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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 12 Jul 2011

Vol. 738 No. 2

Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 10, motion re presentation and circulation of Revised Estimates 2011; No. 11, Environment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 — financial resolution; No. 12, motion re referral to joint committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a Council decision on the signature of the agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of passenger name record, PNR, data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and a Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of passenger name record, PNR, data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service; No. 1, Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2011 [Seanad] — Second Stage; and No. 22 — Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) (No. 2) Bill 2011 — Second Stage (resumed).

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 10 p.m.; Nos. 10, 11 and 12 shall be decided without debate and any division demanded on No. 10 shall be taken forthwith; and the proceedings on the Second Stage of No. 1 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. tonight. Private Members' business shall be No. 33, motion re educational supports.

There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 10, 11 and 12 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 1 agreed to?

I object to this proposal for two reasons. As Deputies are aware, the use of guillotines to limit debate is not effective. There should not be a limitation imposed on the debate on a Bill which seeks to set aside the provisions of the Official Languages Act relating to the simultaneous publication of Acts of the Oireachtas in both the Irish and English languages. This proposal is part of an ongoing erosion of the status of the Irish language which was established by this House. The guillotine should be lifted to allow all Deputies to partake in a debate on the erosion of the status of our language, an Gaeilge, and the provisions and protections it has gained only recently through the Official Languages Act. For the second time in one month, a Bill is before the House which seeks to set aside the provisions of the Act.

Based on the number of speakers whose names have been entered to speak on the Bill, it does not seem the legislation will go the distance. The Minister is anxious to move on with the Bill and for this reason it is proposed to conclude the debate at 10 p.m.

Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 111; Níl, 26.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McFadden, Nicky.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O’Connor, Mary.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Donovan, Patrick.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Reilly, Joe.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.


  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke ‘Ming’.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Brien, Jonathan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Catherine Murphy.
Question declared carried.

Three months ago, the Government briefed the media that a judicial referendum would be held in October. It promised consultation with the Opposition and stakeholders, none of which has happened. The Minister for Justice and Equality toured the media in recent days attacking the posting online of a document from the Judiciary on this issue. He was outraged that the document had been published but he ignored the fact that the Government had leaked it and briefed against the Judiciary. Even the Judiciary accepts that pay should be reduced but the situation has gotten out of hand. There should be no need for the contention that exists.

Leaders' Questions is over. Could we have a question?

When will this stop? When will there be consultation with the Opposition? When will the Taoiseach tell his own staff and Ministers to stop leaking details of——

The Deputy is totally out of order.

When can we expect the proposals before the House?

Is legislation promised?

Yes. The Government has made its position clear in respect of the proposed referenda and, at the appropriate time, there will be consultation with the Opposition parties about these important matters.

That is a matter for a parliamentary question.

Will that be before the recess?

No, I do not think so.

There is only a week left.

We might sit longer.

This week the Irish Medical News reports the Minister for Health as saying that wider plans to change the role of smaller hospitals have not been agreed but are being discussed by Government and he further claims that plans for reducing services in smaller hospitals have not been signed by him and will not be before full consultation. We are in the penultimate week of the session. Will the Taoiseach provide an opportunity to Members for questions and statements——

Not on the Order of Business.

——on the future of the network of smaller hospitals in this State this week or next week in order that before the summer recess we will have the opportunity to fully engage with the Minister on this issue? If he does not, it will be a disgrace because we will not get the chance to address it until the autumn.

Is a debate promised?

This is a hugely important issue.

No, a debate has not been promised but what the Deputy has said is a matter of concern. We will give consideration to that and I recommend that he raises it at the Whips meeting tomorrow evening. There are always anxieties and concerns about change, particularly in regard to health issues. I know that and the Deputy knows that, particularly. I suggest he raises it at the Whips meeting tomorrow night.

Will the Taoiseach also speak to the Chief Whip about this matter?

I thank the Taoiseach.

Following the disgusting spectacle of big business interests using the High Court successfully to batter down the wages of a cohort of workers among the lowest paid in the land, will the Taoiseach bring forward legislation urgently to restore protection to those workers who are wide open to the most grotesque exploitation and who have depended on the JLC system?

That matter was dealt with already.

It was not dealt with. It was raised under Standing Order 32 but the Ceann Comhairle refused permission for a debate.

It was dealt with by the Taoiseach.

It is within Standing Orders to ask about legislation.

It is not promised legislation.

It has been promised outside the House.

Will the Taoiseach deal with it again?

The Ceann Comhairle is confused.

The decision made by the court last week deemed as unconstitutional aspects of the law dealing with JLCs and EROs. The grounds for an appeal have been advised by the Attorney General as not being sustainable. This is complex legislation and a constitutional decision was made in respect of it by the court. The Government will respond to this in a comprehensive fashion as a matter of priority led by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. I am acutely aware of the statement made by employers that nothing untoward should happen in this regard. The Deputy will be aware that the Government made a decision to reverse the cut in the minimum wage but the legislation will protect vulnerable workers and reform a system that everybody understands needs reform but in respect of which nothing has been done for more than 30 years.

