Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Bill 2006 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

Like the previous 54 or so speakers, I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. Planning has become a significant issue. As the economy continues to expand, it will become a greater challenge. The Minister will agree that there has been a major absence of real planning, especially in recent times. All parties in the House can take credit for our economic growth. The party that founded the State can take most credit for it.

The Fine Gael Party agrees with the general principles of the Bill. However, as outlined by our spokesperson, Deputy O'Dowd, some issues must be addressed on Committee Stage. There is a concern about local councillors' input into major decisions that will affect their areas. If the Bill's provisions are not amended, a deficit in accountability will arise.

The Bill's main provision is to create a strategic infrastructure division in An Bord Pleanála to deal exclusively with national infrastructure projects. This is an important departure and will facilitate the development of such projects. Some of the provisions will impact on the Kerry North constituency. The construction of a liquefied natural gas, LNG, receiving terminal in the Shannon Estuary was recently proposed. The Bill will impact on the planning process for this project and the final decision on whether it will receive planning permission.

The amending section to the Schedule to the principal Act outlines various infrastructure categories of national significance such as energy, environment and transport. It includes an installation for the onshore extraction of petroleum or natural gas. The provision also includes an onshore terminal, building or installation, whether above or below ground, associated with an LNG facility. This is precisely what is being proposed for the Shannon Estuary. One would believe the Bill was specially drafted to accommodate the Shannon project.

The environmental infrastructure provision includes incinerators and landfills, two vital infrastructure components that will be decided not by a local council but the new division in An Bord Pleanála. Major concerns are emerging over this provision among local communities and local authorities. It is a contentious issue because no one wants an incinerator or landfill in their back yard. If local people cannot have an input into the planning process, they will see their local councillors as being irrelevant. I accept that, under the Bill, local councillors can, within ten weeks of an application being launched, make a submission to the special division of An Bord Pleanála. However, that is just a submission. Apart from that, a local authority will have little input into the final decision whether approval is given for an incinerator or landfill. This will result in a deficit of accountability from which problems will arise.

I welcome the inclusion of coastal works to combat erosion and maritime works capable of altering the coast through the construction of dykes, moles, jetties and other sea defence works, where in each case the length of coastline on which the works would take place would exceed 1 km. Vital coastal works have been held up before because of frivolous objections. The community gain aspect provision must also be welcomed. Where developers carry out major infrastructural works such as roads, for example, a small provision of 1% is made for the arts. The community gain aspect is an extension of that provision. For example, where landfills are provided, the community in which it is based should be entitled to better roads. As most landfills are provided in scenic areas, the developer should provide walkways and picnic areas. Under this provision, the developer can also make contributions to community centres and local sports organisations.

The Bill will fast-track the planning process for major infrastructural projects, which is a positive aspect. Shannon LNG, an Irish subsidiary of Hess LNG Limited, has entered the initial stages of providing a major development which will help secure Ireland's long-term supply of natural gas. The company has entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with Shannon Development for 281 acres of the 600-acre agency-owned land bank between Tarbert and Ballylongford, County Kerry. Subject to feasibility studies, technical assessments and planning and other approvals, the project will become a €400 million LNG receiving terminal. I welcome the provisions contained in the Bill that will facilitate and fast-track this proposal, as there was concern locally that it could take five years from the announcement of the project to its completion. I hope the Bill will help to fast-track the process.

Liquid natural gas, LNG, is natural gas that has been cooled to a very low temperature, -160° centigrade, at which point it becomes a liquid. It is stored and transported in insulated tanks at normal atmospheric pressure like a cold drink in a Thermos flask. Liquifying natural gas reduces its volume by more than 600 times which makes it manageable for storage and transportation. LNG is produced primarily in places where large gas reserves have been discovered but where the location is often too distant from markets to economically transport the gas by pipeline. Natural gas is liquified at these locations and loaded on LNG tankers. LNG export sources include Algeria, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Oman and Trinidad. LNG exports are also planned from a number of other countries, including Norway, Russia and Venezuela.

As natural gas is the most environmentally friendly fossil fuel, over the past two decades it has become a global fuel of choice for electricity generation, other industrial energy consumption, home heating and cooking. For many years the Kinsale Head gas field was Ireland's only source of natural gas. However, this field is nearly exhausted. In recent years the UK North Sea was the primary supply source but its supply too is rapidly becoming depleted. Some industry forecasts predict the UK will be importing over half of its natural gas needs by 2011 from remote fields in Russia, Algeria, Norway and elsewhere. Because Ireland imports 85% of its natural gas requirements from the UK and given that the UK source is under pressure, I hope we will be able to provide our own source of natural gas in the Shannon Estuary and that the Bill will facilitate this process.

The promoters of the project were unaware of this proposed legislation and they anticipated it would take a number of years to go through the planning process in Kerry County Council. In his reply, I would appreciate if the Minister would refer to this development which is the most exciting for some time in this country. In one sense, it justifies the Bill.

Port development is another matter to which I wish to refer. A number of alarming conclusions emerged in the recent survey by Indecon International Economic Consultants of a number of Irish ports. Due to recent developments in shipping and the increase in the size of ships we need a bigger draught in our harbours to facilitate the new super liners. In the previous national development plan, a total of €80 million was spent on ports although the required amount was €330 million. That spend was totally inadequate. Not one Irish port can handle a ship requiring an 11 m draught.

I hope this Bill will expedite port development when proposals on strategic infrastructural development in our ports come before the special division of An Bord Pleanála. Exporters have expressed major concern at the lack of proper port facilities. It is important to be mindful of ports in terms of strategic infrastructure.

I am sure Deputy Ring will also refer to local planning. I have heard him express concern in the House on several occasions about this issue. While the Bill does not refer to structures for planning at local level it does touch on the role of local planners and councillors. Most politicians hold the view that the local planning system does not measure up to the expectations of applicants, local councillors and the community in general.

In rural areas especially there is major concern and disillusionment with the planning process. That has manifested itself in various ways. For example, next Monday an emergency motion will be considered by Kerry County Council which calls for an emergency meeting to discuss planning in the county. It was not unusual for in the region of 60 sections 140 to be discussed by Kerry County Council on Mondays. A moratorium was imposed on sections 140 and councillors tried to be as practical, reasonable and responsible as possible. However, councillors are now becoming frustrated and we could well be faced with a proliferation of sections 140 yet again.

The system appears to be breaking down due to a lack of proper pre-planning and consistency. Up to seven area planners can operate in the county and each gives planning permission for a different type and standard of house. In one area, two-storey houses will not be allowed while in another area, dormer houses are not allowed. In spite of that, one can see new two-storey houses built in scenic areas on elevated ground in parts of the county. There is total inconsistency among planners in County Kerry. When one drives to Dublin one can see houses on elevated sites on the N21, the main road from Abbeyfeale to Limerick. Examples of this approach to planning can also be seen elsewhere around the country.

I recall one planner who took the approach that if a house could be seen from any angle within a one or two mile radius, he would not give planning for it. He used the posts of the house as an indicator and if he could see them through his binoculars from any part of the landscape within two miles he did not grant planning permission. However, the opposite view could be taken in another county. The planning system is in a shambles.

When the Fianna Fáil Party had its summer get-together a few years ago at a time when this matter was topical, the Taoiseach announced that guidelines would be introduced to resolve rural planning. These guidelines have not had the desired impact. General standards should be set down for house planning that take different local landscapes and amenity areas into account. If that does not happen we will continue to have a problem with planning. It is becoming a major issue in counties Meath and Kildare that are on the periphery of Dublin and are taking the population overspill from the city. It is also an issue in scenic counties such as Kerry and Mayo.

Local people whose families have lived in a village or community for three or four generations are being forced to move elsewhere because they cannot get planning permission to build homes on their own land. This point has been made by various Members in the debate. This Bill is not concerned solely with local planning and some further legislation is required to address the number of planning application refusals in rural areas. This causes great frustration and puts enormous pressure on young families in particular. Some young couples with small children are obliged to live with their parents or in rented accommodation because they cannot get planning permission to build a house on their parents' land. There are many stresses involved in modern family life, with both parents often obliged to work to meet large mortgage payments and the costs of their children's education. The inability to secure planning permission is an added stress.

A new system should be established whereby local authorities would adopt a pre-planning function, with increased accessibility to planners and greater consultation between the applicant, planner and agent. There should be a central role for councillors, who are currently effectively excluded from the process because they cannot access information.

I welcome the general thrust of the Bill because its provisions will be of assistance to certain persons in my constituency and others in similar situations elsewhere. However, I am concerned that it may give rise to a democratic deficit given that local councillors will no longer have any significant role to play in regard to some major issues. They will be able to make comments and observations but will have no effective influence. The Bill serves to centralise planning of major projects at a time when we are concerned with decentralisation. In terms of the power of local councils, however, we are moving in the opposite direction. The legislation will have some positive effects but the question of a potential democratic deficit must be addressed by the Minister.

I do not support this dangerous Bill, which provides evidence that the State is becoming a dictatorship. The time has come for people to march in the streets in protest at the denial of their rights in a range of areas. I am reminded of a disagreement I had with the Mayo county manager in regard to the provision of halting sites. I told the manager I would welcome a halting site beside my home as soon as he did the same. It goes without saying that such a site has never been and never will be constructed beside a county manager's house. The same principle applies to this legislation. Everybody is eager to support infrastructural development so long as it does not happen close to their homes.

This is the most dangerous legislation that has ever come before the House because it seeks to deprive people of the power to make observations and objections in regard to planning matters. We are told its provisions relate only to critical infrastructure but we can be certain it will only be critical for developers. Evidence from successive tribunals indicates who this Bill will ultimately benefit. In time, another Minister will introduce additional legislation that will further expand the provisions of this Bill to ensure developers are making enough money and paying enough of it to politicians. Developers may eventually be given such extensive powers that they will no longer require planning permission for building projects. This is dangerous legislation and it should be opposed. I hope my party will join me in opposing it because the public does not support its provisions. The time has come for us to stand up and be counted.

With each Bill we pass in this House it seems we are taking power from the people, in the person of the Minister, and handing it to faceless people who have never stood for election. Members of An Bord Pleanála and departmental officials were not elected and are not accountable to the people in the same way as politicians. We will ask the public to re-elect us next year but we must ask ourselves what function we serve. This House is only a talking shop and its Members no longer have any power. The same applies to local authorities. The public, however, wants us to reclaim that power even though it has undoubtedly been abused by Ministers and others in the past. Instead of making heroes out of such people, we must deal with them effectively. I am sickened by what goes on every day.

I am pro-planning in that I am generally supportive of development. However, I will give an example from my constituency to illustrate the problems with the planning system. Last year, a major garage in Westport successfully applied to Mayo County Council for planning permission to construct a new premises on a national primary road. At the same time, a young couple was refused planning permission to build a house some 100 yd. away. I raised this issue repeatedly until the council eventually agreed that a second application by the couple would be successful. After securing the approval of the council for this second application, however, the young couple was then faced with an objection from the National Roads Authority, NRA, lodged at 4 p.m. on the last day. I telephoned the authority and asked how it could object to this application when it had no difficulty with the construction of a garage on the same road. I received no satisfactory response.

It seems certain that somebody was corrupt in this process. There is no consistency in regard to such decisions. It makes no sense that the NRA should find a house accessed regularly by one or two cars more objectionable than a garage accessed by perhaps 200 vehicles. I support the construction of that garage but I also insist on consistency in the planning process. Will the Minister contact the NRA and ask it to withdraw the objection to this young couple's planning application? This may be their only opportunity to acquire their own home because they cannot afford to buy a site in Westport. The Minister must challenge the NRA on its inconsistency in this matter.

It is important that we discover why this happened. Why were the interests of big business accommodated while those of a young couple were thwarted? There must have been corruption. If there is a genuine reason, I would like to know what it is.

The Chair would prefer if Deputy Ring did not use the word "corruption".

I have to use it. Can the Ceann Comhairle explain why the NRA objected to the planning application of this young couple but granted permission to the garage? That must be corruption and I will name it as such. Why did it happen?

It is not appropriate to make such a charge in the House.

I will not withdraw it until I have been given a valid reason. When an answer is provided I will come into the House——

I ask the Deputy to listen to the Chair. It is not appropriate to use the word "corruption" in this House unless it can be substantiated, just as is the case outside the House.

