Private Members' Business. - An Bille um an Aonú Leasú is Fiche ar an mBunreacht (Uimh. 3), 1999: An Dara Céim (Atógáil). Twenty-First Amendment of the Constitution (No. 3) Bill, 1999: Second Stage (Resumed).

Atairgeadh an cheist: "Go léifear an Bille an Dara hUair anois."
Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on this issue. It is very timely that we discuss these matters as we consider what should and should not go into the coming budget. There is sufficient evidence to show that this country has a form of apartheid which is every bit as bad as that experienced in South Africa at its worst, although our form of apartheid is not on the basis of the colour of one's skin.

A briefing document presented to Members of the Oireachtas by the CORI justice commission included a social protection and expenditure timetable which indicated that in 1997 Ireland had social protection expenditure, as a percent age of GDP, of 17.5%. What is sad about that is that it had declined from 19.1% in 1990 when we were a much poorer country. What is even sadder is that the amount of money we spent on social protection, 17.5% of GDP, was about half that spent in Sweden – 33.7% of GDP. The United Kingdom spent almost one and a half times as much as we did on social protection – 26.8% of GDP, Denmark spent almost twice what we spent – 31.4% and France spent almost one and three quarters of what we spent – 30.8%. In fact, of the 15 EU members states, we were the lowest by far. The next lowest after us was Spain at 21.4% of GDP and Portugal at 22.5% of GDP. We are simply not using our resources to help the poorest people in this country, and it is not as if we cannot do it.

When I first become a councillor in 1979 and a TD in 1981, I recall that Dublin Corporation alone was building 1,750 houses per year when we did not have a bob. We did not have anything like the money we have in the coffers now. Is it any wonder that the demand for housing is such when the supply, particularly of public housing, has all but dried up? This year between what it purchases and what it builds, Dublin Corporation will provide something like 300,000 housing units. People say there is no room in this city to build these houses but there is as the corporation's housing policy committee has been told. Most of the 1,750 houses per year we built were not, in any event, built in Dublin city. They were built for people from Dublin city who were in need of housing.

In relation to justice and the need for prison reform, 75% of prisoners in Mountjoy come from five identifiable areas of Dublin. There are no prizes for guessing that we are not talking about the nicer parts of the city. We are talking about parts of the city where there is real deprivation. We are talking about parts of the city, for example, where the residents of whole flat complexes as big as major villages outside Dublin never go on to third level education, areas where the participation rate in third level education is something of the order of 5% while elsewhere in the same city, in good neighbourhoods, it is about 55%. These are the areas from which the prison population comes. We talk about the terrible problems of crime and we build bigger prisons and recruit more gardaí. Why do we not spend money on education?

According to research done by ARC, Area Response Crumlin, in my constituency, those who abuse heroin are likely to come from a group where only one in ten have done their leaving certificate whereas the average is that eight out of ten teenagers do their leaving certificate. Among those who abuse heroin, it is as low as one in ten – in other words, these are largely people who have no access to education, for whom third level education is not on the agenda and for whom second level education is almost not on the agenda. The housing conditions in which they live are, in many cases, very deprived.

If these people happen to fall sick, God help them because we have an arrangement with the IMO, the Irish Medical Organisation, where we can have 40% of the population in the medical card system. In fact only 31% of the population is in the medical card system. The effect is that a single person who earns over £95 per week, a married couple who earn over £135 per week or a married couple with two qualifying children who have an income over £167 per week do not qualify for a medical card. That was never intended. Only the poorest of the poor now get a medical card. There are people whose children are sick week in, week out who will not go to the doctor because they cannot afford to do so.

What I have said about housing, prison reform, education, drug abuse and health in the few minutes available to me indicates that social apartheid is alive and well and only we, in this House, can put that right. This debate gives us an opportunity as we prepare for the budget, for future budgets and, indeed, for the election ahead to set the agenda, an agenda which considers social justice to be as important, or more important, than something called "economic success". We are not running an economy, we are running a country and when running a country, we have to take into account the weakest people. The sooner we are obliged to do that, the better.

I wish to share my time with Deputies Cooper-Flynn and Lenihan.

As Minister with primary responsibility for social inclusion, I welcome the opportunity provided by this Private Members' Bill to speak on the adoption of a rights-based approach to social policy.

The proposed amendment refers to certain principles. Everybody should have the right to earn a livelihood. In fact, that is currently there and registered in our Constitution. Everybody must have the right to adequate health care and to a decent standard of living. These rights are already guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was ratified by a Fianna Fáil-led Government in 1989.

Supporting the case for the systematic advancement and promotion of rights does not imply that such rights are not already realised in Ireland to a significant degree, or that legislation, policies and programmes do not exist to promote these. For instance, our republican Constitution, introduced by my party in 1937, enshrines a large number of rights, including the right to a livelihood, in a way which is the envy of some of our neighbours.

The Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, a recent document, contains substantial commitments in relation to poverty and social exclusion and reinforces a rights context in public policy by stating that citizenship rights encompass social, economic and cultural rights and obligations which are embedded in our political culture.

The matter before the House is whether there is a need for specific rights to be incorporated in law, into our Constitution, and the experience of other countries in this regard is instructive. When one looks at other countries where there is a rights based approach in their legislation, one will find that not everything that is put in place in that respect comes to fruition. Like us, they would have difficulties in delivering on those rights.

Recently the Constitution Review Group stated the main reason the Constitution should not confer personal rights to freedom from poverty or to other specific economic and social entitlement is that they are essentially political matters, which in a democracy should be the responsibility of elected representatives of the people to address and determine. As a republican party, Fianna Fáil believes the democratically elected representatives of the people must take on that responsibility to promote the welfare of all our people.

Unlike the elitist approach of the Labour Party, we do not believe social rights are best adjudicated on by unelected judges. It is always easier to have these ideas in Opposition. Despite being in Government for a decade or more in recent years, it seems it is only now that the Labour Party discovers its commitment to social rights. For instance, instead of doing nothing else but discussing, analysing and assessing issues such as employment, Fianna Fáil's record is one of action. We can rightly claim we have reduced unemployment to historic and heretofore unimagined levels, at a time when there was a significant increase in the population with many of our emigrants returning. We have helped to crack the nut of intergenerational unemployment and poverty.

