Ceisteanna — Questions.

Barron Inquiry.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

1 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach the action he has taken or plans to take arising from the report of the sub-committee of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s Rights that considered the report of the Barron inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21330/04]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

2 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach the action he has taken or intends to take arising from the recommendation made by the jury at the inquest into the deaths of the victims of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, that consideration be given to further investigations into the involvement of loyalist paramilitaries in the bombings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21331/04]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

3 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach if he has raised with the British Prime Minister the possible establishment of a Weston Park style inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; the response he has received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21332/04]

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

4 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach when he expects to receive the report of Mr. Justice Barron dealing with a number of bombings and murders during the 1970s; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21333/04]

Enda Kenny

Question:

5 Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach the costs which have accrued to his Department in respect of the Barron inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21446/04]

Enda Kenny

Question:

6 Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach when he next expects to receive a report from the Barron inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21447/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

7 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach when the report from Justice Barron which the Taoiseach received on 29 June 2004 will be considered by the Oireachtas; when it will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21563/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

8 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the terms of reference of the commission of investigation to examine the Garda investigation and missing documentation regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of May 1974; when the investigation will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21564/04]

Joe Higgins

Question:

9 Mr. J. Higgins asked the Taoiseach if he has discussed the Government’s proposed commission of investigation into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings with the British Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22381/04]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

10 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach the progress made in the proposed commission of investigation into the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23512/04]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

11 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach when the next report from the Barron inquiry is expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23513/04]

Tony Gregory

Question:

12 Mr. Gregory asked the Taoiseach if he has discussed with the British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, the setting up of a further inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; the response of Mr. Blair to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24373/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 12, inclusive, together.

Following receipt of the transcript of the proceedings of the inquest into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, and on the recommendation of the inquest jury, I forwarded a copy of the transcript to the Secretary of State, Paul Murphy.

Following its consideration of the final report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights on the report of the independent commission of inquiry into the bombings last July, the Government decided to establish a commission of investigation with appropriate terms of reference in line with the sub-committee's recommendations, to examine the Garda investigation of the bombings and missing documents and to pursue with the British Government the establishment of a Weston Park style inquiry into the bombings.

Following the passing of the relevant legislation last July, my Department has begun the process for the establishment of the commission of investigation which will require the approval of the House. While detailed terms of reference have yet to be approved by the Government, the commission will, as recommended by the Joint Oireachtas committee, consider why the Garda investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings was wound down in 1974; why the Garda did not follow up on certain specific leads; and the exact documentation, departmental, Garda intelligence and any other documentation of relevance, that is unaccounted for.

The commission will take account of investigative work already undertaken into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974, including the report of the independent commission of inquiry, the final report of the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, inquest statements and the internal Garda investigation.

I have already raised the establishment of a Weston Park style inquiry into the bombings at my meeting with Prime Minister Blair at Sedgefield. The Government will consider Mr. Justice Barron's report into the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973 very shortly. Mr. Justice Barron also reported on a number of other bombings and murders in appendices to this report, including bombings in Belturbet, Clones and Pettigo.

I received the report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow from Mr. Justice Barron on 20 October. While his report is receiving the necessary consideration by relevant Departments and the Attorney General, it is clear that in his comprehensive report he has given thorough and meticulous consideration to all aspects of the terms of reference given to the inquiry.

It would be the intention to refer both reports to the Joint Oireachtas committee with a view to their publication and consideration in public session, in a process similar to that which was put in place for consideration of the independent commission's report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. I again thank Mr. Justice Barron and his team for their work in preparing these reports and for their commitment and dedication to this difficult task.

Mr. Justice Barron expects to conclude his report into the Dundalk bombing and a number of other bombings that took place after 1974, including the Castleblaney bombing, by the end of this year. To date, the cost of the Barron inquiry, including all legal expenses arising, is €2.9 million.

Am I correct in saying this is the first time we have heard the Barron II report, in respect of the Seamus Ludlow case, has been received by Government? Will the Taoiseach indicate when he will refer it to the Oireachtas committee? I presume this will be done on the same basis as the previous report.

When will the decision process on the establishment of the commission of investigation into the Garda investigation come before the House? Will it be put by way of motion to the House? I remind the Taoiseach that the second part of that decision of Government on receipt of the Oireachtas committee report referred to pursuing the British Government to establish what the Government described as a Weston Park style inquiry into the bombings. What progress has been made on that and what is the disposition of the British authorities on the matter?