I will come into the House and withdraw the charge when the NRA explains why it objected to this young couple's application but had no difficulty with that of the garage. If the NRA can provide a reasonable justification, I will offer an apology in this Chamber. I will not retract my statement now, however, because what took place is wrong and I want to know why it was done.

It is to be hoped the Bill may be useful in regard to the development of quarries. I am aware of situations in Ballina and Swinford where the best the Minister could tell people who objected to such developments was to get independent legal advice. How can we expect an individual to take on big business and why should they have to do so? A system should be in place to accommodate objections and observations in such cases. Every local authority is supposed to have an enforcement section. I do not see it working. The Ombudsman, a number of years ago, pointed out that enforcement was very much needed but the only people who local authorities attack are small individuals who perhaps add a small extension to their houses. When such people are caught, they are threatened with court proceedings. However, local authorities do not deal in the same way with big businesses or quarry operations. This must be dealt with in legislation if we are serious about this Bill. We must also deal with existing legislation in this area.

The Government and the Minister have spoken about the need to get crucial infrastructure through the planning process. However, we already have what is probably the greatest piece of infrastructure in this country, namely our railways. Despite this, Iarnród Éireann, which runs the rail network on behalf of the State, has not managed to maintain its contract with the Guinness group and is losing much of the business it has. The Guinness barrels that were once transported by rail are now transported throughout the country by road, despite the fact that the roads are already in crisis because of congestion. Members of the Government lecture us about the importance of fast-tracking critical infrastructure while at the same time we have crucial infrastructure in place that is not being used. No Minister is taking this issue on board and I do not understand that.

Deputy Deenihan, who spoke about local authorities and planning, was quite correct when he said that people were frustrated with the planning process. Two years ago Fianna Fáil and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government sent instructions to local authorities which have not been obeyed. The time has now come to give elected representatives an input into the planning process. It is not right that locally elected representatives are blamed for the planning process even though they have no say in it. It is the managers and staff in the planning offices who decide on planning applications.

If we are serious about planning, local authorities and giving power to local government, it is time to put some mechanism in place to give locally elected representatives an opportunity at least to express a view on a planning application submitted to a council. Whether permission will be refused or granted, local representatives should be able to make observations on the application. The situation has gone from one extreme to the other. Power has been taken from local authority members and given to officials with the result that nobody has a say in the process. Something must be done to address this.

I meet people daily who are frustrated with the process. As with the National Roads Authority, they are frustrated with the inconsistency of local authorities. In my constituency, a large house has been built along the shore. Other people have applied for planning permission to build along the shore but have been refused. When they see the house that has been built there, they ask how the owner obtained planning permission. They wonder at the reason for that. I will not put the details on the record of the House because the Ceann Comhairle will stop me, but I can tell anyone, privately, who wants to know why the planning permission was obtained. I can tell people where the owner worked and how he obtained the permission. It is wrong. The same planning rules should apply to everybody. If Joe Soap cannot build on the shore, nobody else should be allowed to either.

Inconsistency is the main problem with the planning process. A person applies for planning permission but is refused. Six months later, another person applies for permission for a nearby site and is granted permission. That is what creates problems. This Government will have to examine the area of one-off houses and do something with the planning system.

People who had to leave this country when times were hard are coming home and seeking permission to build a house on their own land but are being refused. If farmers want to sell a site to educate their children, they should be given permission to do so. They should be able to sell an asset if they so wish. The Government and the European Union have destroyed farming and pushed people, including farmers, off the land. The only asset farmers have is their land but they cannot even sell sites to others to build a number of houses to educate their families or provide themselves with a few euro to live, given that the agriculture sector in this country has been destroyed. Increasing numbers of people are leaving the land because they cannot make a living from it.

We must have clear instructions on who can build in this country. Young people are not asking the State for something for nothing. They are not asking the State to buy a site or build a house for them. All they ask for is an assurance that if they buy a site, they will obtain planning permission easily.

I spoke to a lady a number of days ago who was very frustrated with the system. She has three children and is expecting a fourth. Her planner had two pre-planning meetings with the local council and submitted a planning application. The council sought further information and by the time all of the required work was done, the process had cost the woman €10,500. Last week planning permission was refused, despite the fact that two pre-planning meetings were held and €10,500 was spent. She was not asking the State for anything. All she wanted was to build a house for her family. She is from the local area and did not come from elsewhere. She is frustrated and upset but she does not blame the planners. She blames the politicians because they are the people who are elected and expected to do something for local people. She was not looking for something for nothing or for favours. All she wanted was to build a house on her own land. It is wrong that she cannot do so and something will have to be done with this issue.

Deputy Deenihan referred to section 4 motions. I was a member of a local authority for many years. I do not like section 4 motions and I do not want to see their use returning. However, today's councillors are becoming increasingly frustrated and will start tabling section 4 motions which will result in bad planning . Powerful people will again be able to exert pressure on councillors to table such motions. I would prefer to see a situation where councillors work with planners and local authorities to develop a fairer system so that people are given an opportunity to build and find it easy to obtain planning permission.

People are getting frustrated and upset. I assure the Minister that they will become more vocal between now and May of next year. Two years ago, people filled halls throughout my constituency and I can see that happening again soon. People are frustrated with the planning process. They want to see something done to make the procedure easier. I am not saying that we should allow people to destroy the countryside by building in every corner and scenic spot. However, I have seen planning permission being refused for sites that one would wonder at anybody wanting to live on. Nonetheless, that is their business and perhaps it is the only land they have or can afford. The site might be their only opportunity to build a house and it is wrong that they are pushed aside and not given a chance to set up a home for their families.

We must strengthen the existing planning laws rather than introducing this Bill, which will bring about more development. Of course, we are all in favour of development and of badly needed roads, but we do not want a situation where people who have genuine concerns are not given an opportunity to object. We cannot expect the ordinary citizen to be able to take on the State, local authorities, the National Roads Authority or the Government, to hire lawyers and to go court. However, that will happen because people will be forced to do so to protect their land, themselves, their families and their homes.

We want to see the development of critical infrastructure in a timely manner. We have seen road projects held up by snails. In my constituency, a development at Moore Hall is being held up because of the discovery of a species of bat that has not been seen for approximately 100 years. The bat is holding up the entire development process. That kind of ridiculous situation must be dealt with. There must be a way of protecting an animal without halting an entire development.

We do not want a situation where people who have genuine concerns or complaints are left feeling that they cannot raise objections or do anything to halt a development. We cannot allow the Government to decide that a development is critical infrastructure and then ensure that developers, builders or landowners get planning permission and get paid quickly while people who are concerned about their own rights, homes and families have no way to object or do not have the resources to do so. We must be careful how we deal with this legislation, it would be wrong if we did nothing to ensure these people are protected. The planning laws are creating problems and people are frustrated. We are taking powers from elected representatives and handing them to managers and now to An Bord Pleanála. Responsibility has been handed over to bodies like the National Roads Authority and the Health Service Executive and now An Bord Pleanála will be responsible and elected representatives will not be able to observe, object or support. That is wrong. What now happens when we table a parliamentary question? The Minister tells us he or she has no responsibility. We have a responsibility because we are elected to this House; we are the legislators. The Minister of the day is responsible. If we ask a question it should be answered in the House.

We should not be frustrated as we are now by the system. The time has come to give power back to elected representatives. Power comes with responsibility and if elected representatives break the law they should be dealt with, without tribunals going on for years, costing a fortune. We are no further along with them than we were five years ago. We must legislate to ensure elected representatives who break the law are dealt with swiftly. I am not happy about the removal of powers from elected representatives by the nanny State and the dictatorship in this country. The powers are being taken away from the people and the dictators are dictating on a daily basis. That is dangerous and the people will respond next May. They are waiting to speak and they will do so loudly and clearly at the next general election.

Something must be done about the planning process because people are sick and tired of what is going on. People work hard, they do not ask the State for anything, they apply for planning permission and they are frustrated for nine or ten weeks. After going through that process to find that they might be refused is even more frustrating and costs people money. Something must be done.

My constituency may not be affected by this legislation, given that the county has been bypassed in so many directions, with bypasses to the north, along the N7 in the centre and now in the south along the N9 and N10. That is almost every road that can go through the constituency.

Many towns have been bypassed but the effect on those towns was not considered. There have been huge increases in traffic but the NRA left the local authorities to develop the internal infrastructure. Leixlip, Celbridge, Naas, Newbridge, Athy, and Kilcullen are all totally frustrated due to the lack of proper infrastructure and the Government must look at this. The local authorities are not in a position to provide the funding necessary for the infrastructure to allow these towns to develop in response to the huge recent increases in population.

Kildare has the fastest growing population outside Dublin and nothing has been done to provide proper infrastructure. Local authorities must provide funding for this. Often we depend on developers to kick start growth as part of their planning and through the levies they must pay. The Government must look at this. Where major planning and development takes place, we must look at the effect it has on the towns and villages being bypassed. They have major problems as a result of bypasses. It may be better for the town or the village but it must be examined and the local authorities must be given funding to ensure proper infrastructure is provided.

In Athy a link road was provided as part of the development of the new M9 and M10. Despite numerous meetings with the NRA, where we said the road was in the wrong place and did not take account of the traffic problems in Athy, we could not convince the NRA to terminate the road south of the town, where it would have linked with the roads to Carlow, Kilkenny and Castledermot, relieving the town of its traffic problems. Amazingly, not only was the road not terminated where local representatives wanted, it was put through the one area zoned for industrial development. It was unbelievable. The local development plan was not consulted to determine where that land was. One of the engineers involved had the audacity to tell me that not alone was it a great decision to put the road through the zoned land but that in time it will be a dual carriageway, intimating that the land is of no industrial benefit. Nothing will happen because the land around the link road is protected to provide for a dual carriageway.

We can see what happens in instances like this. The overall picture is almost always of benefit to the towns being bypassed, but with more thought and investigation, it could be of far greater benefit. The NRA should consider that instead of drawing a line from A to B and saying the road must go there. That is what happened in the example I gave. No one with a logical mind would have finished that road where it was terminated given the problems of the town and the opportunity this presented to alleviate traffic volumes. There has been ongoing argument regarding whether there should be an inner relief road or an outer one. That was not the determination in this case, since there was total support from local businesspeople, the town council and everyone else that the road should terminate outside the town. That would also have had the effect of getting people to use the road.

The amazing thing regarding the site of the link road is that one has two choices approaching that roundabout. Either one goes straight to Dublin, joining the dual carriageway to Kilcullen, or one takes a circuitous route covering an added distance of some miles to reach the carriageway. The ridiculous nature of the situation compounds the lack of investigation into this matter by the NRA. It had an ideal opportunity to help the town and community, but it simply acted without any investigation. I maintain that it did not even examine the land zoned for development. If it had done so, it would certainly not have put a road right through it.

We have had a great deal of discussion on planning issues in general too, and a largescale debate is ongoing regarding rural housing. In local newspapers in recent days there has been controversy, and several councillors raised a motion at council that a review of rural housing policy should be undertaken, despite the fact that those same councillors had voted for it within the last few months. They did so with absolute sincerity, believing the new regulations would address the problems of rural housing. They had everyone's full support, some 24 councillors voting in favour and one against. Now, after a short period, they have had to reopen the debate owing to the lack of consistency in how rural housing policy as determined by the planning section of Kildare County Council is being addressed.

It is unbelievable that, in such a short period, the integrity that they felt would be achieved regarding the planning process has been undermined. In the same report, practically every councillor made the point that it was not what they had voted for. At the same time, the director of planning services in Kildare said the plan was working well. Regarding those divergent views, it is unthinkable that 24 councillors could vote for something and, within a short period, feel it necessary to change it, while the man dealing with the files could maintain there was consistency and that the plan was working well.

Someone is wrong, and I doubt if it is the councillors in this case. We must re-examine and reframe rural housing policy, since councillors have not received the goodwill that they thought they would when they made the original decision. There is no doubt about that, since there were counter-motions at the time, but the council decided on this framework. Moving forward with it, every planner thought that he had made the best decision for the people of south Kildare and those aiming to provide rural housing in the area for themselves. That did not happen, and now we see councillors trying to change the policy's format.

We also see the frustrations that have developed as a result. In south Kildare there is a haemorrhaging of industrial employment. We have seen that recently and will do so again in the next few days. One of the stalwarts of the agriculture industry, Minch Norton, is now proposing to make workers redundant. We have also seen it with the sugar companies. The entire south Kildare area is suffering a loss of industrial employment, a process that has continued for some time. I could go on at length regarding industries lost to south Kildare over the period without anything being replaced. A factory that the IDA brought in to replace one whose employees were made redundant has itself closed.

