Confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Niall Collins on Tuesday, 28 May 2013:
That Dáil Éireann has no confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
"commends the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter, on the strong progress made in the ongoing programme of modernisation and reform of An Garda Síochána, in particular the consolidation of the Garda station network which will provide an additional 61,000 front-line Garda patrol hours in 2013 and the reform of the Garda roster system which better targets Garda personnel for duty at times of greater demand for policing services;
supports the Minister’s commitment to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, An Garda Síochána is provided with sufficient resources to enable it to deliver an effective and efficient policing service; and notes that, despite the continued severity of the budgetary and economic conditions and the severe under-funding provided by the previous Government:
— the strength of the Garda force has been maintained above 13,000 members;
— Garda promotions have been ensured to maintain the balance in ranks;
— there has been continued investment in Garda equipment with, for example, €9 million provided for the Garda fleet in 2012-2013; and
— provision has been made for the construction of three new Garda divisional headquarters;
welcomes the overall reduction in recorded crimes in 2012 and acknowledges the ongoing initiatives of the Minister and the Garda Síochána in tackling crime and improving community safety, noting in particular the progress of Operation Fiacla in tackling burglary and significant reductions in many categories of crime including drugs offences and weapons and explosives offences, and the continued successes of actions taken against organised crime in the State, resulting in significant drug seizures and the return of revenue to the Exchequer by the Criminal Assets Bureau;
supports the Minister’s ongoing and significant programme of investment in, and reform of, the prison system and the sentencing and management of offenders, including:
— the provision of additional prison spaces and the upgrading of existing prison facilities to provide in-cell sanitation by 2016;
— continued reductions in payroll and operating costs across the prisons;
— requiring the courts to consider community service options for non-violent and less serious offenders;
— the improvement of the independent oversight of prisons and of prisoner complaints mechanisms;
— the establishment of the penal policy review group; and
— the introduction of an incentivised regimes scheme to incentivise better behaviour by prisoners;
commends the Minister’s ongoing engagement with his counterparts in Northern Ireland and Britain in maintaining resolute opposition to the criminal terrorists opposed to peace on the island and in developing and enhancing North-South co-operation in criminal justice and policing with the aim of improving community safety on the island of Ireland;
welcomes the reforms of the State’s immigration and citizenship procedures in order to support the State’s economic recovery and promote better integration for non-nationals resident here, noting in particular:
— the immigrant investor and start-up entrepreneur programmes;
— the new visa waiver programme;
— the clearing of the backlog of applications for citizenship;
— the new formal ceremony for new naturalised citizens; and
— streamlined immigration procedures;
recognises the importance of the historic and fundamental reform of the State’s insolvency and bankruptcy law in the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 and the establishment by the Minister of the Insolvency Service of Ireland, considering these are vital elements of the Government’s strategy to return the country to stability and economic growth, and measures which will provide much-needed, new supports for people genuinely experiencing severe financial difficulties;
commends the Minister’s initiative to establish the interdepartmental committee, chaired by Senator Martin McAleese, to investigate and to set out the facts of the State’s involvement with the Magdalen laundries, and his decision to establish a scheme to provide supports for the women involved;
supports the Minister’s major programme of reform to the criminal and civil law, including:
— the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 dealing with the disclosure of information about serious offences committed against children or vulnerable adults;
— the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 to provide a mandatory vetting system for persons working with children or vulnerable adults;
— the Criminal Law (Defence and the Dwelling) Act 2011 to make clear that a person may use reasonable force to defend themselves in their home;
— the Criminal Justice Act 2011 to provide improved powers for the Garda in combating white collar crime;
— the Criminal Justice (Search Warrants) Act 2012, which provides for the issue of search warrants by gardaí in exceptional circumstances of urgency;
— the Criminal Justice Bill 2013, which will provide a power to temporarily close down mobile phone transmissions where there is a serious terrorist bomb threat;
— the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill, which will provide for a DNA database and appropriate safeguards on its use for combating crime;
— the Criminal Justice (Community Service) (Amendment) Act 2011, which promotes the use of community service rather than imprisonment in appropriate cases;
— the Twenty-Ninth Amendment of the Constitution (Judges’ Remuneration) Act 2011, which enabled salary reductions to be applied to the Judiciary;
— the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011, a far-reaching and overdue reform of the regulation of the legal profession;
— the Courts Bill 2013, which will enhance the role of the District and Circuit Courts and provide for the appropriate reporting of family law cases;
— the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012, which facilitates the rehabilitation of once-off offenders; and
— the Europol Act 2012 and the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) (Amendment) Bill 2013 both of which give legislative effect to EU developments in the fight against international crime; and
looks forward to further legislative reforms;
commends the successful conclusion of discussions, as set out in the Haddington Road agreement, with the staff representatives in the Irish Prison Service, An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces and looks forward to a successful outcome of the ballot on these proposals for the benefit of the country as a whole;
acknowledges that the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Defence have, over the last two years, delivered on their extensive remit while remaining within budget;
commends the Minister on the significant achievements made in the ongoing programme of reform and re-organisation of the Defence Forces taking account of the constraints imposed by the continued severity of the budgetary and economic conditions, notably in stabilising the strength of the Defence Forces at 9,500 and in the consolidation of military units and barracks;
recognises the important actions taken by the Minister to guarantee the stability of the Reserve Defence Force, including twinning reserve units with the Permanent Defence Force;
supports the renewed and enhanced role of the Permanent Defence Force in the UN international peacekeeping operation in Lebanon and also in the EU training missions in Mali and Somalia; and
expresses full confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, Deputy Alan Shatter.
- (Minister for Health).

Ten minutes remain for the Technical Group. I call Deputy Joan Collins.

I wish to share time with Deputies Seamus Healy and Mattie McGrath.

The Deputies will two and a half minutes each. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I wish to come to the start of this issue where two Garda whistleblowers raised some serious questions and did so through the proper procedures and channels that they were allowed to use. The question was about the unequal application of the law and a certain culture of at least some senior gardaí. The penalty points issue was not the only concern. They were ignored, used the proper channels and came to TDs, which was their right. This involves an important issue of the equal application of the law and what it means for society, reputation, impartiality and policing.

We do not have the problems of other countries where there is widespread serious corruption and unlawful actions by the police, as well as places where it is positively dangerous to come into contact with the police. I stress that we do not have that situation in Ireland, but the issues we have raised do have serious implications and should have been of more concern to the Minister. His dismissive attitude has been absolutely contemptible. The whistleblowers have been isolated and one has had to retire from his job.

Deputy Mick Wallace has been slandered by the Minister. I have been vilified for naming names to try to put the issue on the serious platform that is required. The fact is that the whistleblowers, as well as TDs such as myself, Clare Daly, Mick Wallace and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, have been vindicated, compared to those who tried to sweep the issues under the carpet.

An independent inquiry is needed and a genuinely independent Ombudsman's office. I support the no confidence motion. It was a misjudgment on national television to use information from a conversation with the Garda Commissioner to undermine a TD. It was done smugly and with glee.

I am also supporting the motion because of the Minister's inability to deal with the insolvency crisis and mortgage debt, as well as families who are in deep crisis with their mortgages.

I would like to clarify again the position regarding the issuing of fixed charge notices to Members of the Oireachtas. Comments have been reported in the media to the effect that TDs are exempt from liability for road traffic offences on their way to or from Dáil Éireann. This assertion is simply incorrect. When the Minister was asked to give a breath test and failed to do so, why was he not brought down to the Garda station - I am not asking that he be brought down in handcuffs like Deputy Clare Daly - and tested to see if he was over the limit, just like everyone else? Why did the Minister mention that he was coming back from Dáil Éireann?

If the Minister intends to morally lecture the rest of us, he should be aware that the soapbox on which he is standing is resting on quicksand that is rapidly disappearing under him. Let us look at the case of Fr. Niall Molloy, a former Roscommon man of the year. When in opposition, the Minister said he was going to help that family. He is not helping them, however, and the family has told me so. The gardaí tell them one thing while the Minister tells them another, and these people are at the end of their tether. The Minister should remember therefore that the soapbox he stood on when in opposition is not on solid ground.

I must put the Minister on notice that I, too, have made a complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner about how the Minister released protected information about me into the public realm. However, the Minister probably already knows that because he is their boss. Is that not right? He has probably already chatted to them because information does not stay where it should with the Minister. He moves it around, depending on how it suits him politically.

The most important reason why I think the Minister should step down is because of the way he has treated the whistleblowers. During yesterday's debate, Government TDs came in to tell us about what the Minister did concerning apologies for the Magdalen laundries, et cetera. Let me remind the Minister that if whistleblowers had been listened to in the Magdalen laundries, instead of being chucked back in there by the gardaí, there would have been no need for an apology. The same applies to the way the Minister is treating the whistleblowers now. They are heroes who should be running the Garda Síochána not running away from it. The Minister is chasing them out. He should resign.

