question will receive consideration.

I think you might find, Sir, upon consideration, that it is not within your powers to compel or request this——

We cannot anticipate the decision on such a question.

——but it is within the power of the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, the so-called republican party, to ask a Deputy to withdraw an anti republican statement——

We are the republican party.

Not when a Deputy makes such statements.

The so-called socialist party.


I have ruled that the matter is not in order at this stage. The Deputies must find another way of dealing with it. I call Deputy John Bruton.


I insist Deputy Callely be made withdraw his statement.

What about when the Irish were told no Irish need apply?

Deputy De Rossa should resume his seat. I have called Deputy John Bruton.

If I may say——

I insist Deputy Callely withdraw his remarks.


The Deputy should resume his seat.

It is important that we do not send an ambiguous signal from the House regarding our abhorrence of racial discrimination of any kind.

What about the Deputy's remarks about the President?

It might be helpful to provide time for a debate in the House on race relations in our society and what Deputies on all sides need to do to promote positive and constructive relations between all communities living here, whatever their origin. Will the Taoiseach consider responding to that suggestion?

I have no difficulty with that suggestion. The matter could be dealt with by way of questions or a debate in Private Members' time. I have no difficulties with a debate if the Whips believe it would be useful.

Under Standing Orders it is always open to Members to make a personal statement to the House. It is not for me to dictate on that.

The Deputy repeated what he said last night outside the House.

Many matters have arisen in the past on which Deputy De Rossa should have made personal statements.

Deputy De Rossa should not be on his feet when the Taoiseach is speaking. He is out of order and a hypocrite.

You are a bully boy.

Deputy De Rossa should resume his seat.

Does the Taoiseach consider that a useful basis for such a debate might be a resolution agreed to by the leaders of all parties in the House abhorring racial discrimination of any kind and asking that we all do everything we can in our respective spheres of influence to deal with it and ensure that it does not occur? Does he agree that such a resolution might be a constructive outcome of this controversy and could help us in the future in dealing with what will remain a very serious issue for this community into the next century?

Is it agreed that the matter should be referred to the Whips?

I wish to respond positively to that. When replying to Deputy John Bruton and Deputy Gay Mitchell on a number of recent occasions, I have stated that there is a growing tendency across parts of the country, especially in Dublin city, for difficulties to arise at community level regarding this issue. Tensions may arise for a number of reasons, which is understandable. However, there is no reason for some of the comments and slogans which have appeared.

I have no difficulty in agreeing with the suggestion made by Deputy John Bruton. If we could agree the form of the proposed motion, which could be——

Will the Taoiseach ask Deputy Callely to lead the debate?

Surely the Taoiseach will invite Deputy Callely to withdraw his recent remarks?

The Taoiseach is addressing the House. Deputy Stagg should resume his seat.

The Deputy is out of order.


Will Deputy De Rossa resume his seat?

(Mayo): Is the Taoiseach aware that, far from withdrawing or expressing regret for his remarks made on the debate on the Estimates yesterday evening, Deputy Callely repeated his slur, criticised the Opposition for raising it and said he would stand by his comments.

A formula has been agreed on that matter.

(Mayo): To ensure that we do not send the wrong signal regarding our attitude to offering safe haven to people who come here, will Deputy Callely avail of the opportunity to apologise to the House for his unprecedented slur on the thousands of people who seek a safe haven and whose cases have not even been adjudicated upon?

I thank the Taoiseach for acknowledging that I have been calmly trying to raise this issue for some time and have been pressing for a co-ordinated approach. Given the fact that 800,000 people born in Ireland are living in Britain we should be the last people to raise an issue of this kind.

Will the Taoiseach arrange for a debate on the issue at the earliest opportunity? There is a danger that it will boil over into violence in the inner cities, especially if it is whipped up in the way it has been.

The Taoiseach has made it clear where he stands on the matter. However, it would be appropriate if he spoke to Deputy Callely and asked him to withdraw those remarks, because he is whipping up fears.

I have ruled on that matter and we cannot proceed any further with it.

I was present in the House last night when Deputy Callely made his trenchant remarks. He criticised the Opposition for having the audacity to raise the matter. In view of this——

I have ruled on that matter.

The Taoiseach has indicated that he is agreeable to a debate on the basis of the proposal made by the Leader of the Opposition and that he deplores racism and attempts to exacerbate it. Will he, as Leader of Fianna Fáil and the Government, request Deputy Callely to repudiate his remarks in the House? They are an incitement to hatred of people who seek safety in this country.

The House is not a court of law.

(Dublin West): Will the Taoiseach provide for an emergency debate on the bomb-shell dropped yesterday evening on TEAM Aer Lingus workers when management outlined the total privatisation of that——

That is not in order on the Order of Business. The Deputy should put down a parliamentary question on the matter.