I take very seriously the responsibility of promoting the welfare of our people and I am proud that this Government has overseen significant improvements on a comprehensive social inclusion agenda in our term of office to date. In An Action Programme for the Millennium the Government set the objective of building an inclusive society. We set out to make this a better Ireland for all. What is the result? Findings for the 1998 Living In Ireland Survey show the number of people living in consistent poverty has dropped from 15% in 1994 to 8% in 1998. In practical terms, that means the number of people who cannot afford basic items such as warm clothing, good footwear and a balanced diet, has reduced by one-half over that period.

In addition, the most recent information from the ESRI on child poverty shows that the level of consistent poverty dropped from 17% to 12% in the 12 month period from 1997 to 1998. That means that 50,000 children were taken out of poverty as a result of the Government's policies. Much of this massive drop in child poverty is due to our work friendly policies, which have put in place a wide range of supports for unemployed people and produced plummeting unemployment figures.

Record welfare increases have also had an impact. I have been able to say after each budget introduced under this Government that the increase in social welfare in that budget was the highest in the history of the State. I will not give away any secrets when I say that significant improvements on last's years record welfare package can be expected in the forthcoming budget.

While this progress is encouraging, we are determined to achieve even more through a comprehensive review and extension of the national anti-poverty strategy, which is about to get under way. As part of that review, which is being carried out in conjunction with the social partners under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, new targets will be considered in consultation with the social partners under the themes of child poverty, women's poverty, health, older people, housing and accommodation.

Recognising rights to health care, housing and so on is not the full solution to the problems that exist – it is not the magic wand many hope it will be. The use of rights language and even enshrining rights in legislation in isolation can achieve very little. It is important to ensure all that is possible is being done to break the cycle of disadvantage by ensuring the appropriate policies and resources are in place to bring about change.

The focus of the Government is and will continue to be on determining the needs of the disadvantaged in society and on identifying and developing policies which meet those needs. The Labour Party proposal will not help to achieve these objectives. Its drafting is fundamentally flawed. For instance, why include a right to earn a livelihood when it is already in our Constitution? The Labour Party approach is typical of its arrogant and elitist approach to democracy. It does not trust the people to do the right thing. It does not trust the Members of this House to act in the best interests of all our people.

We, in Fianna Fáil, are committed to making this a better Ireland for all. That is what we have done in our term of office to date and what we will continue to do. We will continue on the road of social partnership, which has been the hallmark of enshrining in law the types of rights to which the Labour Party is referring. The experience of recent years shows how we have turned the corner. When I started out in public life intergenerational unemployment and poverty were evident, but matters have improved as a result of the social partnership my party pioneered in Government in 1987. A job is the best way out of poverty, but in the past people who lived in certain estates – we all know such estates in our constituencies – were refused a job interview because they had a certain address on their application forms. That is no longer the case and that is a testimony to the type of policies implemented by Fianna Fáil, when in Government over the period, irrespective of which party was in Government with it. People who did not have the possibility of participating in society are now participating in it. The issue of intergenerational unemployment, whereby from generation to generation families did not have a prospect of getting a job that would help bring them out of poverty, is a thing of the past. That is a hallmark of the type of society we now have, based on the policies this party in Government has put in place.

I am not saying we have the answer to all the ills, but in Government our record has been one of action. Instead of discussing, analysing and navel gazing for too long on issues, we do something about them. The numbers on the live register have fallen by more than 100,000 over the past three and a half years, while the population has increased by more than 100,000. That is testimony to the type of society this Government and previous Governments led by my party have achieved over several years.

I do not want to be overly political, but the reality is that parties on the far side of the House were not overly in favour of social partnership, a partnership that is delivering on the aspirations and ideals of all our society. People from all walks of life, whether members of unions, farmers, employers or the voluntary and community sector, an important addition to social partnership, are part of the process, under which much more than the rights attempted to be enshrined in this legislation, the rights of ordinary people are being examined and advanced as a result of the social partnership model. The recent fuel crisis did not affect this country as badly as it did other European countries because our social partnership model kicked into place. That is an example of how social partnership works. That type of co-operation is much more important than giving a nod towards putting rights into the Constitution. I am not saying it is bad to do that, but actions speak louder than words. We will continue on the road of social partnership while the Government is in office and into the future to ensure ordinary people get their just deserts and the rights they deserve. The example of social partnership and the democracy we have in Ireland, has stood us in good stead.

The attempt to enshrine these rights in the Constitution in this format may well be unhelpful and seems to be me unlikely to achieve the ends sought by the proposers. If one looks in detail at what is proposed one could not reasonably argue with the intentions herein; the amendment proposes that the State, bearing in mind international legal standards, recognises the economic, social and cultural rights of all persons. That is an interesting point at which to begin, as it presupposes that a State has absolute and total control over the economic well-being of its citizens. That may well be the case at the moment, but I do not accept that it is always the case that a State, particularly one of our economic mass, is in a position to deliver on this commitment were it included in the Constitution. Many corpor ations exceed a State such as this in size and value and the international marketplace tends to have little respect for the smaller players.

The current Government can rightly claim credit for many positive policies which have contributed to the improvement of standards of living, but, as three Ministers said in last night's debate, the State, through Governments of all shades of political opinion, has attempted to enshrine the rights of citizens in law and to ensure the weaker elements of society are looked after to the best of the State's ability.

People's social and cultural rights are referred to in this proposal and this is a very important area. Some people argue with some justification that those rights are enshrined in various other aspects of the Constitution and have been looked after, but we need to be vigilant about this in future, though I enter the same caveat that insertion into the Constitution might not be the most effective way to ensure such rights survive into the future.

The right to a livelihood and to reasonable conditions of employment could also be said to be currently enshrined in the Constitution and in so far as that is not specifically done they are enshrined in a raft of legislation regarding conditions of employment. Unfortunately, from time to time difficulties arise and conditions of employment lead to strikes and, at times, Members get aggravated at the treatment meted out to people and cast about for ways to address the problem. There is an argument that the appropriate way to address deficiencies of this nature is through legislation passed by the Oireachtas rather than through a constitutional amendment such as this.