I support this no confidence motion and generally support the points made by previous speakers. However, my particular reason for supporting this motion is the fact the Minister has closed Kickham Barracks in Clonmel. He has destroyed the military history and tradition in the town of Clonmel.

That is a town in south Tipperary, Minister.

I was involved in negotiations and deputations to the Minister in this regard. However, the Minister was cold, callous and uncaring, particularly in his treatment of Army wives and girlfriends who represented their husbands and partners in this matter. He refused to come to Clonmel to see the fine facility that was there, thus ensuring that approximately 150 members of the Defence Forces lost their positions in Clonmel. They either had to retire early or travel to work in Limerick, Kilkenny or elsewhere. That put huge pressure on local families and Clonmel's business people. The closure of the barracks was a major blow to the local people and the fabric of the town.

I want to repeat the questions that I put to the Tánaiste and which I asked him to pass on to the Taoiseach, to get information from the Minister for Justice and Equality. Those questions concerned whether he was stopped by a Garda, if his behaviour was cordial, and if he was treated the same as anybody else. Was he cautioned and did he attempt to use Dáil privilege? His convoluted answer that took five and a half hours last Friday, and his ten-page speech last night - one page of which referred to the facts - did not answer the questions.

Last night, the Minister fudged the question about whether he used constitutional privilege. He needs to be explicit on that. I know he did and it has been put to me that he did. In his capacity as Minister, he can ask the Garda Commissioner to ascertain directly from the gardaí on duty what exactly occurred. Until he does this, he must realise that by implication he is accusing the gardaí of malicious lies. I do not say that lightly. The Minister's behaviour has been outrageous.

Last night, Government Deputies talked about a reforming Minister, but he is one of the most dangerously unfit Ministers I have ever seen in the Department of Justice and Equality. For a long time I have questioned whether the Justice and Defence portfolios should be under his aegis.

I want to re-echo what Deputy Healy said. The Minister treated the people of south Tipperary with disdain, as he treats most people. The Minister has questions to answer but he has not answered them. I believe that in the fullness of time the truth will come out. The Minister knows what he did. Maybe his passenger on the night could clarify what happened, if he can not.

No suggestion was ever made by me that the Minister had alcohol taken. That was never mentioned to anybody, so the Minister should not try to muddy the waters like he did with the dates and everything else. His behaviour was totally unacceptable as it is most days in the Chamber. The Minister talked about Bills, but the only Bills he introduced are ones to create misery.

The Minister has no respect and has not supported the Garda Síochána or given it the tools of the trade to do its job. The Minister should have respect for the Garda. The Minister almost single handedly defeated the last referendum on the Houses of the Oireachtas inquiries. He knew more than ten former Attorneys General. He is a fount of knowledge and everything else.

I call Deputies Shatter, Hogan and Reilly the troika or cabal of Ministers. The Minister for Health, Deputy Reilly was here last night giving Deputy Shatter a splendid defence and calling him a reforming Minister. The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is unfit for office. He should answer the questions he was asked. I am surprised the Taoiseach has not asked him. Where is the report card he had for the Minister? He is out of paint or his pages are full up. The Minister's record is damning. He can look behind him for solace. All those backbenchers who are so proud of him should go out and find the facts themselves. The truth will out and the Minister will be shamed. To hide behind his colleagues-----

Will the Deputy stop?

The Minister is extremely unfit.

(Interruptions).

Fianna Fáil does not want Deputy Mattie McGrath back. There is no way it will take him back.

The Government Members can shout all they like. I will watch my back. There is a threat from a spineless Deputy from Limerick who will not even support his own farmers.

I did not say, "watch your back". I said Fianna Fáil does not want the Deputy back.

The Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, can laugh if he wants to but this is a gravely serious issue. There are very many other serious issues but the Minister is sailing close to the wind here. He is not being truthful. I do not want to use the word "lie" but he is making liars of other people and it is outrageous. It is contempt for the electorate that gave this Government its mandate.

I wish to share time with Ministers, Deputies Ruairí Quinn and Frances Fitzgerald, Ministers of State, Deputies Paul Kehoe, Brian Hayes and Fergus O'Dowd, and Deputies Olivia Mitchell, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, Michael McNamara, Dara Murphy, Tony McLoughlin, Heather Humphreys, Simon Harris and David Stanton.

This is a pointless debate. A venial sin has been turned into a hanging offence. The mock outrage of Fianna Fáil Members makes them look ridiculous. I thought Fianna Fáil had embarked on a new departure. I thought when the previous Cabinet had either run away or been sacked by the electorate that the new young men would be different, policy-driven, prepared to play the ball not the man. No more Punch and Judy shows, we were told. I thought before long we would be like Miranda in "The Tempest", that we would all be exclaiming, "O brave new world, That has such people in't!" Unfortunately there is no brave new world in Fianna Fáil. The bright young men have reverted to type: bushwhackers and character assassins.

Of all the topics Fianna Fáil Members could have selected for Private Members' time, why did they select a confidence vote on a very competent Minister whose record of reform is unsurpassed? It is because they cannot credibly discuss the main policy issues of the day. Fianna Fáil Members cannot talk about the economy because they wrecked it and they hope if they do not mention it at all the electorate may have a bout of amnesia. They cannot talk about the banks because Fianna Fáil's disastrous policies regarding Anglo Irish Bank and the bank guarantee have cost the taxpayers a king's ransom measured in billions of euro.

They cannot criticise the local property tax because it was they who agreed it with the troika, and as recently as the 2012 budget they proposed a flat rate property tax. Anyway, the Revenue is doing a brilliant job of collecting the tax. They cannot credibly talk about the Haddington Road agreement because, unlike their own public service pay and pension cutting exercise when unilateral action without consultation was taken, the Haddington Road agreement has been negotiated with all the stakeholders involved. They cannot credibly discuss the protection of maternal life Bill because Fianna Fáil is hopelessly divided on the issue and does not have a party position.

If the major policy issues of the day cannot be discussed with credibility in Private Members' time, then personality politics might look like a good option. One can only be astounded at the cynicism of the party which, having wrecked the economy, destroyed the banks, put hundreds of thousands of people out of work, savaged the living standards of so many, made the poor poorer, knocked 50% off the value of family homes, drove our young people out of the country and surrendered the sovereignty of this Republic, still has the neck to launch a personal attack on the Minister for Justice and Equality. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

I have wanted to come in particularly to speak on this motion because of the confidence I have in the Minister, Deputy Shatter. I have known the Minister for a couple of decades. We have worked together in the past but never as closely as in Cabinet. He has brought a sense of dynamism and energy to the Department in a consistent and clear way and I can think of very few of his predecessors who have been able to do as much as he has done in such a short period of time. He has made decisions which other people did not have the courage to make. Although reality necessitated that they be made, other people ran away from them.

Deputy Healy has left the Chamber but if we want to have a modern Army we needed to get the sort of changes that were proposed not just in Kickham Barracks, but in other barracks as well. The combination of two portfolios in one, defence and justice, has given the Minister an extraordinary overview of the situation in this country and the needs. The suggestion for the closing of barracks originated with the Garda. The Minister did not go out in the night and try to identify buildings that should be closed. The Opposition Members know just how ineffective some of those Garda stations were.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is a member of Fine Gael working closely with colleagues from the Labour Party in this coalition that is attempting to rebuild this country that was so systematically destroyed by Fianna Fáil, as the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan has described. We are having a three-hour debate on a motion of confidence in this man here beside me who has worked extraordinary changes in such a short period of time, and has more to come. He has given a dignity to all the people who have come here who have sought to become Irish citizens in the citizenship ceremony that now takes place. For people who have been here for many years and who have contributed to our economy in hospitals and so many different aspects of life, that ceremony is real and tangible. I would recommend that any Deputy who has not had the opportunity to observe it at first hand should do so. For those reasons and many more, which time prevents me from identifying, the Labour Party and I have full confidence in the role of Deputy Shatter as Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence.

It is almost impossible for us in this Chamber to be objective in our judgment of each other. We are too close to one another, too political, competitive and ideologically polarised. Nobody in this room has not already formed a view and an opinion about everybody else. We all have our preconceived prejudices, political, personal and ideological and I am afraid it may have been these prejudices that drove this motion rather than any real conviction of wrong doing. A motion of no confidence must be used judiciously and on matters of real import. That is not what is happening here. I accept that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, would have been wiser not to have shared the information about Deputy Wallace and I understand Deputy Wallace's annoyance and hurt but that slip was in no way reflective of some sinister, Big Brother plan, as has been suggested.

