Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 20, Public Health (Sunbeds) Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 4, Children First Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Private Members' business, which shall be No. 144, motion re housing, shall also take place after the Order of Business tomorrow and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day. Tomorrow's business after Oral Questions shall be No. 21, Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed to? Agreed.

The Taoiseach might not have realised that he made a remark at the opening of his reply to Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan which could be misconstrued. It related to "somebody dealing" or something like that. Perhaps it should be withdrawn.

Did the Deputy see them all smiling up at your man when they were going out the door there to meet him?

The Taoiseach might not realise that what he said could give people the wrong impression.

Did he not hear them making a show?

That is how I would put it.

When they realised this part of the pantomime was over, they went out for the second part of the pantomime.

Deputy Butler, please.

It is not right what is going on in this House. It is a pantomime going on in here.

Sorry, Deputy, you are not entitled to roar and shout across the Chamber.

It is a disgrace what is happening here.

I am sorry, Deputy, but you have to speak through the Chair.

He is feeling vulnerable, a Cheann Comhairle.

I am not feeling vulnerable. I am telling the truth.

I would like to raise with the Taoiseach the amount of Government time that is being provided for a debate on the legislation governing general practitioners. I have put it to him previously that there is a genuine crisis in general practice across the country. GPs are meeting in huge numbers across the country. We are all receiving communications from them. Just two days ago, I received a communication from a GP who is emigrating because he or she finds it impossible to work productively, healthily or sustainably as a GP in this country's health service. I ask the Taoiseach to provide Government time for a comprehensive debate on the state of general practice.

Mass meetings are being held all over the country. Morale has never been lower. Young GPs in education are leaving and are not following through into this country. They are emigrating because they see no future for them in general practice. If the Taoiseach asks any of his own Deputies, or a Deputy from any other party in the House, they will confirm that there is a crisis among our GPs. It is not good for our health service. Regardless of whatever else one might say about our primary care system, at least it provides for people to get seen on the day they ask to be seen by a GP. There is a great deal of disquiet out there. It relates, for example, to the horrific contract that was put together by the Government to gag GPs and make life unbearable for them. I would like Government time to be allocated - perhaps next week - for a debate in this House on general practice and the future of GPs in this country.

I note that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has ruled out any inquiry into the murders that took place in Ballymurphy in 1971, or the establishment of an independent panel to look into the matter. I met the Ballymurphy families many times when I served as Minister for Foreign Affairs. I was always of the view that an independent panel would at least create some basis to get an official position on the record in relation to these horrific deaths. I am aware that the Taoiseach has been of a similar view. I suggest that this House should be given an opportunity to take an all-party approach to the issue, as it has done on other issues, with a view to making it clear that the Oireachtas believes such an independent panel should be established.

I will respond to the Deputy's second question first. I felt that the request from the Ballymurphy residents was very clear and reasonable. For that reason, I supported it on behalf of the Government. I will be happy to allow a debate on this when it is appropriate. Obviously, the 40th anniversary of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings is coming up.

It might be appropriate at that time. We will certainly have that discussed at the meeting of the Whips and approved where appropriate.

I receive a great deal of correspondence about issues relating to general practitioners. The Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, spent two hours dealing with the doctors' questions to him. It was a very good engagement. This consultation is continuing to take place. Significant progress has been and can be made here. The doctors have brought a number of issues to my personal attention. I have discussed some of them with the Minister of State. I will bring to his attention other matters that have been referred to. Obviously, the Fianna Fáil Whip can raise this matter at the meeting of the Whips. If it is appropriate, there might be an opportunity to have a discussion on it. I genuinely want to say that the consultations which are taking place have made significant progress. Obviously, the doctors will want to make their case trenchantly and strongly. There has been quite a deal of good consultation here. I think the Minister of State, Deputy Alex White, has dealt with a number of the issues of concern to doctors and to the medical profession in general. We will follow that through at the meeting of the Whips.

I just want to say at the start that I was a bit disappointed by the joking nature of the Taoiseach's comments about drug dealing in this city.

Sorry, Deputy, is this on the Order of Business?

I was also disappointed to hear the comments made by a backbencher about "your man". The man in question, former garda John Wilson, has done a great service to this State and is not involved in a "pantomime". I think these issues should be taken seriously.

On the Order of Business, the Government has today re-announced the establishment of the banking inquiry and informed us that a motion providing for it will be brought before the House next week. I must say I am disappointed that there was no consultation with the Opposition on this announcement. We heard about it through social media and the rest. I welcome the establishment of the banking inquiry. Sinn Féin has strongly pushed for an inquiry to take place. Does the Government have a timeframe for the banking inquiry? When will it start? When will it finish?