In all of these reports we have tried to make as little change as possible and only redact names where we think a legal problem could arise. I believe we are only seeking clarification on one area from Mr. Justice Barron on the 1972-73 report. I hope we will be able to bring that report to Cabinet in November. Immediately the Cabinet has dealt with it, which I hope will be before the end of this month, it will be sent to the committee.

We only recently received the Seamus Ludlow report and that has to be examined. I would still like to clear it this year if possible. It is unlikely that much work will be done on it this year in the committee but at least it would be helpful if the Government could finish its consideration of the report.

In terms of the process, I understand we have to bring a resolution or order before the House and work is in preparation for that. I spoke to an official this morning who told me he sees no reason we would not have it before the House to pass this session, which would mean that we could commence work. The Government has not yet decided on a suitable person to head the inquiry. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform or the Attorney General's office may have given some thought to this but I have not yet seen a name of who would chair it, whether it be a senior counsel or a judge. I can see some difficulty in being able to get a judge but we will try to do so. I hope we would be able to commence work on it at the beginning of 2005.

On the Weston Park style inquiry, we have given all the information to the British Government on this and I also gave, as I said in my reply, the full contents of the inquest report. I raised it with Prime Minister Blair when I met him in his constituency base in Sedgefield some weeks ago. We are awaiting a response from the British authorities on this. Deputies will be aware that, in response to an invitation to appear before the Joint Oireachtas committee, Secretary of State Murphy, replied to the committee that the relevant information uncovered by the British authorities had been shared with Mr. Justice Barron's inquiry and that he personally ensured the information had been provided to the fullest possible manner consistent with his responsibilities to protect national security and the lives of individuals. We now have to wait.

The House and joint committee have considered Mr. Justice Barron's report in great detail and the recommendations of the committee were accepted by Government. I again commend the committee on the way it conducted the examination of the Barron report. I informed the Prime Minister and Paul Murphy that this work deserves full consideration by the British authorities. We have suggested a Weston Park style arrangement but this does not have to be the case if they have some other idea. I considered this the most appropriate and fastest way to proceed. Judge Cory's work has now been accepted internationally and other countries that have difficult cases are looking at the work he did. He put in an enormous effort at a time when his wife was unwell and she subsequently died during the summer. I offer condolences to Judge Cory who came and worked here even at that time.

It seems like a good way of doing it. If the British have an alternative we would like to hear it but Judge Cory's inquiry proved very efficient and most people internationally who take an interest in the Finucane case believed it was one of the best models they had ever seen. It is as good an idea as we can think of.

Is the Taoiseach saying that, given the cross-jurisdictional character of the matters at issue here, investigation into them in this jurisdiction can only go so far and be so productive unless there is a positive response from the British authorities on the matters we have raised?

There are two separate sections here, or maybe there are three, and I will deal first with the one not related to this question. Judge Cory told us we must carry out inquiries into the Breen and Buchanan murders and the other issues, which we are doing. We cannot argue about anyone not fulfilling the terms of the Cory report if we do not do our part to make the process work so we must do that. On the point about Mr. Justice Barron's work, and earlier Mr. Justice Hamilton's, there are several issues we can investigate that do not involve the British, for example, why the Garda investigation into the Dublin-Monaghan bombings was wound down in August 1974, why the Garda Síochána did not follow up on all the leads that were there and are highlighted in the report, particularly the information about the white van with the English registration plate parked outside the Department of Posts and Telegraphs in Portland Row, seen later that night parked in the deep sea area of the B& I ferryport in Dublin, and the subsequent contact made with the British Army officers on the ferry leaving that port. This is a huge cross for that family and it must be investigated because none of us will ever be able to explain it to them.

When one meets the families it seems like yesterday and they do not understand why I and others cannot explain that. I totally understand their position. Somebody must investigate it to bring some closure on this issue. There seems to be a reasonable amount of information about a man who stayed in the Four Courts Hotel between 15 and 17 May 1974 and his contacts with the UVF. There is information concerning a British Army corporal allegedly sighted on several occasions in Dublin at the time of the bombings. Issues such as the exact documentation in the Department and in Garda intelligence and any other documentation of relevance which is unaccounted for, the reasons explaining the missing documentation, whether the missing documentation can be located and whether the systems currently in place are adequate to prevent a recurrence, and other issues raised by the families and the committee can be dealt with in the report.