The other issue is merely a puff of smoke. To be stopped by a garda at a mandatory checkpoint is certainly not a crime. It happens to hundreds every year. It is neither remarkable nor relevant. What is relevant is the Minister, Deputy Shatter's performance and record as a Minister and that is beyond question. Nobody can question his competence, work record, reforming zeal and ability to put national interest before local and sectoral interest. That is what the public wants and demands of us. That is the standard by which they will judge us all. Those, above all, are the qualities which inspire confidence. It would be a tragedy and a travesty if, on the very rare occasion that those qualities come together in one politician, there should be any expression of lack of confidence by his peers.

I share a constituency with the Minister and every time I read about Dublin South in the media they talk about the competition between us, and they are not wrong. There is competition between us. We tread carefully around one another. We both sup with a long spoon. However none of that blinds me to the inescapable fact of his abilities and that what drives the Minister is solely his determination to serve the public interest and I have absolute confidence in that. I accept that the remarks about Deputy Wallace were indiscreet and hurtful; the Minister genuinely regrets them and he has apologised. Who among us has not been indiscreet and regretted something we said or did? One indiscretion does not define this Minister. He is defined by his record and his promise, and this country is extremely fortunate to have a Minister of his calibre at this difficult juncture in our country's fortunes.

I ask the Opposition to accept it would be a gross injustice to give greater weight to a single indiscretion made in the heat of a television programme than to the Minister's undisputed record of excellence and achievement.

Here we are again. Eight months after a Fianna Fáil motion of no confidence in the Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, the party is at it again, this time with a different Minister in its sights, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter. Fianna Fáil knows full well this is another charade designed to get the party the media coverage it so longs for since the good old days of being in government. It must be part of the programme of recovery for Fianna Fáil. I wonder who will be next. Will the party wait so long the next time? This carry-on ignores the fact it is wasting valuable time. Fianna Fáil claims to be reflecting the public mood while it points out its lack of support for the Minister's actions and policies and claims he has made huge errors of judgement. What I hear from the public, however, is that people are in no mood for grandstanding, posturing or unsupported allegations made by anybody in this House. They can see through this time wasting exercise.

The proposers of this motion tonight have no confidence in the Minister, Deputy Shatter. They do not believe they can rely on him, trust him to do his job or tell us the truth. All I can say to that is - they do not know him very well. Since the day he took office he has worked tirelessly on his ministerial responsibilities. Having been in opposition for so long, he knew exactly what he wanted to do and what he needed to do for the people of this country. He is a reforming Minister. His prodigious output of work includes the enactment of 14 pieces of legislation, with three Bills currently progressing through the Oireachtas and a further five at advanced stages of drafting. One of the most memorable nights in this Chamber came about as a result of the Minister's work with the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, on the Magdalen Laundries issue. This resulted in a State apology and the establishment of a fund for the benefit of the women concerned.

In spite of efforts to paint a picture of a Minister who has his face set against the Garda Síochána, the fact is this Minister is the champion of the force, having successfully negotiated additional funding on its behalf, securing to date a total of €415 million more than the sum contained in the Fianna Fáil national recovery plan. Garda numbers are also currently higher than they would have been if that plan had been implemented. As part of Defence Forces reform, the Minister has initiated the preparation of a Green Paper on defence, which will be published soon.

Upon taking office the Minister, Deputy Shatter, discovered a backlog of 22,000 applications for citizenship, some of which had been awaiting decision for in excess of three years. Most of these have now been dealt with and the persons in question have attended the formal citizenship ceremonies which were initiated by the Minister in 2011. I also mention the Minister's work on the personal insolvency service and on prison form. I have full confidence in the ability of the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to carry out his duties truthfully and with diligence and integrity, and I heartily reject this motion of no confidence.

It might seem ironic to some that this motion tabled by Fianna Fáil would contain so many references to the rule of law, given one of the party's founder members, Seán Lemass, described it as a "slightly constitutional party". In fairness, his reference in that regard was owed to the party's revolutionary past rather than to its commitment to the rule of law, a commitment it still has. That revolutionary past was brought to the Department of Justice where many fundamental reforms were carried out. Various Fianna Fáil Ministers brought through revolutionary legislation in that Department. However, the revolution ground to a halt long ago. Under the last Government, Bills such as the immigration Bill languished for ever on the shelves so that our figures for processing asylum claims matched those of Greece almost as closely as our economic trajectory matched that of the same country. Similarly, people waited for citizenship, waiting hopelessly for a reply to their applications that could not and would never come. In fact the Fianna Fáil Party changed our citizenship laws so that every child born in this State is no longer automatically entitled to Irish citizenship. That, from a party that professes to be a republican party.

Since he came to power, the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has published a new version of that immigration and asylum Bill and has taken on many suggestions in that regard that came from all sides of the House. He has published what amounts to revolutionary legislation in the Personal Insolvency Act, the Jurisdiction of Courts and Enforcement of Justice Act, the National Vetting Bureau Act and many other reforms that were so badly needed, given the abject lack of reform for so long in the preceding period.

The Deputy has just half a minute left.

If that is the case I will conclude. I had intended to cover Garda figures and the fact that this Government has protected them at a higher level than Fianna Fáil did. It consulted with both the GRA and the AGSI with regard to pay measures which, although painful, are necessary. That is something the previous Government also failed to do.

At this stage of the debate I imagine Deputy Niall Collins and the Fianna Fáil Party are embarrassed for having tabled this motion.

Fianna Fáil do not do embarrassment.

It has handed the Government an opportunity to highlight the exemplary record of an outstanding Minister for Justice and Equality, and Defence. In the course of the past week, I have been struck by the number of times the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has been described by commentators, including critics, as being highly intelligent and extremely hard-working. He apologised in this House, not once but twice, while the political party that brought this country to its knees believes it has nothing for which to apologise.

As Minister of State in the Department of Defence, I have had the opportunity to work closely with the Minister, Deputy Shatter, and I can confirm that the first task that faced him on entering office was to deal with the funding deficit left by the previous Government. This was a result of its national recovery plan which had allocated amounts that were inadequate to pay the wages and pensions of personnel or to provide for essential equipment and supplies for the Defence Forces. As Minister, Deputy Shatter has secured the agreement of Government to stabilise the strength of the Defence Forces at 9,500. He has led a difficult and far-reaching programme of reform to ensure that the redeployment and re-organisation of the Defence Forces went ahead.

As Chief Whip, I have had a unique opportunity to observe the manner in which the Minister has tackled legislative reform. I will not mention the long list of legislation he has steered though this House in recent months. The Government has a long-term vision for areas of justice and defence which goes well beyond the correction of legacy issues around budgets. The previous Government dodged making difficult decisions but the reform process must start with making tough decisions. However, in the years under the remit of the Minister, Deputy Shatter, these reforms have been set in train and will bear fruit for years to come.

In the long term, the grandstanding of the Deputies opposite will fool nobody. I cannot overlook the contribution made by Deputy Mattie McGrath in the circus of recent days. The comparison made by Deputy Buttimer last night to Lyndon Johnson hit the nail on the head. The former President used to say, "Of course the allegation is untrue but let's make him deny it". Deputy McGrath asked a question deliberately loaded with innuendo and sought to create an entirely false impression. He seems to think that if he repeats the words "Garda" and "breathalyser" often enough he will prove some kind of point. The Members of this House are allowed to speak without fear of being sued for defamation. This invaluable privilege is given to us so that our democratic debate can be conducted freely and without fear of the threat of litigation. It is not given to us in order to facilitate slander or innuendo, or to promote the spread of malicious gossip. Deputy McGrath has cynically abused Dáil privilege in an attempt to cast a shadow over the good name of the Minister, Deputy Shatter. The facts of the situation have been placed before the House by the Minister and that should have been the end of the matter. However, having made his outlandish allegation, Deputy McGrath cannot back it up and now seems uncertain of his source. I have a word of advice for Deputy Mattie McGrath. He should be careful not to believe every yarn he hears in every pub.

I support the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, with the full confidence I know to exist in this House and in the country at large. In my office I was listening to Deputy Mattie McGrath, who unfortunately is not present in the Chamber just now. The Deputy said this was the gravest and most serious issue - is he for real? The idea that this issue is the gravest and most serious issue facing the country right now is ridulous, as is the fact that Private Members' time on both Tuesday and Wednesday had to be dedicated to this trivial issue.

I also heard the Deputy claim that he "knew" the Minister had used parliamentary privilege. This is the same man who gets his sources from people hanging around Pembroke Street outside allegedly "pretty" bars, at some date between 2008 and 2011. He could not get that date right. I understand he also claimed there was a Garda file on this incident but we have not yet seen it. This is a Deputy who, as I understand it, opposes the Road Traffic Act 2001, one of the outcomes of which was to lower the alcohol limit in terms of road testing. On that occasion, in one memorable contribution, Deputy McGrath suggested that drink was a sedative. In public he stated, "It can make people who are jumpy on the road or nervous be more relaxed". He should follow his own prescription.

Had he had a number of scoops before last Thursday this might have helped him with the rather unfortunate question he posed that day.