Despite all that and the fact the IDA has not brought a group to south Kildare in three years, those who seek a rural house are penalised owing to their having to work in Dublin. When people write that on their application, it rings a death-knell. The planning section in Kildare County Council believes that such people should buy houses in Dublin and abandon their commitment to the local community.

In that regard, we see the justifiable frustration that has developed, and I fully support the changes being sought. It is a catch-22, since industrial employment has fallen in south Kildare, although there may be more service jobs, hence the need to seek employment in the city. That has been IDA policy for a long time. It adopted it from America, where it is irrelevant if one has to travel an hour and a half to one's employment. That theory is blown out of the water when decent, honourable people owing to circumstances must travel to Dublin to seek employment. The moment they write on their applications that they are employed in Dublin, the opinion is advanced that they should be able to buy there too.

One can see how ridiculous that is. Many of the villages in south Kildare are now being developed, and people from Dublin are coming to live in them. They are more than welcome to do so, since they have helped develop communities. I have been involved in and seen that happen everywhere. Having purchased houses, they commute to Dublin without any problems, but people in rural parts of the county are punished as a result.

The fee is not the most important thing, rather it is the thought that public representatives must pay to represent those who have elected them. It is crazy to think we have taken that route. This is a further mechanism, and the efforts of local authorities will be reduced overall. That is the source of the frustration. I doubt if anyone in the House would say to those attending that they must pay €20. It is degrading to the person involved that when he or she visits the council offices, there is a €20 fee. They represent those who elected them, but they must pay to do so. It really gets up my nose that such a system is in place, although the level of the fee itself is irrelevant.

I will examine section 37E, which states that members of local authorities may make a submission on any proposal that comes before the board. Subsection (6) reads as follows:

The members of the planning authority may, by resolution, decide to attach recommendations specified in the resolution to the report of the authority; where the members so decide those recommendations shall be attached to the report submitted to the Board undersubsection (4).

The next part is what worries me, although I may have misinterpreted it:

In addition to the report referred to insubsection (4), the Board may, where it considers it necessary to do so, require the planning authority or authorities referred to in that subsection or any planning authority or authorities on whose area or areas it would have a significant effect to furnish to the Board such information in relation to the effects of the proposed development on the proper planning and sustainable development of the area concerned and on the environment as the Board may specify.

Does this refer to the executive of the planning authority or its members? It is important to clarify this because we are talking about two different aspects of submissions.

If one reflects upon what I have said about the present development plan and where there is a diversity of opinion among the members — 24 members as opposed to the director of services — it is likely that the same could happen in respect of submissions made by members of the planning authority as opposed to those of the executive members of the planning authority. This would have a significant bearing on what the representatives could say to members of their own party, chambers of commerce and the public, who would have an interest in this. If this were to happen, it would undermine the report they put together and voted on. Perhaps when the Minister of State sums up, he will clarify whether section 7 deals with the executive of the planning authority or additions made by its members to their submissions to the original proposal.

Development in respect of toll roads will result in major problems in respect of existing roads which will now be changed. The introduction of a toll road will bring about a rat run on the road from Kilcullen to Athy in south Kildare. This road will change from a national primary road to a county road when the new road comes into operation. The cost of maintaining it will remain the same because it will take years before the toll road comes into operation and, if a toll appears on the other road, people from south Kilkenny, north Laois and south Kildare will continue to use existing means of accessing the dual carriageway rather than the link road that has been provided owing to the original mistake. This was an infrastructural mistake because the determination of the road was not positioned south of Athy.

One wonders about the design of such a road. The original plan involved three options but one wonders whether they really existed. It appears that the other two designs had no bearing on what happened, that the National Roads Authority had one opinion from the outset and the other opinions did not reflect any political input and ideas that other towns in south Kildare would benefit from the proximity of the road. The link road was built as an alternative. I have spoken about the problems caused by this road. It will not equate with the value the NRA has put on it because it will ensure in future that people must travel further to get on to the dual carriageway. I am concerned by the input that submissions by local authority members will have. Perhaps the Minister of State will clarify this when he sums up.

Níor shíl mé go mbeadh an deis agam labhairt ar an mBille seo, agus mé chomh gnóthach sin le rudaí eile sa Teach. Tá sé go hiontach go bhfuil an deis agam.

Ba chóir go n-aistarraingfí an Bille seo sa chéad dul síos toisc go bhfuil sé i gcoinne an daonlathais. Is minic sa Teach seo agus lasmuigh de a thugtar léachtanna dúinne i Sinn Féin mar gheall ar dhaonlathas, amhail is go dtuigfeadh Fianna Fáil, nó an Páirtí Daonlathach ach go háirithe cad atá i gceist. Bunaithe ar an mBille seo agus roinnt de na cinn eile atá curtha chun cinn ag an Rialtas ó toghadh mé, ní thuigeann siad daonlathas. Seans go dtuigeann siad é ach go bhfuil siad go huile is go hiomlán ina choinne. Tá an Rialtas ag cur na mBillí seo chun cinn le fáil réidh le guth daonlathach an phobail i gcásanna mar seo. In áit cur leis an daonlathas agus le guth an phobail, tá an Rialtas á bhaint uathu.

This Bill aims to facilitate the ramming through of unwanted infrastructural projects that have been continually opposed by communities. The Bill has the potential to allow a nuclear power station to be built if the Government so wishes. A Government spokesperson has claimed that this is scaremongering.

It is scaremongering because the Bill specifically states that it is not Government policy to introduce nuclear power.

I did not say it was Government policy.

It is written in law.

I said that this Bill would allow for it.

How can this happen if the legislation specifically states that it is not Government policy to introduce nuclear power?

The Minister of State should relax. The Government wishes to see this Bill passed because it allows for this particular size of generating station. The Government will be forced to change another law but this is not beyond the realms of possibility. This Bill allows for this. I am not scaremongering or alleging that nuclear power will be introduced in the morning. I am merely arguing that there is a plan of action. Certain people are making plans for the future. My opinion is that these are still bad plans. We need only remember the attempt by the founder of Fianna Fáil's partner in Government, Des O'Malley, when he was a Fianna Fáil Minister to ram through a nuclear power station at Carnsore Point in Wexford. It was only because of the democratic voice of the people of Ireland who took to the streets in protest that this action was prevented.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh is being mischievous.

I am not being mischievous. I am merely saying that this is a potential result of this Bill. It will allow for infrastructural developments to be fast-tracked. The Bill talks about an industrial installation for the production of electricity, steam or hot water with a heat output of 300 MW or more. What could produce such an output but a facility such as that mentioned by me?

Twice in his speech, the Minister stated categorically stated that nuclear power would not be introduced in Ireland.

We will park this issue and agree to differ.

The Minister of State is free not to agree to differ with me if he wishes. The Bill contains the provision to which I referred and allows facilities that are far beyond anything else bar facilities to which I have referred.

Critical infrastructure, which is now referred to as strategic infrastructure, would allow incinerators — they are called thermal power stations — landfills and other major developments, such as motorways, daft pipelines and the like. We must examine the history of planning and the abuse thereof in this State to determine what is behind this. As the Government has not got its way, it has decided to bypass a system that, while flawed, at least gave the public a voice and an opportunity to prevent developments detrimental to their communities, the environment and good planning for the future.

Without getting into specifics at this stage, it would have been sufficient to build most current motorway developments as dual carriageways. Motorways cost more and the companies employed to build them are obviously friends of the Government, because these developments have been rammed through time and again without proving their value for money. If the same amount was spent on bringing our rail network up to scratch and investing in public transport as has been spent on motorways, we would have a better transport system.

This Bill is meant to bypass communities and allow for such motorways to be built at a quicker pace. Other than bringing cars into the traffic jams in Dublin, Cork or other cities now suffering the consequences of our motorcar culture, why would one want to build motorways at a quicker pace? They are facilitated because most of the plans are for toll roads run by the private sector. This says it all. I will return to the issue of motorways agus an damáiste a dhéantar don trédhearcacht agus don oidhreacht.

Another issue covered by the Bill is that of vital gas or oil pipelines. We have no control over our natural resources now that Fianna Fáil has sold them to the highest bidder. Actually, there were no bids and nothing, bar the money for the licence, was given. We facilitated the likes of Shell by giving it our gas and ramming a pipeline through County Mayo and the rest of the country to the detriment and endangerment of communities. The Rossport five and other campaigners highlighted all of the dangers.

The Government is facilitating the private sector again so we can buy back at market value gas that is already on our shores. The Government threw away our right to our natural resources. This is a bizarre infrastructural decision that will probably occur more often, as there are a number of wells other than that off Rossport that will land gas and oil. I call on the Government to address the licensing issue and ensure the people control our wealth and natural resources. Pipelines are vital in terms of infrastructure, but a pipeline can move, be put where it is appropriate and made safer. We could ensure that communities are not at risk and receive most of the benefits of these gas and oil finds. They are on the west coast where successive Governments have never made proper investments.

The motorway issue clearly shows the dangers of this type of legislation which would, in many ways, bypass opportunities for communities and individuals to raise concerns about developments by speeding up the process. It would bypass the ability to put together a proper case in connection with, for example, Tara, the M3 and Carrickmines, where areas of archaeological and historical value were and are being destroyed in favour of progress.

Communities suggested alternatives to the Government's planned motorway that cost the same or were cheaper than it. When someone produces a cheaper or more logical alternative and it is rejected, the underlying reason for the plan is always called into question. When alternative routes were produced for the M3, why were they not taken on board in the interest of saving money and preserving our heritage for future generations? There is a hint of corruption when such occurs. We need only examine what has emerged at tribunals in recent years to see the culture underlying many planning decisions.

For this reason, any Bill that lessens democratic accountability and the opportunity for communities to make complaints, raise issues and increase awareness about their cases concerns me. In most cases, communities do so at a disadvantage. They do not have the funds, planners and architects that the Government or big developers have. They are already hampered, but the Government is trying to hamper them even further through this Bill.

There has always been bad planning on this island. We do not have a proper plan for the future, as the national development plan has not worked properly and the national spatial strategy is being ignored lock, stock and barrel by local authorities and the Government, according to its decentralisation plan. We need proper planning so we can plan installations for the future, the democratic shift and how to deal with traffic. We cannot continue to put more cars on the road and build more motorways to get those cars to traffic jams. We need to plan for our schools and, in particular, to ensure estates are completed to the satisfaction of buyers, residents and the local authorities that must service them.

In terms of transport, bad planning is obvious in the closure of railway lines during the past decade. Investment in the railways rather than in motorways to serve Dublin would have served us much better. A mess has been made of planning on this island but strategic infrastructure legislation offering so-called solutions is now being rushed through. This Bill has the potential to create bigger problems for us into the future.

Caithfidh muinín a bheith ag an bpobal sa phróiséas pleanála. Faoi láthair, tá an muinín sin ag maolú de shíor. Diaidh ar ndiaidh, tá anpobal ag éirí tinn tuirseach de troid de shíor i gcoinne rachmasóirí agus lucht forbairt gur cuma sa tsioc leo faoin bpobal. An rud atá i gceist acu ná an méid is mó airgid agus is féidir a bhaint as an talamh atá acu. Tá cead acu é sin a dhéanamh, dar ndóigh. Is é sin an chóras atá againn. Ba chóir go mbeadh an Stáit agus na húdaráis áitiúla ag seasamh leis an bpobal agus ag déanamh cinnte de go bhfuil plean maith i gceist. Níor chóir dúinn a bheith ag pleanáil le hárasáin de shíor mar atáimid faoi láthair i mo cheantar. Tá bloc 47 stór ar airde le tógáil ar Shráid Thomáis. A building of 47 storeys in one of the most historical parts of this city is being planned at the moment. It is not a community facility but a business facility, a 360-bed hotel. We do not need to go to the skies to facilitate housing in this city. Níl mise ná an pobal áitiúl sásta le bloc 47 stór ar airde.

