Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 18, Revised Estimates for Public Services 2013, Votes 11 to 19, back from committee; No. 20, Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 2, Companies Bill 2012 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 3, Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Bill 2013 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken not later than 5.30 p.m. today.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that in relation to No. 18 the proceedings shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 20 minutes; Votes 11 to 19, inclusive, shall be moved together and decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, shall not exceed five minutes in each case. Private Members’ business shall be No. 99, motion re public sector pay and conditions, resumed, to conclude at 9 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18, Revised Estimates for Public Services 2013, Votes 11 to 19, back from committee agreed to?

It is not agreed. We raised this last week and objected to the procedure and process being engaged in by Government whereby it referred all these Estimates to committee last week generally without any debate at plenary session. We requested a debate last week because it was in the aftermath of the rejection of the Croke Park II pay deal by public sector workers. Public servants need to know that in essence, as described last week in terms of these Estimates, in each Estimate for each Department, including in respect of one Department today, there is a proportion of the Estimate which relates to the pay deal that was rejected. In essence, what is being attempted to be voted through in respect of one Department contains Croke Park II provisions within that Estimate.

That is the reality, irrespective of whatever other pretence is going on in terms of a genuine renegotiation. We are not going to rubber-stamp or be part of a charade which, on the one hand, is saying there is a negotiation process on the way but in reality the ground is being prepared for something different, in other words, to have the deal put through, through Estimates and in the form of the legislation which the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, promised in terms of the Financial Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 and the Pensions Act. We are opposing the manner in which this is being taken and the approach of the Government in the past week has been to suppress debate and get the deal through one way or another.

During the course of the week I asked the Taoiseach and a number of his colleagues several times whether he accepts and respects the outcome of the ballot of workers in respect of Croke Park II. I never got a clear answer. He intimated that he was reflecting. He has now requested the Labour Relations Commission to reopen an engagement with unions and their workers. The manner in which the Estimates are to be brought through committees and then before the House reflects, in the clearest way, the fact that he does not have any regard or respect for the fact that the Croke Park deal was rejected because hard-wired into this Estimate and every other Estimate that will go before an Oireachtas committee and find its way to this Chamber is Croke Park II. If ever there was a case of giving the deaf ear to a democratic outcome it is here. It is absolutely inappropriate that he would put the Estimates through in this manner. I am baffled that he continues to pat himself on the back for the quality of the engagement which as the Minister said was wedded to a co-operative path with unions and their workers while, at the same time, giving them a smack on the face. He is saying it is Croke Park or Croke Park and that is the choice. As that is writ large across every Estimate we object to the taking of this Estimate with Croke Park knitted or stitched into it.

This is a disgraceful attempt to short circuit and pre-empt any possible negotiation with public sector workers over their pay and conditions and over the Croke Park deal. It is an act of bullying of workers by the Government. It is particularly outrageous that a Labour Party Minister would seek to bully trade union members, large numbers of whom put him and his colleagues into the House and Government, and show such contempt for what ordinary public sector workers have said with their vote. He is well aware that the representatives of workers have proposals that differ markedly from his way of dealing with the deficit problem and he should be open to listen to those proposals and alternative views rather than try to shove this down their throat and pre-empt any discussions with them. Shame on a Labour Party Minister for doing this. He should not try to ram this through in advance of those negotiations.

I do not accept the assertions of Deputies Martin, McDonald and Boyd Barrett. The normal procedure for dealing with Estimates for Departments is that they are sent to committee and that is the opportunity for spokespersons or anybody else to have their say and make their line by line analysis of what is involved. That was what happened last week when they were sent to committees for that purpose. However, Members for their own opportunistic politics decided to walk out yesterday. In that sense, what is involved in the Estimates discussion this morning relates to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett can go to his room and telephone any one of the 130 people who work in shared services and say that his attempt in the Dáil this morning was to prevent him or her from being paid because that is what is necessary arising out of this Estimate. The same goes for Deputy Mary Lou McDonald who is wrong in her assertion also. What is involved here is the normal procedure of Government which wants to do its business to allow those same public sector workers to be paid. She has the opportunity to go to the committee and voice her opinion, line by line, if she does not like it. What she is trying to do is to prevent the workings of Government from going ahead and those people in shared services, for example, from getting their payment at the end of the week. I ask her to make up her mind. She has an opportunity to speak in the House if she wishes, after walking out of the committee yesterday where the Estimates had been sent for the purpose of discussion. She chose not to do that because she wants another forum to put forward her fantasy economics which would be catastrophic for the country.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 18 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 81; Níl, 47.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Nulty, Patrick.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.
Question declared carried.

