Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 18, Criminal Justice Bill 2007 — Second Stage (resumed); No. 19, Consumer Protection Bill 2007 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 20, Communications Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2007 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 11 p.m.; notwithstanding the order of the Dáil of 22 March 2007, the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 18 shall be confined to the closing speech of the Minister or Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 15 minutes; the Report and Final Stages of No. 19 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment; the Report and Final Stages of No. 20 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. Private Members' business, No. 37, Appointments to Public Bodies Bill 2007 — Second Stage, shall be taken for 90 minutes at 7 p.m. tonight, or on the conclusion of No. 19, whichever is the later, and the proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 28 March.

There are five proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18 agreed?

I was going to ask the Taoiseach, just between the two of us, to do a quick puzzle; number five across, six letters, begins with the letter A and ends with the letter T. The answer is "absent". I ask the Taoiseach and the Government Whip what happened last Friday. Why was the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform not present? Why were no Progressive Democrats Deputies present in the House? Why was the Government which wanted to bring forward the Criminal Justice Bill, supposedly the most important legislation since the sting of the dying wasp, unable to muster a quorum on Friday evening?

Sorry, this is not Question Time. The Deputy should give the reasons he is opposing the proposal before the House.

This is the reason.

This item was supposed to have been dealt with last week.

I accept that but this is not Question Time.

A Whips' meeting was held the previous week and the Tánaiste said he wanted to rush it through.

This is a procedural motion.

In the middle of the debate, while Deputies Howlin and Jim O'Keeffe were making valid points, the Tánaiste was figuring out number five across, or whatever number it was, six letters — "absent". Can the Taoiseach explain the matter or will he have the Chief Whip do so? It seems that, while the words were strong with regard to the necessity of getting through issues which the Tánaiste did not formerly accept but has since inserted into the Bill, all of a sudden the boys and girls were absent when a quorum was called. At least the Fianna Fáil crowd had some excuse to say they were stuck in traffic while heading to Citywest to hear a prudent Taoiseach make a prudent speech about safeguarding the people's money. However, the others were supposed to be here and led by the Tánaiste who may have been listening to some exceptionally talented pianist play "I Did It My Way".

The Taoiseach should say something about the matter.

On that note, is it appropriate behaviour for the Tánaiste who would not permit adequate time to facilitate scrutiny of the Bill to ostentatiously engage in doing a crossword puzzle? When the time came to put the Bill to the House, his benches could not muster a quorum. He has demonstrated contempt for the House in his treatment of it. He thinks we should rubber stamp the proposals he puts to it. There are seven lists of amendments——

The Deputy is moving away from the motion before the House.

If I am, I have every confidence the Ceann Comhairle will bring me back to the point. There are seven lists of amendments to the Bill and we were required to give notice of our amendments before Second Stage was finished. That is defended as an acceptable way of bringing legislation through the House. It is not acceptable. Frankly, it is shocking that having arranged a shadow sitting on Friday in which nobody could raise a question about anything, Government Members had left for home when a quorum was called.

Last Thursday we were told it was essential to have a Friday sitting, the implication being that the Government considered the Bill important. I ask whether it will apologise for giving that impression, in the light of the fact that it did not think it particularly important? The Tánaiste did not even consider the debate on the Bill to be important because he believed it to have a foregone conclusion. Will the Government think twice before providing for a Friday sitting on the agenda if it is not going to muster a quorum or if it gives the impression that the House is somehow irrelevant to its proceedings? That is the impression given to the people outside.

I am opposed to the Bill in the first instance but I will confine my objections to the procedures being used to fast-track it through the Dáil. It is an absolute scandal that we are fast-tracking the Bill, even if it is as important as the Tánaiste believes. On the Order of Business last Thursday I stated I was opposed to a Friday sitting if it was not to be a proper sitting. I said we wanted a proper sitting, not a half-arsed one. I was proven correct on Friday because it was nothing more than half-arsed. The fact that over the weekend the Tánaiste introduced seven pages of amendments to his own Bill shows the potential for major flaws in the legislation. As usual, he presented us with half a Bill and will introduce the other half as amendments on Committee and Report Stages, which means those in the House who are not participating in the debate will not have sight of them before they are presented by him. Given that the deadline for amendments was supposed to be prior to the completion of Second Stage but had to be extended because of the six letter word, "quorum", what is the deadline for amendments to the Bill if it is passed on Second Stage 15 minutes after the conclusion of the Order of Business and we have to consider Committee Stage tomorrow? It is an absolute disgrace. We should extend the time allowed in order that all Deputies can speak on Second Stage to take account of the amendments the Tánaiste is trying to push through. Accordingly, we should oppose the proposal.

I wish to make several points. Proceedings in the House collapsed just over ten minutes before the debate was due to end on Friday. As I understand the matter, everyone who had requested to speak had a chance to make a contribution and the Minister for State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Brian Lenihan, was about to conclude the debate on Second Stage. People would have thought there would be no difficulty as regards a quorum at 5.20 p.m. on Friday. That is not an unreasonable assumption to make but 16 Members were available.

The scheme of the Bill was published on 8 February. I was asked by Deputy Howlin last week to raise some of the issues. I was not fully able to accommodate his request but, at least, we tried to move some way towards accommodating his suggestion, which was not unreasonable. While it would, perhaps, have been better had the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, made his speech last week, no disrespect was shown at 5.20 p.m. on Friday.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 18 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 52.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Breen, James.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, Report and Final Stages of the Consumer Protection Bill, agreed to?