The British must investigate the other issues concerning people outside this jurisdiction. We will never get anywhere on those issues. Even if we held the inquiry here the people would not attend so we would be only misleading people. If we can deal comprehensively with what Judge Cory said on these issues and hope the British see the light and deal with their own security position and make some progress on that, we can make real progress. On my watch I can do the first two. As regards the third all I can do is make the case and I have done and will do that.

Will the Taoiseach report on implementing the recommendations of Judge Cory in respect of several inquiries? What is the up-to-date position in so far as the inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane is concerned? The Taoiseach asked the British Prime Minister on 10 September to set up an investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. What was Mr. Blair's response to that query and when does the Taoiseach expect that might take place?

I have met the Finucane family. The British Prime Minister was due to meet the family one day this week, maybe yesterday, or today. That is an important meeting. We have totally supported the Finucane family. We have given chapter and verse why we are doing so and that is a consistent line taken by this House over the years. The British have said they will deal with this and other issues in new legislation. It is believed and hoped but not confirmed that it will be included in the Queen's next speech on 23 November which is the process by which the British highlight forthcoming legislation. That is welcome but we have not seen the legislation. Examination of it will be imperative in determining whether people support it. That is particularly so for Geraldine Finucane who has dedicated her life to this campaign. She will support it only if she is satisfied that it is adequate. I feel duty bound to support her. She is a very reasonable person and there are legal people in this very decent family. She wants bring closure to this. She has been dealing with it for 15 years. I am going to support it to the end. I have made that absolutely clear. The Attorney General has kept close contact with the Finucane family and the various human rights organisations dealing with the case. We will wait and see what the legislation brings but hopefully it will bring us into a process on which we will be able to move.

We have reports on all the other inquiries, except the last report by Mr. Justice Barron. There are two elements, one concerning the bombings around 1992-93 which will go before the committee before the end of the year. The Seamus Ludlow report will hopefully go before the committee at the beginning of 2005. Regarding the Weston Park initiative, we have to wait. We have given over all our information and I have raised it with the British Government and the Secretary of State. This is our idea. If they can find some other way it is a matter for them to do it. We have also given them the findings of the inquest and asked them to deal with these issues. We await the British response to this.

Will the Taoiseach clarify whether the bombing of Belturbet in County Cavan in 1972 is included in the second Barron report which the Government received in June along with the report on the Dublin bombings in 1972 and 1973?

It covers Belturbet, Pettigo and Clones.

Does it include the two Dublin ones?

It includes the two Dublin ones.

I thank the Taoiseach for that. Will he be more specific about when he expects publication of the second Barron report, given that Government has had it since last June? Will he reconfirm to the House that it will be dealt with by a sub-committee of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights, in the same way as the first Barron report was addressed? If it is to be addressed in that way will the Taoiseach use the opportunity today to make a determined call on the British Government to ensure that it will give full co-operation to whatever hearing this House sets in train through a sub-committee and that it will compel representatives of the Northern Ireland Office, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and any other arm of the British presence in the North of Ireland to come before that sub-committee? It has refused to do that in connection with the hearings on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. I expect the Taoiseach does this whenever he is afforded an opportunity to do so?

Can the Taoiseach confirm that he recently met the relatives of Geraldine O'Reilly and Patrick Stanley, who both died in the Belturbet bombing? What can he tell the House about the outcome of that meeting? What about the promise of a commission of investigation into the Garda investigation of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and the missing files? Will the terms of reference be published and how soon will that happen? There seems to be an inordinate delay in moving it forward. Will the terms of reference come before the Houses of Oireachtas for approval? Will that report be referred to the Oireachtas committee? Where stands the demand for the British Government to launch an inquiry into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings along the lines of the Cory report, to which the Taoiseach has already referred? What progress, if any, does he believe the Government is making in pressing the British Government to ensure that it fully co-operates with whatever inquiry is employed, be it on a cross jurisdictional basis or otherwise? Will it have a corresponding inquiry organised along the Cory lines into the Dublin and Monaghan tragedy of 17 May 1974?

It is our view and the view of the Oireachtas committee that the British should deal with those issues in a Weston Park style inquiry in their jurisdiction. It is unlikely, though not impossible, in our investigation that the kind of people we would like to appear will appear. That is the difficulty. Naturally, where we need them we will look for them and hopefully we will get co-operation. That is why the Oireachtas report dealt with these things in two areas. I explained to Deputy Rabbitte that there are three areas in the Cory report. In the two areas raised by Deputy Ó Caoláin, all of the issues I have mentioned will be investigated by the commission, including the Garda files. There were two reasons for the delay since July. It arrived during the holiday season and the Government had to examine it. There is one area of clarification which we have been seeking and trying to resolve with Mr. Justice Barron. I hope that will happen soon. The legislation to allow for the commission was not completed. That is now completed so we can move ahead. An order will be brought before the House to make the necessary regulations so the commission can start its work in 2005.