(Dublin West): It is a matter of vital public importance. A public sector company is about to be privatised.

The Deputy can raise the matter in a number of other ways. He should resume his seat.

(Dublin West): It is a matter of fundamental importance.

The Deputy should not be standing when the Ceann Comhairle is on his feet.

It should then be raised in the proper manner. It is not in order at this time. It is an important matter and there are ways of raising it and having it properly discussed in the House.

Will the Taoiseach clarify what has been agreed? Is it proposed that the Whips meet immediately after the Order of Business to arrange for a debate today on the incitement to hatred issue?

Will the Deputy apologise to the farmers of Connemara for his comments this morning?

There will not be a debate today. I have agreed to the proposal by Deputy John Bruton that the terms of a motion to make the position of the House clear on the matter should be agreed by the Whips as soon as possible.

Today is as soon as possible.

This is the way to proceed if people are interested in a debate and a resolution which will form the position of the House, rather than playing politics on the Order of Business.

Hear, hear.

What about the remarks made by Deputy Callely last night?

The Deputy is out of order.

What is wrong with Deputy Cowen this morning? He is not his usual self.

The Deputy is not his usual sanctimonious self.

We must have lunch together again.


This time at the same table. Deputy Cowen can come with me; one would never know what he would find.


Will the Taoiseach agree that in framing such a resolution we should take the greatest care to ensure it is comprehensive and deals with all aspects of discrimination? When does the Taoiseach expect the legislation on the implementation of the Council of Europe resolution on traffic by sea in illicit drugs to be introduced? It is No. 68 of the Government's Order.

It is at an early stage of preparation and will not be ready for some time; I do not have the exact date. The amount of work to be done is immense.

Is there a great deal of drafting involved, given that it will implement a resolution that is already drafted?

I understand a great deal of drafting is involved. It has to be implemented by the end of next year. It is not near ready at this stage.

Yesterday the report of the Garda Síochána on reform was published. There is a serious problem with policing in the city of Dublin. I suggest the Whips be asked to arrange a debate on that report in a way that does not require the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to make proposals but to listen to the concerns of Dublin Deputies in particular.

In reply to Deputy Owen you indicated you were considering some special notice questions on the craftworkers dispute. Given that the earliest reply to them would be in mid afternoon and we are within 24 hours of a major dispute which could cripple hospital and local services, will the Taoiseach say if arrangements are being made to ask the Labour Court to intervene in this dispute?

That question is not in order on the Order of Business.

Every hospital and local service will be closed down over the weekend. It is an urgent matter and requires immediate attention.

The private notice question will be considered.

Some time ago the Taoiseach, aware of the concern of every Member about the spiralling death toll on our roads, undertook to take an initiative, bringing together all of the agencies involved. Will he report to the House on the conclusion of that initiative and what specific measures are now proposed?

This is a matter for a parliamentary question.

This was something the Taoiseach accepted on the Order of Business on a day of great poignancy for this House. The Taoiseach may wish to come back rather than allow the issue to rest.

Perhaps the Deputy would put down a parliamentary question.

Will the Employment Equality Bill, which the Taoiseach said is imminent, and the Equal Status Bill be accompanied by proposals to amend the Constitution? The Taoiseach will recall these failed in the Supreme Court on grounds of unconstitutionality. This revolved around the rights of people with disability. Will the Taoiseach give an assurance that those serious measures will be reintroduced and, if necessary, with constitutional amendment?

We should wait for the Bill. At this stage the urgency is to bring these Bills forward. The constitutional issues are under consideration. They will not be part of the Bill or brought forward simultaneously with it.

The Deputy either wants the Bill now or he does not.

When the Deputy was on this side he never ceased to lecture the House on the rights of people with disability and now he is conveniently forgetting about it.

We cannot discuss the matter now.

A Deputy

Every Bill ended up with the President.

May I ask the Taoiseach——

——if the foundations of the State are still stable.


It certainly rocked the Minister, Deputy Woods, out of office. I do not feel like clubbing more baby seals today.

In respect of the Government decision last night to vote against Deputy Kitt's Bill, can I take it there is promised legislation, after a reasonable period of discussion between the social partners, to regulate Sunday trading?

The Minister is correctly trying to get consensus on this issue. As soon as he has that done he will announce the way he intends to proceed.

He promised legislation.

The difficulty is that people want a la carte banning of Sunday trading.

He promised legislation.

That is not the case, remember the Deputy's Bill.

In some countries Sunday trading is banned but that is not what the social partners want here.

I do not want it either, I want to regulate it.

By going through the process, the Minister is likely to find a compromise that will open up a way to satisfactorily deal with this issue.

Under which item of promised legislation is the Government proposal to end the worldwide moratorium on whaling? It is now before the international whaling commission and will the Taoiseach allow a debate on the matter?


There was a recent question on that matter.