Mar a dúirt mé, níl an muinín ceart ag an bpobal sa phróiséas pleanála. Ní gá ach dul siar trí na blianta ar cad a tharla nuair a chuaigh na daoine ar na sráideanna ar picéid nó ag máirseáil i gcás Cé an Adhmaid, nó Wood Quay. Creid nó ná creid, is cuimhin liom an máirseáil sin. Is cuimhin liom chomh maith an máirseáil nuair a bhí Teach Frascati á ghabháil, roimh an máirseáil maidir le Cé an Adhmaid. Bhrúigh siad bóthar tríd an cheantar ina raibh teach mór tábhachtach ó thaobh stair na hÉireann de. Bhí ceangal idir an teach agus imeachtaí 1798 agus imeachtaí eile roimhe sin. Cad a tharla i gCarraig Mhaighin? Cad atá ag tarlú i dTeamhair? Cad atá ag tarlú thar na blianta sa chathair seo, áit ina scriosadh tithe Seoirseacha in ionad iad a chaomhnú? Ba chóir iad a thabhairt do dhaoine a bhí sásta aire a thabhairt dóibh, nó do theaghlaigh a bhí sásta fanacht iontu agus cónaí i lár na cathrach.

Caithfimid a bheith cúramach i gcónaí ó thaobh pleanáil de. Measaim gurb iad na binsí fiosrúcháín, agus an méad atá á nochtú iontu lá i ndiaidh lae, an léiriú is mó den fáth go bhfuil gá orainn a bheith cúramach ó thaobh an chóras pleanála de. Tá mé ag caint mar gheall ar an tslí ina ghlac iad siúd a bhí i gceannas ar an gcóras breabanna ar son na rachmasóirí. Tá teipthe ar an chóras sin. Ní féidir le daoine clúdaigh donna a fháil mar a dhein siad roimhe seo. Tá siad ag casadh an chóras ar bealach eile, áfach, chun a dhéanamh cinnte de go bhfuil na rachmasóirí is fearr leo, nó an lucht forbairt is fearr leo, in ann an méid airgid is mó a dhéanamh as talamh na hÉireann chomh tapaidh agus is féidir leo. Is é sin an fáth go bhfuil deifir ar an mBille seo.

Ní thaitníonn cinnithe an phobail leis an Rialtas. Buaitear ar an Rialtas i gcás nó dhó anois is arís. Is fíor-annamh go mbuann an pobal i gcásanna pleanála. Ní gá go bhfuil an pobal mícheart, áfach. Ba chóir don Rialtas glacadh leis gur minic a bhíonn an pobail i gceart — níos minicí ná mar a bhíonn an Rialtas i gceart. Má tá an Rialtas daonlathach, ba chóir leis seasamh leis an bpobal agus déanamh cinnte de go bhfuil sé ag glacadh leis an aidhm atá aige.

Aontaím le roinnt daoine eile a labhair faoi na NIMBYs. Ní aontaím i gcónaí le NIMBYs, ach tá go leor dóibh sa Rialtas. Ní gá ach díriú isteach ar na hAirí, na Teachtaí McDowell agus Roche, i leith an incinerator. Ní aontaím le incinerators, thermal power stations, thermal treatment plants nó pé rud a glaofar orthu. Ní chóir go mbeimid á thógáil, ach má tá siad maith go leor do cheantar amháin, ba chóir go mbeidís maith go leor do gach cheantar i shlí amháin. Tá go leor NIMBYs ann. Tá an ceart ag na NIMBYs sa chás sin. Deirim "not in my backyard and not in my country" ó thaobh incinerators nó thermal waste management de.

Tá mé go huile is go hiomlán i gcoinne an Bhille seo. In ionad ár am a chaitheamh ag déileáil lena leithéidí seo, ba chóir go mbeadh infheistíocht níos mó ann chun níos mó deontas a thabhairt dóibh siúd atá sásta cur leis an timpeallacht agus cur le húsáid chumhacht athnuacha — a leithéidí solar power agus mar sin de.

I have never been involved in a council so find it difficult to get a grasp of planning procedures. In the past ten or 20 years, we have gone from being an island that for 80 or 90 years had a small business outlook and a narrow approach to an island with a big economy, which is welcome. Only when one visits other places like London or Paris does one recognise that we are still in our infancy in terms of development. We must plan well into the future and, whether Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats are in Government or Fine Gael, we must co-operate so that we continue to develop and can be proud of the facilities we have, be they hospitals, roads, schools, playgrounds etc. While we might differ in some ways, we must ensure that infrastructure is put in place without an unduly lengthy planning process.

Whether it be in Meath, Dublin or any other county, we seem to build everything on top of everything else. The opening of the Ashbourne bypass has created problems in Slane. It is now easy to get through Ashbourne but traffic jams at the cemetery in Slane cause delays that add an hour to the rest of the journey. Nobody could have envisaged that this country would progress in the way it has, but it is a fact and it is crucial that it continues to progress. For the sake of the people and their families who have invested in expensive houses, everybody should work as a team to ensure it does not come to an end.

We must adopt a broader approach and provide the country with an adequate road structure that enables drivers to get to and from destinations quickly. I can drive from some parts of Meath, such as Slane, to the Dáil in an hour and a half, but if I drove in from Navan through Dunshaughlin, I might not arrive until the next day. It is unfortunate that the planning process seems to have come to a halt. The two projects were begun at the same time and one, which was opened by the Taoiseach last week, has been completed with €30 million to spare. We sincerely hope that money will be put toward a bypass of Slane.

In every other county we appear to have to build everything in corners. With farming in decline, there is a considerable amount of land to be developed. In Boston in the US, workplaces seem to have migrated to the country and people drive to work. No one is to blame because nobody could have envisaged the country's economic growth, with emigration turning to immigration and an extra 1 million people predicted to be living here by 2015. To prepare for those future developments, however, we must be ruthless in our thinking. When I was first elected to the Dáil I was told that I would have no input into planning, which is true because Members of the Oireachtas cannot serve as councillors. Nonetheless, one can make phone calls to inquire and most of our work is taken up with planning. Every Sunday morning I spend two or three hours looking at different sites in the county for young people who are seeking planning permission. Deputies represent the people so they should be able to determine what kind of a country we want through the planning process by making representations for someone who wishes to build a house or a factory. What annoys me most, however — I have no doubt it is the same in other counties — is that if one does it the right way by having a pre-planning meeting with the planners and going through the normal funding structures, by the time it comes to submitting the planning application the person one has dealt with may have moved on. This must be examined, particularly in County Meath where there is a massive amount of planning. Unfortunately, personnel changes mean nobody knows who they are dealing with or they cannot get to deal with anyone because people have moved on and their successor will need three or four months to study what has happened.

New factories should be located in the countryside so that more jobs will be located where new roads are being built. There are vast tracts of land on both sides of the M1. It may not happen in my lifetime but I have no doubt that at some stage Dublin and Dundalk will be joined up. Rather than having housing in country areas, work should be created by locating factories there. The new port will be ready and we will have new railway links to Drogheda, Navan and Kingscourt. The Navan-Kingscourt line is intact and was previously used to transport gypsum. For some unknown reason, whether it was a strike in Iarnród Éireann or whatever happened, that line has been lying idle. Infrastructural planning in these areas, using such transport links, will ensure that the building industry will continue to flourish. Construction is our number one industry and one in every three men is employed in that sector. If anything happened to that industry, the emigrant ships would be sailing again, whether Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin or Labour were in charge. If that happened, immigrants would return home and Irish people who have taken out large mortgages would have to consider their options. For those reasons, this Bill is probably the most important to come before the House concerning the development of the country. Ireland is still small and Dublin is only a village compared to other capital cities, so we need not say the city is big enough and has developed as much as it can.

I would like to see realistic plans being put in place, unlike those for the new hospital they are talking about in the north east. I do not understand why it should take nine years to build such a hospital. If one has planning permission on a suitable site, one can build straight away. In nine years' time, however, it will be too late for all the people in the north-east. As it is, we are downgrading the existing hospitals in that area and no money will be invested in them. Many people who could have benefited from a new hospital will be dead in ten years. It could be any of us. Whatever measures are being taken, they should ensure that the proper development strategy is put in place.

Planning and development should be the primary aspect of the legislation. Sometimes, one is better off with a local person who has a better idea on how things should be done than with a top-class planner sitting in an office all day who dictates how it should be done. When the latter method is used nobody knows where they are going.

I welcome some aspects of the Bill. Everyone talks about his own county when it comes to planning issues. On the east coast, nearly 25,000 people are living in the Bettystown, Laytown, Donnycarney and Duleek areas where we have had nothing but houses. There are absolutely no sports facilities and the schools resemble West Bank settlements with nothing but prefabs. I do not wish to be critical of that but money is being spent in bits and pieces. On budget day we are told that all the money we have in the bank is still there, yet people only want simple things such as a proper school for their children and a proper health service. They also want to get from A to B in the shortest time. I do not see much point in holding on to money from one budget to the next. If the money is there it should be spent on the people.

The sooner we broaden the horizons of our education system the better. We all heard the statistics this morning showing that class sizes are exceeding 30 pupils and many classes are held in prefabs. If we can build 300 houses in Laytown, Nobber or Moynalty, new schools should be built nearby together with sports facilities.

Yesterday, the chief executive of the FAI said that sports facilities must be built for men and women to use. Girls must have the same opportunities as boys. I was disgusted by the conditions children have to put up with in some schools. I visited one school in Julianstown which has a 25-year-old prefabricated building. The windows and safety exit are blocked and it is rat infested. I will not start blaming anyone but the Taoiseach or some of his Ministers should be aware of what is going on. Expenditure should not be in bits and pieces. We have the best economy in the world but we should have the best public services also. We built the roads in England and ran America through John F. Kennedy. When we have money in the bank here at home we should not be afraid to spend it on building schools, roads and hospitals. At the end of the day, that is all people want.

The wheeling and dealing that goes on at council level is a funny system. I am glad that I was never involved in it and I do not want to become involved. One just wonders about it at times. Every road must the treated in the same way. People are being killed on all roads. Some 30% of all those accidentally killed die because of poor roads and bad road signs. At the next election, Fine Gael will make this an issue and will seek to make county councils responsible for roads in their areas. An independent audit of roads must be undertaken so that dangerous bends and other hazards can be dealt with. Crossroads must be properly signposted.

I live near the N52 and after doing a bit of work at night in the pub, I find that, come snow or frost, the road is lit up on both sides with yellow markings and in the centre. One can never get lost on that road. Investing in road markings can reduce accidents. More than 740 people were killed in the past six years because of bad roads. There is a great deal of trouble with drink driving, which we can see every day. Travelling to Roscommon last weekend, I saw motorcyclists passing me at high speed. Speeding and drink driving must be curtailed. Regardless of who is in charge, that is the responsibility of the Government. Local councils of whatever political composition must first put in place proper roads. Roads in every county must be properly sign-posted and crossroads must be properly maintained, especially at this time of year. I know a man who is due in court today for cutting grass on a roadside after being asked to do so by his parish priest. It is crucial that grass around signs at crossroads is cut at this time of year because many accidents have occurred in recent weeks.

Given the funding available, we must work together to ensure a road structure is put in place and that more factories are not located in Dublin. To enter Dublin, one must follow lorry after lorry. We must be like Boston and like other cities. We must locate new factories and employment in the countryside — on the M1, the M3, when it is built, and in Cork and Kerry — but not in the cities. The cities should be places where people can visit, with offices and Government buildings.

Some wonder why people are not going to Croke Park at present. It was the biggest mistake ever made by the GAA — I am a GAA man myself — because people can no longer afford to go to Croke Park. It is usually empty and the only time it will be full is for concerts and for the two all-Ireland days when it will be filled with GAA people. This is because it was built in the middle of a city, where parking is not available, when it should have been built on the outskirts of a city, close to a major road, as was done in Paris. People could then get in and out of the ground in ten minutes.

These factors must be considered. It is never too late. We still have the resources, the jobs and a Government. Please God, we will have a different Government next year. Between us all, we will build a country in the same way our people built London, America and other countries. We will have the finest country in the world, with a proper structure of roads, schools and sports facilities for all our children. It is sports facilities that keep children away from the drugs and crime that have been a problem over the years.

The Bill involves a severe diminution of the input by ordinary people — citizens of this State — to the planning process and a diminution of their ability to influence the planning process in a democratic way. The various subsections of section 37A onwards, dealt with in section 3 of the Bill, change An Bord Pleanála from a court of appeal, as it were, to a court of first instance. By any standards, that is a major change in planning legislation in this State. This point needs to be hammered home and highlighted for individuals who are interested in the future development of their communities, neighbourhoods and counties in terms of infrastructural developments.