As I stated in my interjection, Belturbet, Clones and Pettigo are included in that report. Mr. Justice Barron also reports on a number of other bombings and murders in his appendices to the report. It is more extensive than that. That report will be before the Government shortly and will be sent to the committee by the end of this month or early in December. The Seamus Ludlow report, which we only received recently, is being examined. I hope to get it through the Government by Christmas so that it will be ready for the committee. It may make sense for the committee to deal with the bombings in 1972 and 1973 and the Seamus Ludlow case together, though I do not want to be telling the committee how to proceed.

I met families of the Belturbet bombings over the years and I continue to keep in touch with all of these families. They are glad that the Government has reached the report stage of this issue. We advised them comprehensively of the process. They asked that we keep in touch with them and we will. They are also dealing with the commission on their own personal matters.

I will keep the pressure on the British in so far as we can get them to co-operate and deal with these areas as it is the only way to bring closure. It is important that we deal with all of the elements that are in our hands on these issues. After 30 years, we are now in a position where we can do all that we possibly can and my intention is to see that through in 2005.

Like everyone else in this House, I am aware the Taoiseach supports a full public inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane and others. In agreeing to establish a commission to investigate the disappearance of security files and Garda behaviour during the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, is it consistent to allow that to be in private while at the same time calling for public inquiries elsewhere? For many people, particularly the Justice for the Forgotten group, it is an irreconcilable situation. They would like to know the reason for not having a public inquiry. Have the terms been agreed for that inquiry? It was mentioned in September that a Cabinet meeting would agree the terms. What is the update on this? Will the Government support the pursuit of the case to the European Court of Human Rights by the Justice for the Forgotten group? On the basis of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the British Government needs to co-operate with inquiries into loss of life. Is the Irish Government in a position to provide any support to help bring that matter to fruition?

Judge Cory's recommendations included a number of inquiries. We will have full public inquiries on the Buchanan and Breen cases and another area as well. They will be full inquiries and will be consistent. We will deal with the Finucane case as Judge Cory recommended. The commission will be set up on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings when an order is brought before the House with the terms of reference. We are doing what we are asking the British Government to do.

British-Irish Rights Watch and a number of other bodies have been exploring a number of areas. I spoke to the people involved in this on a number of occasions. Those issues are ongoing and I do not wish to make any statement on them as they have been looking at a number of areas and have been in touch with the Attorney General on the matter. I am not sure of the latest position, but British-Irish Rights Watch and other organisations have been following the Finucane case, in particular, and other cases. They have been in to see me a number of times about the European dimension. I think their tactics are to wait and see what happens on the British side, particularly in regard to legislation that should be outlined in a speech on 23 November in the Commons.

Can the Taoiseach give an up to date position on the report presented to the Government on the Omagh bombing? There were a number of outstanding matters there and some ongoing discussions.

I am not sure what the latest is on the various issues being pursued by the families and the groups. It is some time since I met them but I will get an update.

I welcome the decision of the Taoiseach to refer the second Barron report to a committee. I presume he was referring to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights. No action has yet been taken, six months after the committee considered the first Barron report into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and made a fairly comprehensive set of recommendations. Its first recommendation was that the report be referred to the British Houses of Parliament. The committee asked the Houses of Parliament to adopt the report, which has been accepted by all sides of this House. In other words, the committee recommended that the first action should be to go to the British Parliament, before going to the British Government.

The second action which was recommended was to seek a Weston Park-type investigation into the bombings. If the investigation was not achieved, it was recommended that we should start to prepare a case for the European Court of Human Rights. We should ask the court, based on the nature of the act which was perpetrated on the citizens of this country by another jurisdiction, to compel Britain to fulfil its obligations in this regard. Has the State started to prepare the case to be made at the European Court of Human Rights?

Can I ask the Taoiseach about the commission of investigation? I understood there would be two separate commissions of investigation in this jurisdiction because there are two separate issues. The first investigation would relate to the missing Garda and Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform files and the second investigation would relate to the premature termination of the Garda inquiry. Can the Taoiseach outline the action which has been taken in this jurisdiction and the British jurisdiction in respect of the committee's specific recommendations?

