Ceisteanna — Questions.

Standards in Public Office.

Enda Kenny

Question:

1 Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach his plans to amend the code of conduct for office holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1031/04]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

2 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach if amendments are planned to the code of conduct for office holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5660/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

3 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach if it is proposed to amend the code of conduct for office holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7659/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.

The code of conduct for office holders, as drawn up by the Government following extensive consultations with the Standards in Public Office Commission, was published by the commission on 3 July 2003. The code applies prospectively from that date. Given that the code has applied for only eight months and that it resulted from such an extensive consultation with the Standards in Public Office Commission, I have no plans to amend it.

After the Taoiseach's return from the love-in over the weekend, does he think it appropriate that persons who are now officeholders find themselves unable to deliver on what they said would be their work during their period in Government? In view of two issues that were raised in the Dáil over the past two months, the first of which concerned Punchestown——

The three questions refer to plans to amend the code of conduct.

I know the Ceann Comhairle is going to fly at me. He was deliberately waiting for that.

The policing of the code of conduct is a matter for the Standards in Public Office Commission.

I am going to ask the Taoiseach whether he will amend the code of conduct. The Ceann Comhairle was waiting patiently. As soon as I mentioned Punchestown, here comes the Ceann Comhairle.

He was waiting to punch Deputy Kenny.

Deputy Kenny should try Cheltenham next.

The Chair was being very generous to Deputy Kenny in allowing his first question.

Tuesday, 2.31 p.m., the Ceann Comhairle strikes.

We cannot go all over the place with questions. The three questions were submitted.

We will not go all over the place. I was going to travel from Punchestown to Kenmare.

The three questions are there and we are talking purely about plans to amend the code of conduct. As I pointed out to the Deputy, the policing of the code of conduct is a matter for the Standards in Public Office Commission.

It might require an amendment.

I ask the Taoiseach whether it is proposed to amend the code of conduct for officeholders so that politically-appointed advisers will not sit on boards that decide multimillion euro contracts? Will the code of conduct for officeholders be amended to cater for situations in which the Taoiseach's political adviser is in a position to indicate the types of letter that other Ministers should write, in respect of which approval is again given for substantial allocations of money that have not been the subject of published criteria on the drawing of grants?

The code of conduct does not stand in isolation. It is part of the wider ethical framework that the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 established. Section 10(7) of the 2001 Act binds officeholders to have regard to and be guided by the code. Everything that is in the Acts must be followed. Most issues that have arisen and any of the rules and procedures that must be followed are there. Some of the issues Deputy Kenny mentioned are not in breach of any codes.

I am sure Members would be interested to know whether any complaints have been made so far under the code. Will the Taoiseach give any thought to the need for an amendment on the opening of bank accounts in family members' names to obscure controversial moneys received by a Minister, for example? Does that require an amendment or is it covered under the code at present?

That would be a matter for the Standards in Public Office Commission.

We are talking about amendments, so I thought it would be worth asking the Taoiseach whether that matter would be worthy of an amendment.

Does the Taoiseach think that the decentralisation announcement calls into question adherence to the code, given that five out of the eight Departments that are being decentralised are going to Ministers' areas and that Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, made no secret of the political advantage in that?

The Deputy is again going outside the content of the questions.

Would that not be a case for an amendment, or is it covered under the code?

I do not know whether there have been any complaints. That is a matter for the Standards in Public Office Commission. Some of the matters Deputy Sargent mentioned would come within the ambit of the Act and some of the other matters would not come within it. Normal executive decisions would not come within the ambit of a code that is meant to achieve the highest standards. The Deputy is talking about normal decisions made by a Government Department with which there is nothing wrong. If anyone was receiving money that would come within the Act.

Does the Taoiseach agree that office holders generally have a higher level of public profile and therefore should be mindful that——

Sorry, Deputy, you are going well outside the content of the three questions, which refer to amending the code of conduct for office holders.

If you allow me to finish the sentence I have started, it will become obvious to you and everyone else that my question is relevant. I will start once more. Does the Taoiseach agree that office holders, who have a particularly high profile, have a responsibility or duty to be mindful that any action on their part with regard to the use of resources could be construed as inappropriate in the context of an election?