We all know Deputy Mattie McGrath has a long history with Fianna Fáil, which is why the latter sensibly chose to get rid of him.

No wonder you are laughing.

I thought Fianna Fáil Members were too clever or wily to fall into the trap of following his little misadventure by tabling this motion of no confidence but they saw a bad situation and could not avoid trying to make it worse. It is ridiculous that we are debating a motion of no confidence on this issue when, as the Minister for Finance rightly noted, so many issues befall this country in terms of the economy and unemployment. Where are the throngs of people in the Visitors Gallery baying for blood and demanding that Minister be dragged to the guillotine? They are not there. This has been a bad week for Fianna Fáil and yet another bad week for the Opposition.

It is incredible that the House is debating a motion of no confidence in one of our finest Ministers. Bills that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, introduced as a backbencher and Opposition Deputy brought fundamental changes to the areas of justice, family law and health. It is a matter of public record that the party opposite adopted many of his Bills as its own while it was in Government. It had the confidence in him then to accept his assistance. The Minister's ability as a legislator and a Parliamentarian is unchallengeable. The book he wrote on family law is regarded as a reference book for all solicitors who work in this area.

Fianna Fáil Deputies expressed concern about how the Minister allegedly behaved at a Garda checkpoint. Their evidence comes from a former member of their party, Deputy Mattie McGrath, who returned to this House in 2011 without the inconvenience of flying the Fianna Fáil flag while continuing to wear the Charvet shirt. It is alleged that the Minister alluded to parliamentary privilege when he informed a garda that he was on his way home from the Dáil and had not been drinking. This accusation is unfair and without foundation, and it should be withdrawn. I fully and wholeheartedly support the Minister, Deputy Shatter, as a man who is leading the way in the legislative change and reform which this House will acknowledge is badly needed.

The country faces pressing matters which we could be debating tonight instead of this motion. I followed with great interest the reports on the recent Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, at which Deputy Martin declared, "if you want destructive politics-as-usual, if you want blinkered all-out opposition, then the Fianna Fáil Party I lead is not for you". He said those words at the end of April and it now the end of May. It is said that a week is a long time in politics but the last month must have brought significant change in the Fianna Fáil position because this motion is the worst type of politics as usual. It is opportunistic and politically driven, and it bears no relation to the Minister's ability to do his job. The Minister is a capable, intelligent and extremely hardworking individual who does not shy away from difficult issues. I have no hesitation in expressing my full confidence in him and I look forward to this issue being put to bed so that he can continue with his reforming work in the Department of Justice and Equality and we can get on with the business of dealing with the important issues that face the country.

I am pleased to express my full confidence in the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to thank him for his work to date and to look forward to the continuation of his ambitious programme of legislative reform. At 9 p.m. we will put this piece of political opportunism behind us in order to allow him to return to dealing with issues such as the Mental Capacity Bill, which will make a difference to the lives of many people with disabilities. His work ethic and commitment is beyond reproach. He navigated many laws onto the Statute Book in the past two years and published many more. He has been the driving force behind many of this Government's initiatives.

I understand the need for political theatre on occasion but this is more pantomime than Plato. The Minister has been consistent in his answers while his opponents have altered their facts, moved the goalposts, changed their stories and engaged in hypocrisy. Some Members appear to find the Minister's intelligence disconcerting. Perhaps they prefer the old Killinascullyesque backslapping opportunistic parish pump politics but I, for one, find his ability reassuring and encouraging for this country.

I have the privilege of chairing the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. Since taking up this role, I have been highly impressed by the Minister's work rate, his ability and his attention to detail. Many of the Bills we examine are extraordinarily detailed, complex and important. It would more appropriate for us to deal with serious policy issues and if Fianna Fáil Members had devoted their time, talent and energy to any one of these issues we could have had a proper debate with relevance to the people.

The Minister, Deputy Shatter, is probably one of the best Ministers for Justice and Equality we ever had. The amount of legislation that he produces is unbelievable. If I have any complaint to make about him it is that he works too hard because it means we have to work hard to keep up with him. Deputy Calleary will agree with me because he has worked closely with the Minister as a member of the joint committee.

The Minister is not afraid to challenge sacred cows with his reform indicatives but even Homer nods. He made a mistake and he apologised for it. That should have been the end of the matter but we have instead devoted three hours of parliamentary time to the issue. Deputy Mattie McGrath made all sorts of accusation without presenting a scintilla of evidence in support. We could be dealing with many different issues that impact on the people instead of wasting time.

The Minister went to Cork and made the decision to build a new prison. He went to Limerick and initiated a major refurbishment of the prison there. This is a man who makes decisions and gets things done.

He went to Clonmel to close the barracks and he did the same in Mullingar.

Fianna Fáil closed a good few.

Did he say anything beforehand?

Eighteen months ago my Department published a report detailing the deaths of children in care over the preceding decade. The publication of that report was a direct result of the work done by the Minister, Deputy Shatter, in Opposition when his courageous decision to publish the Tracy Faye report forced the previous Government into action and a transparency it had previously avoided. His time as Opposition spokesperson for children was typified by a commitment to reform, a dedication to change and a capacity for hard work. Those same traits apply to the work he now does as Minister. He has introduced legislation that fundamentally changed the protection of children and vulnerable people in this State. His enactment of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012 and the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012 provided a different architecture to criminal law in preventing and prosecuting abuses of our most vulnerable people.

His commitment to reform is also evident in other areas. The changes he is bringing to the secrecy of family court proceedings will provide transparency and dignity to countless families. His pioneering vision of a reorganised system of family courts reflects the extensive personal experience and expertise he brings to his portfolio and the reforming zeal and commitment he applies to all his work. This work will make a tangible difference to families in their toughest hours by removing the sting of the courts from family law disputes and encouraging a more conciliatory and reflective approach to family dispute resolution. It may take some time but it will change the system so that mothers and fathers will see that they are treated fairly and our courts are subjected to public scrutiny.

Previous Ministers have had opportunities to introduce these reforms but few have bothered. The reason the Minister, Deputy Shatter, bothers is not because of his widely recognised expertise in family law.

He bothers because he cares about the individuals who must navigate the system, how they are treated and how the State delivers for them. There is no better example of his caring attitude towards people who were previously ignored by the State than the citizenship ceremonies he has initiated. While they may appear like a small thing, if the Deputies opposite ever visit one of these ceremonies, they will recognise that they are not a small thing for those participating and in attendance.

We have, in the Minister, a man who is absolutely dedicated to the task facing him, who is eminently qualified and cares about what he does. I fully support the motion of confidence in him. His colleagues and the House have confidence in him. The tabling of the motion by the Fianna Fáil Party is inappropriate and disproportionate. I commend the Government amendment to the House.

I regret I did not call Deputy Dara Murphy. The Deputy has one minute.

I can picture the scene at Fianna Fáil parliamentary party meetings as party members spend hour after hour dealing with blank page after blank page trying to find issues they can, with any sense of integrity, bring before the House. The Fianna Fáil Party is responsible for all of our current woes. While the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, referred to a number of these, he could have included the 40% increase in Government expenditure the party presided over between 2000 and 2007. Further, monthly job losses were running at 10,000 per month when the party left power. More than 1,000 jobs are being created each month under this Government. The Fianna Fáil Party almost single-handedly destroyed our reputation abroad.

Tonight, the Fianna Fáil Party has decided to give up discussing real politics. As a party handcuffed by its history, it is resorting to playing the man. In the Minister for Justice and Equality, however, they have chosen the one Minister who embodies everything that Fianna Fáil is not. He is a person of integrity, conviction and no small amount of bottle, a reforming Minister and, in my experience of only two and a half years in the House, a person of great compassion and warmth. He has done more than any other Minister to show the country can once again have faith in politics.

It is clear where those on this side of the House stand. There is no division over the Government's commitment to proceed with solving the economic crisis. Of all the Ministers in government, the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, is the most determined, resolute and fearless. He has tackled all the issues that have arisen in his Department with absolute clarity. He has done what few Ministers have ever done, for example, in tackling judges' pay when some members of the Judiciary refused to accept the same salary reductions as everyone else in the public sector. He ensures things are done correctly and properly. He was responsible for the Government apology for the Magdalen laundries which Fianna Fáil Ministers in previous Governments were unable to provide. The Minister's record is clear.

Members of the public want the Oireachtas to deal with the economy and engage in tangible debates. They do not want the Fianna Fáil Party to become the stooges of the Independent Members. Tonight, people at home are not turning to their television sets but reaching for the telephone or Skype to call members of their families living thousands of miles away. They want the Opposition to tackle the Government on issues such as unemployment and use Private Members' time, sacred as it is, to engage in tangible debates. Instead, Fianna Fáil is abusing and wasting Private Members' time on a useless motion that will not go anywhere.