With the greatest respect, a Cheann Comhairle, this is total repetition. I have said all of this before, but I do not mind saying it again. In response to Deputy Costello's first point, we noted when we made our original decision in July that the committee had recommended that a resolution be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas endorsing the joint committee's report and its recommendations——

That has happened.

——and inviting the UK Parliament to make a similar resolution. I publicly announced in July that we would accept the first recommendation.

If communication took place with the British Parliament, what was the response?

As I said to Deputy Rabbitte, we outlined it at the meeting in Sedgefield. We have provided all the papers, including the inquest reports, most recently to Paul Murphy, but we have not yet received a response from the British Government.

It was not the British Government; it was the British Parliament.

We have to deal with the British Government on this issue. We do not——

That was the second part of it.

I do not deal with the British Parliament.

It was a——

I have no way of dealing with the British Parliament.

The committee recommended that the British Parliament be contacted and given a copy of the document.

That is precisely what happened. The Government decided on 14 July last to note the recommendation that a resolution be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas endorsing the joint committee's report and its recommendations and inviting the UK Parliament to pass a similar resolution.

We have received notice——

I ask the Deputy to allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption.

Procedurally, the Government cannot instruct the Parliament of another country.

That is true.

Contact between Parliaments is one thing——

It can make a request.

The Government made requests at the meeting in Sedgefield and at a meeting with Paul Murphy. We have done that.

I think there are two separate issues.

I ask Deputy Costello to allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption.

I think the first recommendation has been followed through, from the point of view of the Government. I do not want to answer for the Oireachtas, but it has been followed through. We will not pursue the option of taking a case to the European Court of Justice until we get a response. We will not pursue it on the other lines, in relation to Geraldine Finucane and others. They do not want to pursue that route. In Geraldine Finucane's case, for example, they want to pursue the legislation to see what happens and if it is adequate.

The Deputy also asked about the commission of investigation. There are two issues in that regard — why the Garda investigation into the Dublin and Monaghan bombings was wound down in 1974 and, as the Deputy correctly said, why the Garda did not pursue certain specific leads. I will not go through the leads again because I placed them on the record earlier. I think the matters should be investigated by a single commission. The commission which we establish should reflect this in its terms of reference. It would be unwieldy, unnecessary and costly to have two separate commissions undertaking investigations. There are two issues.

The Government has accepted fully the report's recommendations, which are being taken to the commission. The commission legislation has been passed. We are in the process of examining the terms of reference of the commission. As I said earlier, the terms of reference and the order for the commission have to be passed by the House. We then have to appoint a senior counsel or a judge, unless it is a High Court judge, to undertake the investigation. I hope the Government will have done what it needs to do before Christmas. The commission will then be able to begin its work in the new year, hopefully.

Other reports relate to the 1972 and 1973 reports, the bombings in Belturbet, Clones and Pettigo and related issues and the murder of Seamus Ludlow. I hope we will see the third report, which deals with other related issues, mainly murders which took place between 1970 and 1975, by Christmas. That report will also be sent to the committee. I can confirm that we will deal with it in exactly the same way as we dealt with the first report.

Obsolete Legislation.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

13 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach the progress made to date by the Office of the Attorney General with Government Departments and offices in regard to proposals for the repeal of obsolete pre-1922 legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21334/04]

Trevor Sargent

Question:

14 Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach the progress which has been made by the Office of the Attorney General in regard to proposals for the repeal of obsolete pre-1922 legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23514/04]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

15 Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Taoiseach the progress made to date on the repeal of obsolete pre-1922 legislation. [24122/04]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, together.

In 2003, the statute law revision unit of the Office of the Attorney General undertook an audit of all legislation enacted between 1235 and 1922 that is still in force in the State. It was decided to concentrate on the public general Acts to ascertain the Acts which continue to be of practical utility and are in use and to identify Acts which are no longer required. The unit concentrated on the possible repeal of legislation that might affect competitiveness, was contrary to the Constitution or international obligations or was written in such archaic language that it no longer added value. The unit successfully identified a significant number of obsolete Acts. A consultation process was launched in April 2004, involving the unit and all Departments, with the intention of confirming the identified Acts which could be safely repealed. The public was informed by means of advertisements and invited to respond. The consultation process between the Departments and the unit is continuing. It is intended to complete the process and to publish a statute law revision Bill, which will repeal the obsolete Acts, during the current Dáil session.