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 19 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20, Report and Final Stages of the Communications Regulation (Amendment ) Bill, agreed to?

This is the third of eight guillotines this week. The manner in which Members are dispensing with legislation without it being discussed——

—— is simply unacceptable and does not produce the requisite scrutiny. The Labour Party will oppose it.

This highly important legislation, which has wide-reaching consequences, has been rushed through each Stage from the time it was introduced to the House and is about to be rushed through another. This is not the way to go about business or to legislate. Having regard to the historical lessons they have learned, Members should not proceed with a guillotine for this Bill either.

Although I was not afforded the opportunity to make this point in respect of the Consumer Protection Bill, I consider the imposition of guillotines as a matter of course in respect of all legislation presented to the House to be absolutely unacceptable for the reasons indicated by the other Members. It only allows for bad law with poor engagement and inadequate opportunity. Ultimately, Members have seen indications in the recent past of the failure of the Government to take account of Opposition advice and amendments. In this case, Members will see an exact repetition with all the potential flaws that will present. This is not how one should do one's business and I oppose the guillotine.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 20 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 51.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Tony.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Breen, James.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed? Agreed.

The historic meeting yesterday between the DUP leader, the Reverend Ian Paisley, and the leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, is a most welcome and important event. I wish to pay tribute to the Taoiseach for his undoubted patience during the past ten years in weathering many a storm in this matter and to all of those political personnel of all parties who made a contribution in whatever way to bringing us to this point. It is only right and proper to state this. In my time, all Governments in their own way played their part in putting this complex jigsaw together and I hope in early May this will result in a beginning which will herald a new dawn for the peoples and communities of Northern Ireland.

As a meeting is to take place between the Deputy First Minister to be appointed and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will the Irish Government make a further allocation for cross-Border activities such as road development, tourism, education or health? Is the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, who already put up €400 million, likely to increase this amount on the probability the Assembly will get up and running?

I thank Deputy Kenny for his remarks and it is right to thank all the people involved in this. I wish to particularly thank the small group of dedicated officials who worked long and hard on this. A section of the national development plan deals with resources and to square the circle on this we must invest additional resources. This was reflected in our statement last week. To get the Chancellor to provide the extra £1 billion on top of what he allocated last November, which was £50 billion over the period and to deal with the water rates issue will require us to make an allocation. This allocation will be specified into infrastructure and roads in the north west.

I wish to be associated with the generous but well-merited remarks of Deputy Kenny towards the Taoiseach for his patient involvement in bringing about the situation from which it is hoped there is no turning back.

As the Taoiseach knows we are all out and about and I wish to ask him about questions I am being asked. Is there even the remotest prospect of legislation being enacted by this House to deal with the difficulties experienced by people living in or owning blocks managed by management companies?

The Tánaiste, who was briefed on this matter last week, informs me two separate proposals are being drafted, one in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the other in the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Regarding whether they will get through the House, they are being worked on but time is probably very tight to see them being passed as legislation.

On behalf of the Green Party I welcome the developments in the North yesterday. Credit is due to the Taoiseach and his Government and officials and to former taoisigh for the progress to date and to the many people involved on both sides of the Border and in Britain. Given the significance of the developments and the hope they will continue will the Taoiseach state whether on this side of the Border a programme of change and a response to the developments in the North is in place, including promised legislation? I not only mean the monetary side as mentioned by Deputy Kenny; I also mean such matters as were raised here on many occasions including legislation such as that on the register of persons unsafe to work with children. We know from the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Hanafin, that a serious problem exists when it comes to liability for people working with children.

The Deputy should confine himself to questions. We must move on to the next business.

Will people entering this State who are not covered in the way they should be by legislation be covered and when it will happen?

The Taoiseach on legislation.

A small number of crucial items were delayed and deferred and we were unable to complete them when the North-South bodies collapsed four years ago. I believe we will be able to move on them fairly quickly because a great deal of the work was done. If I am correct, the work on the register mentioned by Deputy Sargent was completed. We will have discussions during the interregnum period and I will raise these issues.

The Irish Medicines Board (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2006 contained a provision which allowed for the first time that children in private primary schools should have access to dental treatment.

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Absolutely, yes.

I ask the Deputy to be very brief because a few other Deputies are offering and I want to try to facilitate them.

This part of the Act was never commenced. There are thousands of children right around the commuter belt who are in private primary schools——

I will have to call Deputy Deenihan.

——because there are no public schools available to them.

I call Deputy Deenihan.

They are being disadvantaged on the double.

It involves a commencement order.

She is speaking on secondary legislation.

When will that part of the Act be commenced?

The legislation has been passed.

What about the commencement order?

The Deputy is stating that some section has not been enacted and I will raise it with the Department.

It was never intended to be enacted.

Some time ago the Taoiseach announced the establishment of the Irish Institute of Sport. I understand legislation is required for the institute to be set up on a statutory basis. When will such legislation be introduced, as I understand there is an urgency because of the short time we have available to debate it?

To the best of my knowledge that is in the sports council amendment Bill which is due to be published this session.

In how many weeks?

When will No. 92 on the Government programme, the Water Services Bill 2005, move to Report Stage? This will enable us to act practically to the situation, for example, that has arisen in Galway and other places where filtration has been inadequate.

I will raise it with the appropriate Minister. It is ready to be taken, I understand.

I have a question on secondary legislation. The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board has been established but there is no statutory instrument laid before the House as far as I can find out. It is certainly not in the Oireachtas Library. What is the intention regarding this statutory instrument?

I will have to raise that with the appropriate Minister.

This is secondary——