The facts are clear; there is no record or report about a Deputy being drunk and refusing to take a breathalyser test. The Fianna Fáil Party persists with a lie when there is nothing to substantiate the allegation that has been made. I suggest it start to deal with the real issues of the economy and put the Government to the test by debating its policies rather than wasting time tabling pointless, useless, spineless motions such as that before us.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to the motion. It is incredible that the Fine Gael Party and Labour Party are denying the Fianna Fáil Party the right to pursue its duty of holding the Government to account by tabling motions in Private Members' time. Irrespective of whether we had tabled a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, or a motion on policy, this Private Members' debate presents us with an opportunity to highlight our view on what should be done in the areas of policing and defence.

A number of speakers stated the Minister does not like to play the man but prefers to play the ball. One of the reasons my party decided to table another motion of no confidence in the Minister, having tabled a similar motion in the Seanad in February, long before the incident involving Deputy Wallace and the second incident involving the Minister on Pembroke Road came to light, was that we do not have confidence in the manner in which the Minister performs his duties. He has been confrontational and has undermined rank and file members of the Garda Síochána who work at the coalface delivering policing in our communities. It would be remiss of any Opposition party to fail to table a motion of no confidence in a Minister when gardaí do not have confidence in him. We have an obligation to do so.

While I have had a number of run-ins with the Minister, this motion is not personal in nature. The Minister, however, got personal when, on a "Prime Time" programme, he used confidential information that was passed to him by the Garda Commissioner to denigrate and undermine a citizen and Member of this House. The motion has been successful in that it resulted in the Minister eventually apologising to Deputy Wallace and accepting that his actions were wrong. This apology, of itself, was critically important. We cannot allow a perception to gain ground among members of the public or Members of the Oireachtas that we have a Minister for Justice and Equality who can receive confidential briefings from the Garda Commissioner that could be used at some stage in the future. That the Minister was forced to come to the House and state he does not receive such briefings was sufficient reason to table the motion of no confidence. He accepted his action was wrong and stated that, in hindsight, he would not have done what he did if he had given the matter some thought. It was important that he made that statement.

On the incident that took place on Pembroke Road, the only information in my possession is that which I have read. The easiest way to clear up the matter would be for the Minister to ask the Garda Commissioner to carry out an investigation into the matter and furnish a report on it. The incident took place in 2008 or early 2009 - neither the Minister nor I is sure of the precise date. I am certain, however, that if the Minister were to ask the Garda Commissioner to investigate what took place on the evening in question, the matter would be cleared up quickly. While I do not know if a Garda report was made to the relevant Garda station, I do know the Minister was stopped because he said this himself. He also mentioned that he was coming from the Dáil. The question is whether he invoked Article 15.13 of the Constitution, which was introduced for all the right reasons. These do not include using the article to decline to blow into a breathalyser.

The Minister may shake his head but the article in question was introduced for good reason and should not be used lightly on Pembroke Road to refuse to blow into an intoxilyzer. As I stated, the Minister could clear up this matter quickly by asking the Commissioner to carry out a full investigation, furnish a report to the Minister and present it to the House. If there was not a breach or abuse of privilege under Article 15.13 and no animosity or discourtesy was shown by the Minister to gardaí, that is fine. However, until such time as the matter has been cleared up, these issues will be left hanging. I am not the only person who takes that view. The matter has been reported in national newspapers and sources have supported the allegation that a report was made on the matter. While I do not know if that is the case, the Minister could find out quickly. If there was no report, he could ask the Commissioner to insist on asking the gardaí who were present on Pembroke Road on the night in question to file one.

On the broader issue, earlier we had Fine Gael Party Deputies and even Labour Party Deputies piling in to praise the Minister's reforming capacity in a way that recalled an episode of the "This is Your Life" programme. We all expect Ministers with responsibility for justice and defence to reform continually. The Department of Justice and Equality has a heavy legislative programme and no one can argue that the Minister's predecessors were idle while in the Department.

The Department has churned out a huge amount of legislation in recent years.

The most interesting aspect of the commentary relating to this matter relates to the contribution of the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan. I admire the Minister because he is a sort of latter day Churchillian character who has been engaged in saving the country in recent times.

Churchill did quite well.

Deputy Noonan also served on this side of the House as leader of Fine Gael. He actually led that party to destruction.

Our destruction was not as bad as yours.

(Interruptions).

I do not mind taking lectures on a continual basis. However, when the Minister for Finance-----

That is pathetic. The Minister for Finance is cleaning up the mess left behind by the previous Government.

How is the Minister's asthma?

-----states that we should not have tabled this motion and that we should not be engaging in a debate on it is quite farcical. We were accused of playing politics with the protection of life during pregnancy Bill, with the economy and with the property tax. I recall that Fine Gael opposed the four-year plan introduced prior to the most recent general election with the greatest vigour and valour it could muster. It is now actually implementing all of the provisions in that plan and blaming us for introducing it. That is brazen, brass-neck politics. When those opposite were on this side of the House, they promised that they would renegotiate everything.

We did renegotiate.

Ultimately, however, nothing has happened.

To return to the substance of this debate, the Minister for Justice and Equality has admitted that what he did in respect of Deputy Wallace was wrong. The Minister displayed a serious lack of judgment. Any individual can display such a lack of judgment. The point now is that he must resolve this matter very quickly in order to ensure that people can have confidence in him and in the justice system. Every citizen in this State has an obligation to comply with members of An Garda Síochána when they are requested to do so. I am appalled by the fact that any Deputy could besmirch Article 15.13 of the Constitution which, as the Minister knows, was put in place for a very good reason. It is simply unacceptable that it could be used lightly and glibly by someone stopped at the side of the road.

Was the Deputy there?

As already stated, my party tabled some motions in the Seanad last February. This was long before the matter relating to Deputy Wallace and the Pembroke Street episode came to light. The point is that there is major disquiet among rank and file gardaí, who went so far as to table motions of no confidence in the Minister for Justice and Equality at their conferences. They stated that they have no confidence in him. This must be the first occasion in the history of the State that the rank and file gardaí who keep our communities safe night after night have voted no confidence in a person who is ultimately in charge of the force. If we were to fail to table a motion of no confidence in the Minister in the wake of what has happened, it would simply beggar belief. We have an obligation to expose the fact that there is no connection between him and gardaí who operate on the ground.

There is also the matter of the closure of police stations. The Minister has stated that this is not a cost-saving exercise and that it is, rather, a management decision that will lead to better policing in communities throughout the country. All of the Deputies seated behind the Minister disagree with him. Obviously, they will vote confidence in him tonight and will trundle through the lobbies along with their counterparts in the Labour Party. At this stage, the latter are really wasting their time in government. We thought that they might at least have some say in respect of the direction in which things should be going. However, they have completely absolved themselves of any responsibility in that regard. The key issue which arises is that the Minister has decided - by his actions - to single-handedly undermine ordinary gardaí throughout the country on a daily basis. They said this themselves at their conferences. It is they who have no confidence in the Minister.

I thank Deputy Niall Collins for tabling the motion and for giving the House the opportunity to discuss this matter. We have the usual sniffy response from Government to the effect that we are wasting time discussing what is, in its view, a minor issue. As Deputy Kelleher stated, what we witnessed earlier was similar to an episode of "This is Your Life". In light of the paucity of Labour Deputies in the House, however, we are awaiting the arrival not of the red book but rather of the blue book detailing the Minister's achievements.

The abuse of confidential information by a Minister for Justice and Equality is an issue which must be discussed by Dáil Éireann and judgment must be passed. The happenings in Pembroke Street also need to be debated in the House. I have no intention of criticising the Minister's work record. He has worked hard and realised some substantial achievements since entering office. However, the full list of those achievements as outlined in the Government's amendments is about as believable as some of the Minister's fiction. Being hard-working does not necessarily always equate to being effective. I cite the Minister's performance on the Legal Services Regulation Bill as a case in point. That Bill was introduced in December 2011 but as a result of his taking personal charge of matters, its passage through the Houses has not proceeded. I am aware that consultations are taking place with interested bodies but no reports of progress have been provided to the House.

During my time shadowing the Minister I saw two Deputy Shatters. For many people, it is difficult enough to be obliged to deal with just one. As Deputy Stanton stated, there is a Deputy Shatter who, when dealing with legislation before select committees, can be very generous with both is legal knowledge and political experience. During our time opposite each other, the Minister was accommodating in the context of amendments. If he could not accept them, he dealt with them in a civil fashion, pointed out the legal position and gave guidance on how to pursue the matters to which they related in other ways. He always briefed us on issues of security importance and made the officials of his Department available to assist us in debating legislation he was introducing. That was welcome. When he dealt with uncontentious parliamentary questions, the Minister could be interesting and even funny and witty.