Underlying all this is the requirement that the State, through its policies, be in a fiscal position to deliver adequate health care. It seems to me and to others who have exercised their minds about health care that there has been little tangible improvement arising from spending huge amounts of money on health. That is a matter of huge concern and I doubt that situation would improve for the individual were the proposed change to the Constitution made.

An immediate and tangible improvement in housing for many families would also be unlikely if this amendment were made. I agree with the contention of several Members that it would be more appropriate for the House to carry out its functions under the Constitution and to address these issues on an ongoing basis. To be fair, that is what Members have sought to do – not all of us to great effect but at least with a commitment to ensuring a dignified existence for the State's citizens.

I heard the Labour Party leader interviewed on radio and I agree with some of the sentiments behind the Bill, but I disagree as to the manner in which the Bill's aims can be achieved – through a constitutional amendment. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform said last night that the Bill is loosely based on rights contained in the 1966 UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Ireland has signed. It was ratified in December 1989 and came into force for Ireland in March 1990. Ireland makes regular reports on this to a relevant UN committee, so we are already signed up to many of the sentiments in this Bill. I welcome the fact that our last report to the UN committee was in 1999.

In 1996 the report of the Constitutional Review Group also looked at these issues in great detail and the main reason given as to why the Constitution should not confer personal rights to freedom from poverty or other economic and social entitlements is that these are essentially political matters which, in a democracy, should be the responsibility of elected Members to address and determine. I agree fully with that because when we put ourselves forward for election we outline our policies clearly to the public, which votes on them. Many issues referred to in this Bill have been dealt with effectively by the Government, such as health care and housing.

It is important to recognise that these are responsibilities of the Oireachtas and elected representatives, not an unelected Judiciary. It would be wrong to go down that road.

The 1996 report refers to solving economic and social problems as being an integral part of a political agenda. Time and again Members complain about matters being taken out of our domain and decided elsewhere. This is a perfect opportunity for Members to implement policy on serious issues such as health care, livelihood and housing and the Government is doing so very effectively.

To be fair to the Labour Party, the Constitutional Review Group, on balance, favoured an amendment to Article 40.3 of the Constitution, but that matter will be considered by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Constitution. When that committee has examined the matter the Government will consider the situation.

Housing is one area referred to in the Bill which is very much in the public eye. Nobody could have done more or taken the housing situation more seriously than the Government. That is illustrated by the fact that £7 billion will be allocated in respect of housing over the six years of the national development plan. The Government has provided an increase of 60% in Exchequer expenditure on an ambitious programme of local authority and social housing and this has resulted in a significant number of housing starts in every local authority area. Between now and the end of 2003, there will be 25,000 local authority housing starts and 15,000 additional voluntary housing units. For the first time, there will be a serious effort by local authorities, particularly the one I represent, in dealing with housing for Travellers over a five year period.

In addition, the Government has gone to great lengths to ensure that houses will be more affordable for first-time buyers. It has put in place some radical measures to make that a reality and some of those measures are beginning to yield results. The relevant statistics support my case and no one can argue that the Government has shirked its responsibility to provide adequate housing for all citizens. That is our responsibility as elected representatives.

I understand that the Deputy is sharing time with Deputy Fleming and the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Cullen. I must inform her that there are only six and a half minutes remaining.

In that case, I will give way to my colleagues.

I will be brief because I wish to afford the Minister of State, Deputy Cullen, the opportunity to contribute. I thank Deputy Cooper-Flynn for sharing time.

I understand the objectives outlined in the Bill and I agree they are extremely important. However, we must ask whether they should be enshrined in the Constitution. As the purpose of the Constitution is to enshrine fundamental and human rights, not to detail specific economic and social rights. This matter has been considered by the all-party committee on the Constitution and if the Labour Party is contemplating taking further action in this area, it should refer the matter back to the committee for further consideration.

The problem with writing specific economic and social rights into the Constitution is that as time passes the Supreme Court may interpret the Constitution as we originally envisaged it or it may interpret it differently. Regardless of the route the court takes, we are stuck with its judgment. The difficulty I have with the Bill is that when we write something into the Constitution and the Supreme Court adjudicates on it, we must adhere to the court's interpretation until a further constitutional amendment is introduced. This matter is exercising the minds of many people throughout the country.

Our fundamental rights should be enshrined in the Constitution. In that context, the democratically elected Members are best placed to reflect on the changes in society from year to year and decade to decade and introduce the necessary legislation. This is the route we should take rather than enshrining individual economic rights into the Constitution as proposed by this measure. For example, what a Supreme Court judge might interpret as a person's right to reasonable conditions of employment might be viewed in more far-reaching terms by the House. I am concerned that the hands of the Oireachtas would be tied in terms of bringing forward progressive legislation if rigid provisions were added to the Constitution.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Cullen): I thank Deputies Cooper-Flynn and Fleming for sharing time.

The Government remains wholly committed to the vindication of social, economic and cultural rights. We are striving to put in place the best possible social, economic and cultural programmes for all members of our society, particularly the most vulnerable. The Government is doing everything in its power, subject to resources, to facilitate individuals and families in the enjoyment of such rights and to assist and, where necessary, provide for those who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide adequately for themselves in the areas referred to in the amendment. Our actions include, but are by no means restricted to, the opportunity to earn a livelihood in reasonable conditions, adequate health care and adequate standards of living, housing and nutrition.

I do not believe anyone could seriously suggest that we fall short of international legal standards, which the proposed amendment would have the State bear in mind, in meeting our social and economic obligations to all sections of society. Indeed, our public services in these areas are well in excess of any such legal standards. The Government is totally committed to improving services further in all the areas covered by the proposed amendment, as well as in other areas.

I am sure Deputy Quinn is aware that since 1997 we have provided for a 32% increase in spending on education. Any Government of which Labour was a member would be happy to stand over an increase of that order. In addition, spending in the area of health has doubled to over £4 billion and the Minister for the Environment and Local Government has released land bank reserves in order to allow the additional houses we require to be built. I accept that there are problems of supply and demand in the area of housing but everyone is at full stretch in the current booming economy.

With regard to the promotion of social inclusion, the amendment seems to ignore in a sense the question of social partnership, which is fundamental in terms of the issues raised in the motion. Social partnership has been the basis of our success in the past decade, during which Deputy Quinn's party has been in Government at various stages.