It is not that I am particularly enamoured of much of the current planning process. However, when a project, especially an important infrastructural project, goes first to a local authority for thorough scrutiny and decision, that very fact brings the decision closer to the communities in the local authority area. While the planning officials make the decision and, indeed, sometimes fly in the face of genuine community interest, nevertheless, when a local authority is making a decision, the community can exercise significant influence through their councillors and also directly on the local authority. The officials of the local authority making the decision are well acquainted with the views of the community and organisations which might be, for example, objecting to or seeking modifications of a major infrastructural project. It is a huge step to remove the first decision on significant projects from the local authority and give it to An Bord Pleanála, which, for ordinary people, is a faceless institution.

Section 37E(4) and (5) provides for a certain input by the local authority, including the elected members, even to the extent of passing a resolution and having that submitted as part of the planning process to An Bord Pleanála. That in no way makes up for the diminution of the input of the community. A resolution by a local authority or remarks made by the elected members in the local council will just be a slip of paper, a few pages at most, in what will be an otherwise massive submission with an enormous amount of detail. In no way will that input by the local authority be of a similar weight to what it otherwise would be if the local authority were the court of first instance for important issues such as this.

We are dealing with major infrastructure — power stations, oil and gas infrastructure, transport terminals, incinerators and other waste disposal facilities. By any standards, these developments will have a major impact on neighbouring communities as well as communities far afield. It is correct that those communities should have a major say in the planning process that applies to them. The Bill removes, weakens and significantly dilutes the influence of local communities with regard to these issues.

The provision for consultation with the infrastructure providers will be read with suspicion by communities and those who have a genuine interest in protecting our environment and in good planning. Those provisions which provide for an infrastructure provider to have discussions with An Bord Pleanála before making an application will be interpreted as allowing for cosy chats behind closed doors between An Bord Pleanála and those who have most to gain from the proposed project. From my reading of the Bill, other groups, such as community groups, environmental groups or good planning groups, could be similarly provided for but undoubtedly those who will in the main have access to An Bord Pleanála for pre-application discussions will be those who seek to develop a major infrastructural project.

Currently, local authorities, even as courts of first instance, can be quite autocratic and bullying in the way they deal with local communities. Last night I debated with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the situation in Pallaskenry-Kildimo where the council is attempting to impose a water supply from a polluted source, the River Deal, on a community which at present has a perfect supply of pure spring water from Bleach Lough. It is an inexplicable decision that is not required for planning reasons. We have not yet discovered the real agenda or the reason for the decision.

This morning I was stunned when it came to light that the contractor employed by Limerick County Council to bring this pipe to Pallaskenry is in flagrant dereliction of the construction industry registered employment agreement pension assurance and sick pay fund. It is not registered in the fund as it is legally obliged to be. The Minister will be aware that it is a requirement of the public tendering process, which this local authority had to go through to award this contract, that every contractor employed by the local authority must be compliant with this agreement. This is a flagrant illegality.

This is the same council that had decent residents on the rack because they were peacefully protesting against the invasion of their community with water they do not want. It brought them before the High Court and required them to obey the law, yet the council is in flagrant breach of the law. I submitted parliamentary questions about this to the Minister's office this morning. I urge the Minister, to whom local authorities are responsible, to conduct an urgent and immediate investigation into how Cro-Bar Construction Limited could be employed by Limerick County Council in flagrant breach of the public tendering process. I look forward to the Minister replying to me on that point and seeking an immediate explanation from Limerick County Council. I am not speaking off the top of my head. This fact was established this morning by those who are at the coalface of the pension scheme in construction.

Diminishing the rights and influence of communities over planning is adding insult to injury. In the greater Dublin area, for example, the corruption scandals in local authorities in the 1980s and 1990s had already diminished the democratic rights of ordinary people by giving them planning decisions that were detrimental to the community. In Dublin west, communities I represent are still suffering from the planning decisions which, as we now know, were made by councillors among whom a significant number were rotten to the core. Communities are stuck with those decisions. It is not a good time, while the tribunals are still sitting, to provide for a further diminution of community input and influence. Cé mhéad ama atá fágtha agam?

Dhá nóiméad, go raibh míle maith agat.

I am not impressed by the provision for community gain. I recall fighting bad planning applications and rezonings in the 1990s where the landowner or developer, to secure a rezoning, would include a community centre or some other type of what I call a poisoned carrot.

The possibility of communities or individuals securing a judicial review with regard to projects is severely restricted by the requirements that before a judicial review is granted the judge must be satisfied, at a preliminary hearing before granting a judicial review, that there are substantial grounds for it and that the applicant has a substantial interest. What is a substantial interest? Will a community that might fear some detrimental effects, environmental or otherwise, be interpreted as having a substantial interest? It is left wide open.

In addition, they might have to give undertakings as to damages. That is a huge blow to the rights or ability of ordinary people to use the court in a last instance situation. This is my last point, a Chathaoirligh.

Seans nár thuig an Teachta mé. Tá sé nóiméad fágtha aige.

Ba é canúint Dhún na nGall nár thuig mé i gceart.

Tá mé ciontach, mar sin.

Níl an Cathaoirleach ciontach in aon chor. Tá gach canúint chomh maith leis an chéad chanúint eile, chomh fada agus a bhaineann sé le muintir Mumhan.

An undertaking that damages for the delay of a project, which is what is involved here, should be underwritten by an ordinary person or community organisation is a crippling blow to people's option of resorting to the courts. Litigation in this country is strictly for the rich. Two and a half years ago a county council brought me before the High Court. On the Wednesday morning the council had a senior counsel on his feet for far less than three hours in the course of rather ordinary injunction proceedings. The council paid the senior counsel €7,500. That was his fee for the morning. His junior, who studiously studied the back of his senior for the less than three hours, was paid €5,000.

Two days later, I was again before the High Court and the same senior and junior counsels represented the council. The senior counsel was on his feet for less than three hours and was paid another €7,500. His junior counsel, who by this stage must have known every contour of his senior's back from sitting and staring at it throughout this time, was paid another €5,000. A total of €25,000 was the barristers' fee for less than six hours work and one or two hours in the background preparing fairly routine papers. How can ordinary, working people give an undertaking to bear the costs of the opposition, let alone the damages that might be assessed? This provision must be removed from the Bill.

The Bill also narrows the appeal possibilities to the Supreme Court. That is another severe diminution of people's rights. Of course, nobody approaches the Supreme Court with anything less than trepidation about the costs. Nevertheless, individuals and organisations have found that, as a court of last resort, on occasion they have been able to find justice in some decisions that have been made. The case involving Merck, Sharpe and Dohme in Tipperary comes to mind in that regard.

There are severe problems with this Bill. Communities are dealing with enough problems in planning; there has been enough diminution of people's democratic rights. Mobile telephone companies can put masts virtually where they wish, even beside children in primary schools. This has happened in Huntstown, west Dublin, and is a source of great agony for the community because we do not know what will be the health effects of these. That is a huge diminution of the democratic rights of communities.

Management companies are being imposed on communities. The Taoiseach condemned them outright in the Dáil yesterday, saying they were unfair and unnecessary. However, they are being imposed and constituents of mine from Tyrellstown in Dublin West are being dragged into the courts next Wednesday, on foot of bills sent to them by management companies.

Dá bhrí sin, deirtear gur "Acht do dhéanamh socrú, ar mhaithe le leas an phobail, maidir le hiarratais ar chead pleanála a dhéanamh go díreach chuig an mBord Pleanála i leith forbairtí beartaithe áirithe a bhfuil tábhacht straitéiseach leo i dtaca leis an Stát" é an Bille um Pleanáil agus Forbairt (Bonneagar Straitéiseach) 2006. Ní chreidim go bhfuil an Bille seo "ar mhaithe le leas an phobail". Laghdaíonn sé an chumhacht dhaonlathach atá ag gnáthdhaoine a ladhar a chaitheamh isteach sa chóras pleanála. Aon rud a laghdaíonn an tionchar ar féidir le gnáthdhaoine, eagraíochtaí pobail agus a leithéid a bheith acu ar an chóras pleanála, níl sé "ar mhaithe le leas an phobail" ach ina choinne.

Dá bhrí sin, nílim ceadmhach an Bille seo a chur chun cinn. Táim chun cur ina aghaidh, agus tá súil agam go ndéanfaidh daoine eile an rud céanna agus go dtógfar amach as an Bhille na haltanna a laghdaíonn cumhacht na ngnáthdhaoine, a gcearta agus cearta an phobail an tionchar is mó a bheith acu ar an chóras pleanála agus ar cén saghas pleanála a chuirfear isteach ina gcontae, a réigiún, nó pé áit atá i gceist.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the Bill which is one of the most important to be debated in the House for some time. It will have serious and far-reaching effects as indicated by the level of interest and the contributions from all sides.

As my party spokesman, Deputy O'Dowd, stated Ireland has a first world economy with a Third World infrastructure. Commuters spend hours commuting to and from work. Many of our roads are Third World roads. While we welcome the Bill in principle, some of the proposed changes, especially the new powers being granted to An Bord Pleánála which are counterproductive, will lead to litigation and a loss of public confidence in the planning process.

In preparing my contribution, I looked at the needs of my constituency and the urgent need for development. I was disappointed when the Minister's predecessor launched Transport 21 in November 2005 with a budget of €34.4 billion that there was no mention of west Limerick and its urgent need for national primary and secondary road development. There is an urgent need for three bypasses to facilitate traffic from most parts of Ireland to Kerry through the N7.

One of the main bottlenecks on the N7 is Adare. While we have been given encouraging news from the Department, through Limerick County Council, there is no indication when the bypass will be put in place. There are considerable delays through the village during peak hours. The village, which is very attractive, would be enhanced immensely if commercial traffic could bypass it and it was not clogged up. Adare is an excellent tourism product but it is spoiled by heavy traffic driving through it, especially commercial traffic. I appeal to the Minister to examine this issue as a matter of urgency. It is a small project in the context of national roads development and would enhance the area. It would facilitate the many commuters who travel from Rathkeale, Newcastle West, Abbeyfeale and the hinterland to Limerick and would improve the time factor involved.

The other two bypasses I wish to refer to are Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. There are regular bottlenecks in Abbeyfeale. A bypass would improve the commercial life of the town and enhance the enjoyment of the people there. If the Minister has information on the Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale bypasses, perhaps he would forward it to me. The last information we had was that the Department was considering appointing consultants to examine the lines for the bypasses. The most recent information is that the matter has been suspended and that no progress has been made. If the Minister does not have that information when replying, perhaps he would forward it to me.

In Newcastle West there is a build up of traffic at peak hours but, thankfully, the centre of town is a little removed from it. Certainly a bypass would enhance the area. Much development is taking place in Newcastle West, including a new supermarket at that side of the town. Due to commercial activity and through traffic to west Limerick and Kerry, there are road traffic problems. Apart from the hold-ups, there are road traffic dangers as people access the new supermarket by a pedestrian crossing. The speed limit is being adhered to but, given the volume of traffic and many hold-ups, drivers' attention may not always be what it should, in which case I am concerned for the safety of pedestrians in the area.

The N69, the coast road to Tarbert in north Kerry, has long been a bone of contention and this issue has been raised many times. This is an opportunity to facilitate tourist and commercial developments on the south side of the Shannon Estuary. I refer specifically to the opportunity to develop a marine-type industry in Foynes. Foynes has developed as part of the Foynes-Shannon port authority. We always promoted the idea of a port of such significance at Foynes with land available for development. This should be attractive for marine-type industry to invest in that area. Repeatedly, however, we are informed that once an investor travels from Limerick and spends most of the travelling time behind commercial traffic for the entire distance, he finds that is a turn-off. There is a problem of accessibility to the city from places like Foynes. The 200-acre industrial park in Askeaton which has been there for some 15 or 20 years, which is owned by IDA Ireland and is fully serviced, does not attract industry. One of the inhibiting factors is that the access road, the N69, is not being upgraded to the level any national route with such potential should have.

During the rainbow coalition government, a committee was set up to promote that area but unfortunately that was allowed lapse on the change of government. I urge the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to look at the potential for development of the Shannon estuary in the area. The Minister's colleagues should also look at it, because the Departments of Transport, Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Communications, Marine and Natural Resources all have a role to play.