There is, however, another Deputy Shatter. I refer to the one who cannot resist an audience. It is the Deputy Shatter who must punch the man who might disagree with him rather than dealing with the issue. In the words of one of his supporters - I refer to Deputy Lowry who, I gather, is going to vote confidence in the Minister - he is irritatingly dismissive and brash. That is the side of the Minister's personality which has brought us here this evening. It is also the side of his personality which led him to treat the confidential information he had on Deputy Wallace in such a contemptuous fashion and to use it on a live programme on national television in order to score a political point. If we are to assume that he, as Minister for Justice and Equality and Minister for Defence, is in receipt of confidential information on a daily basis, it is also fair to assume that there has been a breach of trust between him and the Garda Commissioner in respect of such information. In future, the Garda Commissioner is going to be obliged to ask himself whether the Minister is going to use any information provided to him - perhaps on live television - in order to score political points. One could not blame him for doing so. Regardless of what the choir behind him states, the essential bond of trust that exists between the Minister and the Garda Commissioner - and between the Minister for Defence and the Chief of Staff for that matter - has been broken. For that reason alone, we cannot continue to have confidence in the Minister.

Yesterday and again today, the Irish Independent published very detailed allegations and an in-depth account with regard to what is supposed to have happened on Pembroke Street on a particular evening. Some of those in the choir behind the Minister have been asking if any of us on this side were present when he was stopped that night. I was not there. The only people present were the Minister and a number of gardaí. However, somebody feeding information to the Irish Independent seems to think that they were there. In the context of a speech which ran to nine pages and in which he listed all his achievements - the only line the Minister missed out on delivering was that on the seventh day he rested-----

I do not do that on the seventh day.

-----I cannot understand how he did not seek to deal with all of the specific and serious allegations that were made. I hope that the person on the Government side who gets the opportunity to deliver the ministerial conclusion in respect of this debate will deal with those allegations. On the night in question, was the Minister, who is also a solicitor and an officer of the court, unco-operative - to the point of being rude - with the gardaí on the evening in question? Did he say to a particular garda, "Check your law book, it’s in the Constitution, you cannot stop me, I am going."? Did he then drive off from the checkpoint on Pembroke Street? Those are the specific allegations - printed in a national newspaper - with which the Minister did not deal last night. If there is no basis to the specific allegations to which I refer, then I hope the person charged with providing the ministerial conclusion to this debate will dismiss them out of hand. If the allegations are true, then we are in a very serious position and no amount of huffing or puffing or tributes from backbenchers will change that fact. It is not acceptable that a Deputy who is also an officer of the court would treat a member of An Garda Síochána performing their duty with contempt and arrogance.

Ultimately, this matter comes down to trust. As stated earlier, the Minister has lost the trust of many of the stakeholders in his Department. It is difficult to see how the bond of trust between him and the Garda Commissioner and other senior public servants in possession of confidential information can be restored.

The only people who seem to trust him are his colleagues in government. Frankly, enough has been said.

I compliment Deputy Niall Collins on tabling this motion. I also thank the Fianna Fáil Party for allowing me some of its speaking time. I support and will vote for the motion not because of the incident at a Garda checkpoint where it is claimed that the Minister's behaviour left much to be desired or because of the abuse of his powerful and privileged position through the leaking of information about Deputy Wallace. All of those issues are a sideshow at a time when 450,000 people are seeking work and hundreds of thousands must emigrate. There are far more important issues for the Dáil to debate.

I support the motion because of the Minister's disgraceful decision to close 140 Garda stations and because of his unhealthy relationship with the Garda Commissioner, a man who strongly objected to one of his predecessors at a lower rank getting an extension of time in his position. The current Commissioner even went to court and gave evidence on how wrong it would be for the force if the then Assistant Commissioner were given an extension. The then Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Martin Donnellan, lost his case against the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the High Court, during which the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr. Callinan, gave evidence that extending the retirement age to 65 years would cause an exodus of younger officers and a blockage in promotions. I will quote what the current Minister stated when he made his decision to extend the Commissioner's term of office: "it is desirable that there should be continuity in garda leadership, and I am delighted that Martin has agreed to this extension". The Minister also stated: "His leadership over this period, during which there will be further challenges to be met, will be invaluable."

I respect the Commissioner and will not comment on him, but this was a sorry affair. In making judgment, Mr. Justice William McKechnie referred to the then Deputy Commissioner's evidence against any proposal to extend the enforce age of retirement.

Is it any wonder that no report could be found on the Minister? There is no problem with everyone knowing everything about Deputy Wallace. It is obvious that he has nothing to do with granting extensions of time for Commissioners in their powerful positions. Did anyone think to ask the gardaí on duty on the night of the Minister's incident about his comments and behaviour? To echo Deputy Mattie McGrath, was the Minister's behaviour polite and cordial? One telephone call would have cleared up this affair, but no one chose to make it.

The Minister and this inept Government made the stupid decision to close Garda stations. He misrepresented the facts by claiming that he was closing them to provide better policing, given the amount of time wasted by having gardaí sitting in stations, yet he then contradicted himself by claiming that gardaí would spend the same amount of time in community centres and Garda vans, holding clinic-like meetings with people in their communities. I have proven that it costs more each day to keep these stations closed than it would to keep them open.

The Minister has no respect for gardaí and holds the people who represent them in contempt. The only member of An Garda Síochána to whom he listens is the Commissioner. The entire country knows that the Minister is firmly in bed with him. Thanks to the Minister's behaviour, the general public has lost confidence in him. Truth be told, it never had any confidence in him, only disappointment.

Is that another accusation? Is the Deputy suggesting that I am sleeping with the Commissioner?

There is another book in that.

I may be grateful.

Deputies Clare Daly and Wallace are next, with three and a half minutes each.

I am glad that the Minister can trivialise these important matters. He will survive tonight's vote, of course, but the reality is that his position will be weakened and he will not be the same person that he once was. Those who have backed him so vociferously have been somewhat discredited. Given what Fine Gael and, in particular, Labour have stood over in the past two and a half years in order to cling to power, I am not surprised. I have no more confidence in the rest of them than I do in the Minister - there is nothing personal about this.

Serious issues lie at the heart of this debate. The Government has sought to cover over the fundamental issues of democracy and accountability by slinging mud, insulting and back slapping. The Minister's comments have received significant focus in the past ten days, but little attention has been paid to why he made them. In my opinion, his efforts were a deliberate attempt to throw sand and divert attention from the important issues lying at the heart of investigations into Garda malpractice, namely, evidence somewhat revealed or somewhat left out of the penalty points report. The Minister has consistently sought to trivialise and minimise these issues.

I do not have time to go into all of the details, but a culture of writing off penalty points exists. The evidence has not been challenged. These are not minor matters. This morning, I received correspondence from a parent who lost his 15 year old daughter a number of years ago to someone who was speeding. People have supplied evidence about millions of euro in lost revenue, etc.

The Minister told the House that he took these issues seriously. He claimed that his Department received the information on these serious allegations in September and that he received it in October. This cannot be true. The Minister has failed to address the discrepancy in the Taoiseach's written evidence to the effect that he notified the Department of Justice and Equality in July, August and September. The Minister has failed to address the fact that we have seen evidence suggesting that he knew of the existence of a whistleblower in January 2012. He discussed these matters with the Commissioner in January and he read the reports in February. The confidential recipient met him before Easter. He handed an investigation into a complaint over to the Garda Commissioner, requiring the Commissioner to investigate himself. The Minister was aware of these issues, yet he did nothing.

Deputy Healy-Rae is quite correct, in that the Minister's relationship with the Commissioner is unhealthy and is under the spotlight. Has the Minister not wondered how the Commissioner could tell him in four days that there was no report on the former's incident despite the fact that Garda procedures require not one, but two such reports, when it took the Commissioner four years to answer the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission regarding serious questions of malpractice? Before an investigation starts, the same man can tell us that there is no culture of non-enforcement and can provide the Minister with information on Deputies.

The Minister's colleagues hope to put this matter to bed and to move on, but he will not move on from this issue. Many questions remain to be answered.

The Minister for Justice and Equality claims to be a reforming Minister. He points to his legal pedigree and what he views as his record of legislative reform. However, he has shown considerable disrespect for any notion of legality, constitutional standards of fairness, the functioning of the Legislature as the backbone of democracy and the fair and consistent application of the rule of law.

He has brought to his Ministry a selective approach to justice, as evidenced through his pointed outrage at the possible sullying of the reputations of some while not giving a damn about the reputations of others.

In addition to his recently demonstrated disregard for the constitutional right to privacy, the standards set out in the standards in public office legislation and the protection of personal data as set out in the data protection legislation, the penalty points controversy has provided us with a sorry example of his conduct in office. He failed to exercise any of the legislative options open to him, those being, to refer the controversy to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission's office or to appoint a special independent inquiry. He refused to explain to the House why he instead chose an internal Garda review.