It would be unwise to purport to guarantee something in the Constitution that, due to circumstances outside its control, any Government, with the best will in the world, might not be able to deliver. Already there is a shortage of qualified personnel in certain specialised areas. In spite of the Government and State agencies wanting to deliver services, there are practical difficulties in doing so in some circumstances.

The amendment contains the phrase "as far as practical" but that phrase is capable of many interpretations which would, under the proposal, ultimately fall to the courts to determine. The suggested amendment could lead to the transfer of a large measure of policy determination in key areas from the Government and the Oireachtas to the Judiciary. Does Deputy Quinn realise that and is he seriously advocating such a course of action?

I have a view on it.

I know the Deputy has a view. I am not being flippant, I am trying to be serious.

I apologise, Sir, I do seriously realise it.

The proposed amendment, in creating constitutional rights in certain areas, would give those areas, and the related public expenditures, priority over others. However, what does one do when a slow-down or down-turn occurs? Does one leave out certain areas or include all of them? If one includes everything, it will be back to square one. The Labour Party must give consideration to what it is trying to achieve in this area.

I have had to cut short my remarks but I hope they represent some form of contribution to the debate.

I wish to share time with Deputies Breeda Moynihan-Cronin, O'Sullivan, Broughan, Shortall and Neville.

Acting Chairman

Is that agreed? Agreed.

I have listened to a succession of Government speakers who stated they think this amendment is a great idea but that it should not be included in the Constitution because it is not necessary. An interviewee on "Morning Ireland" this morning made the case, if unintentionally, in favour of this amendment. On the programme, one of the 28 tenants living in a group of houses in Ballybough in the Taoiseach's constituency spoke about facing eviction because the owners of the properties are selling them over the tenants' heads.

Which is appalling.

The resident concerned referred to vindicating his constitutional right to housing. The problem is that he does not have such a right and the purpose of this amendment, among other things, is to confer that right on him.

The Government's argument seems to be that the Constitution is for civil, political and fundamental rights but that it should remain neutral in respect of social and economic rights. However, the Constitution is not neutral in those areas. The landlord who owns the properties in Ballybough has a constitutional right to their ownership and to sell them, but the people who live in them and who face eviction do not have a corresponding constitutional right to a home. The land speculators who contribute so much to the increased price of housing, particularly in the greater Dublin area, have a constitutional right to their property and to its economic use, but young couples who are trying to buy a home of their own do not have a corresponding constitutional right. Private landlords have a constitutional right to the properties they own and to their use, but the tenants who live in them do not have a constitutional right to a home. The people who are sleeping rough in this city tonight and who are homeless do not have a constitutional right to a home.

The Labour Party proposes to give citizens a constitutional right to housing and to a home. The idea of enshrining in the Constitution a right to housing, to shelter and to a home was first proposed in the Labour Party's Housing Commission report. We are seeking to give effect to that proposal in the Bill. That constitutional right is necessary to counter-balance the other rights, particularly the rights to property which are already enshrined in the Constitution and which are hauled out repeatedly every time a measure is proposed to deal with the enormous housing crisis.

I listened yesterday evening to the Minister of State, Deputy Molloy, who seems to think the housing problem is solved. He again uttered the same mantra that supply has been increased and so on. One cannot talk in this House about the allocation of 22,000 local authority houses over the next four years, for example. One must look at performance and delivery. According to the Department's figures, in the first six months of this year, only 500 local authority dwellings were provided at a time when there are 50,000 families on housing waiting lists. Legislation was promised on the proposals from the commission on the private rented sector but it has not yet been published. There are occasional hints that there may be constitutional difficulties in relation to this issue. We need to deal with the constitutional difficulties and to enshrine in our Constitution a right to housing so that the measures which will be necessary to deal with the housing crisis can be put in place without impediment or obstruction.

The Constitution is the basic law document of the State. It sets out the rights of citizens and the principles underpinning the functioning of the State. It provides a benchmark against which legislation and public practice may be tested. It is also a statement of the political and social values of our society. While every Constitution reflects the ethos of the period in which it was drafted, many of the values of a constitution remain valued throughout decades, generations and even centuries.

The Constitution of the United States was drafted more than 200 years ago but many of the principles it espouses are as valid today as they were two centuries ago. The Constitution of Norway was adopted in 1814. Compared to these documents, our Constitution is of relatively recent vintage. All constitutions need to be amended to reflect changing values, standards and aspirations. It is of critical importance to have a constitution that can meet the challenges of today and the future in a manner which provide greater inclusiveness, equality and democratic participation.

The Oireachtas committee is considering the broader question of constitutional reform, based on the Whitaker committee report, established by the rainbow Government when it came into office in December 1994. This is a major task which may take some time to complete. The fact that the Oireachtas committee is looking at the broader question of constitutional reform does not absolve the Oireachtas from its responsibility to look at the more obvious and urgent defects in the Constitution which could be addressed without having to wait for the committee's final report.

I said earlier that each Constitution reflects to some extent the era in which it was drafted. Our Constitution is no exception, particularly in relation to the contrasting way in which it treats the respective claims of private property and social justice. Article 43 gives primacy to the rights of private property, circumscribed only by the qualification that these rights must, in certain cases, be subordinated to the principle of social justice. It is entirely appropriate that the Constitution should uphold the right of individuals to hold private property, but why should the right to private property be of greater importance than the right to work, education, nutrition and shelter? Take, for example, the right of a parent on social welfare benefit to provide third level education for their children. When they face huge costs and the Department of Education and Science turns its back, the system is such that the community welfare officer is put in a difficult position trying to help that parent. Why should this parent have to struggle in a time of such wealth in the country?

Society has changed enormously since the 1930s when the Constitution was drafted. We now have the money and resources that would not have been imaginable 60 years ago. It might have been unreasonable to place the burden of enforceable social and economic rights on a new and under-developed State, but that is no longer a valid argument. We are now entering a new century and we need to set ourselves a new agenda. Not everyone is benefiting equally from the economic boom. There are many islands of deprivation in this sea of plenty. If one is born poor, one is still more likely to die poor. The children of the lowest income groups still have the least chance of receiving third level education, particularly university education. The doorways of buildings in the centre of our capital city tonight still provide the only shelter for many homeless people. People must wait for years for treatment for painful and often life-threatening conditions. Children still go to bed hungry each night in this land of plenty.