The Minister for Justice and Equality recently requested the director of the Courts Service to remove a document——

Approved by the Attorney General.

——from a Government funded website. I understand the document is still there, which is unacceptable. Does the Taoiseach plan to deal with such behaviour in the forthcoming referendum on judicial pay?

Is legislation promised?

No, the referendum on judicial pay is a slightly different matter and it will be presented arising from the Bill that will be introduced by the Minister for Justice and Equality in due course.

Are we to take it from weekend reports that there will be a presidential election on 21 October? I acknowledge it was a bad day for the Taoiseach on Saturday but can he also confirm that the three referenda promised will go ahead on that date?

At least we have a candidate.

Is the Deputy throwing his hat in the ring?

No interruptions please. It is 5.20 p.m. and we need to move on with business.

There is one week left in this session. We are due to come back on 13 September. Will the three referendum Bills be introduced on that date and dealt with ahead of the provision of information to the public and the publication of the wording before 21 October? Will the Taoiseach confirm that the three referenda will go ahead on 21 October or on a different date and will he please outline the proposed legislative schedule around the three referendum proposals?

There is some speculation about the date but the Minister has not signed the order yet. As a consequence, I cannot give a direct answer as to the date——

Is Charlie offside again?

——on which the referendums will be held. Saturday was a great day for the three constituent colleges of the Fine Gael Party.

It was a great day for Gay Mitchell.

They made a clearcut decision to select an outstanding candidate who stands a decent chance of competing to win.

I thank the Taoiseach.

We did not know the Deputies opposite had so much interest in the matter.

I am delighted with the initiative taken by my party colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes——

Thank you very much.

——to open heritage sites to the public once a month. When can we expect the Heritage Fund (Amendment) Bill to come to the House?

The Minister of State should open up Roscommon accident and emergency department while he is at it.

We do not have a date for it yet. I will communicate with Deputy Bannon according as progress is made, a Cheann Comhairle.

The Government recently reduced the rate of VAT in the tourism and hospitality sector. This morning there was a one hour discussion on my local radio station, Limerick's Live 95 FM——

I am sure it was very interesting but the Deputy should refer to promised legislation.

It was quite an informative discussion, a Cheann Comhairle. I will be brief in developing the point. I ask you to allow me to finish on this occasion. All the contributors to the discussion are service providers in the hospitality sector. All of them, bar one, openly admitted to not passing on the reduction in VAT to consumers. My question to the Taoiseach is whether he has proposals, legislative or otherwise, to compel service providers to pass on the VAT reduction to consumers.

Is there promised legislation?

The legislation was introduced to give effect to the reduction in VAT. The people of whom Deputy Collins speaks are letting down their country and the people. We had enough of the rip-off situation that applied in a range of sectors. This initiative was designed to stimulate the indigenous economy because, as the Deputy is aware, tourism and the hospitality sector is one area where jobs and growth can take place, and as a consequence economic expansion can occur. I thank Deputy Collins for bringing it to the notice of the Dáil.

I will bring the Minister's attention to the programme to which the Deputy referred. It is a disgrace that people who are in a position where they know the reduction should be passed on do not do so. I was in Killarney last weekend and people involved in the hotel and hospitality sector there reckon that the savings to be passed on to consumers are of the order of €10 million. The amount is significant and it is a direct stimulus through the hospitality sector. I thank the Deputy for bringing it to the attention of the House.

I have questions on three pieces of legislation. I will join two of them together. We were informed that two pieces of legislation will be introduced to deal with the IMF that must be passed by the House by September. Given that the House will go into recess in the coming days and will not return until mid-September, will the Taoiseach indicate the deadline? Will the Bills be guillotined? With what areas will both of the IMF Bills deal? That is the first question. I will give the Taoiseach a chance to answer that and then I will ask my other questions.

Could Deputy Doherty put the questions together please?

The other question relates to the EFSF. There has been much talk about the changes that came from the eurogroup meeting last night. When is it proposed to bring the legislation before the House to deal with the amendments to the EFSF mechanism? The mechanism has already been agreed, and following on last night's decision it will have to be amended. It has been expected that the legislation, which is currently being drafted, would be introduced soon. Given last night's announcement, when does the Government intend to introduce the legislation?

There are a number of Bills. The Bill to strengthen the powers of the Competition Authority are to be published by the end of September 2011 as part of the EU-IMF programme. The heads of the Bill were approved by Cabinet on 5 July.

The Finance (No. 2) Bill 2011 was published on 19 May. According to the EU programme it was to be published by the end of June. The Central Bank and Credit Institutions (Resolution) (No. 2) Bill was published on 24 May this year. It was to be published by the end of June according to the programme. The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill is to be published by the end of July. That is on the A list of the EU programme. The public service pensions (single scheme) Bill is to be published by the end of September. That is on the EU programme as well.