There have been a number of fatalities on the Croom-Charleville national primary road. The Croom bypass has been most beneficial, not alone for commuters from the area to the city but to the town of Croom. The bypass has eliminated some serious accident black spots, but there are other such black spots where fatalities have been involved, between the Benogue side of Croom and Charleville. Cork County Council launched the plan for the Mallow-Croom road, including the bypass of Charleville, and we urge that the black spots be dealt with as well. This work will probably not proceed before 2010 under the Transport 21 programme, so plans should be made to have the work commence immediately to deal with these problems.

In all rural areas, including Limerick, there is increasing pressure against one-off houses.

This is a little outside the remit of the Bill, but the Deputy is right.

The Minister expressed concern in this area. When local authorities now see a planning application, they look for a means of refusing it rather than granting it. They look negatively at any rural housing situation and the criteria for granting such permission are being tightened. In my constituency, in terms of T-values, in the percolation test, a value of more than 90-T now means a planning application will be refused, whereas in some years ago, the figure was 240. Not even proprietary systems are now accepted.

There are other restrictions too. In a recent situation, a farmer's house was some distance away from his farm. He had a pre-planning discussion to build a house on his farm as his own house, though habitable, was sub-standard. He was informed by the planner that he would get permission to build a house on his farm provided he knocked the house he was in, because he would then have a need. Because he had no need, he would not get planning permission. The house was probably valued at a little more than €100,000 and he wanted to improve his housing conditions as well as live on his farm. That is the attitude we experience.

There is merit in the suggestion that planning permission and housing development proposals should be dealt with in our towns and villages. We support that laudable proposal, but in our area we have a serious problem, as that cannot happen because our towns and villages are not serviced, especially with sewerage schemes. I raised this issue in the Dáil before. We are regularly being informed by Limerick County Council that when it submits information to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further information is asked for repeatedly.

The Minister allocated €11.5 million this year for rural water programmes in County Limerick, which we welcome. There are 19 group water schemes to be upgraded. This works well because Limerick County Council has control of how it allocates that money. That approach works very efficiently in decisions being made at local level on how to spend moneys on infrastructural development. However, there is a problem when we come to the larger projects, the development of sewerage schemes in our towns and villages. In west Limerick I refer in particular to Askeaton, Shanagolden, Foynes, Athea, Pallaskenry, Dromcolligher, Adare, Patrickswell, Bruff and Kilmallock. Limerick County Council has to deal with various hurdles and hoops in order to progress such projects with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Much has been said about relaxing controls on local authorities, but the level of control operated by the Department on the development of the schemes to which I referred is so inhibiting that it is almost like a formula not to progress these schemes. It is as if the Department has a formula whereby it can frustrate the schemes being developed, rather than allowing the local authorities to get on with what they know best, how to develop the infrastructure and sewerage schemes in the county.

I ask the Minister to allocate funds in the same way he does for the rural water programme, and allocate sufficient monies, through the councils and with their agreement, to develop the schemes, leaving the councils more control rather than this demand for further information and putting councils through hoops.

This is done for schemes costing less than €5 million.

None of the schemes of which I am talking costs less than that figure. What is also happening is that schemes are being grouped to ensure their cost is more than €5 million. Schemes for Askeaton, Shanagolden, Foynes and Athea are grouped, which brings the cost to more than €5 million. Can those schemes be addressed individually?

It is the council that suggests the bundling, for good and cogent reasons. I am not faulting it.

I am quite happy to debate the issue with the Minister. The Minister is developing the point that councils are bundling schemes under €5 million. Perhaps we should look at dividing up these schemes.

If that bundling is decided, it does not take ten years to bring the other schemes to fruition. People are frustrated with the delays. The Government should trust local authorities to do what is best for their areas. Local authorities are entrusted with responsibility to run rural water schemes. As these work well, they should be trusted with the responsibility for the other schemes I have outlined.

In Limerick there is an urgent need for development in Patrickswell, Adare and Croom. When I put down a parliamentary question on this matter, I received the answer I got some years ago. These three areas are close to Limerick city. It is proposed to increase the population of Patrickswell by 6,000 people. However, such development will be inhibited by the lack of water and sewerage schemes in the area. While there are plans to build these schemes, will the Minister ensure no delays occur in their provision?

The Deputy did not refer to Pallaskenry-Kildimo.

I was sorry to hear of the impending retirement of the Acting Chairman, Deputy McGinley. My parish priest in the Springfield estate, Fr. Frank Herron, and other Donegal people would want me to pay tribute to you.

Thank you, Deputy.

As Deputy Neville referred to almost every village in County Limerick, I am sure I will be allowed to refer to Tallaght. I represent Tallaght, Firhouse, Templeogue, Greenhills, Brittas and Bohernabreena. This important Bill gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to my good friend, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, who once lived in Tallaght. The Minister and I have much contact on many issues. Today, I raised the challenge presented by management companies, particularly in Tallaght. I welcome the Minister's announcement in conjunction with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform for a €3 million anti-graffiti initiative for Tallaght. In any debate on infrastructure, it is good that such an issue is raised because graffiti affects many communities.

The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000 to provide for the introduction of a streamlined planning consent procedure for strategic infrastructure developments, which will be determined by a new strategic infrastructure division to be established within An Bord Pleanála, and to make consequential and other changes to the 2000 Act. The Bill also provides for a specialised planning consent procedure for major electricity transmission lines.

Some weeks ago the Minister was kind enough to facilitate me when St. Paul's secondary school, Greenhills, had a euroteens project. I, along with the pupils, was impressed by the Minister's grasp of the environmental brief. I am confident the Minister is the right man to deal with this Bill. The Bill embraces all aspects of community.

I have often spoken in the House about Tallaght, the third largest population centre in the State, describing it as having the population of a city but the status of a village. I have often spoken on the progress of infrastructural development in Tallaght. It started on 23 October 1990 when the Square was opened in Tallaght by Charles J. Haughey. As we speak I note thousands of my fellow Dubliners are in Donnycarney paying tribute to him. While people are entitled to make political points, unfortunately some have been made in recent days. The fact remains that the former Taoiseach was involved in many of our communities. In today'sThe Tallaght EchoI stated he always supported the growth ofTallaght.

In the past 16 years since the Square opened, other facilities one would expect in a major population centre have come on stream. Before the Acting Chairman retires, I invite him to come with me to Tallaght on the Luas, a key part of the area's infrastructure. Tallaght has its council headquarters, a civic theatre, a hospital and an institute of technology. It has many of the facilities one would expect for a major population centre. There is still much development taking place in Tallaght with 20 cranes in the town centre.

The figure is actually 24.

It could be 24 because I blinked on the way through the Square this morning. I left Tallaght very early this morning.

The Minister is very well-briefed.

I hope Deputy Perry is not suggesting I am not briefed.

Deputy O'Connor is losing his touch.

I have an old interest in Tallaght.

There are good infrastructure projects in Tallaght, particularly the Luas. I am delighted the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, has announced the Luas extension through west Tallaght with strategic stops. I am campaigning for the extension of the Tallaght bypass beyond Jobstown to Brittas. Not only could the people of south-west Dublin use it, but people from Wicklow could take a short cut home through Tallaght.

Deputy Ring spoke about pre-planning consultations where people get an expectation of an application but it changes. I have often raised this issue concerning planning applications in Brittas, Saggart and Bohernabreena. If the planners — I am not just picking on south-west Dublin — feel there should be no housing in certain areas, they should be allowed to make that decision and explain why. While we might not be happy about it, we would at least understand it. Due to my long experience as a public representative many people expect me to be able to inform them what action the local authority may take on a planning application. One cannot do so because, not only in South Dublin County Council but throughout the country, there is considerable inconsistency in planning decisions. One would not have a clue what the planning authorities are thinking.

One-off housing can be difficult for people wanting to build a house in a quiet spot. The Minister, Deputy Roche, is no doubt aware of this from his area, as is the Acting Chairman, Deputy McGinley, from his experience in County Donegal. There is an inconsistency in how decisions are taken, not just in Tallaght but elsewhere, and this matter must be examined. I hope the Minister will take account of what has been said.

This brings me to the issue of consultation. I have exchanged correspondence with the Minister on many occasions and he has been kind enough to answer me directly about what is taking place in Tallaght. I have already stated what a positive place it is. However, recent developments in Tallaght are upsetting the community, namely, the sudden emphasis on the building of apartment complexes. The population in the area has risen sharply in the past 30 years as many new houses were built there. In the general Tallaght area, a considerable number of apartment buildings have been developed, which brings its own challenges.

I previously raised the subject of management companies in a Private Members' debate and in parliamentary questions and I am aware the Minister is examining this issue. It is a source of concern to my constituents and many others. The Minister must take on board this problem and find a resolution. Many community activists, especially in the Tallaght area, have exercised themselves in recent times and written to the Minister about their concerns.The Tallaght Echo is always a good read and this morning’s edition contains an article by the county manager, Joe Horan, giving the council’s view on the matter. This is an attempt to balance what has been written recently by community groups and others.

I often joke that I am not really from Tallaght. Someone said that to me during the previous general election and it is true that I am not from there originally, but I have lived there for 36 years. He did not think that was a long time. I hope I will live in Tallaght forever. I feel strongly about my town and I spend as much time in it as I can. I mostly only leave it to attend the Dáil. I am concerned about its development.

The sudden explosion of apartment buildings has had a major impact on the population density and this gives rise to concerns about transport and parking. It is impossible to get parking in the Tallaght area in the mornings. I go to Tallaght village every morning and it is always a challenge to get a car parking space. Given the recent development that has taken place, it is important that provision is made for schools, health care and all the other facilities that are required. Tallaght has done well and the infrastructural development there has been impressive. However, 16 years after the opening of The Square, the area is experiencing difficulty in coping with the extra pressures that will be faced due to the higher density of building projects.

I apologise for referring to Deputy Ring again but I must return to the issue of local planning. I have had a great deal of contact this week with South Dublin County Council on foot of complaints from residents that planning regulations are not being enforced and that builders on a site adjacent to The Square facing Virginia Heights and in the village at Greenhills Road are not complying with planning permission and are not working within the hours to which they are restricted within the terms of the planning permission. They are raising dust and not dealing with environmental issues relating to cleaning and so on. In the case of one site on the Greenhills Road in Tallaght, a danger was created for the local resident in Court Cottage by not restricting the use of a crane.

It is important that we all fight for proper development and that we campaign for good facilities to ensure our communities are well served. At the same time, we must understand that people, especially those in a settled community, can get very upset and intimidated by the building work going on around them. I wish to be as positive as possible about development but we must be mindful of issues that require attention. It is important that we put pressure on local authorities in this regard. I accept that South Dublin County Council is not unique in its approach.

It is important to make the point that communities expect the planning authority to uphold its regulations and, when that does not happen, people get very unhappy and look to the political system to resolve the issue. In some cases, people blame the political system for the problem in the first place. That is fair enough because one is entitled to look to one's politicians for a solution. In the next 300 days or so before the next general election, the vulnerability of local politicians will be exposed as people will hear all sorts of promises from the new kids on the block. People will raise these issues, which is as it should be in a democracy, and I have no problem with that.

I was not born into a political dynasty but came to politics through getting involved in local issues in my community and campaigning about the lack of planning on infrastructure and facilities in the area. People encouraged me at that level, as was the case with many colleagues around the House, and we became involved in politics. We have a responsibility to represent what people say. I will not discuss the dual mandate in detail except to say that sometimes I am concerned about the strength of representation at local level, especially in the period following a local election when many new people are elected. I wonder how the councils operate without the experience of members who were also Members of the Oireachtas. I say this on a cross-party basis. A gap has developed in that regard.

I do not wish to say too much of a party political nature on this quiet Thursday but it sometimes amuses me, as I know it will amuse the Minister, that colleagues throughout the country blame the Government for everything in terms of infrastructural development and planning. That is predictable enough and happens in every democracy. One can always blame the Government and say it did not do enough, more resources should have been provided and more should have been done. However, we should not forget that devolution has been successful and councils are now more autonomous and responsible for planning in their areas.

The majority of councils are now controlled by the Labour Party, the Fine Gael Party and the Green Party. That is certainly the case in South Dublin County Council and these parties should take some responsibility. It is easy to blame the Government for everything. Whenever I hear complaints about planning, such as the matters to which I referred concerning Tallaght, it is said that it is the fault of the Government or the Minister, Deputy Roche, and he should sort out the problems. The fact is that we have devolved this authority to the council.