The cycle repeats itself in each generation. Poverty, as well as wealth, is inherited in this society. Will we accept this or begin to move forward?

The Labour Party introduced this Bill on the day the Equal Status Act comes into force. While this legislation is welcome as an anti-discrimination measure, it is clear this is anything but a society where equality prevails. We need only look around us to see that there are very deep divisions in our society and that a fundamental examination is needed of what it is to live in a society where equality truly reigns. This Bill to amend the Constitution in relation to socio and economic rights is part of a very important move forward towards a genuinely equal society. There is a great need for a process of social renewal. There are homeless people living on the streets of our cities. People must wait in hospital queues for years in many cases. It is clear that while there may be anti-discrimination legislation on the Statute Book, that does not in itself bring equality of opportunity and life experience. Anti-discrimination legislation covers only certain aspects.

This is a time of plenty with extra billions of pounds in Government coffers, yet it is not deemed the appropriate time to introduce these equal rights. When will we have a more appropriate time? When times are bad, we are told people must wait and, when times are good, we are told it is still not appropriate to guarantee basic social and economic rights in our Constitution. What we are talking about is the right to earn a livelihood, to have reasonable conditions of employment, adequate health care and standard of living comprising adequate housing, nutrition and other means necessary to a dignified existence. Surely these are basic rights that should be enshrined in the Constitution. I am amazed at the Government's response that the Constitution is not the appropriate place for these rights when, as Deputy Gilmore said, property rights are very well enshrined in our Constitution and skew the balance against these basic rights.

Under the equality legislation people with disabilities were not given the rights we hope to introduce under this proposal because of the property rights in the Constitution. Only a nominal cost could be incurred. Surely that is good reason to change our Constitution in this regard. People must be able to vindicate their rights.

In opening the debate last night, Deputy Quinn referred to the response to Towards Equal Citizenship, the report indicating how the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities was being implemented. It suggested that giving disabled people a legally backed right to health and social services would cost too much money. Therefore, people cannot have these basic rights because of the cost and because, as Deputy Quinn said, it might lead to requests from other persons seeking access to health and other services without regard to the eventual cost of providing them. Surely people are entitled to these basic rights which are more important than many others, such as those concerning property, already enshrined in the Constitution.

The Minister for Health and Children said last night that we were indulging in flights of political fancy in wanting to enshrine these rights in the Constitution. If that is the case what kind of society do we believe in? Do we believe only in the economy or in a society where citizens are equal and living in solidarity, where we do not have citizens who cannot access housing, health care, education – we saw examples of that in the courts recently – and children who cannot access the most basic of rights? Surely we must enshrine these rights in the Constitution.

Throughout its long history the Labour Party has striven to place economic and social rights at the heart of our basic rights. We profoundly disagree with the thesis advanced last night by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue. Historians rightly salute the influence of the Labour Party and the trade union movement in the publication of the democratic programme in the first Dáil and the attempts of our predecessors to emphasise economic and social rights in the 1922 and 1937 Constitutions.

The Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Quinn, is thus carrying on a great tradition through this Bill. He noted several times in last night's debate that constitutional provision of itself may not change the poverty and grave economic circumstances of many of our citizens but it can at least set a standard which Governments must address and which could be a signpost for future generations of political leaders. It also gives our most vulnerable citizens the ultimate avenue of recourse to the courts system where a Government blatantly ignores the Constitution and thus has great merit in itself.

The new section 7 lays down the fundamental requirement of the right to an adequate standard of living comprising adequate housing, nutrition and other means necessary to a dignified existence. If the 21st amendment were part of our basic law, the huge discrepancy between this modest ideal and the reality for tens of thousands of citizens would be apparent.

For the first occasion in living memory increases in our social welfare rates of 5.2% to 5.7% this year have been easily superseded by inflation, and the cost of living, standing at 6.2% for over three months, is almost certainly rising. Because of high energy costs and the rising price of oil, our senior citizens, widows, carers, those on disability, lone parents and the long-term unemployed are faced with outrageous increases in the cost of heating and other services and rising food and grocery prices. A caring Government operating under an amendment such as that proposed by Deputy Quinn would have come forward last September with an emergency inflation package or even perhaps a Euro solidarity pack age to commence on 1 December or at latest 1 January. Despite its £2 billion current war chest, the Ministers, Deputies Ahern and McCreevy, laughingly refused to take this course of action five or six weeks ago and our most vulnerable citizens must wait until 6 April for relief.

The issue of income adequacy in the Labour Party's view is the key underlying central motif of all social welfare provision. Our call last year, for example, for a basic rise of £10 went unheeded. We will shortly make our proposals for 2001. We recognise that the ravages of inflation must be addressed head on as it affects our poorest citizens and all our proposals should meet the reasonable criteria of the amendment before us. Despite the massive growth of our economy, 25% of children still live in families where basic income is below £90 per week and 17% of families live below the poverty line. Ireland has the disgraceful distinction of having one of the highest rates of child poverty in the EU, together with Portugal and the UK. Women are a particularly vulnerable, high risk group in terms of poverty. The most striking aspect, which many Labour Deputies noticed, of the recent report on lone parent payment was the grave risk of poverty of single parent families headed by women.

As regards widows, senior citizens and carers, the Government has failed deplorably to provide an adequate standard of living. The recent demand by carers that a basic carer's charter be incorporated into legislation is just and it could be encompassed in this Bill. In the context of our current wealth, from combating rampant inflation and providing an adequate standard of living to recognising the rights of senior citizens, children, widows, carers and most vulnerable families, the Government is very hard-hearted and careless. For such a Government the Bill would provide a basic legal barrier below which living standards could not fall. For that reason I commend Deputy Quinn and his Bill.

It is incredible to listen to Government backbenchers agreeing with the sentiments of the Bill but falling short of agreeing to it. There is a sense among them that what the Labour Party is trying to achieve is the right way to do business politically, but there is a deep sense of unease on the part of Ministers that their hands might be tied in regard to the policies they implement. The reason they are concerned is they do not believe in the fundamental principles of basic civil rights – civil, social and economic rights for our people.

