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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 25 Feb 1999

Vol. 501 No. 2

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. a10, Finance Bill, 1999 – Financial Resolutions (Nos. 1-33) and No. b10, Finance Bill, 1999 – Allocation of Time Motion for Select Committee; No. 29 Electricity Regulation Bill, 1998 – Second Stage (resumed) and No. 30 Health (Eastern Regional Health Authority) Bill, 1998 – Second Stage (resumed).

It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. a10 and b10 shall be decided without debate and in the case of a10, nos. 1-33 shall be moved together and decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. a10 and b10 agreed to?

I regret that I could not agree to this without getting an assurance from the Government that the entire correspondence between EUROSTAT and the Department of Finance in regard to Objective One status will be published to establish inter alia whether the Government made an application in a formal sense for the inclusion of counties Clare and Kerry with the other counties. We want to see the formal written application.

I think he thought Kilgarvan was Brussels.

As many Deputies have predicted, the Government's proposals for Structural Funding for this country has been sent back as inadequate and incompetent. Will the Taoiseach ensure there will be a debate in this House next week about this matter before the Government constructs another application based on the same kind of petty politics which underpinned the last application?

I remind Deputies that a priority question has been tabled on this subject and it will be reached this afternoon. I cannot allow a discussion on it now.

I will come back to this matter.

Will the Taoiseach respond to my question? Will he publish the full correspondence on Ireland's application?

There are ongoing discussions with both EUROSTAT and the European Commission in relation to Structural Funds, Cohesion Funds and the Common Agricultural Policy. These discussions, I hope, will be completed successfully.

The Minister for Finance has reflected on the integrity of EUROSTAT which is very unwise for an Irish Minister to have done. The House needs to know the full content of the correspondence on this.

We have flushed you out at last.

The Minister for Finance has an opinion on everything.

Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. a10 and b10 agreed to?

Question put.

Ahern, Bertie.Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fahey, Frank.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Foley, Denis.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.

Keaveney, Cecilia.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Keeffe, Ned.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Mary.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.


Ahearn, Theresa.Allen, Bernard.Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Belton, Louis.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, John.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Coveney, Simon.Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.De Rossa, Proinsias.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Enright, Thomas.

Farrelly, John.Finucane, Michael.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Hayes, Brian.Higgins, Jim.Hogan, Philip.Kenny, Enda.McGinley, Dinny.McGrath, Paul.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Naughten, Denis.Noonan, Michael.Owen, Nora.Perry, John.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Sheehan, Patrick.Timmins, Billy.Yates, Ivan.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Callely; Níl, Deputies Barrett and Sheehan.
Question declared carried.

Will the Taoiseach tell the House when promised amendments to local government legislation, in the form of an order, defining regions for the purpose of applying for Objective One status will be introduced? What will the order encompass?

As I said previously, that matter will be dealt with under the Local Government Act, 1991.

The Taoiseach is changing the matter and it now involves statutory instruments. When will the statutory instruments under that Act be put into effect? Have they been prepared? What counties do they include?

As soon as the ongoing negotiations with the European Union are completed, the orders will be put into effect.

Could we see a copy of the draft orders the Government has prepared?

It is not appropriate to go into the detail of legislation or orders.

Given the Government is attempting to avoid facing the House by dealing with this matter by order, the House should see the order.

The Deputy is trying to rewrite 6 June 1997.

The Taoiseach indicated that he proposes to make changes in regional structures by way of order and that EUROSTAT has rejected the proposal for the powers being promised as inadequate. The Government promised local government reform in item 9(c). Does the Taoiseach propose that regional reform will also take place under that legislation? Does he accept that the game is up?

We are not discussing that issue. Deputy Deenihan has tabled a Priority Question on the matter.

I have a question on legislation and I am entitled to a reply. Will the Taoiseach indicate in his reply if he accepts the Government must submit a new application?

The local government reform Bill has 150 heads and will be ready in mid-year. It is to modernise local government legislation and implement a range of reforms. I am glad Deputy De Rossa's party, whichever one it is, is not involved in these negotiations. He would put his hands up at the start and this country would lose Objective One status without an effort being made on its behalf.

We would not have made such a total cock up of it.

The Deputy's position was the cock up.

Work which took 30 years destroyed in 12 months.