I was a member of Dublin County Council since 1991 and South Dublin County Council since its formation in 1994 until after the previous general election. Local authorities must take on board their responsibilities and do the job allocated to them. I call on the controlling groups in the council, including South Dublin County Council, to fulfil their responsibility in that regard. If the job is not being done by officialdom, let us apply pressure and ensure the issue is tackled. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that a proposed development which will benefit communities through the provision of infrastructure and new facilities gets bogged down in criticism about builders not sweeping the roads and so on. We must take action in this regard.

It is important to support this Bill. The significance of the Minister's objectives and achievements in this area has been well signalled by the major interest in the Bill. It seems to have caught Members' imagination and Deputies from all parties have spoken on the various issues. It has been a good exercise and I am sure the Minister, who already has a major reservoir of information on environmental matters, has found it useful. I understand it must be difficult for him to absorb all the information as he listens to the successive contributions from Members representing the case for Roscommon, Cork, Mayo, Carlow, Tallaght and so on. I wish him well and am pleased to offer my support for this legislation.

I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this important Bill. Ireland is a First World economy with what is in many respects a Third World infrastructure. This is evident in our overcrowded public transport and in the significant underfunding in the BMW region. The review of the national development plan was forensic in its identification of those areas in which less money was spent. In regard to the new tranche of funding, I understand it is now proposed that the level of accountability by region will be diminished. This is a negative development.

It is also regrettable that the public accounts of local authorities are not subjected to scrutiny by an Oireachtas committee. Perhaps this is an issue the Minister has already considered. Given the significant amounts of taxpayers' money being spent by local authorities throughout the State, it is regrettable the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mr. Purcell, should not have a critical role in examining the details of that spending. Has the Minister any plans to change the level of accountability demanded with regard to how money is spent by local authorities?

Even after a decade of prosperity, up to €50 billion is collected annually from taxpayers through stealth taxes and indirect taxes, including capital gains tax, corporation tax and so on. The Comptroller and Auditor General has consistently identified evidence of a lack of accountability and a disregard for ensuring value for money in the manner in which taxpayers' money is spent. The most critical overspend related to the roads development programme, which is administered by the National Roads Authority. Before the introduction of fixed-price contracts in recent times, it seems there was little or no control over moneys spent. In some cases where it was necessary to amend a contract, the additional cost was greater than that associated with the original contract.

A significant penalty has been paid by the public for these instances of financial mismanagement. Somebody must suffer when such amounts of money are wasted. The Transport 21 initiative includes scant detail on the development of the critical Atlantic corridor from Donegal along the west coast. In my constituency of Sligo-Leitrim, for example, it is appalling, in the context of the underspend in the region, to consider the condition of the N17 from Sligo to Charlestown. This is a treacherous stretch of road, incorporating the towns of Ballinacarrow, Achonry, Tubbercurry and Charlestown. It is one of the busiest routes in the State and is used by many heavy goods vehicles.

There is a clear necessity for a bypass of Ballinacarrow and Tubbercurry. It has been planned and debated at length and the route has been selected by the county council. There is, however, no timescale for the commencement of this work and no indication as to when the money will be made available. This is disappointing when one considers the billions of euro being spent elsewhere. People in the area feel neglected. Will the Minister indicate what funding has been allocated to Sligo County Council for the progression of this critical project?

The N4 is a fantastic road but there is dissatisfaction among those who use it for the transportation of heavy goods that there is a hefty toll charge of up to €7 per transaction. The bypass of Kinnegad is particularly welcome.

The Deputy is correct that it is a fabulous road.

Yes. However, problems remain in regard to the lower end of the N4. Travelling from Mullingar to Sligo there are occasional good stretches of road but the section in contention runs from the Curlews in Boyle. The route has already been selected for bypassing Castlebaldwin and Collooney. Traffic volumes on this road are high and there have been several accidents. Work must begin urgently but there is still no commencement date. Motorists who can avail of a motorway for some one third of their journey from Dublin to Sligo experience great difficulty when they reach Carrick-on-Shannon and Boyle, particularly the stretch of road from the Curlews in Boyle to Collooney, before reaching the bypass of Sligo which was long overdue but very much welcomed. It has achieved the objective of establishing Sligo as a gateway city.

I hope the infrastructural deficits evident throughout the Sligo-Leitrim region will be examined. I appeal to the Minister to provide a timescale for the development of this section of the N4. The route has been selected and the resources are there so there is no reason that a timescale cannot be provided. I am disappointed that Members for the Sligo-Leitrim constituency have not exerted their political influence to ensure there is a start date. We are not interested in a date after the election which is intended only to fob us off.

I am equally disappointed with Transport 21 and its reference to the rail link from Claremorris to Collooney. Billions of euro will be spent under that plan, while in excess of €1 billion has already been spent on the Luas and a similar amount on the Dublin Port tunnel. An underground central station is planned for the Phoenix Park. All of those developments are welcome but there is a question mark over the amount of capital expenditure on the east coast.

There are 46 miles between Claremorris and Collooney but the Minister has not indicated any time scale for the completion of the rail link. The State owns the land on which the rail line is situated, so there are no planning difficulties in that regard. There have been no objections to the development of the rail line from anyone but the Government has not given any indication of when or if it will be completed. It has referred to 2014 as the date for the rail line to Claremorris from Ennis to be completed. There is no commitment to a date for the line to be completed from Claremorris to Collooney. There is enormous development potential in the area, which includes the growing villages of Coolaney, Tubbercurry and Charlestown, especially given that up to 1 million passengers are expected to pass through Knock Airport in the near future. The Government's attitude is regrettable in light of the value for money that could be obtained from developing 46 miles of track at an estimated cost of €193 million.

The rail infrastructure body can lay one kilometre of track per week but the Government plan estimates that it will take until 2014 to open the rail line from Ennis to Claremorris. There is no commitment to extend the track from Claremorris to Collooney. If this is an indication of the Government's commitment to addressing the infrastructural deficits in the west of Ireland, it is a poor show. It is astounding when one considers the potential value for money and development opportunities provided by a rail line that would open up the entire Sligo to Limerick area. We have had experience of a good rail connection from Sligo to Dublin, which has opened up enormous potential in that region.

I read an appalling article inThe Irish Times last week that suggested that the rail plan should be abandoned and the money spent on the roads. I appeal to the Minister to give a commitment that the line from Claremorris to Sligo will be opened. It is very——

That is not the responsibility of my Department.

The Minister works in a critical area, in that he gives an enormous amount of direction to local authorities. He also sits at the Cabinet table every week. The Government is spending billions euros of taxpayers' money and words of encouragement from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to the Minister of Transport would help the latter to allocate the money needed to complete this project.

When the Minister for Transport launched Transport 21 no one mentioned the north west. A big deal was made of the fact that the line would be fenced off from Claremorris to Collooney. That was the only commitment given by the Government — to provide fencing wire and posts, at an estimated cost of €4 million or €5 million. Does the Government expect people to walk from Claremorris to Collooney? Perhaps it is intended that people would take a scenic walking route across State-owned land from Collooney to Claremorris.

There will be a general election in the not too distant future, as the Minister well knows and this will be a critical election issue. Deputy Kenny has given a clear commitment that when he is sitting on the other side of the House as Taoiseach, there will be no ambiguity at all about this rail line. It will be delivered.

Fine Gael only spent €1 million per year on rail when it was in power.

The Minister must remember that the State was only taking in approximately €20 billion in taxes at that time ——

In 1996 Deputy Kenny was talking about the brilliant state of the economy.

In 1997, the Government was taking approximately €25 billion but now it is taking in excess of €54 billion out of the economy through taxation. There is no point going back to——

That is the difference between good and bad Government. The economy booms.

That is the difference, Minister, between——

I ask the Deputy to address his remarks to the Chair.

I am sorry, but the Minister is trying to provoke me. The Government is taking stealth taxes from the people by the day, if not the hour. While personal taxation has been reduced, everything that one buys, even down to a glass of water, is taxed. This Government would tax the air that we breathe if it could. That is how bad the situation is, with tax on absolutely everything.

The Minister must remember that the Government parties have been in power for nine years.

Nine good years.

They inherited a very successful economy. However, in terms of investment in critical constituencies in the west of Ireland and what has been delivered, the Government has failed. Under the current national development plan, millions of euros have been under spent and money that was earmarked for transport was diverted to other areas.

In the context of this Bill, it is important that critical infrastructure is developed, whether by the State or private enterprise. The latter has been the main accelerator of this successful economy. However, the level of investment by the State and the critical delays within An Bord Pleanála concerning certain developments are regrettable. Under the terms of this Bill, the funding to be provided for An Bord Pleanála is a paltry sum of €251,000. This is an extraordinarily low figure when one considers the amount of time it currently takes the board to make a decision. Time limits should also be put in place somewhat similar to those which apply under current planning regulations. At present, if there are a number of objections to a project or a number of people who have conflicting opinions on its impact, the board can take a considerable amount of time to make a decision.

Under the current national development plan an enormous amount of money has been wasted, as highlighted in various reports from the Comptroller and Auditor General. The report on the roads programme found that costs had risen by €8 billion, which explains why the Government cannot find €193 million to deliver the West on track. With the money that has been wasted, the Government could have laid rail track all over the country. There should be no question surrounding the provision of this essential rail service.

This Bill refers to critical infrastructure, including the provision of water and sewerage services in towns and villages. When one considers the amount of money the State receives in taxes from every house built and the services it is providing in return, the imbalance is clear. The Government is cleaning up in every town and village in County Sligo in terms of value added tax, capital gains tax and property tax but the critical services being provided in return are abysmal. There are no services, particularly in terms of playground amenities, child care facilities and so forth. Such services are vital, given the increased population of the county and the increased density of the housing being developed. Sports amenities are also badly needed. There are celebrations when the sports capital grants are announced, as if the Government were giving out something that did not already belong to the people. Taxation has already left the region and they are getting a paltry €200,000 back to tap into community development.

Connecting with the voluntary sector is the best way to overcome the infrastructural deficit, but this Government does not recognise that to any great extent. People who work tirelessly and appeal for a paltry grant feel they have won the national lottery when they get €200,000, but it is small change. That is why the critical infrastructural deficit affects schools, sports amenities and child care facilities. That is where the State has failed. In the next 12 months, people will adjudicate on how taxpayers' money was spent. Not everyone has benefitted from economic success to the same extent. Those who have seen cutbacks are the most vulnerable in society: single parents, those rearing large families and those living on the margins.

The Minister has a major responsibility and I welcome this Bill. It is important, however, that he recognises the enterprising nature of those working in the voluntary and private sectors. Accountability and value for money are vital. We will not be fobbed off with promises about the infrastructural deficits in Sligo I mentioned. We need action and a timescale for delivery. I will continue to pursue that issue in this House.

I thank all 64 Deputies who spoke on this Bill. This has been one of the longest debates in this Dáil and it has been intriguing and interesting. A number of Deputies believed in my admonition on waste recycling because much of this debate was recycled.

We all recognise, however, the significance of this legislation. Deputy O'Dowd made the point, and I agree with him, that this is one of the most significant Bills in the lifetime of this Dáil. There can be no doubt that it will have implications in terms of infrastructural development.

There has been debate about whether we are moving in the right direction and I sincerely believe we are. There have been a number of outrageous abuses of the planning processes that have delayed vital infrastructure because of the relative ease of access to our courts. Many Deputies said that we are a First World country with Third World infrastructure. That is a clever but untruthful assertion. We are a first world country and we should have a first world infrastructure with the sort of planning process and public administration system that is capable of meeting the challenges of rolling out first class infrastructure.

Deficiencies in the process have been highlighted by the sheer pressure on the administrative and planning systems given the volumes of money this Government is willing to invest in resources, especially the development of infrastructure. Deputy Perry, in what can best be regarded as a tangential contribution on the Bill, made great play of issues in his constituency. He recognised, however, the astronomical amounts of money we will spend in the next few years in areas such as public transport and the pressures that arise as a result.

The Bill merits close attention from all sides and I have listened carefully to the debate. The Bill is a well balanced response to a challenging situation, an attempt to take competing demands and deal with them in a manner whereby we can make progress without trespassing on areas we regarded as important in the past.

