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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 27 Mar 2002

Vol. 551 No. 3

Order of Business.

The Order of Business is No. 25, motions re Partnership Agreement between the Members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its member states of the other part; No. 26, motion re financing and administration of Community Aid under the Financial Protocol to the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement of Cotonou, back from committee; No.27, motion re Constitution of the International Organisation for Migration; No. 28, motion re Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, back from committee—

Like that meted out to Paddy Teahon.

—No. 29, motion re Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, back from committee; No. 30, motion re Referral to Select Committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; No. 30a, motion re Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Bill, 2001; No. 30b, motion re Competition Bill, 2001[Seanad]; No. 65, motion re Friendly Societies (Amendment) Regulations, 2002 – Draft; No. 68, Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No. 2) Bill, 2001 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 69, Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2001 [Seanad] – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; and No. 70, Competition Bill, 2001 [Seanad] – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 11.00 p.m.; (2) Nos. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 30a, 30b and 65 shall be decided without debate; (3) the Report and Final Stages of No. 68 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government; (4) the Report and Final Stages of No. 69 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Social, Community and Family Affairs; (5) the Report and Final Stages of No. 70 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not pre viously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and (6) the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tomorrow and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of Question Time which shall be taken at 5.30 p.m. or immediately following the conclusion of the Medical Practitioners Bill, 2002, whichever is the earlier for 75 minutes; and in the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes of Question Time for 30 minutes; and the order shall not resume thereafter. Private Members' Business shall be No. 139, motion re Public Services (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight.

There are six proposals to be put to the House. Is the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 25 to 30, inclusive, 30a, 30b and 65 without debate agreed to?

I refer to this and the following proposal which is related. We are rushing legislation through the House in a very unwise manner. There is plenty of precedent in this House to show that rushed law is bad law. One has only to think of the rod licence legislation. This is very serious legislation that will affect one category of people and turn them into criminals. They are people who live in temporary dwellings and because we do not make provision for them—

We are dealing with the second proposal on the Order of Business.

I appreciate that but the two proposals are very closely related. We are proposing to do something in one and use a guillotine in the other. Serious and lengthy consideration should be given to this very serious proposal to turn a particularly underprivileged group into criminals because of the failure of the State. We oppose this.

Question put: "That Nos. 25 to 30, inclusive, 30a, 30b and 65 be taken without debate.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 71; Níl, 53.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • 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.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gildea, Thomas.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McGuinness, John J.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wade, Eddie.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G. V.


  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Bell, Michael.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul. Coveney, Simon.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies S. Brennan and Power; Níl, Deputies Bradford and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Crawford, Seymour.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.Deasy, Austin.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Finucane, Michael.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Hayes, Brian.Hayes, Tom.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Jim.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.Howlin, Brendan.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McGinley, Dinny.

McGrath, Paul.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Penrose, William.Perry, John.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ring, Michael.Sargent, Trevor.Shatter, Alan.Sheehan, Patrick.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.

The third proposal concerns No. 68, the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No 2) Bill, 2001. Is that agreed?

This proposal to guillotine the Report and Final Stages of this Bill is not agreed. The Government is introducing an amendment today which is not an amendment to housing legislation but proposes to amend the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994. It was introduced yesterday and is seven pages long. It is, in effect, entirely new legislation which purports to deal with encampments of Travellers, but there has been no consultation with any Traveller organisation or the Government's own committees that deal with Traveller accommodation. It has wider implications for industrial relations, the conduct of industrial disputes, protests and ordinary trespass, which it criminalises for the first time. It is a major change in our law.

It was circulated yesterday to be debated today in a restricted debate which will be guillotined at 1.30 p.m. and so will not get the attention it deserves. This is part of a series of such legislation from the Government, including a Bill passed last week dealing with mobile phones, that cannot be implemented. Legislation should not be enacted in this way. We oppose the guillotine.

(Dublin West): I would like to speak on this matter.

Under Standing Orders, the Deputy is not allowed to make a contribution.

