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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 1 Jun 1999

Vol. 505 No. 6

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 31, Solicitors (Amendment) Bill, 1998 [Seanad], Second Stage (resumed) and No. 2, Major Events Television Coverage Bill, 1999, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 71, motion re Waste Management.

In light of the tragic and avoidable death of an Irish soldier in south Lebanon, when will the Government introduce legislation to ratify the convention on the protection of UN personnel so that those responsible for killings of this nature can be brought to court?

I stated about one week ago that the legislation was due to be introduced in the autumn session but that I would ask the Department to bring the date forward. That is still the position. I extend my sympathy to the family of the late Private William Kedian and hope that Private Rushe will make a speedy recovery.

I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy to the family of the soldier killed and that of the soldier injured. In light of this does the Taoiseach agree that the legislation should be brought forward quickly and that Ireland is among the slowest in ratifying the convention? We must show our commitment to UN personnel in deed as well as in word. One deed would be to ratify the convention.

I would like the date to be brought forward. We should deal with the matter as quickly as we can.

There is a Private Members' Bill in my name on the Order Paper. Seventy six Irish personnel have now died abroad.

The Deputy should ask the Taoiseach a question.

I have raised this matter continuously over the past two years. Will the Taoiseach introduce the legislation or, alternatively, consider taking the Fine Gael Private Members' Bill?

In Government time.

Will the Taoiseach make a statement on the extraordinary agony of the families of the "disappeared"given that the House passed at some speed the necessary legislation to ensure the perpetrators of the crimes in question would be immune from prosecution? Will he condemn the extraordinary inhumanity which is compounding the agony of the families of the "disappeared"and call on Sinn Féin and the IRA to co-operate fully by indicating clearly where the remains are buried so that this desperate situation can be brought to a speedy conclusion?

Is the Taoiseach aware that some of those currently in leadership positions in Sinn Féin were involved in the original decision to murder the people concerned, to keep secret their places of burial and to malign their memory? Does he agree that they now have a responsibility to pinpoint accurately the places where they were buried to end the indescribable trauma of the relatives of the "disappeared"?

I hope anybody who was involved and who has further information will pass it to the Garda Síochána, members of the commission and the intermediaries so that the remains of the nine people concerned can be recovered. From my contacts last week, it was thought that the matter would be dealt with relatively quickly, in a day or two at most. It is the families about whom we should be most concerned. Everything is being done to keep them informed. It is about one year since the INLA informed us of the location of the remains of one of its former members who was killed in France. Despite the presentation of maps the French authorities have been unable to recover the body. The fact that some of the murders took place 27, 29 and 30 years ago presents difficulties but I hope the matter can be resolved as quickly as possible.

The House co-operated with the Government in passing the necessary legislation to ensure this would not become a legal matter. It is not a political matter but one of common human decency. The trauma of the families of the "disappeared" is being compounded by three or four days of fruitless searching. Will the Taoiseach contact the President of Sinn Féin and representatives of the IRA in so far as he can identify them and ask them to co-operate fully?

We cannot have a debate on the issue. The Chair has allowed much latitude.

Does the Taoiseach agree that this is an organisation which has consummate ability to hide armaments across the island and to pinpoint their precise location? Are we to take it that it does not know where it buried the bodies of the people it callously murdered?

I discussed the matter with the President of Sinn Féin last Friday evening. Intermediaries are endeavouring to use the information they have been given. I hope this will prove successful. It was thought that the places of burial had been pinpointed. We will assist the families in every way we can.

They have to be shamed into being specific.

Was the information provided specific or general as to the location—

We cannot have a debate on the issue now.

I am asking a question. If the information was specific and the bodies are not found, the information was wrong. If the information was general, it is a different story. Is it possible for the IRA to provide more specific information?

Three thousand square yards for one body.

The commission and intermediaries are involved. I discussed the matter first with Sinn Féin in March. It had until the last weekend of May to pinpoint the locations. It believed the information to be correct. I hope that is the case.

(Mayo): An additional 250 remand places will be available at the new remand prison in Cloverhill which has now been completed. When will the order be made to give effect to the result of the referendum on bail and the subsequent legislation passed by the House?

Hopefully, it will be towards the end of the year when the new midlands prison with more than 515 places will be available.

Will the Taoiseach ask the Government Whip to make time available to discuss the McDowell report on financial regulation?

I will ask the Whips to consider that.

Given the six months that have elapsed since our entry to the euro, the 11 per cent devaluation and the fears of parity with the dollar, is there any prospect of a debate so that the viewpoints—

That does not arise on the Order of Business. It is a matter for the Whips.

The last item was a call for a debate. I am simply asking if the Taoiseach—

That is not appropriate to the Order of Business. It is a matter for the Whips.

Would the Taoiseach support such a debate?

(Dublin West): According to the Government's timetable, the Telecommunications (Infrastructure) Bill was to be taken in the Dáil by mid-1999, that is June or July. Is it still the plan to bring it forward now or is there any truth in the suggestion that, because of recent highlighted fears about the danger of electromagnetic radiation, it might not be brought forward at this time?

That Bill is before the Seanad.