The Minister also failed to adhere to the two basic standards of constitutional fairness. Setting up his internal review offended two constitutional principles - the rule against bias, by having senior gardaí investigate themselves, and the rule to hear the other side, by conducting a six-month review without interviewing the whistleblowers or giving them an opportunity to put their case.

The Minister refused to disclose to the House the internal review's terms of reference when asked to do so. He refused to commit publicly to implementing the 12 fundamental changes on Garda cancellation policies and practices as recommended in the Garda professional standards unit's report. Instead, he only committed to seven select principles from the report in his press statement.

The Minister has shown a lack of concern at the probable unlawfulness of Garda discretion in cancelling fixed charge notices. He refused to seek an opinion from independent senior counsel or even the Attorney General's office on the legality of the 2005 cancellation policy and the Garda's implementation of same. In a cynical and underhanded manner, the Minister and the two reports that he commissioned failed to reference important legislation when discussing the legality of Garda discretion in this context, namely, section 35 of the Road Traffic Act 2010. It is on the Statue Book, yet the Minister has yet to commence it. As such, it is not in operation. It replaces the word "shall" in the 1961 Act with "may" to permit the use of discretion, indicating an awareness on the part of the State that Garda discretion in terms of the PULSE system is unlawful.

I did not ask for an apology. I am used to having muck thrown at me. I did not ask the Minister to resign. I am not interested in picking him out as I believe the Government as a unit is culpable because it has not prioritised the best interests of the ordinary people of this country but rather the interests of the EU, the ECB and the financial markets.

Of course the Minister will continue in office and have the backing of his colleagues but a major problem remains, namely, whether he will regain the confidence of the public, whether people believe his side of the story, if he can bring rank and file gardaí with him-----

There is some hope.

-----and whether his damaged credibility will undermine the working of An Garda Síochána.

The Minister can make a new start. A good place to start would be to initiate an independent public inquiry into the penalty points controversy.

It is an impossible task to wrap up the debate on behalf of the Labour Party in government in five minutes. From listening to the debate so far I am reminded of one thing I have learned in life: that there is only one thing worse than being offended, that is to have others be offended on one’s behalf because one feels one has to react and support them. That is what has happened in this case. The Minister’s indiscretion should not have happened and he has now apologised twice for it. Deputy Wallace has confirmed that he would never have gone to such extremes to vindicate his position in terms of the incident in question. I do not know Deputy Wallace very well but from what I know of him he would not have gone to such extremes and he would not have become involved in the type of time wasting that has taken place in the Chamber for the past two nights.

The Opposition is the Opposition. It is entitled to table whatever motion it wishes. That is acceptable. We did it ourselves when we were in opposition but a motion of confidence is an extremely serious one and should be used sparingly. To table a motion of confidence based on the type of information we have heard in recent weeks is a waste of time. I do not say that lightly; I mean it. There are so many valuable issues we could be discussing tonight. For instance, we knew two weeks in advance that a damning report on crèches and the care of children in this country was due. I heard many Deputies say they had not been given sufficient time to discuss the issue. We could have been discussing the matter tonight, and last night. Fianna Fáil can table whatever motion it wishes in its Private Members’ time, but this motion is one with which no one in the country agrees.

Of course the Garda is upset and annoyed at the way their pay and conditions have been cut. Who is not upset? In my area of responsibility, the Psychiatric Nurses Association is not very happy with me. However, it is simply what we have to do in order to get the country back on its feet. This is not a popularity game for the Government. It was a popularity game for the previous Government but-----

I would say it was for the previous Opposition.

-----it is most definitely not a popularity game for this Government.

The nurses were in the talks but the gardaí were not.

The Minister of State has some brass neck.

All of the issues concerning the Garda have now been addressed and their representative organisations were available as well and were involved. They are encouraging the gardaí on the beat to support the agreement.

One cannot just come to the House and throw accusations around like snuff at a wake and hope they will stick without having to back them up.

One simply cannot do that. Having privilege in this House is unique. It is something we should take very seriously. I will not go through the record of the Minister, Deputy Shatter. Enough speakers have done that. However, as was said to me during the week, the Minister was in a studio in the heat of an argument, as we all are from time to time, and he said something which he now clearly regrets. Many a Minister for justice did not do that, but leaked information to the press instead so that a hatchet job could be done on a person. To a great extent, this was as honest as one is going to get in regard to the Minister for justice.

We must remember that the Minister, Deputy Shatter, has taken on vested interests in his own area. He has challenged sacred cows and put legislation in place to that effect. I am not present to tell the House that the Minister works from 6 a.m. in the morning onwards. To return to Deputy Wallace’s closing remarks, the majority of people in this country realise the condition the country is in, but they know, equally, that there are far more important issues that we should be discussing. As I said, there is nothing worse than for someone to be offended on one’s behalf. Deputy Wallace would not have gone to these extremes in order to vindicate his position.

I support the motion and thank Deputy Niall Collins for tabling it on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party. In his opening remarks last evening he covered many of the policy issues of substance.

There is no doubt the Minister will survive tonight’s motion of confidence, the remainder of the Government’s term as a Cabinet Minister and perhaps beyond, unless some revelation emerges. However, we must all reflect on the lessons of recent weeks in particular. In the brief time available I wish to focus on the two issues that have dominated public discourse on the Minister in recent weeks. One is the “Prime Time” debate. During the debate on the public airwaves that night the Minister’s reference to private information, which he collected in the course of very privileged duties, was a serious lapse of judgment. It is very clear that neither the Minister nor his colleagues accepted the seriousness of the issue for a period. It was pretty much a week after the “Prime Time” show when he gave what could only be called a qualified apology to Deputy Wallace. He said: “If Deputy Wallace believes I did him a personal wrong by mentioning it, I have no problem in saying I am sorry.” We all know that is not a real apology.

Is that the type of apology Fianna Fáil gave when it ruined the country?

In response to the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, it was not the offence given to Deputy Wallace that night; the bottom line was the offence and the potential issues that arise for the Irish people. It was not just about the Deputy, which was mentioned that night. It was a much broader and more important issue than that. At a time when the State is collecting more and more information on private citizens it is an issue of legitimate public concern and it is proper that the issue would be debated. A full week after the incident the Minister clearly did not fully accept or realise the seriousness of what he did on that evening.

On the revelations Deputy Mattie McGrath first brought into the public domain about the Pembroke Street incident in late 2008 and 2009, there is no suggestion that alcohol was in any way involved, but the one question that remains unanswered is whether the Minister in any way, explicitly or implicitly, invoked the constitutional protection Members of the Oireachtas enjoy travelling to and from Dáil Éireann. The fact is that we now have two very different versions of that event in the public domain. We have the Minister’s statements, which we must take in good faith, and we have the story yesterday and today in the Irish Independent, which is very different. The central message is that the Minister was not co-operative with the Garda. I do not know whether to believe that but it was said that the Minister said to the garda on the night, “Don’t you know who I am?”, that he did not say he was asthmatic, that he told the garda it was unconstitutional to stop him when he was going from the Dáil and that he said the garda should check the law book.

What was Deputy McGrath doing in 2008? Does the remember that?

Deputy McGrath should be allowed to speak without interruption.

It was reported that the Minister appeared not to make a sufficient effort to complete the breath test and that he drove off without being waved on by the officer. If a newspaper wrongly made those allegations about me I would sue them because either they are correct or the Minister has been seriously defamed. I would let nobody make such allegations about me. That is a decision the Minister will make in his own good time.

A follow-on story appeared in The Irish Times today, presumably from a different source, which said, for example, that the garda involved believed in the course of the conversation with the Minister that he was suggesting that he could not be stopped or detained because he was travelling from the Dáil. I do not believe the journalist involved made all of that up. Somebody clearly gave the newspaper this version of events. It is in the public interest that we get to the bottom of the issue.

My colleague is correct; the only way to deal with this is to have the matter referred to the Commissioner, have it investigated and have a report issued in order that everyone knows where he or she stands. There is one issue I do not understand fully. The Minister did not just happen to tell the garda that evening that he was on his way home from Dáil Éireann. It was not like any other worker saying he or she was returning home from a factory. Given the Minister's legal knowledge and expertise, he understood full well the import and implication of what he was saying to the garda that evening.

Read the log book.

He knows Article 15.13 of the Constitution like the back of his hand.

Read the log book.

Therefore, the question remains unanswered as to the reason the Minister raised that issue. Did the Minister more explicitly cite constitutional privilege as the reason the garda in question could not follow through fully on what ultimately was a simple road alcohol breath test?

Read the log book.