Sorry, Deputy, that question does not arise out of these three questions. For the benefit of the Deputy, your question——

This is outrageous.

——like the others, ask the Taoiseach if it is proposed to amend the code of conduct for office holders.

The Deputy's question does not arise.

If you allow me, a Cheann Comhairle, I will continue. The painful exercise of this constant challenge need never upset any of us. In the time this has taken I could have asked the question and the Taoiseach could be on his feet replying. Does the Taoiseach propose to extend the code of conduct, as it should apply, to all elections, including local and EU elections? Does he agree that there are many instances of actions by Ministers in the lead-up to elections that are construed by many as inappropriate? Will the Taoiseach consider some of the announcements made over the weekend——

Sorry, Deputy, that does not arise.

——by many of his colleagues in Cabinet in terms of sweeteners and promises, which his party is very good at, in the lead-up to the local and EU elections?

The Deputy is being disorderly.

I am only trying to ask a question.

There are ways and means of asking questions.

It is a very difficult passage from here to there, and even when we get there we still do not get answers.

Sorry, Deputy, it is not appropriate to go outside the substance of the three questions submitted to the Taoiseach. In fairness to Deputies who have asked other questions, they are entitled to have them answered today or tomorrow. If the Deputy goes all over the place——

I assure you I intend to be absolutely fair to all others who have asked questions. My problem is with the Member who must answer them. Perhaps the Taoiseach will be good enough to advise the House whether he intends to extend the code of conduct to apply to local and European elections. It clearly seems to have no application in these areas, judging by the raft of promises and sweeteners offered over the weekend, with which the Taoiseach is no doubt delighted.

The code of conduct applies to office holders, to me, the Tánaiste, Ministers, Ministers of State and chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of this House and the Seanad. It is concerned with anything that would be appropriate and includes the ambit of office holders as defined in the Ethics in Public Office Act. If the Deputy thinks the code of conduct is concerned with anyone announcing or doing anything, I am not sure what he is complaining about. Is he complaining about office holders doing something or not doing something?

That is the question.

The Taoiseach will be left with nobody in the Cabinet if he applies that.

Normally the Deputy asks me why they are not taking action, but his question today seems to be concerned with what they are doing. To cover both sides, as the Deputy is doing, I will not amend the code of conduct to discipline people for doing their jobs — I certainly will not discipline them for something they have not done——

Or do not intend to do.

I will encourage them to do so. However, that does not come under a code of conduct or under the heading of ethics. To make it so would be stretching the ethics Act.

In the matter of amending the code of conduct, my question is to do with the changes that have been introduced by the Government in the area of health reform. A very powerful body, the national steering committee, has been established. Would it not be appropriate to amend the code of conduct to include members of this committee? For example, all the members apart from the chairman are senior civil servants, and I do not think anybody has a difficulty with that——

I would prefer if the Deputy did not go into detail.

The only other person on this powerful body, which is driving the health service and taking responsibility for it, is the managing director of a pharmaceutical company.

The Deputy is out of order.

In fairness to him and anybody else fulfilling these very senior positions, would it not be desirable to have a code of conduct because otherwise there is bound to be a conflict of interest sooner or later?

The Deputy has made her point and she is out of order.

I ask the Taoiseach to reply.

It should not be necessary to have a code of conduct under the ethics legislation but the whole idea is that the code conforms fully with the statutory requirements. It is not easy to put into legislative terms what is right and wrong about the standards of conduct and integrity of office holders that are not expressly covered by legislation. I am not too sure if I understand the Deputy's question correctly. Is she suggesting that the code should cover Members who are on various boards or committees? They are already covered. The Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service is currently considering a code to do with appointments to boards and the regulations that should apply, but it is not covered by the Ethics in Public Office Act which primarily governs what politicians should do. There is a code for advisers and board members.

I gather from the Taoiseach's response that he has no intention of either amending or improving the code of conduct. Is the Taoiseach therefore suggesting that we have a perfect code of conduct for office holders? Is he suggesting that there is no room for improvement and that he is completely satisfied with the present code of conduct?