I do not suppose there is much point in teasing out this matter further, given that we have been down this road before. I accept that some of the statutes being repealed are historical curiosities. Can the Taoiseach remind the House of the purpose of this exercise? Is it being done to facilitate ease of reference by practitioners of the law? Will it have other practical use?

I propose to take questions from Deputies Sargent and Ó Caoláin before the Taoiseach responds.

When the approximately 100 old statutes are being prepared for deletion, will there some consultation with the House so that some of them can be retained? I refer, for example, to the Sale of Goods Act 1893 and the Protection of Animals Act 1911, which is good legislation even in today's terms. Will Deputies see the list of Acts before the "delete" button is pressed? Many of the Acts continue to have a real impact today.

According to the list I have seen, the legislation to be repealed goes back as far as 1310 and includes the Baths and Warehouses Act, the Chimney Sweepers' Regulation Act and the Act relating to the pillory. While some would say the pillory should be introduced for use against certain Ministers or Members, those are long-redundant legacies. Since we are dealing with an outdated and in some cases unjust legacy of the past, will the Taoiseach earnestly tell the House that he intends to address the ground rent Bill, which also deals with such a legacy?

We cannot have these questions. I call Deputy Kenny.

Will the Taoiseach say whether that is a valid question?

It does not arise.

Of course it does. Will it be included in the proposition to repeal outdated and no longer applicable legislation?

As Deputy Rabbitte said, we have been down this road before. Is the net intention to have a set of revised statutes, which is what we should be undertaking? Is the intended end result that everyone will have open access to what is involved in clearly comprehensible language?

The final reply from the Taoiseach.

A great deal of work is going on in this area. It started when Mr. Gleeson, as Attorney General, listed all the Acts on the Statute Book on a CD-ROM. Modern technology highlighted the fact that we had approximately 500 Acts dating back to 1235, which are still law because they have never been amended or repealed. The consultation process that Deputy Sargent pointed out is important, since we do not want to remove anything that is relevant. The purpose is to get rid of the irrelevant Acts. Over the summer, the Attorney General initiated a public consultation on this important issue through advertisements. I assume that it went to Deputies, but if not, I can arrange that they receive a copy.

Deputy Rabbitte's question is very important: why do it in the first place? It affects practitioners and others using our legislation in all sorts of areas — not just the legal profession, since I understand that our law on conveyancing and liquor licensing is a nightmare. An enormous number of Acts have not been consolidated. Those involved must literally go back to 1300 every time they try to do something. The Deputy and I are familiar with social welfare and tax consolidation, which we have managed, but there are many other areas. The intention is to get rid of unnecessary legislative clutter that is out of date and should be repealed.

The second task is to identify legislation that is still important but should be updated. Much of what is there is relevant but must be brought up to date. Trying to streamline the Statute Book also reduces the transaction costs associated with legal and general administration. The view is that it would in many cases lead to better regulation and by extension better competitiveness. The pre-1922 project will also serve to enhance the accessibility of the law by weeding out those Acts that are no longer relevant. To answer the question of Deputies Kenny and Rabbitte, the end of the line, which will probably take some years to reach, will be when we have got rid of all the Acts that are unnecessary and, second, found a way — as I believe has been done through the statutory law revision — to update Acts that are not irrelevant in one Act. We can do that by working with the language and bringing it forward, and the task has now been identified. Approximately 400 Acts must be addressed, but at least one would be dealing only with the latest or current Act.

The third task concerns where there is a great deal of law, for example, codifying the law on liquor licensing and criminal law, and modernising the law on conveyancing and landlord and tenant law, which would bring all the Acts up.

What about ground rents?

We must initiate a scoping exercise to determine how courts legislation might be modernised. Whenever a Department examined any such area, rather than simply doing what it wanted, it would consolidate. That will take many years, but even if it took 20 or 25, we would be up to date at the end, which is the general purpose. Much as I love the Attorney General and his office, it does not always provide the fastest moving service in the world; that is no disrespect to him, since delays relate to the demand from these Houses. So that we might get a handle on this, I asked the office of the Attorney General to engage PA Consultants to assist the statute law revision unit in drawing up a business plan to advise the Government on the possibility of undertaking a complete restatement of Irish statute law. At least there is a plan to reach the end game, even if it takes some years.

What about ground rents?

They will be included in the review of landlord and tenant legislation.