(Dublin West): That is an Ceann Comhairle's interpretation.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with item No. 69 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal to deal with No. 69, Report and Final Stages of the Pensions (Amendment) Bill, 2001 [Seanad] agreed? Agreed. The fifth proposal deals with No. 70, the Report and Final Stages of the Competition Bill, 2001 [Seanad]. Is that agreed?

What my colleague, Deputy Gilmore, spoke of before applies here as this is virtually a new Bill that has nothing to do with legislation and again the time is too brief.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with item No. 70 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the final proposal for dealing with the sitting and business of the Dáil tomorrow agreed? Agreed. We will now have leaders' questions.

I presume the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Government in general hope the Campus Stadium Ireland issue will now fade away. Arising from the Attorney General's report into the aquatic centre, which sets out in forensic clarity what happens when the Taoiseach breaks the rules, has the Tánaiste raised with the Taoiseach his breaking of Government and EU procurement rules and even his own Government's published instructions? Is the Tánaiste certain that the current estimate of the cost of the whole stadium Ireland project, which is now double what the Taoiseach said, is the final word, or does she believe that it may go higher? Finally, will she agree that it is time to have a fundamental examination of the whole project on cost grounds alone at a time when public expenditure is galloping ahead at 22%?

Yesterday, the Taoiseach told the Dáil that Mr. Paddy Teahon was not sacked from his position as chairman and chief executive of Campus and Stadium Ireland Development. In his evidence to the Committee of Public Accounts last night, Mr. Teahon said he received a call from the secretary to the Cabinet who read to him the text of the agreed Government statement announcing his removal from office. Does the Tánaiste accept that does not amount to anything other than sacking?

In relation to Deputy Noonan's query, the Taoiseach was operating on the basis of the same information I and every other member of the Government had, and that was unsatisfactory. Key information was not provided to the Government either in December 2000 or when we put the matter under close scrutiny a few months ago, and I regret that very much. When the Minister, Deputy McDaid, wrote to the chairman of CSID two weeks ago after The Irish Times article, the information on the status of Waterworld UK was not forthcoming.

Some time ago the Government appointed High Point Rendel to do a cost analysis of the project. That report has now been published. To the best of my memory, it speculates that excluding the cost of the land, which is not inconsiderable, we are talking about something in the order of £700 million. The Government has resolved that that stadium will not proceed at the moment. It will be a matter for the next Government to decide, on the basis of a mandate from the people, its choices and priorities in this area.

What mandate will the Tánaiste be looking for?

With four Deputies in this Dáil, I have not done too badly.

What about the Attorney General?

Order, please. The Tánaiste, without interruption.

What mandate will the Tánaiste be looking for?

I wish I had as many Deputies as Deputy Noonan. I might have done more.

Information has been concealed from the Tánaiste right, left and centre.

Order, please.

In relation to the aquatic centre, everybody on all sides of the House and in the Government was anxious to ensure that facility would be in place for the Special Olympics next summer, and we are all determined that it will be in place. As the report stated, the Government was faced earlier this year with a very strange option, namely, whether or not we proceeded with the contract, we were legally exposed, and no Government should be put in that position.

It takes a fair bit of talent to get itself into that position.

In relation to Deputy Howlin's query, a meeting held yesterday in advance of the Government meeting came to the conclusion that for this project to proceed and the Campus and Stadium Ireland Development board to have a chairman who was not involved in controversy, a public servant, an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation—

He is not a public servant.

would be asked to take over the chairmanship of the board and a civil servant would be made available to act as chief executive officer. That was the agreement reached, which was subsequently confirmed by the Government.

There goes the PD's attachment to the private sector.

They should come out with their hands up.