I am not saying that. I am saying the code has been in existence for only eight months following a long discussion over approximately 18 months. I suggest that the code should at least be given time to run for a reasonable period before it is amended. It is too early for amendments. If there are good suggestions I suggest they be held until we review the code. Two Oireachtas committees reviewed the code over a long period as did the Standards in Public Office Commission which produced the code. It is not a codeof conduct produced by the Government but by the Standards in Public Office Commission following consultation with Members of this House in two separate committees.

Does the Taoiseach agree that under the existing code Ministers or Ministers of State contesting the European Parliament elections would be expected to resign their office at some point in advance of the elections? Will the Taoiseach say at what point he envisages that will happen? Will he state how he views the impact of the Kelly judgment on the same issue?

To the best of my knowledge and subject to my checking the code, that is not part of the code. It has not been done in any election by any members of any Government who were Ministers and Ministers of State and there have been many precedents in recent European Parliament elections.

Under the code?

I do not think it is covered by the code.

What precedent is there under the code?

The Deputy states it is in the code but I do not think it is stated in the code that people must resign if they are candidates in a European election.

This is the first time we have had European elections under the code.

It is the first time we have had a code but not the first time we have had legislation.

It would expedite the reshuffle.

On the second question about the Kelly judgment, the application of the Kelly rules would now apply in any election. Any use of a Department or agency in an election would have to be taken into account for costs purposes.

Has the Taoiseach examined or has caused to be examined the situation in other countries, particularly other countries that may have had trials, troubles and tribulations such as we have experienced in recent years? Does he think we could learn from the codes of conduct introduced or updated in those countries?

The types of codes used in many other countries were examined and discussed by the committees of the House. The assessment was that our legislation, our codes and the Cabinet Handbook, which was amended a few years ago, tend to be far more strict. Our compliance legislation, probably because it is new, is far tougher than in most countries in Europe, and so it should be.

The code mentions lobbyists and how they are an integral part of a functioning democracy. Is there a particular definition to which the Taoiseach may wish to refer in regard to lobbyists? Given that we understand legislation is required, should the heads of that legislation have been incorporated in the code in order that people can understand what is being referred to?

When the Standards in Public Office Commission set out the code of conduct it made it clear that the code had to be read in conjunction with the legislation. The code spelled out clearly what it expected the conduct would be in various cases. One cannot claim that it is just a code of conduct. If any Member is questioned by the Standards in Public Office Commission or on any other matter of integrity about officeholders, the legislation is taken into account as is the code, even though it is a code of practice and is not legislatively based. One is deemed to be answerable to the code. The regulations are very specific. Anyone in breach of the code must answer to the Standards in Public Office Commission. The issue would be dealt with in the same way as if it was legislatively based. That was made absolutely clear. One cannot go into a hearing of the Standards in Public Office Commission and say that this is just a code of practice. It has been made absolutely clear that one is answerable to the code and any breach of the code would be taken as if it was legislation. Therefore, one is answerable to the code of practice. It would be different if it was a code of practice in industrial relations in the trade union movement. One is totally bound by the code. That is how it is read.

Will the Taoiseach agree that a further extension of the code of conduct should be considered in the context of Ministers releasing details of announcements pending to their own party representatives, sometimes 24 to 48 hours prior to other representatives in the House and that there is an inequality and inequity in practice by these Ministers? Does the Taoiseach consider that is inappropriate and that it is an issue that should be brought under the aegis of the code of conduct and the Standards in Public Office Commission?

The rules and standards are set out in the Cabinet Handbook on how people should deal with certain issues and it has to be complied with. I have often seen ministerial statements taken up by Members of the Opposition and used to great effect for their own benefit. I am not sure if that hinders anybody too much.

National Security.

