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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 13 Feb 2002

Vol. 548 No. 3

Order of Business (Resumed).

This is a disgrace. Deputy Owen was defending the good name of Deputy McManus.

The Deputy opposite should be ashamed of himself.

The Deputy must resume his seat or I will ask him to leave the House.


That is something coming from a thug and a gurrier.

Did the Ceann Comhairle hear that remark?

I withdraw the remark.

He does not know how to apologise.

I said, "a thug and a gurrier".

Has the Ceann Comhairle gone deaf? Did he not hear that remark?


The Deputy withdrew that remark but not the one concerning me.

I am trying to listen to everyone. Will Deputy Roche resume his seat? Deputy Noonan to speak.

Did the Ceann Comhairle not hear what was said? He will not withdraw the slur on my character.

The Ceann Comhairle should check the record.

I called Deputy Noonan and my attention was on him. I did not hear any remark because I was concentrating on Deputy Noonan.

A Cheann Comhairle—

The Deputy must resume her seat.

We have come to a position where Deputies who give offence remain in the House and are protected by the Chair and Deputies who are offended—

That is not true.

It is true.

The Deputy should not accuse the Chair. It is a long-standing rule of the House that unless the Chair hears the offending remark it cannot be ruled on.

I ask the Ceann Comhairle to adjourn the House to give himself the opportunity to listen to the official recording.

We will proceed with the business of the House.

Deputy Owen was put out of the House for—

For gross disorder.

—defending the reputation of Deputy McManus from the Deputy from Wicklow who has a constituency interest in smearing her.


Hear, hear.

That is the situation.

The Deputy must resume his seat as he has made his point.

The Ceann Comhairle has no control of the House.

The Deputy is making a charge against the Chair which should be withdrawn. It is unworthy of him.

I am not laying a charge against the Chair, but am stating the fact that Deputy Roche made a scandalous allegation against Deputy McManus.

He should admit that.

Deputy Owen defended Deputy McManus's reputation and was thrown out of the House for her trouble. Meanwhile the main offender sits on the bench opposite smirking.

Yes, smiling.

He then laid charges against Deputy Ring and others. I ask the Ceann Comhairle to adjourn the House because this is an injustice—

I have explained. The Chair is not going to adjourn the House as there is business to be proceeded with.

The Deputy opposite is allowed to carry on in a disorderly way.

It is a long-standing rule that if the Chair did not hear the remark, then he cannot rule on it.

The Ceann Comhairle can use modern technology to assist him.

The Ceann Comhairle should adjourn the House. He was willing to listen to the tape in the matter of Deputy Gildea.

The Deputy should resume his seat and allow business to continue.

On a point of order—

The Deputy must resume his seat. The Deputy cannot have a point of order while the Chair is on his feet. The Deputy may speak briefly.

Is it not a fundamental principle of the role of Ceann Comhairle that he first and foremost protects Members' interests?

The Chair will not listen to a lecture from the Deputy.

I asked a question.

Will the Deputy resume his seat?

How can the Ceann Comhairle preside over a situation where a decent Deputy is thrown out of the House while another Deputy who insults a Member is allowed to stay?

The Deputy must not criticise the Chair, which acted in accordance with long-standing practice in this matter.

There are precedents, a Cheann Comhairle.


The Chair will not enter into any further discussion.

Sitting suspended at 11.15 a.m. and resumed at 11.30 a.m.

I took the opportunity to have the tapes carefully listened to and understand there is no trace of the alleged offending remark which cannot be heard. In the circumstances, I intend to proceed with the business of the House.

A Cheann Comhairle—

The Chair is addressing the House. It will be necessary for me as Ceann Comhairle to return to this matter and to clarify the position which might arise in similar circumstances. I will return to the matter as quickly as possible. I propose to proceed with the business of the House.

On a point of order, I invite Deputy Roche to make a statement. The House clearly heard his offensive remarks. If the electronic and audio equipment did not pick it up because of interruptions, it still stands in the House as far as we are concerned. I ask Deputy Roche to make a formal statement.

That is what I am trying to do. During the debate I made it clear that my interpretation of the policy of the Labour Party is that it is now pro-choice.

Can we have a withdrawal?

The leader of the Labour Party asked me to make a statement, but he is now doing what he always does.

The Deputy should make a brief statement.

My understanding of the Labour Party view is that it is pro-choice, therefore, it is pro-abortion.

That is not what the Deputy said.

My precise words were that if the Labour Party is for abortion, it should have the honesty to say it is for abortion.

That is a total distortion.

That compounds it.

I wrote the words down. I am fairly precise in my choice of language. Deputy Owen then called me a thug.

The Deputy is a slithering political lizard.

Are there any other relevant questions on the Order of Business?

As regards the legislation before the House and the forthcoming referendum, will the Taoiseach take responsibility for ensuring that his request for reasoned and rational debate is upheld by his parliamentary party in the House?

That is not a relevant question on the Order of Business.

Although it is not relevant, it has been said. One can get precious about what people say in the House. Some things were said this morning and I saw how people tried to manipulate them. I explained what the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Fahey, said. I also heard what Deputy Noonan said about people on this side of the House. However, we do not get upset about every line. What Deputy Quinn said is correct. It is a debate on which people have strong views and people want to play a certain amount of politics with it. I do not want to do so.

The Taoiseach could have fooled us.

There were many important issues this morning, but the two private notice questions were on the one issue. Last week there were also two private notice questions, although the Bill was debated for almost three months in the House. That was longer than debates on any other issue.

It was guillotined.

We should try to keep it calm. Despite the fire from other sides, I will do my best to do that. I hope other people do that as well. It is a question of everyone doing it.

I call Deputy Noonan.

May I make a statement?

I have called Deputy Noonan. I will call Deputy Quinn afterwards.

I give way to Deputy Quinn.

I quoted from recollection what the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources said. However, I now have the text of what he said on the radio programme. In fairness to him because I would not like today's proceedings to misrepresent—

We cannot proceed with that.

You, a Cheann Comhairle, had to adjourn the House because you could not hear what was said. In the interests of accuracy, it is reasonable for me to put on the record of the House what the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Fahey, said.

It does not arise at this stage. The Deputy should resume his seat.

He said:

It's a very simple situation where in this country, even in the last 12 months, there have been several attempts to have abortion on the basis of people being suicidal. That's not a legal situation that can continue. We have a situation at the moment where the women's life doesn't receive parity over the life of the unborn where the women's life is in danger. That cannot continue.

That does not arise at this stage. We must proceed. It is not in order on the Order of Business. I will take questions on the Order of Business.

I will continue with the quote:

There were several attempts throughout the country . . . it was only because of the fact that the medical profession were able to deal with the situation. Without the protection of the law we would have a difficult situation.

The Deputy is continuing to be disorderly.

The Deputy should not act the cod. I answered the Deputy's question. Where does it say the Government knew about it?

Is there a question on the Order of Business?

The Minister, Deputy Fahey, said he was aware of a situation where because of the medical profession—

That concludes the Order of Business.

There will be no business today if you, a Cheann Comhairle, do that.

I propose to take No. 22.

A Cheann Comhairle—

We have had sufficient disorder for one day.

You indicated I could speak.

The Deputy refused to do so.

I did not refuse.

The Deputy refused to speak.

I gave way to Deputy Quinn.

We must proceed with the business of the day. There should not be any more attempts to disrupt the business of the House. I call the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Séamus Brennan, to move motion No. 22.

On a point of order—

The Deputy does not have a point of order. He should resume his seat.