Within the democratic process we should allow people the right to object and to express opinions which are clearly inaccurate or baseless, but I do not agree with Deputy Gogarty's contention that we should allow that irrespective of the cost. We are all stewards of the public purse. It is the job of the Oireachtas to ensure we get value for money. The idea that a resident of another country should have the right to object to any planning issue in any forum at any cost is fundamentally wrong. That demonstrates a difference between the practical Members of this House who want to see progress and the Members who could not give a toss about progress, public welfare or the public purse.

It depends on how we define "progress".

The Green Party's contributions were generally poor, but they missed the concept of the public good entirely. That was a fundamental difference between the contributions of the main Opposition parties and some others.

This Government has shown a credible commitment to an efficient and effective planning system. We have a good system in place which is significantly different from many European Union member states. It is more open and democratic and, unfortunately, occasionally more open to abuse. I would like to be in the same position as other Ministers with responsibility for infrastructure in other member states where projects can move ahead rapidly. Contributors from all sides referred to infrastructural development in other countries. I have experience of France and the difference between the two systems is extraordinary.

There is a cost in this; it is not just a game. The abuse of the planning system means that people are gridlocked on the roads and are waiting for basic infrastructure. We should not lose sight of that. My constituents in Arklow have been waiting for a sewerage system for 13 years. Successive Governments have provided funding for it but a small group of people exercising their rights have used every device to delay that process. Nowhere in this debate has the issue of where the greater public interest lies been weighed up. The Government has consistently shown a commitment to maintaining an efficient, effective and equitable planning system, but the balance at this stage must be redressed.

First and foremost, our emphasis has been on enhancing the efficiency of the systems already in place, for which I am full of praise. However, many Deputies, particularly over the last two days, have made contributions that touch on the deficiencies in the current system, whose prescriptiveness is unwelcome. The planning system should have within it an element of humanity. It is very hard to legislate for that, or for common sense. However, listening to the last three contributions from the Fine Gael benches, one sees that they address a lack of common sense and humanity. From time to time, they mentioned a failure by administrators to see that there is a common good. Sometimes that common good is dealt with when one delivers a one-off house, and sometimes when one delivers a large piece of infrastructure. The former is not addressed in this Bill, but the latter is.

Second, our emphasis has been on streamlining the various stages in the process to prevent unnecessary delay. This Bill is about removing it from the system. We should be honest enough in our political debates to accept that there has been a great deal of unnecessary delay in the delivery of key infrastructure in this country over the years. Two Fine Gael Deputies today and yesterday made the point when talking about the delays on the M3. Deputy O'Dowd referred to it too in his contribution.

This legislation would help overcome the kinds of difficulties suffered by people in Navan, who are waiting for infrastructure. It will not trespass on the right to good planning. It will not deny that, but it will help speed it up and focus it. Deputies who have engaged in a by-election, as I did at the time, know that one of the key players among opponents who took the issue to court announced that it did not matter what decisions came through, since the person concerned would appeal to this and that body so that there was a delay. There is something inherently wrong in that. The idea that we should streamline the stages to prevent unnecessary delay and abuse is in the public interest.

We have also examined safeguarding the hard-earned virtues of transparency and impartiality, and we have retained them in the Bill. Although not everyone might agree with me, I suggest we have a record of solid and unmatched achievement in the delivery of key infrastructure over the past nine years. That backs up the commitment that we have made. I acknowledge there have been cases of over-runs and delays. I am most familiar with the delay on the N11 through the Glen of the Downs, which was utterly scandalous, and I challenge anyone in this House to approve of what happened there. Completely false and utterly mendacious claims were made regarding what would happen if the road went ahead.

That road was delayed for over two years, and the cost escalated by the best part of €40 million. What could we have done with that? It was a clear and absolute abuse of the planning system. Ultimately, the road was built, and any one of us who is honest and objective driving up and down that road would say the current situation is not only safer and better but an environmental improvement. We can deal with that reality. Public representatives, including those who were encouraging people to hang out of trees, have some responsibility in this matter.

Several Deputies remarked that our current prosperity means we face quite exceptional challenges. They have been faced by no other Government since the foundation of the State. The Government is in the happy position that it has resources and a thriving economy. We claim some credit for that, and no doubt others do too. However, the reality is that we have one of the most progressive economies and must establish the legislative base that will help it to continue.

Previous Administrations did not have the benefit of such resources. Challenges regarding the capacity of our planning and public administration processes to deliver did not arise. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that many of the administrative procedures and structures in place today were very clearly put in place as much to delay matters as to advance them. We must deal with that too.

When all this has changed, sustained and prudent management of the public finances by this Government will mean the money required to address infrastructure needs is available. As I said, other Governments can make claims in that direction too. Inaction on the process of infrastructure delivery is no longer an option.

I will take up some specific points, beginning with the very positive contribution made by Deputy O'Dowd and many of the Fine Gael speakers. I am very grateful for the broad support for the intent of the Bill and the proposed changes in it. I accept there are certain issues to discuss. There will be constructive debate on Committee Stage. Deputy O'Dowd asked something reflected in several queries, namely, whether profit-only projects such as offices or retail parks could possibly be included. It is certainly not my intention or the aim of the legislation to cover such speculative developments, which were also raised on the Labour benches. They are not critical infrastructure, and if the Deputy feels any further assurances are necessary, we can discuss that, since it is not intended. Whatever they are to be used for, whether a decentralised Department or pure speculative development, it is not intended that offices or apartment blocks be included in the Bill. If, on Committee Stage, the Deputy feels further assurances are necessary, we can discuss that.

The Deputy also referred to the practice in the Netherlands of publishing strategic plans and seeking the views of the public. We in Ireland do that too. We publish national and regional strategic development plans for consultation, in which we engage on a massive scale. Sometimes we may do it too much, to the point where we fail to make the progress we should. On balance, we have one of the most open planning systems in the world. It is certainly far more open than the vast majority of those in other EU member states.

Deputy O'Dowd also mentioned the UCC conference, which was a classic of its kind. I come from an academic background, so I can poke some fun at academics from time to time, but this was a typical example of academic lawyers dismantling a law, distrustful of any legislation being put forward by mere legislators. With any kind of innovative thinking, the reality was that they would be much more comfortable debating at length, and no doubt eloquently, how many angels might dance on the head of a pin. We have a more practical purpose.

I was disappointed by the IPI's extraordinary reform-averse views regarding the Bill. As it felt free to comment, I should feel free to do the same. It was somewhat bizarre for a body known as the Irish Planning Institute to wait until after the Bill had passed through the Seanad and its Second Stage in the Dáil had almost finished before letting us have the benefit of its pearls of wisdom.

I welcome its support for the principle of more effective and streamlined planning in the interests of the common good. However, some of the more negative views expressed represent a worst-case scenario rather than reality. In the light of new demands being placed on our planning process, we must be prepared to adopt innovative ways of delivering infrastructure where necessary. Otherwise we will fall further behind. We cannot luxuriate in a process that allows the planning of infrastructure to be delayed for years, something we have seen in one or two cases, simply because someone somewhere decides to exercise his or her rights to the nth degree.

It must be acknowledged that national monuments legislation must be reviewed to equip our archaeological system to deal with modern circumstances. The comments made about this legislation were valid, but it would not have been appropriate to deal with these concerns in this Bill, which is a large piece of legislation.

A number of Deputies, including Deputy Perry, referred to whether sufficient resources are being allocated to An Bord Pleanála. Additional funds and 24 additional staff are being made available to the board to ensure it can cope with the additional workload, reorganisation requirements and obligations in respect of this Bill. The board appears to be comfortable with these allocations. One point might have been lost in some of the contributions. The board will not be forced to double-job. Most infrastructural projects have come before the board in recent years and will come in the first instance rather than the second. The board's earlier involvement means that it can handle the issues. The board has not made any negative comments but, if the issue arises, the matter of resources can be reviewed.

I was very disappointed by Deputy Gilmore's contribution.

I am heartbroken.

The sun has gone in.

It was not one of his most scintillating performances. His basic thesis was that the Bill would not speed things up. If all strategic infrastructure developments managed to get through local authorities in 12 or 18 weeks, it would marvellous, but Deputy Gilmore and I know they do not. Developments are delayed, extensions and further information are sought and applications are possibly poorly presented in the first instance. Deputy Gilmore and other speakers made the latter point. Once the decision is made, it is usually appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

In 2003, as many as 93% of applications requiring an environmental impact statement, EIS, at planning authority level were appealed to An Bord Pleanála. This is an astonishing figure. When I asked for the figure, I assumed it would be——

The Minister should examine the EIS system.

There is no need to examine the system. That is not a fair analysis. By any standard, a figure of 93% denotes something fundamental. People have a well established propensity to take any large case to An Bord Pleanála and delay it for as long as possible. This represents an abuse of the planning system and lies at the core of many of our difficulties in infrastructure.

The Bill provides for a six-week public consultation period followed by the standard 18-week decision-making period, leading to a total period of 24 weeks, or six months

If Deputy Roche were Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, he would send every case to the Central Criminal Court.

Fine Gael argued that we could tighten up this period. I am not sure if we could but it was interesting that both Deputies took a diverse view on this. The Bill allows this timescale to be achieved, which is not possible in the majority of cases at the moment. The majority of infrastructural projects cannot proceed through the planning process in six months. Deputy O'Dowd and Fine Gael Senators argued that it would be good if this timescale could be tightened up and some weeks shaved off it. I do not believe this is possible but we will no doubt discuss it in detail on Committee Stage.

It was also suggested by Labour Party Deputies that the Bill represented a radical alteration of the role and function of An Bord Pleanála, which is simply untrue. An Bord Pleanála has been making these types of decisions since the 2000 Act was introduced. It assumed the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government's role in approving local authority developments. This direct access has been available since then. The Bill will extend this access to other pieces of key infrastructure. To be fair, I do not believe there has been any protracted or detailed analysis to suggest that the procedures which have operated in the local authority cases since 2000 have produced unfair or negative responses.

Deputy Gilmore quoted extensively but selectively from a report produced by the Institute of Engineers of Ireland, IEI. He omitted one or two telling details. For example, pages 13 and 26 of the report called for the Bill to be enacted as a matter of urgency. The report suggested that the establishment of a single planning authority to deal with strategic infrastructure would be a positive step and called for the involvement of developers or contractors at the earliest possible stage in the planning process. In its March submission to the Department of Finance on the national development programme, the IEI welcomed the Bill as published and called for its urgent enactment. I am sure Deputy Gilmore read the IEI report as carefully as I did so it simply shows that the old adage that the devil can quote scripture as selectively as he or she wishes is true. As a fan of the IEI, I am sure Deputy Gilmore will now support getting the Bill through the Houses of the Oireachtas as quickly as possible, which the IEI recommended.

Another point raised was the meaning of strategic infrastructure. I already mentioned that matters like speculative development are not included in this Bill. It has been suggested that any number of developments could be included in the strategic consent process and people called for eligibility on that. The Bill is very specific in respect of what types of projects are included and gives a right to An Bord Pleanála to decide whether a project is in or out of the process.

A number of Deputies complained about extensions from telecommunications masts. I will not be overtly partisan and point out what took place in these areas before but we should remember that another Government introduced legislation that dealt with telecommunications masts and the roll-out of telecommunications. Sin lá eile. It was proposed to amend or remove the exemption of such developments on Committee Stage. There is no such general exemption for telecommunications masts, so the most charitable interpretation is that this argument appears to arise from a misreading of the legislation.

A number of Deputies suggested that changes should be made in the courts structure. Deputies should know that we cannot make such changes in the courts structure in this Bill. Every Deputy made a very good point about judicial review. I concede that Labour Party Deputies made a very significant point when they mentioned queries about judicial review beingex parte or on notice, which I will examine. They pointed out that some ambiguities could be used to delay it.

I agree with a number of Deputies who argued that community gain is valuable and substantial. A point which was repeatedly made was whether the Bill encompasses the building of nuclear power stations. I am glad Deputy Morgan is here to listen to me address this point. He can rest assured that it does not.

Some of the Minister's colleagues would like to apply it.

Local democracy was also discussed. The Bill will fundamentally change every planning Act passed since 1963 in that it provides a very specific role for councillors. This point has been generously recognised by a number of contributors.

The Bill does not threaten local democracy. I thank everyone who contributed to the debate on this Bill even though I did not agree with all of them.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 63; Níl, 29.

  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Breen, James.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Stagg and Boyle.
Question declared carried.