Enda Kenny

Question:

4 Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the most recent work of the high-level group established under his Department to monitor developments after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1047/04]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

5 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach if he will report on any recent meetings of the high-level group established under his Department to monitor developments following the terrorist attacks of September 2001; whether there has been any increase in the number of meetings of this group held or planned to be held during the Irish EU Presidency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1283/04]

Joe Higgins

Question:

6 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the recent work of the high-level group established within his Department in the aftermath of the 11 September atrocity. [1830/04]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

7 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach if the high-level group established within his Department after 11 September 2001 is still in existence; if he will report on its recent work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2899/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

8 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach when the interdepartmental group on national security last met; its purpose and functions; its programme of work for 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4775/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

9 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach if the high-level group established in his Department in the wake of the September 11 2001 atrocities is still in existence; if so, its programme of work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5626/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 to 9, inclusive, together.

The national security committee, which is chaired by the Secretary General to the Government, comprises representatives at the highest level of the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Defence and Foreign Affairs, the Garda and the Defence Forces.

The committee continues to meet as required and members liaise on an ongoing basis to monitor developments which might have national security implications, in particular in the international arena.

It is concerned with ensuring that I and the Government are advised of high-level security issues and the responses to them, but not involving operational security issues. It would not be appropriate for me to disclose information about the work of the committee.

The Government received a report last October from the emergency planning society which clearly criticised the piecemeal approach to planning for emergencies in Ireland. It recommended that since 11 September 2001, a single body with responsibility for security should be established and should report to the highest office in Government. Has the interdepartmental group established to monitor security and terrorist threats considered the report by the Emergency Planning Society? Does the Taoiseach accept the findings of the report which stated that weaknesses in Ireland's emergency planning were highlighted in the way the SARS threat was dealt with? The society also stated that the Government reaction to a possible nuclear threat highlighted the inadequacy of our preparations. I recall the former Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, sending a letter and two iodine tablets to every household in the country.

A year later.

Has any check been carried out on the whereabouts of the iodine tablets? Is it proposed to issue updated iodine tablets to every household again? Given that the US Government will apply a great deal of pressure to have Mr. bin Laden brought to heel before the US presidential election, has the interdepartmental group received any updated information on the possibility of nuclear threats in Britain which, obviously, would have an impact on Ireland?

The Minister for Defence through the Office of Emergency Planning and the task force on emergency planning oversees emergency planning to promote the best possible use of State resources and to ensure compatibility between different emergency planning requirements. The Office of Emergency Planning is established on an administrative basis. It is appropriate, from time to time, to consider whether its work needs to be supported by a statutory framework regarding emergency planning, and this is what happens. The Government will consider any detailed proposals which the Minister, in light of experience, may wish to make in that regard.

Emergency issues involve not only defence and security, but also health, transport and aviation. It is not possible and would not make sense to break these sectors away from their parent Departments and make them the responsibility of one agency. However, when Departments are required to co-operate or to have an input, they do so. This makes for much better functional operation of emergency planning arrangements.

The report of the Emergency Planning Society, referred to by Deputy Kenny, envisages greater integration of emergency services by amalgamation of responsibility for managing energies into a single agency. As previously indicated, substantial costs would be associated with that approach. Moreover, responses to different types of emergency require different skills, experience and resources. For example, dealing with a marine oil pollution incident is different from reacting to a foot and mouth disease threat.

One unit cannot do everything and, therefore, it is best that primary responsibility remains with the agency with the relevant know-how and expertise. Obviously, when experts are required, they will be brought in. The system is small enough to easily allow for that, as was the case in the context of foot and mouth disease and after 11 September 2001. The Minister for Defence previously welcomed the interest of the Emergency Planning Society and he has ensured its report had a wide circulation among Departments with emergency planning responsibilities, which was useful.

With regard to SARS, the Government is satisfied that the steps taken by the Minister for Health and Children and the health authorities were adequate, proportionate, balanced and, above all, successful. The Department of Health and Children continues to monitor the situation and will continue to initiate further appropriate action with regard to China, if necessary.

What about the iodine tablets?

The Deputy has a supply.

Are they out of date yet?

They are not. In any case, it could be too late for the Deputy, for other reasons.

It is never too late.

I asked the Taoiseach whether an increased number of meetings of the high level group had been held or were planned during the Irish EU Presidency. It would be appropriate to know this and whether, in preparation for the visit of President Bush of the United States, an increased number of meetings will be required. Has there been an evaluation of the cost factor, given that in London additional security measures cost approximately £1 million per day? In our case gardaí and soldiers will be used. Has this matter been examined? Obviously it will require some budgetary considerations as well as operational considerations on the ground.