There appear to be mixed messages between the Government parties on when water charges are to be introduced. The Water Services Bill, a major item of legislation, is still awaited. The Taoiseach might confirm when it will be introduced. Also, my understanding is Bord Gáis's billing system is ready for use by Irish Water but Ministers are referring to different dates. Is it the Government's intention to publish the Bill and levy water charges in 2014 or 2015?

Will the Taoiseach update the House on the protection of maternal life Bill because there are reports that emergency discussions took place last evening involving the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly? There is a Bill which officials in the Department of Health have and discussed with the Ministers of State at that Department, as well as the senior Minister who has denied various newspaper reports on six people interviewing a woman with suicidal ideation.

We are short of time.

I seek clarification as to when the Bill will be published and of the Government's intentions in that regard.

On water charges, the Deputy is aware that the troika is back in town and that there will be discussions between it and the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on Ireland's programme. The Ministers will make a case to it that water charges should not be applied until 1 January 2015 and that they should be applied quarterly and retrospectively in that they would start from October 2014. In other words, they would be applied three months behind-----

Starting from October.

The charge would be levied but paid three months later, from 1 January 2015.

For the October period.

Yes, for the October to December period.

Just after the local elections.

Ministers have to make that case to the troika and have its approval.

The Taoiseach can trust the Minister, Deputy Phil Hogan, to organise things that way.

The Deputy's memorandum was very good. His were due to come in on 1 January.

The Bill on water charges will be brought forward later in the autumn.

On the protection of maternal life Bill, there has been a lot of speculation and comment on it. The Minister expected to have the heads approved yesterday. We had a discussion on the issue. There are a number of matters that we must address to get the Bill as right as possible. I hope this can happen.

Will there be six or 12 on the panel?

The Deputy should wait until he sees the legislation. We only have four minutes left.

I have seen all of the speculation. I do not comment on speculation.

Deputy Eamon Ó Cuív will be on it.

It is not speculation. I am just trying to have clarity on the issue.

This is about saving the life of the mother and that of the unborn, the Constitution and the law. It is important to get the Bill right. I do not engage in wild speculation.

Neither do I, but somebody on the Taoiseach's side is doing so.

(Interruptions).

We only have four minutes left and a number of Deputies are indicating.

I am sure nobody wants to engage in wild speculation on the X legislation or the protection of maternal life Bill, but the turn of events in recent days has been most unedifying.

We are on the Order of Business.

I appreciate that, a Cheann Comhairle. Other than telling us that the anticipated heads of the Bill did not materialise, can the Taoiseach give us more concrete information on the timing of the legislation? We are all anxious to see it, approach it in a constructive manner to get the law right and get through the process. Is there any truth in the speculation that the House may sit for an additional week at the end of July to facilitate the passage of the legislation?

I share that view. Much of the comment I have heard has been, to say the least, unedifying and not respectful of women. This is an issue on which there should be as much consensus as possible because it is an important one. As I said to other Deputies, if we work backwards from the date of the rising of the House for the summer towards the end of July, there is a raft of legislation to be published, some of which is be enacted. I would like to think we could have the protection of maternal life Bill enacted before the House rises for the summer recess, but I cannot honestly be too prescriptive about this because people may want to have their say and so on. What I would like to see happen is that we can seek approval for the heads from the Government to get the Bill as right as possible, send it to the Oireachtas committee for debate, bring it back and process it through the Houses in proper fashion. I will keep everybody updated on the issue. It is important that everybody has an opportunity to reflect properly, sensitively and with understanding on what is involved. I will keep the Deputy and the House updated on the issue.