I am glad to have the opportunity to wrap up this debate tonight. At the outset, I note any decision to table a motion of no confidence is not taken lightly. In recent days I have stated repeatedly, in response to the Minister and others, that Members have reached a tipping point with the Minister in question. Fianna Fáil Members have been asked the reason they lodged this motion and they have reached this tipping point for a number of reasons, which I will summarise. Fianna Fáil has policy and political differences in respect of how the Minister has behaved. Members have rehashed and aired the position in respect of Garda stations. The Minister is rolling out a series of political failures, which are failing communities throughout the country. However, that is part of a pattern of wider policies his colleagues in government are introducing. The Government is closing down rural Ireland in particular. It is closing libraries, courthouses, small schools, post offices and public health centres.

Fianna Fáil closed down the country.

Moreover, it is centralising and warehousing all these services into the larger towns and cities. As Minister for Justice and Equality, the Minister has a primary function to protect the public but it does not feel protected by him. The public has lost confidence in the Minister and Fianna Fáil is taking the opportunity in this motion to articulate that loss of confidence on behalf of communities and the public. It ill-behoves anyone to come into this Chamber to question Fianna Fáil's legitimacy or its mandate to table that motion. Much comment has been made in respect of the stakeholders, to the Judiciary and to the Garda representative associations. In addition, Members spoke last night on the recent controversies regarding the RTE "Prime Time" debate and the Pembroke Street incident, to which I will return.

The Minister's contribution last night, when one studies the detail of what he said, was an amazing statement. However, prior to that when, in the aftermath of the RTE "Prime Time" programme, the Minister was queried and received some hostile comment from my party and others, his initial reaction was to treat it as a joke. It was to ask how dare anyone do that. It was to question whether any criticism of Alan Shatter was legitimate or was a joke and he tried to wave it away. In his statement last night, he stated "This is far removed from the sort of political circus we have seen over the past two weeks". Who but the Minister is generating the circus? He is the man at the centre of the circus and I will not tell him what people at the centre of the circus usually are, because I will not get into that and will not personalise this matter. Thereafter, having finished claiming it was a joke and a circus, the Minister then decided to blame the media. It was the media's fault and he sought to rubbish the Irish Independent with its authoritative version of events. As for the other newspapers, neither I nor Fianna Fáil wrote the editorials. If the Minister simply wishes to rubbish all the media and their commentary, that is fine.

If one turns to the remainder of the Minister's statement last night, one learns of the Minister, Deputy Shatter, the reformer. This is supposed to give the Minister a free pass from everything else. While it does not come as a surprise to me, it will come as a surprise to many of his colleagues, that most of the Bills that have been passed under his stewardship were already there when he walked in to the Department of Justice and Equality.

The Deputy has got to be joking.

They were bespoke, they were present, they were drafted, the work had been done on them.

Will Fianna Fáil take responsibility for anything else?

The Minister simply picked them and ran with them.

The Minister is trying to claim credit but I put it on record that he is trying to claim credit for the work of previous Ministers. He is no more reforming then any previous Minister for Justice and Equality.

Fianna Fáil left us a grand country.

The Minister is no more reforming than anyone else. He is like the proverbial footballer - I note Ireland is playing England at present - who, when some other player brings the ball up the field and beats all the defenders, then gets the tap in. However, the Minister wishes to take all the credit for all the tap ins. That is the way he wishes to do it.

(Interruptions).

The Minister's speech last night also incredibly referred to himself as Deputy Shatter, the bridge builder. The Minister now is a relationship builder. While Members rightly have been criticising him for all the relationships he is destroying, he couches matters in the European context. He claims that he is out there in Europe, building the bridges the previous Administration burned However, as Members opposite know well, this is rubbish.

They did not go to the meetings.

(Interruptions).

I will explain the reason to the Members opposite. Moreover, this is not a point being made by Fianna Fáil, because the Government has a problem in accepting independent reports. The Minister's criticism of the previous Government, to the effect that its members never attended European Union meetings and did not carry out their ministerial duties is a lie, which has been put paid to by an independent study. The University of Gothenburg carried out an analysis and I will give Members opposite the facts in this regard.

Race meetings perhaps.

The analysis showed that for the ten years between 2000 and 2010, Ireland was the fifth highest tender at European Union Ministers' meetings. As for the reason the attendance fell during the last few months, it was because the then Opposition, now in government, in a cynical political exercise withdrew the ministerial pairs. That was the type of responsible politics in which the Government parties engaged, quite apart from the auction politics, when they were in opposition.

If I turn to the Minister's apology, I note Deputy Wallace did not ask for the apology but of course, it was highly conditional. It was dragged out of the Minister and was a tactic to try to defuse the situation. However, that will be decided on by the Data Commissioner and the Standards in Public Office Commission. What about an apology to the other people the Minister held to account when he was on this side of the House? He called on others to resign, by the standard he set, but now he has been caught in the crossfire of that standard, he is not prepared to resign.

He will not, however, apologise to those on whom he called to resign. Incidentally, some of them did, for completely different reasons, and then the Minister would not credit them with that either.

Moreover, the wider Government response is amazing. Every motion tabled in this Chamber on a Wednesday evening during Private Members' time is a waste of time according to Government Members. They do not respect the mandate and do not respect Members' right to raise matters in this House. Speaker after speaker on the Government side comes in and asks how dare Fianna Fáil, the Technical Group, the Independent Members or Sinn Féin do so.

About what was the last Private Members' motion tabled by Fianna Fáil?

They simply wish to rubbish everyone's mandates.

Fianna Fáil did that for years.

This shows the arrogance that has entered the Government. It has arrogance flowing through its veins and the Government is unable to control it.

Please Deputies, settle down.

The people see this but unfortunately, the Government cannot. Consequently, I will give the Government a small piece of advice, which it probably will not wish to take from me.

Advice from Fianna Fáil. That is a good one.

Politically, that would suit us better. There should be less spin, less arrogance and less trying to use its massive majority to squeeze the minority in the democratic Chamber.

That is Fianna Fáil's mantra.

As for the Labour Party, the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, summed up for it. In fairness, as it has abandoned the trade unions and working people, for what does the Labour Party stand? Once upon a time, it used to stand for principle but the RTE "Prime Time" episode now shows it does not stand for natural justice, due process or high standards in ministerial office. Once upon a time, the Labour Party did stand for something.

We do not stand for rubbish.

Members saw this with regard to the Minister of State's former colleague, Deputy Shortall. What did the Labour Party do to save its senior Ministers' relationship with Fine Gael? It flushed one of its own out the gap and right over to the Opposition benches. That tells one a lot about the Labour Party and the personalities at the top of it.

The Deputy should look at the Deputy beside him.

The Deputy should look at who is sitting to his left.

Deputy Mattie McGrath should defend himself.

The Deputies are standing up for a man who cannot tell the truth.

Everyone can see through it.

As for the Pembroke Street incident, the Minister has not answered the questions. The questions hanging over the Minister are not personal matters but are in the public interest because the Minister is the officeholder. The Minister must deal with the questions hanging over him because a cloud is hanging over him. The Minister can ask the Garda Commissioner to generate a report and can put that report into the public domain, which would put the entire issue to bed. The Minister has stated he has asked the Secretary General to check with the Garda Commissioner and no report can be found but that he cannot ask the Garda Commissioner to generate one. As for the breathalyser sample, unlike the Minister, I am not a lawyer, something for which he gets great credit from all the speakers. However, last night, he sought to confuse and muddy the issue in respect of the Road Traffic Act, by citing reasonable excuse.

He did that to take a side-swipe at the media to try to discredit them-----

I ask the Deputy to conclude his remarks.

-----but the defence of reasonable excuse only applies in respect of a failure to comply with a requirement under section 4(b)(ii), which is in regard to moving a vehicle in the vicinity of a checkpoint. A person who refuses or fails to comply with a requirement to provide a breath test cannot avail of the reasonable excuse defence. The Minister saw fit here last night to avail of the reasonable excuse defence.

The Minister has questions hanging over him and he must answer them. He has the wherewithal to put a report into the public domain to clear the office. That is the important point.

I have summarised the issues we have with the Minister politically, those that are policy driven and those regarding the office he holds. He has abused power for his own political gain. He has closed Garda stations and taken a policy direction with which we disagree. He has a relationship with the Garda Commissioner which we believe is now compromised. He has a relationship with the Judiciary which is exceptionally compromised, and he has not overseen the proper workings of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman.

I have not mentioned the Minister's attempt to shut down the Morris tribunal.

I have not mentioned his intervention in the Oireachtas inquiries referendum. I could go on. There is plenty I could mention. We do not-----

The Deputy is out of time.

-----have confidence in the Minister and we are reflecting the communities that do not have confidence in him. I defend anybody's right to raise legitimate questions in this House by way of any motion, and it ill-behoves the Members opposite to come in here to question the legitimacy of any party or any Member to raise matters of concern in the fashion we did.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 88; Níl, 45.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • 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.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Luke 'Ming'.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál,
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nulty, Patrick.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 88; Níl, 45.

  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conlan, Seán.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • 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.
  • Ferris, Anne.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

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