As well as giving a clear message to the people about what we believe in regarding the equality of citizens, this Bill gives the Government an opportunity to make its position clear. Unfortunately by its insistence on rejecting this Bill it is making it clear it is not prepared to go the route of basic civil rights. It is not prepared to provide, on a legal basis, for an equal and just society. That says a lot about it.

The purpose of the Bill is to draw attention to the official denial of basic rights for a consider able section of the people and propose a constitutional basis for establishing and guaranteeing those rights. It seems incredible that, at a time of such plenty, we have the scandalous position of a considerable section of the people being denied the most fundamental rights, the right to earn a living, to shelter and nutrition. It is difficult to see how that sits with our present wealth where the Government has an enormous budget surplus and a great opportunity to right many past mistakes and to tip the balance back in favour of those who have been less fortunate than the rest of us, giving them an equal opportunity in life.

My colleagues have outlined the situations in which many of our people find themselves because of the denial of rights. Children, the most vulnerable section of our population, are affected by the denial of those rights by the Government, and particularly by poverty. Deputy Gilmore spoke of the shameful number of people sleeping rough and in very overcrowded hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation. Among these homeless people are 1,000 children of homeless families. How can we content ourselves when we live in a State which has such enormous wealth but where more than 1,000 children live by night in appalling circumstances and wander the streets by day, hanging around in public parks to fill in the day? Since most of these children are displaced people they do not attend school. We see many of them begging on the streets by day in order to buy food in fast food restaurants. It is tragic to see young families dragging around the streets of the city, filling in the time until their bed and breakfast accommodation opens at 6 o'clock in the evening. This is an indictment of the Government.

Children are losing out in many other areas while the Government is engaging in the scandalous exercise of debating whether to cut a few pence off the top rate of tax to benefit the people who are already doing very well. Young people at serious risk are being failed by the State. Young people who have got into trouble with the law and who have serious behavioural problems are being denied basic care and protection because the State is not prepared to provide the resources for the necessary services. Children are deprived of several essential services, particularly in the area of education. The Government has done little or nothing to target those children who are most deprived and most disadvantaged. Education can be a way to break the cycle of poverty but the Government has chosen to ignore that fact and has done little or nothing to target educational spending at those most in need. That is one of the reasons the Labour Party is tabling this Bill.

The issue of children's rights is a fundamental one which has not been adequately dealt with by the State. Policies to remedy the serious marginalisation of children have been far from successful, if they exist at all.

There are 1,250 children homeless in the Dublin area alone, 90,000 children are living in consistent poverty and 4,000 cases of physical or sexual abuse against children are reported annually. We should vindicate those children's rights.

Far too many children are falling seriously short of their potential in education. There are 64,000 children with serious literacy problems at school, more than 3,000 children leave school each year without a qualification, 33,000 children have special education needs and many of them are not identified in time. Surely we must vindicate the right of these citizens.

Far too many children are engaging in high risk behaviour. More than 5,000 teenagers are regular users of hard drugs and more than a third of children are regular smokers. There is a high level of casual and unprotected sex among children.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child spells out the right of a child to a full and decent life in the different domains where public policy plays a part. The convention has been ratified by Ireland but it must be spelled out in a charter of rights that can be placed on the wall of every public service provider. Every agency must have a strategy to recognise this convention and must make measurable progress in improving the lot of children.

There should be a strong, independent commissioner of children's rights, an Ombudsman for children. The Government has been promising this for years but it must put in place such a commissioner who will constantly turn over stones to see the dark underside. The commissioner, or Ombudsman, should be appointed by statute, must be independent of Government and should have an Ombudsman's role on complaints, policies and procedures. The Ombudsman should have a monitoring role on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. He or she should have independent powers of investigation and have the opportunity to childproof legislation and ministerial proposals. He or she should have an advocacy role for children, a pioneering research arm and a direct input to the Oireachtas.

There are too many children whose circumstances represent serious deviation from an acceptable standard. In March 1999, there were 340 young people under the age of 20 alone and homeless in Dublin and a further 900 children homeless with a parent. When measured both in terms of relative income and denial of basic necessities, 9% of children are found to be in consistent poverty. The infant mortality rate among Traveller children is 2.5 times the national average and nothing is being done about it. There are more than 4,000 reported cases of physical and sexual abuse per year, up over 50% in four years. The number of pregnancies which end in abortion continues to grow and is now equal to more than one in eight live births, with more than 1,000 teenage mothers procuring abortion. There is growing evidence of child prostitution among young people. A 1997 study found 50 children under 18 working in prostitution in Dublin.

I welcome this debate and will try to deal with some of the questions raised by Deputy Shortall and others.

The consensus on economic and social policy which we now have in Ireland could not have been achieved without the existence of basic social standards. That consensus of social partnership, to which many of my colleagues referred because of our attachment to that process, involves employers, employees and Government and has been backed up by a well balanced array of employment rights and labour legislation.

It is widely accepted that good economic benefits accrue from strong co-operative labour relations in the workplace. Employees who enjoy good working conditions are more likely to be productive and willing to embrace change than those without such progressive conditions of employment.

The primary objectives of employment rights legislation are to protect employees against arbitrary or capricious behaviour by employers, to protect the safety and health of workers and to foster labour market stability by promoting personnel policies which minimise conflict and maximise fairness. Additional objectives are to afford special protection to special groups, for example pregnant workers and young workers.

In keeping with this voluntarist tradition, collective agreements are the primary method of determining conditions of employment. The role of statute law has generally been limited to setting minimal standard levels of protection or entitlement. Over the past 20 or 30 years, Ireland has been in the forefront in ensuring that reasonable conditions of employment exist which set out clearly for employers and employees their respective entitlements.

Successive Governments, including those in which Deputy Quinn's party participated, have enacted legislation on employment rights reflecting changes in society and the workplace at national and international level, that is, through the transposition of EU directives, International Labour Organisation and Council of Europe recommendations and conventions. Such legislation has covered a wide range of areas, including minimum notice and terms of employment, protection against unfair dismissal, payment of wages, organisation of working time, protection of young persons at work, safety, health and welfare at work, redundancy entitlements and minimum wage entitlements.

In addition to this legislation, Ireland has ratified all seven of the core conventions designated by the ILO. In June 1989 the ILO adopted convention No. 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of child labour. I was pleased, as the Minister of State responsible, that we were the first EU member state to do so. The Government supports compliance with these instruments as affirming its commitment to ensuring our labour standards reflect best international practice.