Have any requests been made by the US for immunity for Secret Service agents and snipers? Such requests were made of the British authorities. Has the Government considered this? The British authorities were also asked about a sterile zone being created around President Bush in which only American security personnel would be given free rein, though I do not think the British acceded to that.

Has the US made such requests and has the high level group discussed them? Will the Government make a decision on those matters?

The high level group deals with issues relating to 9/11 and international terrorism. It meets more or less monthly, though when necessary it met on a weekly basis. Last year it met eight times. There is a fairly well-run system operated by the US which deals with the matters raised by the Deputy and that system is demanding enough no matter who the President is. An advance party lays down very stringent regulations based on their reports on the assassination of John F. Kennedy 40 years ago. That party goes through the same procedures — I have seen it done many times — and that is the case on this occasion also. However, this is a matter for the Garda in the first instance and even if the force needs more back-up there is no real change here. The procedure is the same as that used for the visit of President Clinton.

Is there a cost?

Undoubtedly there is a cost.

Do we pay?

The country pays. We always pay our security costs. That is why it is important that our citizens do not increase that cost or rent a crowd from elsewhere to raise the cost.

The people of Ireland would be interested to hear that 100,000 of them on the streets last February could be described as a rent-a-crowd.

I am thinking of the future, not the past.

I will have something to say to the Taoiseach later on about that.

A question, Deputy.

I am being provoked.

Does the Taoiseach agree that the way he described the national security committee gives us the image of a very shadowy body? Apart from the Secretary to the Government he has not told us who is on the committee apart from mentioning a number of Departments. Will he elaborate on that? Has the national security committee received communications from the US government on its wish to pressurise Irish airlines to provide US intelligence services with comprehensive lists of passengers flying to the US? Has the committee advised the Taoiseach of that? What are his views on that?

Does the committee give the Taoiseach regular advice or briefings on his Government's facilitating the US war machine on an ongoing basis by continuing the use of Shannon to facilitate the US occupation of Iraq? What was the committee's advice on that matter?

There is no secret about the committee. It involves the Garda and the Army, so the Garda Commissioner and the Army Chief of Staff are on the committee, as are officials of the Departments of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Health and Children, Transport and Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. There is no secret about those matters.

The committee does not monitor what is going on in Iraq. It deals with any threats to Ireland from international terrorism as well as any other information picked up by international security agencies of which we need to be aware. Nowadays there is more interest in and concern about those who move and who are involved with international terrorist organisations.

The committee is all the time trying to improve our services and administration to deal with nuclear difficulties or any other major security difficulties. As I said, the Minister brought the Emergency Planning Society's report of last year to all Departments and many changes were made on the basis of that report to improve our system.

What about the airlines?

In terms of airlines, in any issue of concern about aviation, they are involved any time we require it. As the Deputy knows, new security arrangements are in place for cockpits and in regard to carrying implements on aeroplanes. The United States has been pressing for new security arrangements in airports.

For passengers.

For passengers and crew.

I wish to ask the Taoiseach about an interview given by the Minister for Defence to Catherine Cleary ofThe Sunday Tribune on 29 December 2002 in which he promised to set up a new secret intelligence body to deal with terrorists. He said: “We have done a lot of work and there has been a great deal of co-operation between the various Departments.” He said it was something he was considering and that he would come to a decision early in the new year. Has the Government come to a decision on that? Is it considered necessary to establish a new intelligence body to deal with terrorists or what is the status of that proposal?

The answer to that question is no. What was considered was to have better working relationships and better communications with, and better planning between the organisations I mentioned earlier, and that has happened. Obviously, it is administratively easier to do that and it does not require the resources necessary to set up a new agency. There is far better co-operation now between the international bodies and agencies. The supply and flow of information on organisations, individuals and movements is now totally different from that before 11 September 2001. From time to time, that puts pressure on the resources of the agencies but one does not need a new agency to do that.