I am glad the Tánaiste has acknowledged that the negligence of the Government was due to the fact that information was withheld from it but I put it to the Tánaiste that the reason information was withheld was because Government instructions were not followed. The memorandum that went to Government was written by Mr. Paddy Teahon. The initials "CSI", meaning Campus Stadium Ireland, were at the top of the memorandum so the origin of the memorandum should have been clear to the Tánaiste, the Taoiseach and the people who were around the table. The memorandum was forwarded for circulation from the Taoiseach's private office, not from the Department of the Taoiseach. The information which was concealed from the Tánaiste and her colleagues was available because it was published in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report and if Government instructions and procedures had been followed, the Secretary and officials of the Department of the Taoiseach would have produced the memorandum and provided the information the Tánaiste did not get, whereby she would have been in a position to make a realistic decision. It is not enough for the Tánaiste to say she was misled. She was misled because it suited the Taoiseach's purposes for her to be misled. That is what happened. Not only was the memorandum written by Mr. Paddy Teahon, as chairman of Campus and Stadium Ireland Development, it was presented in Cabinet by Mr. Teahon rather than the Taoiseach. A decision was made on the basis of a memorandum brought in from outside by a former public servant who is now a businessman in the private sector. That is totally in breach of Cabinet instructions and the Tánaiste should be ashamed of herself to have sat there and presided over that with the Taoiseach, but it is principally the Taoiseach who is negligent.

On the basis of the flawed information, the Government made a decision that a contract to design, build, finance and operate the aquatic centre would be given to Rohcon, Waterworld UK and Dublin Waterworld. After all the brouhaha, does that contract still stand, even though it was given on the basis of incomplete information?

The Taoiseach brought the memorandum to Government under his authority. The memorandum was not proposed by anybody other than a member of the Government, as the Deputy is well aware. It was brought by the Taoiseach in good faith. At no stage, even when this matter was under close scrutiny three or four months ago in December of last year and January of this year, was the Government told the reason UK Waterworld had given away 90% of the contract it had got to operate this facility to Dublin Waterworld, a company that was incorporated after the tender had closed.

And nobody asked—

They were asked.

Who asked?

The Tánaiste, without interruption.

They were like the three monkeys.

The first time I became aware that PricewaterhouseCoopers had alerted the CSID chairman was when I read it in The Irish Times about two weeks ago.

That is because the Tánaiste's Department was not involved.

The Tánaiste, without interruption.

Even after the dormancy issue arose in The Irish Times, when the Minister, Deputy McDaid, wrote to the chairman on two occasions in the earlier part of this month, he was not told that on 18 December 2000—

Because it was hidden.

—PricewaterhouseCoopers had alerted the chairman and people in the executive services company to the problems in relation to this company, and at no stage was any member of the Government or anybody in officialdom made aware of that.

They never asked.

Many questions were asked. That is the problem.

The Tánaiste set up the inquiry but she could not find out—

Please, Deputy Belton. You are being disorderly.

In relation to the contract, the Deputy is correct. There is a contract in place which was signed some time ago.

Does it stand?

I understand from the Attorney General that it does.

The contract has been signed between CSID and the parties the Deputy mentioned. I am not a lawyer. I will not interpret the status of that contract but I understand it does stand in full.

On the same matter, first, in relation to the information the Tánaiste now has, is it a fact that the memorandum to Government was submitted by Campus and Stadium Ireland Development? Second, did the original memorandum go through the normal departmental channels and was it submitted through the Department of the Taoiseach as a normal memorandum for Government? Third, on the question of the status of Waterworld UK, the Tánaiste said she was unaware of its shelf company status until she read the article in The Irish Times. Has she asked the Taoiseach and has the Taoiseach confirmed when he first became aware of that fact? The Tánaiste said that if the full facts had been known to her, the Government would have made different decisions. What different decisions would the Government have made? Fourth, in relation to the interim chief executive, when will a permanent chief executive and chairman be appointed, by whom will they be appointed and on what basis?

Does the procedure in this case not remind the Tánaiste of what happened in the 1980s when the then Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, put Cabinet procedure aside, ignored Government instructions, ran his pet projects on a one-to-one basis with key people with the normal checks and balances, which should have been in place to protect the taxpayer and the public interest, set aside? Is she not concerned that Mr. Haughey's favourite son has done exactly the same with this project? Is it not clear to the Tánaiste—

It is a bit like the Esat deal. The Deputy has a short memory.

—that if this had come through the Taoiseach's Department—

The Deputy will have to try harder than that.

What about the messenger boy?

Order, please. Let us hear Deputy Noonan without interruption.

Is it not clear to the Tánaiste—

The Ceann Comhairle should name the messenger boy.

