Retirement of Editor of Debates.

I thank the party leaders for allowing me to attend the meeting with Prime Minister Blair. However, I wish to mention one issue.

Liam Fitzgibbon, the Editor of Debates in Leinster House, is retiring today and I will not get an opportunity on the Order of Business to raise this. He has worked here for longer than I have been a Member. He has been in the House for more than three decades and he has been Editor of Debates since 1996. He is well known and highly respected by all Members and staff alike. I congratulate him on his more than 30 years service to the House in a difficult job and I wish him well in his retirement.

I endorse the Taoiseach's words in respect of Mr. Fitzgibbon. He has always treated every Member equally and with extreme courtesy. He has done a fabulous job and has overseen real change in the Debates Office from the days when the old bound volumes had to be typed and transcribed through to the introduction of electronic media and the presentation of the debates using modern technology. I thank him for his wonderful public service over three decades and I wish him well in whatever future role he adopts.

I do not expect the Taoiseach to be back in the House until the autumn and, while we have our jousts in the House, I wish him well in his endeavours with Prime Minister Blair so that the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in full can be brought forward. Hopefully, a conclusion can be reached on election dates and we can get on with the business of bringing to a conclusion that for which everybody over the past number of years in all Governments has worked so hard.

I have long been a great admirer of the work of Liam Fitzgibbon and his tremendous staff. He has been a conscientious and diligent public servant for many years, doing an important job in the House. He has in that time modernised the approach towards producing the Official Report. He has always, as Deputy Kenny remarked, been most helpful in times of conflict in the House to all Members during his tenure, not only as Editor of Debates but prior to that. I join the Taoiseach and Deputy Kenny in acknowledging the contribution he has made to public service and wish him well in his retirement.

I wish the Taoiseach well in his endeavours in London later.

On behalf of the Green Party, I pay tribute to the work of Liam Fitzgibbon. Throughout many years he has served many Members and the House in general. As he retires, we wish good health and happiness.

Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis chomh maith as ucht na seirbhíse an-mhaith a thug sé do no daoine a labharann as Gaeilge agus as Béarla agus go raibh gach rud cruinn agus beacht. Go minic bhí sé, agus bíonn sé, deacair gach duine a chluinstin i gceart agus tá an-éacht déanta aige sa tslí is gur féidir leis cur síos a dhéanamh ar rudaí a dúradh sa Dáil agus sa Seanad. I wish him well.

It is regrettable that we will not have the opportunity to question the Taoiseach for another while. Whatever he thinks, it is a matter of regret on this side of the House. I wish him well in his meetings with Prime Minister Blair. I hope he succeeds in convincing Mr. Blair that elections should be held promptly in the North and that he will endeavour to pursue the Pat Finucane and Sellafield cases. The Prime Minister seems to have dug his heels in on Sellafield on many occasions and should recognise that the fight is with the EURATOM Treaty and the European Constitution.

I wish to join in the tributes to Liam Fitzgibbon who is retiring from the service of the House. Liam will be known to people in my constituency because he served his apprenticeship in terms of detail and accuracy in the service of the Anglo-Celt local newspaper, which covers all of Cavan and part of County Monaghan. He brought from that schooling all the gifts and fine honing of his trade that ensured the excellence of his work in this House. I want to pay tribute to him as a human being for his courtesy and easy manner at all times in my dealings with him. This is one of the abiding memories I will have of Liam and I wish to join with all Members here in wishing him many years of health and happiness in his retirement.

I was disappointed that we did not get the opportunity to submit supplementary questions to the Taoiseach on the important matter of the Cabinet committee on social inclusion and drugs.

That matter does not arise. I will allow a brief comment from Deputy Joe Higgins on the Editor of Debates.

I thought it unfair that the matter was dealt with in the way it was at the conclusion of Taoiseach's questions.

Supplementary questions were appropriate. The Deputy should read the questions submitted to the Taoiseach. I call Deputy Joe Higgins.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to read them.

I call Deputy Joe Higgins for a brief comment on the Editor of Debates.

I wish the Taoiseach well in his engagement with Prime Minister Blair and I hope he will take a firm and assertive position in the interest of all the Irish people.

On behalf of Deputy Gregory, the Independent Deputies and myself, I wish Liam Fitzgibbon well in his retirement. In the short six years I have been in the House, in contrast with his length of service, he was always extremely helpful to me and other Deputies. When we tried to get the "blacks" ahead of time if they were needed for a particular reason, he and his staff were most co-operative. I often had to go down to the very cramped headquarters where he and his staff work and about which something should be done. I pay tribute to Liam and his staff and wish him the very best in his retirement.