Topical Issue Debate

We now move on to our new Topical Issue debate. Before I call the Deputies in question I wish to make a brief point. This is the first time that the new procedure has taken place. The current Standing Orders effectively change the old Adjournment Debate into the Topical Issue Debate. From contact made to my office today it appears that Members are under some misapprehension and there is a need for clarification as to exactly how the procedure for the Topical Issue Debate can be implemented, whether it is the former Adjournment procedure as reflected in the Standing Order changes or a new way of raising topical issues.

It falls to my responsibility to select four issues. Topics can range from an immediate, important national issue to some local issue. I have to make a decision on them. For that reason I am convening a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges next week in order to tease out the matter and to allow the necessary changes to be made, if any need to be made. I am left in the position that I could be criticised or Members could feel very annoyed if their issue was not raised and they felt it was more important than some other issue. That situation did not arise in the old Adjournment Debate.

Today we had 18 Members seeking time. It is impossible to give more than one slot to any topic because in this case 18 people sought time to raise issues.

This is an important procedural change and it is of interest. I would like to see it working properly. I would like Members to be fullyau fait with how they can raise an issue and what sort of issues should be raised or whether we simply transfer the procedure of the old Adjournment Debate into this slot.

Did you include Deputy Finian McGrath, a Cheann Comhairle? He is looking for a candidate.

A Cheann Comhairle, on a point of order——

We are not getting into a debate.

Could I ask a brief question?

Will you allow me to speak on a point of order, a Cheann Comhairle?

No, I will not. It is not a point of order. I am making a simple statement.

You referred to national issues. I note that one of the topical debates is shared by three Deputies.

Please, Deputy.

You are allowing us one minute and ten seconds to discuss a national issue. Is that Dáil reform? That is the point I make. You made the point yourself, a Cheann Comhairle.

Deputy Halligan should please respect the Chair or he will not be speaking at all.

I will certainly be speaking for more than a minute regardless of what happens.

Deputy Halligan will not be speaking. I will not call the Deputy.

I will stand up and speak. I am representing the people of Waterford where a major issue arises.

Deputy Halligan will not be speaking if that is his attitude.

We lost 3,000 jobs in two years and 575 jobs are due to be lost. I am a Deputy representing Waterford city and you, a Cheann Comhairle, are allowing me one minute and ten seconds.

I will not allow Deputy Halligan any time. He should resume his seat.

I will not. I want to speak on the issue.

Then the Deputy should leave the House.

I will not leave the House. I have a right to speak. I am representing the people of Waterford where 575 jobs are due to be lost next week.

The Deputy must leave the House.

The Minister came to Waterford with his posse from the IDA——

——with no hope of saving any of those jobs.

The Deputy will leave the House.

Only last week the Minister told the workers he would look after them. The Department of Social Protection and FÁS——

The Deputy will leave the House.

Many of the people in FÁS——

The Deputy is a long time in politics and from my memory——

——got jobs from all the money being put into the organisation. I am here to represent the people of Waterford and speak about all the jobs that have been lost in Waterford.

Waterford city and county has been abandoned. The Deputy should stand up and speak.

I will speak in the allotted time.

The Deputy would speak for one minute and ten seconds. Is that her contribution to what has happened in Waterford? Over the past few years some 3,000 people have lost their jobs. Changes are being allowed in the Dáil procedure to benefit all Deputies on an issue of national importance and Waterford has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We are being allowed a minute and ten seconds for the debate.

I again ask the Deputy to leave the House.

There will be 45 seconds to sum up after the Minister speaks.

I have named the Deputy and he must leave the House.

I am standing here to speak up for the people of Waterford who elected me and know I am speaking today. I want a debate on what has happened in Waterford over the past three years, as the city has been abandoned by successive Governments.

I name the Deputy.

Will the debate be allowed? It is an insult to be allowed to speak only for one minute and ten seconds, with 45 seconds to sum up. I refuse to do it.