Following the conclusion of the Anglo Irish Bank trial, which will allow the banking inquiry to go ahead even if there is another trial to take place, has the Government considered overhauling the white collar crime legislation? During the lifetime of this Government, hundreds of our citizens have gone to prison for not paying fines but not one banker has gone to prison yet. Will a commission be asked to investigate or overhaul white collar crime? Will some type of action be taken here? No one was held accountable following the Moriarty tribunal. No one has been held accountable in a real or meaningful way following the banking trials. The inquiry that is being established will be unable to hold certain people to account in the way the public wants them to be held to account. Does the Government intend to take some action in this regard, or merely to allow this to die away?

First of all, I withdraw any remark that might have given a perception of a "joking nature", as the Deputy put it. I respect absolutely the right of people to come forward with information about wrong-doing. That is why the legislation is being treated with the respect it deserves. I hope the Deputy understands that.

Regarding the banking inquiry, the Deputy is aware that the inquiries legislation, which will give us an opportunity to do this, has gone through. It was not a matter for the Government to put this in place, but the Government triggered the issue of having an inquiry and allowing for that to happen with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and the relevant committees. This will be a new special Oireachtas committee comprising Members of the Dáil and the Seanad. The Whip will sit down with Opposition Members to discuss the structure, membership and nature of the committee. It will be a matter for the committee to define its own terms of reference in what it needs to do here. Obviously, comments have been made about three modules - the lead-up to the bank guarantee, the issue of the banks themselves and the State institutions. It will be a matter for the committee, when it has been appointed by the House and by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, to define what those are. The Deputy asked when the banking inquiry committee will actually get down to business and start doing work. He will be aware that there is a pretty serious amount of preparatory work to be done here.

I assume the banking inquiry, through the system, could be operational by the end of September or October. It should be finished its preparatory analysis by then. It is important for everybody to find out what happened, and the truth and the impact of light regulation by the previous Government. The Whip will consult the Opposition and we hope to bring a motion before the Dáil and Seanad next week and get on with the business.

And the white collar crime overhaul?

The Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to examine issues in that regard. As part of its terms of reference, the committee will be able to define the work and business of the institutions and banks. There are issues surrounding that in which the committee will have an interest.

I welcome the fact the banking inquiry is being established. The public feels it is necessary and the timing is right. Could the Taoiseach elaborate on the timeframe in which he envisages the committee sitting, the modular approach and his overall view on how the committee should work?

It will be a matter for the committee once it has defined the inquiry's membership, its terms of reference and how it proposes to deal with the different modules. Depending on the timescale the committee wishes to give it, it may wish to examine the lead-up to the bank guarantee. It may wish to treat of the banks and institutions of the State and their responsibilities and roles individually or together. That is a matter entirely for the committee and the members to define the terms of reference, with approval from the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, CPP, and given the authority by the Dáil. We will follow that from the motions before the House next week. As I said, I expect the committee could be up and running by late September or early October, having gone through detailed and complex preparatory analysis.

We have a very serious problem in our hospitals where psychiatrists are terrified to admit individuals who present at accident and emergency, despite their being a danger to themselves and others due to mental health issues. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013 may go some way to protecting mental health professionals and preventing the early release of patients. At its annual conference last week, the Psychiatric Nurses Association, PNA, stated its concern that the mental health system was failing to protect patients following a rise in suicides by people in care and recently discharged.

The other day I was at the funeral of a young Finglas lad who was released from the Mater hospital after a serious overdose.

We are on the Order of Business.

He had made several suicide attempts. He was on a ventilator for 40 hours and was released under the Mental Health Act, despite his mother's pleading with the hospital to keep him in. He was taken out of the canal after lying there for two weeks. We need to address this. We must not be in denial. The Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, was in denial that there is a problem in the mental health system.

Could you please resume your seat? Thank you.

This needs to be investigated.

Deputy, in future-----

I know, but when I speak to families after fishing their sons out of the canal-----

There is no point shouting at me.

I understand, but I am very annoyed.

I want you to adhere to the rules of the House. That is all. If you have issues such as this, I suggest you put them down as Topical Issue matters.

You cannot do it on the Order of Business.

A number of important issues have been raised about this and a number of amendments are being worked on. The Bill is awaiting Committee Stage here. Those amendments arising from comments that have been made are being drafted. I hope it will not be too long before it comes back on Committee Stage.