The Minister said in the same interview that that would be one of his priorities in preparation for the Presidency. Do I take it from what the Taoiseach has said that that notion is dead and the idea of us going around referring to the Minister for Defence as "M" or something like that is not likely to occur? Was it a Christmas time interview?

The Deputy can take it that that is not necessary. On a serious note, the level of time taken up, because of international intelligence, on checking, planning and monitoring is different from what was the case. Something must give, admittedly. The Minister was referring to how one would handle that position in the event that it continued. Quite an amount of resources must be used, because of international intelligence, by far better resourced organisations than ours. Our regulations on the movement of people generally, how we monitor individuals who move or travel in the country, are nothing like those in other countries. I am not advocating that it should be either, but it means that existing security resources can be stretched by demands made upon them. Such resources have been greatly increased in many other countries, as well as by Interpol. The people who are monitoring these matters are feeding in information all the time, of which we receive quite an amount, although it is small compared to what is fed into the UK or France. Nonetheless, it is a new source of work for the existing agencies, including the Garda Síochána.

Does the Taoiseach recall that in a written reply to a parliamentary question I tabled last month, he indicated that the interdepartmental group on national security was established in 1974 in the context of what he called "the overspill of the Northern Ireland situation"? In his reply, the Taoiseach also said that the group now focused almost exclusively on the security of Government buildings. Given that the Taoiseach used the term "almost exclusively", does that mean that some part of the group's work continues, in effect, to address what he broadly referred to as "the overspill of the Northern Ireland situation"? If that is the case, will the Taoiseach please elaborate and outline to us exactly what he meant in that reply?

With regard to my second question, as the high level group established in the Taoiseach's Department in the wake of the 11 September 2001 atrocities, continues to operate, has it considered wider matters of security and foreign policy? For instance, has the high level group considered the recent address by the US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to American troops massed at Shannon Airport? Has that matter been addressed? Did that action on the part of Mr. Rumsfeld have the prior approval of the Government? Did the Government give approval for that event to take place in our country and, if so, will the Taoiseach explain why? If approval was not given for the use of an Irish airport by Donald Rumsfeld to address US troops massed there, what action has the Taoiseach taken, on behalf of the people, to register disapproval of the event and its unacceptability, as well as to insist that it should not be repeated?

A brief final question from Deputy Jim O'Keeffe.

Would you allow the Taoiseach to reply?

Does the Taoiseach accept that the public cannot take any great assurance from his responses today? Would he accept that the situation does not seem to have improved to any great degree since the time of the iodine debacle? The Taoiseach's replies are a bit like theSkibbereen Eagle keeping an eye on the Czar, whereas he is keeping an eye on Osama bin Laden.

From the point of view of our EU Presidency, has the Taoiseach done anything to improve the security situation as far as the European Union and Ireland are concerned? To take a practical example, what would happen if a plane hijacked by terrorists wasen route to Dublin? How would such an incident be dealt with?

As I stated in a recent reply to Deputy Ó Caoláin, the national security committee is now dealing with far more international issues than heretofore. The committee would also have taken into account incidents on the Border and activities of that nature, but it does so far less now than previously. There are incidents on the Border and one of the Deputy's colleagues raised such an incident, involving incursions, in the House a few weeks ago.

As regards Mr. Rumsfeld, a procedure has been set down by the Department of Transport. Any flights landing here, or fly-overs, have to go through that procedure and I am sure that in that case it did. The Deputy should table a question to the relevant Minister to obtain the details.

Deputy Jim O'Keeffe is wrong. After 11 September 2001, this country, like every other country, changed its procedures. Accident and emergency procedures were not in place nor was, the task force on emergency planning which oversees emergencies generally. That task force has introduced procedures, early detection and equipment and specialised staff have been trained. The position is entirely different. Like many things in the world, it is a pity there had to be such a tragedy for everybody to engage in such procedures. However, procedures, early detection and equipment that we did not have are available and both the Army and the Garda have been trained in emergency planning. We have different procedures from what we had even two years ago.

What about planes——

That concludes Taoiseach's questions. We are moving to questions to the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

The Deputy should table a question to the relevant Minister.

He is beside the Taoiseach.