It is proposed to take No. 19, statements on Europe Week. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn at the conclusion of Private Members’ business, which shall be No. 102, motion re fodder crisis (resumed), to be taken at the conclusion of No. 19 or at 7.30 p.m., whichever is the later, and conclude after 90 minutes; the proceedings on No. 19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after two and a half hours and the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the leaders of 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 15 minutes in each case, and the speech of a Minister or a Minister of State, the Chairman of the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs and 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 15 minutes in each case.
Order of Business
There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 19, statements on Europe week, agreed? Agreed.
Earlier, the Taoiseach said that the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Alex White, wanted six weeks to come back on the legislation to introduce universal primary care. The programme for Government contains a commitment that under the new general practitioner contract, the rate of remuneration of GPs will be reduced. Clearly, that is linked to promised legislation in the programme. Yesterday, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said it would take eight to ten months to prepare legislation to give effect to the promises in the programme for Government on primary care. This statement comes after two and a half years of stalling on the issue. The programme for Government indicates that the legislative basis for universal primary care will be established in a universal primary care Act. Given the conflicting messages that are emerging, when does the Taoiseach expect the universal primary care Bill to be published?
Universal health care is to be introduced at the end of this period of Government. The Minister of State has quite rightly requested time to reflect on a more efficient and effective delivery of the process for free general practitioner care services. As I said in reply to an earlier question of Deputy Martin's, the immediate focus of the Minister of State is persons with long-term illnesses. I will report to the House when the Minister of State reverts with his proposals on a more effective process for general practitioner care. Universal health care insurance is not due to be introduced until the end of the period of Government.
I did not ask about that. I asked about the commitment in the programme for Government to introduce a universal primary care Act, as the legislative basis for universal primary care.
These things are related, as the Deputy points out. I suggest he wait until we have a set of proposals from the Minister of State at the end of the month, at which time I will be able to provide a more accurate read on the timeline for legislation. I do not know what spokesperson was talking about an eight-month period. There is a bottleneck which we must discuss and which is affecting the range of legislation we can get through between the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and individual Departments. I will provide the House with an update when the Minister of State reports back. His proposals will include the legislation Deputy Martin mentioned.
Clearly, whoever put the programme for Government together did not have a clue what he or she was doing. The Government committed to a primary care Act but now the Taoiseach cannot even tell us if it is going to happen or when it is going to happen.
Maybe the outgoing Government did it.
It is ridiculous.
Regarding the Narrow Water bridge project, I have been in touch with the Ministers, Sammy Wilson and Danny Kennedy in the North. While the necessary work has been done by the Minister here, there is a real concern that the time allocated to procure funds from the EU for the bridge project may pass. Is it appropriate for the Taoiseach to ask the Tánaiste to make representations to the two Ministers to whom I referred?
I refer to the preservation order on the national monument on Moore Street. The programme for Government contains, for what it is worth, a commitment to develop a cultural plan for future commemorative events such as the centenary of the Easter Rising. We were all at an event this morning at Arbour Hill to remember the men and women who proclaimed a republic in 1916. However, the last headquarters of that republic - the national monument in Moore Street - stands in a state of decay. Under a preservation order, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is obliged to intervene when a national monument is in danger of falling into decay through neglect. I ask the Taoiseach to have the Minister, Deputy Deenihan, intervene to remove the national monument from the ownership of Chartered Land and to act to preserve the Moore Street battlefield site in its entirety.
While I acknowledge that the Taoiseach has a packed schedule, he promised to meet the families of the 1916 leaders.
We are on the Order of Business.
Can the Taoiseach get someone to get in touch with those families to organise the meeting?
I met a cross-Border delegation regarding Narrow Water when I was in Dundalk recently. Clearly, the EU moneys are in place as is the finance being contributed by Louth County Council and the Government. The process of evaluation by the Executive and the Minister, Sammy Wilson's office in Stormont is proceeding. I hope the matter can be brought to a speedy and successful conclusion. The project is an important cross-Border link and the first visible physical connection at Narrow Water. It is clearly an important link from a commercial, social and tourism perspective. The Minister, Sammy Wilson is dealing with the evaluation process, which I hope can be concluded successfully.
Moore Street is a monument of which one is not proud. I visited it and it is not the kind of site to which one would like to refer people as the last headquarters of those who left the GPO by the side door in 1916. It is a complex matter involving developers, Dublin City Council, the Minister and NAMA etc. I have asked the Minister to prepare a memo for Government because we must make a decision. The Minister can intervene in law, but any intervention should take into account what we want for the general area by the time we get to 2016. As I said to other Deputies, I would like to think we could do something about the military archives, the courthouse in Kilmainham, the GPO itself and the national monument in Moore Street. The Minister will bring his memo to Government shortly. It is a matter which can be discussed in the House. The Minister has a particular interest in the matter as chair of the centenary commemoration events. It is a case of ensuring any intervention is the right one in the context of what the nation wants for the national monument at Moore Street.
Will the Taoiseach meet the families?
I had three requests for separate meetings in the short time I was in the GPO on Easter Sunday morning. I made the point to a number of groups that we would want to get some cohesion on what we want. We are not going to have three separate dealings about headquarters. I acknowledge that the groups all have particular leanings about what they want. While I will get around to it, I ask Deputy Adams to let me see the Minister's memo first.
We have been promised a local government reform Bill. It is very unfair that people who are in public life or who want to enter it have no indication as to what the constituencies will be in the next local authority elections. I understand the local authority and European elections are being brought forward by one month and are less than one year away. When will we have dates and the report of the commission of inquiry? When will people know? It is not fair to people who want to engage in the democratic process.