—that if this memorandum has followed normal procedure, the checks and balances of the civil servants in the Taoiseach's office would have been applied, the information contained in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report would have been made available to Cabinet and that the difficulty arose because it came from the private sector through the private office to Cabinet, presented by the man who had drafted and written it? Did this memorandum have the imprimatur of the Attorney General in the normal way? In relation to Cabinet instructions, all memorandum from the Taoiseach's office would go to the Attorney General, in particular anything to do with a legal contract. Did this memorandum have the imprimatur of the Attorney General or was he briefed on it for the first time when Mr. Teahon made his presentation to Cabinet?

In relation to Deputy Howlin's query and the question of the memorandum raised by Deputy Noonan, it is in line with Government practice and procedures that memoranda are circulated for observations. In relation to the December 2000 memorandum, that did not happen because time did not allow it.

Where was the Taoiseach on 19 December?

There have been many times, including during the life of the Government of which Deputy Noonan was a part—

That was Mr. Haughey's excuse too.

Order, the Tánaiste should be allowed to reply without interruption.

This always happens with Fianna Fáil. We thought the Progressive Democrats were there to stop this type of thing happening.

Order, please.

The assessment panel concluded its assessment on the morning of the 19th. The planning application had to be made by the end of December. Everybody was anxious to ensure that we had this facility. That memorandum was not circulated. It came under the authority of the Taoiseach and it was he who proposed it.

So the Attorney General did not see it.

But the memorandum in early December was circulated. Notwithstanding the fact that it did not come before Cabinet until 25 January, the appropriate information was not given. This was at a time when there was very close scrutiny and a lot of questions were being asked. That is a fact.

Did the Attorney General see those two memoranda?

Was the Attorney General present at the meeting?

Order, please.

The Attorney General gave his views, yes.

The Tánaiste must not respond to interruptions.

One of the concerns was that so much work had happened without any contract.

He is asking questions now; he was not asking them on 19 December, nor were you.

You do not know that.

This is Question Time, not "you do not know" time.

Deputy Flanagan should read the report.

In relation to Deputy Howlin's question as to whether if we had known all we know now might we have made a different decision, we may well have made a different decision. I am not certain we would ever have agreed to give an operating contract to a company that had no experience. We and others were led to believe, as Deputies will note from the report, that this was a significant operator with 20 years' experience, but that is not the fact.

The Tánaiste is the Minister responsible for companies.

Deputy Howlin is asking me if the Government would have agreed to give a 30 year contract to a company that was not a significant operator, was not part of the international consortium that was suggested and did not have the relevant experience. We may well have made a different decision, yes.

The Government was treated like a minor formality in the way, and the Tánaiste allowed that to happen.

Another blank cheque from the Taoiseach.

I want to ask the Tánaiste two questions. In light of the comprehensive rejection of all the information and the data on which this important multi-million pound deal was done, will the Tánaiste accept that the line Minister responsible, in this case the Taoiseach, was absolutely derelict in his duty, if the basis for this important contract was entirely fraudulent, as now seems to be the case and seems to be acknowledged by the answers given by the Tánaiste this morning?

In relation to the executive services contract, what is its status now? Is it to be reviewed and, if so, by whom and when?

The executive services contract is a contract between CSID and the company in question. In the first instance, therefore, it is a matter for CSID to look at that contract. Now that there will be a chief executive, I imagine it would want to review that contract in any event, but even if there were not one, I do not think it is ever satisfactory that somebody should get a percentage of the cost of the project because there is no incentive in that kind of arrangement to minimise costs. It is clearly not a matter for me and it is not a matter for the Government, but it is a matter for the board of CSID. Given that the Government is the only shareholder—

It is a matter of taxpayer's money.

Does the Government give a damn about the taxpayer?

What about responsibility for the escalation of the costs?

Order, please.

That is what all of this has been about. It is not about personalities, it is about taxpayers. Given that the Government is the only shareholder and given the wishes of the Government, I hope that CSID will look again at the executive services contract.

I asked two questions.

That completes leaders' questions. I will now take other relevant questions on the Order of Business.