Ireland was also among the first Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the European Social Charter which was opened for signature in 1961. In so doing, Ireland decided to accept all the essential or core provisions of the charter and most of the remaining provisions with a number of exceptions. The revised European Social Charter was opened for signature in Strasbourg on 3 May 1996. Ireland has given detailed consideration to the revised charter and I am pleased to inform the House that we will be in a position to sign and ratify it in the near future.

Central to the successful effectiveness of this legislation is the parallel appeals procedures involving rights commissioners, the Labour Court, Labour Relations Commission and Employment Appeals Tribunal, all of which provide employees and employers with access to independent redress mechanisms to resolve disputes. I have no doubt that Members will agree that these mechanisms have worked during the years.

The most frequent criticism of labour legislation, which tends to be over-exaggerated, is that it lowers employment through an increase in labour costs and a loss of competitiveness. Conversely, supporters of labour legislation have pointed to its indirectly beneficial effects in promoting labour market stability and minimising conflict. That is the case in Ireland.

As regards our citizens being fully informed about their labour law rights, my Department's employment rights information unit is expected to deal with 120,000 inquiries this year compared to 85,000 last year. This reflects a greater awareness among the public of its entitlements and desire to ensure it obtains them. This is a healthy and positive development and I welcome it.

In the current Dáil session I will sponsor two Bills which reflect in a pragmatic way the ongoing changes in society and which must be reflected in the needs and expectations of workers. The first is the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Bill, 2000, which is designed to give effect to EU Council Directive 97/81/EC, which was adopted in 1997. The Bill will provide for the removal of discrimination against part-time workers where such exists. It will also improve the quality of part-time work, facilitate the development of part-time work on a voluntary basis as well as contribute to the flexible organisation of working time in a manner which takes into account the needs of employers and workers. It will further guarantee that part-time workers may not be treated less favourably than full-time workers.

The second is the Carer's Leave Bill, 2000, which will allow employees to take up to 65 weeks unpaid leave to look after persons in need of full-time care and attention. The Bill complements the Government's budget 2000 proposal to introduce from this October a carer's benefit scheme which will be administered by the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. The Bill is a further recognition by the Government of the important role played by carers in society and we must continue to provide support and practical assistance for them. The Bill will make it possible for workers to make the temporary choice of becoming a carer without loss of employment and, where possible, care recipients may be cared for in the home. The Bill is a unique and innovative social policy that seeks to support people during a difficult period.

As the Minister of State responsible for labour affairs, I am satisfied that the right to reasonable conditions of employment should and will continue to be enshrined in employment rights legislation. As my colleague, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, stated, it is our duty, as elected and accountable legislators, to adopt a proactive approach in ensuring any such future legislation reflects the needs and expectations of employees and employers, is framed in such a way as to respond to the needs of society as a whole and reflects the ongoing changes taking place at an enormous pace in the labour market.

While the motivation for the Labour Party Bill to amend the Constitution is well intentioned – I welcome the debate – I am not sure it would provide the flexibility which would allow us, as legislators, to introduce legislation in a speedy and effective manner should it be required in the area of employment or other rights. Deputy Shortall claims to have a monopoly of ideas and solutions in dealing with social inclusion, which for some time has been central to Fianna Fáil policy. The Government has reduced unemployment to 3.8%.

Everybody came into the tent in Galway.

We have a very strong education policy to deal with children who drop out of school. We practice what we preach.

What about those children sleeping on our streets?

I wish to share my time with Deputy Quinn.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

Article 1 of the Constitution states:

The Irish nation hereby affirms its inalienable, indefeasible, and sovereign right to choose its own form of Government, to determine its relations with other nations, and to develop its life, political, economic and cultural, in accordance with its own genius and traditions.

It is a guarantee of rights that we hold, as a free people, to determine our future and to shape that future to meet our needs. It is in that same spirit that we, in the Labour Party, are putting forward this set of further guarantees for inclusion in the Constitution. The right to a home is surely as important to human dignity and freedom as the right to choose who becomes our President; the right to work is as important as the right to own property; the right to medical care is as important to human life as the right to declare war on another nation. Yet, our Constitution does not protect these rights. It is silent on the issues of homelessness, needless suffering and the scourge of unemployment.

In 1937 no one could have made such constitutional provision, but that was then and this is now. The radical transformation of our nation in political, economic and cultural terms gives us a capability unknown to any previous generation. We can meet the needs of the young people sleeping rough on our streets. We can provide health care for the elderly waiting in pain for hip replacement operations. We can ensure our people can contribute to the good of society and earn a living with dignity. We can meet these needs because we have unprecedented resources to do so and because we have a constitutional right, as a people, to organise our society in such a way as to meet those needs. What is lacking is a duty on those who govern to deliver and the recognition that the rights to a home, health care and work should be enshrined in our Constitution in order that they may be exercised.

I am a member of the all-party committee on the Constitution which is in the process of considering at length the many proposals embodied in the expert review group report. If we were to accept and recommend that all the recommendations made be put to the people, we would have to hold referenda approximately every six months for many years to come. It may be the case that the review group, to which various Ministers referred, has done its work, but it is also the case that political judgment determines what proposals are put to the people. I am well aware that the Government is making deals with a handful of Deputies on holding a referendum on the issue of abortion. When it is politically expedient the Government has no qualms in pressing ahead, even though such a referendum would be wasteful, unnecessary and divisive. It would not stop one abortion or change one Irish woman's mind about termination of pregnancy, but it is not designed to. It is designed simply to maintain the life of the Government beyond its date of viability. The Government which is concentrating such efforts on that referendum is turning its face against establishing rights for those of us who are born, the children at risk of abuse, exploitation or future criminality because no one has given them the support they need or recognises that their rights must be upheld and delivered upon.

Our society is deeply divided and the rights of many are being denied and lost as the balance tilts further in favour of the better-off. This is particularly true in the area of health care where a system of apartheid, pure and simple, operates daily. Unlike those Irish men who drew up the Constitution, we can create a new dispensation designed to match the needs of our generation and based on our capability to develop our life, as a nation, in political, economic and cultural terms. That is the task we have set out in this Bill and it deserves support.