A most serious issue is the criminal justice (corruption) Bill. There are third-force, militia-style groups going around the country and breaking into people's homes. It happened this morning when a large group of men in balaclavas broke into property at Dodsboro Cottages in Lucan.
This is not on the Order of Business.
I want to know when the corruption legislation is being brought forward. These are the corrupt people that are attacking people's homes. I thought it was illegal to break into a home without a warrant yet this is happening up and down the country. It must be stopped before someone is hurt, seriously injured or killed.
It is devastating. There was a young mother, two small babies and an elderly lady. A gang of militia arrived with balaclavas in an English registered van. It is totally unacceptable in the modern democratic State that we are supposed to have. These third force militias must be taken off the road.
Hold on, Deputy.
The criminal justice (corruption) Bill has been referred to the committee for consideration. The question about local government and the definition of various areas will be before the Dáil. The Minister expects to bring forward the Bill in about two weeks time. They will know in good time down there in Tipperary.
What about my second question?
I answered it first.
It is gone to the committee.
I do not think the Taoiseach answered it at all.
Níor chuala mé é sin.
Bhí an Teachta ag caint leis an Teachta in aice leis.
In its annual report yesterday, Focus Ireland made mention of the fact that the Government policy of providing 2,000 units from NAMA for social housing had failed to deliver. Does the Government have proposals or plans to reform the legislation that established NAMA to give it a stronger social dividend and social dimension to ensure this aspect of Government policy is delivered on, given that we have 100,000 families on social housing waiting lists?
I will ask the Minister of State, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, to advise the Deputy on the work she is doing in this area on social housing.
Will we see the legal services regulation Bill before the summer recess?
That is awaiting debate on Committee Stage. A number of technical amendments are being worked on in the Office of the Attorney General. As soon as they are cleared, it will be brought to Committee Stage.
A Bill prepared by Senator Quinn has been hanging around for some time. It concerns the protection of subcontractors. The Taoiseach indicated that he intended bringing it forward shortly. Can we have clarification on the point?
It is due on Committee Stage next week.
What is the current position of the Sport Ireland Bill, which is to amalgamate the Irish Sports Council and Campus Stadium Ireland? When will the heads come before Cabinet and when are they likely to be approved? When will the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill, which has been promised for some time, come before Cabinet? It is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with urgently.
The heads of the Sport Ireland Bill have not been cleared. That will take place later this year. The criminal law (sexual offences) Bill will be taken next year according to the current list.
Further to Deputy Durkan's remarks, I ask that the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill be prioritised. I have asked about it on a number of occasions. Initially, the indications were-----
The Deputy has received an answer. We cannot debate the issue.
We were originally told it would be dealt with in 2013. It is a very important matter because provision will be made for electronic tagging of sex offenders in the Bill. The matter needs to be prioritised.
With regards to the fines (amendment) Bill, at the moment we have a ludicrous situation where people are being convicted-----
I think we have an answer for the Deputy.
-----and if they do not pay their fines they are being taken to prison, sometimes for as little as one hour-----
We cannot discuss the Bill.
It is a waste of taxpayers' money.
Other Deputies want to speak and we have other business.
As I said to Deputy Durkan on the criminal law (sexual offences) Bill, there was a report to Government last July and work is proceeding in the Department. It probably will not be finished for some time. The fines (amendment) Bill is due this session.
I believe the Government is seeking advice from the Attorney General with regard to options to impose public sector pay cuts if there is no hope for the Croke Park II agreement. Can the Taoiseach inform the House if the Government is proposing to introduce legislation to impose cuts on public sector pay?
The Government authorised the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to give the chairman of the Labour Relations Commission a few extra days to engage with unions with regard to Croke Park II. I hope some progress can be made in that regard. The chairman of the LRC will report to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform on Monday and the Minister will brief the Cabinet on Tuesday on the outcome of the discussions and the options open to us. The bottom line remains at €300 million of savings this year, leading to €1 billion by 2015.
Unlike the €350 million under Fianna Fáil.
The Minister will have a briefing from the chairman of the LRC on Monday.
Deputy Healy-Rae asked half of my question. The Taoiseach indicated 1 July is the date by which €300 million must be taken out of the public sector. By what date must legislation be passed if the Taoiseach does not get agreement to implement the cuts on 1 July? When must it be passed by the Dáil?
I prefer to allow the extra time for discussions to take place between the unions and the LRC and to have the chairman of the LRC brief the Minister on Monday and the Minister report to the Cabinet on Tuesday. The Government will consider the outcome and the options at that time.
Has the troika given permission to the Government for the water services Bill to be brought forward? If so, when can we expect it?
The Government made a decision to have effective payments from 1 January 2015, which are retrospective for three months. The payments will be from October 2014 but only payable from 1 January 2015. The Government has been in negotiation and discussion with the troika and progress was made in that regard. I cannot give confirmation of the outcome but I understand it was satisfactory and I will advise Deputy Cowen of the formal outcome of it.
When does the Taoiseach expect to bring forward the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill? With regard to the displaced residents of Priory Hall, Dublin 13, can the Taoiseach give any indication of when Mr. Justice Finnegan will report to the Government and when the incredible ordeal the displaced residents are enduring right now will be brought to an end? It is happening right now as the people are back in court shortly with regard to rental and mortgage issues. They also have issues with their credit rating and so on.
The criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill will be taken later this year. Deputy Broughan received his letter on 23 April setting out the position. I would like to be able to give an end date for this Priory Hall debacle but there are court cases tied up in it and I cannot comment on it.
The report of Mr. Justice Finnegan is not a court case.
When is publication of the landlord and tenant Bill expected? It will reform and consolidate the general law on landlords and tenants in the context of tenants likely to be displaced by banks.
That is due in the middle of next year according to the present preparation.