In respect of the health area, the number of GPs wishing to treat patients must be published by the end of September this year. The heads of the Bill were approved for preparation on 28 June this year. In respect of social protection, the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill was published on 2 June. That was required to be published before the end of June.

Thank you, a Cheann Comhairle——

A Cheann Comhairle——

I called Deputy McCarthy.

My question genuinely relates to promised legislation on the EFSF. The Taoiseach did not answer that question.

Legislation on the EFSF.

The legislation is being drafted at the moment. I cannot give the Deputy a date for the publication of the Bill but it is currently being worked on and it should be published before the end of the year.

My question relates to promised legislation, No. 7 on the pink list. It is the electoral commission Bill which aims to streamline a number of the functions of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and also aims to establish a statutory register of lobbyists. It is important legislation. When is it expected that the legislation will be published and debated in the House?

A typo is at fault. The Electoral (Amendment) (Constituency Commission) Bill should have been on the list and has since been published.

Last Friday the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, promised the trade unions and the public, through the media, that he would introduce emergency legislation in the House this week to protect people working in the JLC system from the consequences of the High Court decision. He made that specific and unambiguous promise. Could the Taoiseach explain the current position?

The Taoiseach has already explained it.

He has not. We were labouring under the delusion, a Cheann Comhairle, that no such promise had been made. The promise was made and I am asking the Taoiseach what is the position.

No, the issue was dealt with in Taoiseach's Questions and about two minutes ago.

It was dealt with twice.

It certainly was not.

Deputy O'Dea was not listening.

It was raised under section 32 but it was not allowed.

No, it was raised by Deputy O'Dea's leader on Taoiseach's Questions.

We are studying the consequences of the complex decision by the court, a Cheann Comhairle.

Will we get an emergency provision? Was it a promise, a commitment, a metaphor or perhaps the Minister promised it in some other capacity?

There are no plans for emergency legislation.

So there will not be emergency legislation.

It was dealt with already.

Another one bites the dust.

On legislation to deal with the country's current financial situation, would it be possible to set aside time to discuss the contagion issue in Europe and the problems facing Italy and Spain?

What about the contagion in Roscommon?

There is a lot of contagion around.

The Deputy had better talk to the Chief Whip about that.

Discussions are ongoing as we speak. I understand a Council meeting may well be called at the weekend to deal with those matters. If that is the case we will consider what is the best option.

I wish to notify you, a Cheann Comhairle, of my intention to introduce a Bill that will strengthen the making of EROs and registered employment agreements. Is the Taoiseach going to leave it to Sinn Féin to bring in the Bill or——

That is not on the Order of Business.

——will the Government introduce a Bill immediately?

We look forward to Deputy Tóibín publishing the Bill. I thank the Deputy.

Last week on the Order of Business the Taoiseach said on five occasions that the Government was preparing legislation to abolish the board of the HSE, but the programme for Government states clearly on page 6 that the HSE would cease to exist. Will the Taoiseach clarify whether there are two separate pieces of legislation, one to abolish the board and the other to deal with the impact of abolishing the HSE itself?

Says the man whose party created it.

The Minister expects to introduce legislation in respect of the HSE before the end of the year. As the Deputy is aware, he asked the members of the board to step down and they did so.

In response to what Deputy Tóibín said, one of the changes we are introducing as part of phase 1 of the Dáil reform package, which we agreed today, will allow for Deputies such as he to introduce Private Members' Bills and for that purpose the Dáil will sit specifically on some Fridays.

I want to inquire about two Bills. The first is the promised legislation on upward-only rent reviews, the aim of which is to end that practice. The second is the Construction Contracts Bill; when will we see sight of it in the Dáil?

The Minister of State at the Department of Finance is working on proposals in respect of the Construction Contracts Bill.

The Minister for Justice and Equality is anxious to move on the upward-only rent review legislation in order to bring clarity to this complex issue. He is working on the details of a structure to deal with this and he will introduce it to the House as soon as he can. I hope it will be early in the autumn.

The Taoiseach might clarify for us when the Cloyne report will be published and also whether he intends to extend the remit of the Murphy commission to other dioceses, which was the position his party took in Opposition.

The Cloyne report will be published tomorrow. Announcements about the extension of the Murphy commission or any related matter will follow.

We know that the age group of those engaged in selling and taking drugs is getting younger and younger. This is particularly a problem inside and outside schools and in their vicinities. In other jurisdictions there are heavier sentences for such offences. Legislation is pending to deal with the issue of drugs. Will this issue be dealt with in the legislation?

I do not have a date for the legislation but the point made by the Deputy is valid. When the Bill is published the issue of concern to the Deputy will be central to it. We cannot have the lives of young people threatened and imposed on by this most reprehensible carry-on.