Will the Taoiseach do something about families-----

No, you will not do anything. You will stay quiet or else leave the House. You will obey the rules like everybody else. You will not be called again.

When will the details of the proposed board to regulate charities be announced?

The board membership was approved by the Cabinet this morning. The members will be called together by the chairperson and the committee will begin its work. It is hoped that when the charities regulator gets going, all charities will have all their programmes audited and will be deemed fit for purpose.

In view of the fact that a plenary summons has been issued in the High Court challenging the Local Government Reform Act 2014, will the Taoiseach consider allowing the town and borough council elections of north and south Tipperary council areas continue on 23 May?

That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

No, I am asking-----

Will you resume your seat?

I am asking the Taoiseach a question related to the Local Government Reform Act 2014.

You cannot ask him on the Order of Business.

I have put the Taoiseach on notice that-----

This is the Order of Business, about promised legislation.

Resume your seat.

When will the criminal law (confiscation) Bill, relating to the proceeds of crime, come before the House?

I do not have a date for that. I will come back to Deputy Feighan with its status.

The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is in possession of a report he commissioned from the ESRI on the affordability of water. Yesterday, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul called for the publication of that report in order that we can have a proper, evidence-based public debate on the impact of water charges on vulnerable, low income families. Will the Taoiseach consider acceding to the request in order that we can all be clear on what we are talking about?

That is not a matter for the Order of Business, I am sorry.

It is topical because-----

You have made your point.

I ask the Taoiseach to consider acceding to the request.

We cannot do that on the Order of Business.

The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding instrument that creates a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women. It is a Council of Europe convention which will come into force on 1 August and has been signed by 33 countries. Is it the Taoiseach's intention that our Government will sign this convention? Does the Taoiseach intend to establish a Cabinet sub-committee to address the issue of violence against women?

The second issue can be dealt with by one of the existing Cabinet sub-committees. I will have to come back to the Deputy on Ireland's intention on the Istanbul Convention. I assume Ireland would support what the convention stands for.

To what extent have the higher education authority Bill and the technological universities Bill been discussed in Cabinet? When are they likely to come before the House?

The heads of the higher education authority Bill have been drafted. The technological universities Bill has been through the Cabinet. Deputy Durkan will be aware that following the demise of a major firm in Waterford almost three years ago, the Government made a decision on technological universities. Criteria have been set nationally and internationally and the process is under way in a number of groups of institutes of technology throughout the country.

Last month, this party brought the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2014 before the House and it was not opposed by the Government. A fortnight ago, thousands of people marched through the streets of Dublin to protest against the development of turbines and pylons in their communities. Many, if not most, of those people are sceptical that the Government's decision not to oppose was more to do with putting the debate off until after 23 May than a serious intention to address the serious issues raised.

When will the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2014 be brought to Committee Stage?

The Deputy is speaking of a Private Members' Bill. He is aware of the McGuinness commission, headed by Mrs. Justice McGuinness, which is examining the question of Grid West, other grid developments and their implications. This morning, the Government also approved the publication of a Green Paper on energy needs for the future and the various extensive elements involved with that. There will be a public consultation process with that as well. The mandate given to Mrs. Justice McGuinness will be considered by her and her committee in respect of Grid West. I will revert to the Deputy regarding the intentions for wind turbines. The Bill referred to is a Private Members' Bill.

With regard to the education (admission to school) Bill, parents are having problems facilitating the entry of children into local schools, even when a child's name is put on a list weeks after being born. The Bill would ensure the process for enrolling pupils in schools would be more open, equitable and consistent. When can we expect that Bill?

I thank the Taoiseach for his continuing support on the Narrow Water bridge project.

The Bill went through pre-legislative scrutiny in March and is due for publication in this session.

Is it the intention to move a writ for a by-election in Dublin West tomorrow? If that is so, what are the arrangements for it?

Yes, there is an intention to move the writs for both by-elections tomorrow.

Will there be a short debate on the motion?

Normally, there is a debate on the moving of a writ but it will be a very short debate.

Deputy Pearse Doherty is up again.

I thought that as the Minister for Finance is here, I should ask a related question. I have asked this a number of times and I was told the legislation would not come before Easter. As we are on the other side of Easter, what is the position of the legislation allowing for payments to be made from claims to tribunals of inquiry? When do we expect it to reach Second Stage?

Is that the National Treasury Management Agency Bill?

Yes, it concerns the agency to make payments for claims to tribunals of inquiry.

The two Bills will be merged. I will revert with accurate information.