I am disappointed but not surprised by the reaction from Fianna Fáil to this debate. Listening to the arguments made by successive speakers I wondered what the founding fathers of the party would have thought. It was as if we were listening to a Redmondite explanation as to why Home Rule would give all the autonomy required when the republicans of the day, including the Labour Party, were looking for sovereign independence.

All the arguments put forward by the Minster for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the only Minister to seriously address the issues raised in this debate, were couched in these terms. To take the historical analogy further, the Minister attempted to justify, in a re-run of that wonderful Fianna Fáil phrase "external association", that all the rights we are seeking are there by way of external association in the international treaties we signed up to, but that we could not bring them home and put them into our own document. Why not? The reason proffered is that it might cost somebody something. This is at the core of the matter. The false argument was then trotted out to the effect that if a right is given it would lead to open season.

Nobody appears to have read the carefully drafted amendment we propose to put into the Constitution. Having enumerated the rights, the second paragraph states: "Where practicable, the enjoyment of these rights should in the first place be ensured by individual and family effort and initiative." Rights carry responsibilities for those who are capable of exercising them. This does not provide an open cheque book. The third paragraph of the proposed amendment states: "Where persons or their dependants are unable adequately to exercise or enjoy any of these rights, the State guarantees, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate these rights, in accordance with the principles of social justice." The Taoiseach regularly goes on air and talks about us having the most successful economy in the world. When will he start talking about the society in which people live and which has produced this economy? We want to build a system where people can vindicate these rights themselves, as citizens.

We have citizens who know how to use the Constitution because of the way people like Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and former Mr. Justice Brian Walsh opened up the workings of the Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s. Citizens like Máirín de Burca challenged, on their own initiative, the discrimination against women and non-property owners in relation to jury trials, and they won. Mrs. Airey challenged her right to legal aid. Senator Norris challenged his rights as a citizen with regard to his sexual orientation. That initiative and way of using the Constitution is one of the great jewels in the republican tradition of this country. People know how to use it in a way that is denied in many other countries.

We are not seeking an open cheque book that would bankrupt the country, but we are asking that a counter-balance be written into our document, not into some international treaty or covenant we signed or ratified, welcome as that is, but into the document that was put together in the 1930s and that has been amended on a number of occasions. I do not understand why Fianna Fáil is opposed to this. Not one coherent argument has been made on the issue of amending the Constitution.

We did not introduce this Bill to attack the Government. There are far more effective ways of doing that. We did not do it to suggest this was a way of attacking different aspects of policy. The Minister for Health and Children's pathetic litany of expenditure on health – one would think it was his own money – provoked some response. Likewise the ludicrous exposition on housing by the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Molloy, as a justification for not dealing with the issue. This was accurately counter poised on "Morning Ireland" and repeated in the House this afternoon. What is the purpose of living in a republic at the turn of the Millennium if one cannot, alongside one's right to vote, vindicate, if one is incapable of doing it by one's own initiative and family effort, one's right to a house and to earn a livelihood?

Is this what Fianna Fáil has come to? Is the party at the stage where people in the Department of Finance are writing the principles upon which its members come into this sovereign assembly and say in Augustinian style, "yes, but not now, some time later". How much money does the country need in terms of piled up budget surpluses before people have the right, if they cannot do it for themselves, to get a house?

Did the State collapse, did the portals of Merrion Street disintegrate under the weight of the court's judgment which said that the parents of an autistic child had the right to have their child educated to the best of their ability? Was that the collapse of civilisation as we know it? Did it undermine the republican structures of the State? What planet is Fianna Fáil living on? Where is the party's republican conscience, that its members have come here to read scripts that were crafted in the mealy-mouthed, bean-counting corridors of Merrion Street by people who do not realise that the world has changed and the country has changed with it?

This year alone the Minister for Finance will have a current account surplus greater than all the money we got from the EU Structural Funds over the past six years. We are a rich country, but I am looking at impoverished minds. We have a spectacularly performing economy. On the radio this morning Michael Porter said if we deal with our own internal contradictions we can go on to a new higher level of economic prosperity.

What is it for? To pile up more surpluses? To create new tax exiles who get licences for State monopolies, manipulate them for a couple of years, cash their chips and run away? Is that what this is about? Is that what we have come to?

Why not accept this Bill? Why not deal with it? I am amazed at the procession of mealy-mouthed defences and Augustinian responses to a golden opportunity to write into the Constitution, and say to those who cannot by their individual efforts or whose families are incapable, for whatever reason, to deal with the needs of their children that, ultimately, if the law and the politicians fail them and if the politics of the day does not respond to their needs, they can at least go to court and the court will vindicate their rights? I thought that is what 1916, what this whole struggle, was about. I thought that was what being a member of a republic, as a citizen, was about, not a subject of some empire.

I look at the soldiers of destiny and ask was it all for this? Is this where we are, that we cannot, at the turn of the Millennium, write into our document, not write into an international covenant, that we will, to the best of our ability, where practicable, vindicate certain fundamental rights? If Fianna Fáil will not do it in Government, the Labour Party will when our turn comes.

Cuireadh an cheist.

Question put.

Allen, Bernard.Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bell, Michael.Belton, Louis J.Boylan, Andrew.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, John.Bruton, Richard.Burke, Liam.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Crawford, Seymour.Currie, Austin.Deasy, Austin.Deenihan, Jimmy.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard J.Enright, Thomas.Farrelly, John.Finucane, Michael.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.Hogan, Philip.

Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.Lowry, Michael.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Naughten, Denis.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ryan, Seán.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Shortall, Róisín.Spring, Dick.Stagg, Emmet.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.Wall, Jack.Yates, Ivan.

Níl

Ahern, Dermot.Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.

Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Cullen, Martin.Daly, Brendan.Davern, Noel.De Valera, Síle.Dempsey, Noel.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris. Gildea, Thomas.

Níl–continued

Hanafin, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Kitt, Michael P.Kitt, Tom.Lawlor, Liam.Lenihan, Brian.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Moffatt, Thomas.Molloy, Robert.Moloney, John.

Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Donoghue, John.O'Flynn, Noel.O'Hanlon, Rory.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Stagg and Flanagan; Níl, Deputies S. Brennan and Power.
Faisnéiseadh go rabhthas tar éis diúltú don cheist.
Question declared lost.