Last night the Government voted down the Enforcement of Court Orders Bill, a Fine Gael Private Members' Bill, which would have ended the jailing of 2,000 fine defaulters and civil debtors, on the pretext that it would be coming forward with its own legislation, the attachment of earnings Bill. Will the Taoiseach give a definitive statement as to when we will see this Bill? The Government was unable to find a single fault with the Bill before the House yesterday which would have ended this farce once and for all.

The attachment of earnings Bill, which is to end imprisonment for civil debt and inability to pay fines, where practicable, has been in preparation for some time and I hope it will be ready as soon as possible.

We had a Bill ready last night.

Will the Taoiseach give a commitment to look at the health and safety regulations to see if they need to be amended in view of information emerging about a plant in Athy where people have been suffering from asbestosis and where the company was not obliged to give information about this matter?

No legislation is planned in this area.

Will the Taoiseach indicate if Mr. Justice Flood has the full confidence of the House?

That is not appropriate on the order of business.

He will say it on "Tonight with Vincent Browne" later.

There is a manifest effort to undermine the tribunal into planning irregularities which could cause its collapse.

We are not discussing this.

Will the Taoiseach give an assurance that this House has full confidence in Mr. Justice Flood to conduct the tribunal? This is an important matter.

Of course it is. Everything raised in this House is an important matter but there are procedures and the Chair is obliged to implement the Standing Orders as laid down by the House. The Deputy is totally out of order.

This House made a decision to refer this matter to Mr. Justice Flood and it is now clear that someone is trying to undermine the tribunal.

The Deputy must resume his seat.

Does Mr. Justice Flood enjoy the full confidence of the House?

The Deputy is out of order.

Does that mean we do not have confidence in him?

We passed legislation in the form of the Employment Equality Bill to establish an equality authority. That has not yet happened. When will regulations arising from the Bill be brought before the Dáil to establish the equality authority? There is no point passing legislation if we do not then enact its provisions.

The regulations will be introduced on 8 March.

Will the Taoiseach resubmit the 13 western counties for Objective One status? When will he make that submission to Europe?

The Deputy is pre-empting a Priority Question in the name of his colleague, Deputy Deenihan.

It is just as well he is not in Government.

The Government does not know what to do.

Allow Deputy Boylan to speak without interruption.

The Taoiseach is conspicuous by his silence.

There is a great deal of anxiety on this side of the House. If there was the same anxiety on the Government side we might get answers. I have raised the question of Objective One status for the Border counties more than once. Will the Taoiseach please outline the position in relation to the Border region?

I am ruling the question out of order in fairness to Deputy Boylan's colleague, Deputy Deenihan, who has tabled a Priority Question that will be dealt with this afternoon.

This is in the Chair's interests as well.

Another fine mess you have gotten us into.

We should have a reasonable answer to a reasonable question.


The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands is in Los Angeles at the moment trying to get film makers to keep Ireland on their mental maps, as she put it. Will the Taoiseach see to it under the appropriate legislation that the 3 per cent quota for disabled people being employed in the public service is maintained, given that 14 of the 25 Departments and institutions of the State have not reached that limit?

Is this promised legislation?

This relates to existing legislation.

Under existing legislation there is a quota that Departments should work towards.

In light of the EUROSTAT reply on regional structures, will legislation regarding regional structures be included in the local government reform Bill, or will it require separate legislation?

The Taoiseach has already answered that question.

The answer is in Kilgarvan. Is that not the truth?

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform promised a Bill on the private security industry last March, and it has also been promised on four or five occasions since. When will it be published?

The Government has approved a proposal to give legislative effect to recommendations on the Private Security Industry Bill which are currently being worked on.

We have been given the same answer four times in the past six months. Is any progress being made?

I call Deputy Barrett.

The one thing that is consistent is that nothing is happening.

The Deputy's party was in power for two years and nothing was done.

No. b10 is a motion on the allocation of time for the Select Committee on Finance and the Public Service. The motion states at what time debate on the various sections will conclude. This was agreed on the understanding that the committee would meet at 9.30 a.m. We now discover that the committee will not meet until 10.30 a.m., which takes an hour away from debate on very important sections of the Bill, including a ministerial amendment on pensions which I welcome. Will the Taoiseach give an assurance that the committee will meet at 9.30 a.m and not 10.30 a.m?

I will ask the Whip to agree the time. The time was understood to be a fixed number of hours.