I will take Deputies' questions in groups and ask for their co-operation in that regard. There should be no speeches, as there is only one minute remaining.

On the criminal justice (corruption) Bill, is there any update on the investigation into the murder of Fr. Niall Molloy? Does the Taoiseach accept that the only way to resolve the matter for the families and those who want to get to the truth and justice is to have a full and proper inquiry?

On the Water Services (Amendment) Bill, I ask the Taoiseach - I am glad the Minister is in the Chamber - if the Government will make any effort to ensure small contractors and self-employed persons-----

That is a different issue.

It is not. It is very important to have a debate on the issue.

It has nothing to do with the publication of the Bill.

Of course, it has. There was a promise that small contractors-----

I need the Deputy's co-operation, as other Deputies are waiting.

On the Children First Bill, the Government has ignored the Supreme Court's decision. Where is the Bill? When will the Government address the Supreme Court's decision in the McCrystal case?

The Water Services (Amendment) Bill has been dealt with.

The former Fianna Fáil man should know that the Water Services (Amendment) Bill will be introduced later in the year.

The Taoiseach will be the former Fine Gael man very soon.

The heads of the criminal justice (corruption) Bill were cleared by the Cabinet last June and sent to the relevant committee for discussion. I do not yet have a date for publication. The Children First Bill will be introduced this session.

What about the Fr. Niall Molloy case?

I asked a question about the investigation of the Fr. Molloy case.

That is not a matter for legislation.

It comes under the corruption Bill. It is a very important issue.

I understand the heads of the criminal justice (corruption) Bill were cleared last June and sent to the relevant committee for discussion and observations. There is as yet no date for publication.

And no news on the Fr. Niall Molloy case.

I welcome Mr. Michael O'Sullivan from Gneeveguilla who is in the Visitors Gallery as part of Job Shadow day.

With regard to changes to be made to the Finance Bill, the capital gains tax applied to the sale of co-operative shares should be reduced to help struggling farmers.

The Finance Bill was passed. The Deputy will have to wait until the next one.

When can we expect the defence (amendment) Bill to be published to amend the Defence Act 2006 to specify certain activities associated with the dispatch of personnel overseas which can take place in advance of discussion of the United Nations Security Council resolution?

The defence (amendment) Bill will not be published until next year.

In view of the number of community alert meetings which have been held throughout the country to deal with the issue of rural crime and the fact that the use of texting has been found to be very useful in apprehending criminals, I understand we must wait for regulations or legislation from the Minister for Justice and Equality or await the signing off by the Garda Commissioner to authorise its use. When will this happen?

Has such legislation been promised?

I will have to communicate with the Deputy in the matter. I do not have a date, but the point made is a serious one. I will have the Minister respond to the Deputy.

He can send me a text.

When does the Taoiseach expect the road transport Bill to be published?

On promised legislation, what is the position currently with regard to the introduction to the House of the medical practitioners Bill? Have the heads been approved and if not, when are they likely to be approved? Will the Taoiseach answer the same questions with regard to the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill, also part of promised legislation? The first Bill mentioned goes back to a time when -----

That is grand, we do not need a debate.

The criminal law (sexual offences) Bill is due next year and the medical practitioners Bill is due this session. The road Bill is due next year also.

Last week the Taoiseach assured the House that the legislation to provide for a referendum for the abolition of the Seanad would appear during this session. When is that legislation likely to be passed and does the Taoiseach envisage it taking place this year?

When will legislation be brought before the House to give effect to the abolition of town councils?

With regard to legislation concerning a banking inquiry, some reports indicate this might extend into next year. Will the Taoiseach give us some idea as to when we can expect the banking inquiry to begin?

That inquiry will begin at the end of this session. We are not abolishing county councils, but the local government Bill will come before the House in the autumn, before the end of the year. I expect to have the matter concerning the Seanad attended to and cleared by Cabinet next week. I will update Deputy Cowen on that.