Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 15, motion re referral to select committee of the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol, to be found on a Supplementary Order Paper; No. 16, motion re leave to introduce a Supplementary Estimate - Vote 33; No. 17, motion re referral of the Supplementary Estimate on Vote 33 to the select sub-committee; No. 18, Irish Collective Asset-management Vehicles Bill 2014 - Financial Resolution; No. 5, Finance Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; No. 32, Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages, to be taken at 9 p.m. tonight, and the order shall not resume thereafter. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; and Nos. 15, 16, and 18 shall be decided without debate and, subject to the agreement of No. 16, No. 17, referral to select sub-committee, shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith. Private Members’ business shall be No. 166, motion re mortgage arrears. Tomorrow’s business after Oral Questions shall be No. 5, Finance Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed).

There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed to?

It is not agreed. This is the third time in a few weeks that we have had a late sitting in order to do business that is not urgent, when the country is in a state of social insurrection and electoral revolution over the water charges, as we see in Dublin South-West and in Roscommon-South Leitrim, yet we cannot have a debate here on the issue because the Government will not provide the time. I ask the Taoiseach to amend his proposed order in order that we can have the discussion the people want us to have-----

The Deputy has made his point.

-----to put it up to the Government to abolish this hated tax. They have clarity; they know what they object to-----

Thank you, Deputy.

There was nobody carrying banners saying "We need more clarity". They were people saying "No way; we can't pay," and "Enda Kenny, not a penny." Can we give the Taoiseach a message, if he has not got it from the streets already-----

I am sorry, but the has made his point.

Give us the time we need now to discuss this critical issue, which our people are demanding be dealt with here by abolishing this hated bondholder tax.

The Deputy has made his point.

Does Deputy Higgins imagine that Deputy Gerry Adams cannot pay? He is the wealthiest TD in the place.

We lost time here because of a series of objections to your good self, a Cheann Comhairle, and the ruling you gave in respect of Standing Orders. The Opticians Board has to be subsumed into the Health and Social Care Professionals Council. This has to go through the Dáil and it has to go through all Stages in the Seanad. It is an urgent piece of legislation dealing with a critical element of the health care industry. It is not true to say it is not urgent, because it is. It would have happened in the last week of business if we had not had the disruption from the far side.

I am putting the question: "That the proposal for the late sitting be agreed to."

I asked the Taoiseach specifically and I am entitled to an answer, according to Standing Orders. When will we get to discuss the issue-----

The Deputy can vote against it.

-----that the people are talking about incessantly?

Sílim go bhfuil an cheist rite.

Níor fhreagair an Taoiseach an cheist, a Cheann Comhairle.

I am sorry, but will the Deputy, please, not be disruptive?

Cathain a bheidh am againn díospóireacht a dhéanamh faoin rud seo, faoi uisce na hÉireann?

The Deputy made his point.

Ní bhfuaireas freagra. I did not get an answer.

The Deputy did get an answer.

Nuair a bheidh an cinneadh déanta ag an Rialtas, beidh díospóireacht anseo sa Dáil againn, taobh istigh de choicís sílim.

When will there be a debate on the water charges?

We are not having a debate across the Chamber.

It is unbelievable when the people-----

The proposal is agreed to. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 2 agreed to? Agreed.

I have a number of issues to raise. First, at Leaders' Questions before the recess, I asked the Taoiseach if the Government would facilitate the Oireachtas with time to debate the allegations of abuse within the Sinn Féin-IRA movement at the time.

It was agreed that time would be allocated. It has not happened this week and I would appreciate if it could be facilitated next week, because a lot has been said both here and outside the House. I would like to express my views in a considered way in a structured debate in the House and I am sure others would like to do so also.

My second point concerns the programme for Government.

Changes have been suggested in respect of the filling of appointments to State boards. I do not know if the Taoiseach is familiar with the work of John Walshe, the recently retired adviser to the former Minister for Education and Skills. Mr. Walshe has published a book where he states that Mark Kennelly, who is a leading official in the Department of the Taoiseach, metaphorically twisted his arm and said that Fine Gael wanted its quota of appointments in the education world.

That is not a matter for the Order of Business.

We had the John McNulty fiasco. I know the Taoiseach is smiling but we were promised a democratic revolution and Mr. Walshe did say that people who advertised were the last to be considered.

(Interruptions).

Will Deputies settle down?

He said the Labour Party had its appointments and that Fine Gael must now get its appointments.

Could we hear the Deputy's views on the Order of Business?

The third issue I want to raise is the water environment Bill. This Bill is to support the implementation of the water framework directive, which is particularly relevant given all the debate we have had.

A fourth piece of legislation that has been promised relates to the establishment of a new model of financing social interventions called social impact bonds. These would share the Exchequer savings with charitable and voluntary organisations. When will that legislation be introduced?

The broadcasting (amendment) Bill will amend the Broadcasting Act 2009 to remove the television licence fee provisions, introduce the means of collecting a broadcasting charge and implement the Government decision relating to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland's five-year review of public funding. The former Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources was very enthusiastic about this legislation. The Taoiseach might indicate when it is proposed to publish it.

The health reform Bill will put in place the new structures for the health service. When can we expect this Bill or is it to be published? The health (transport support) Bill is to provide for a scheme to make individual payments to people with severe disabilities who cannot access public transport as a contribution towards their transport costs. The Taoiseach will remember that this was a very hot issue nearly two budgets ago. He made promises that he would look after those whose mobility is severely hampered by virtue of having a disability and nothing has been done. It is a scandal in itself that the Taoiseach has allowed all this time to go by without fulfilling his commitments in that regard. I will leave it at that for today.

We will have the debate on sexual abuse next Wednesday. I would like to get the views of Members as to the structure of that debate. I share the Deputy's view about its importance. As I have said on many occasions, there can be no equivocation about sexual abuse or about harbouring those who have carried out sexual abuse or are a danger to children in particular.

With regard to appointments to State boards, the Government made a decision that from 1 November and leaving aside those that were in train, every Minister would see that their Departments were on the StateBoards.ie system in respect of the boards under their remit and the vacancies arising on those boards and that people would have to apply through that system, have their credentials and qualifications assessed by the Public Appointments Service and be referred to Departments subsequently having being cleared, or vetted if the Deputy uses that word, by the Public Appointments Service. That is in train.

Will both parties still want their share of the boards as per John Walshe's revelations?

There was a-----

Through the Chair, please.

There was a party in government some time ago which made 300 or 400 appointments in an interregnum period before an election. I would not comment on it.

Let us get on with the Order of Business.

The water environment Bill is due next year. I will come back to the Deputy about the social impact bonds Bill. The other Bill mentioned by the Deputy was the broadcasting (amendment) Bill. A great deal of work has been done on that Bill and I expect that it should be produced before the end of this year. I hope it can be produced by then. If not, it will be very early next year.

The health reform Bill-----

What about the social impact bonds Bill?

I will revert to the Deputy in respect of social impact bonds and give him an update.

In respect of the health reform Bill, a number of policy measures are being considered and I must update Deputy Micheál Martin and the House in that regard. The health (transport support) Bill is expected early next year.

I have already been on record as welcoming a debate on abuse of any kind. However, I must take exception once again to Deputy Micheál Martin when he talks about allegations of abuse within Sinn Féin-IRA. It is welcome that-----

We cannot debate this matter on the Order of Business, as the Deputy knows.

The Ceann Comhairle did not interrupt Deputy Micheál Martin.

I do interrupt Deputies if they are out of order.

He did not interrupt him a moment ago.

The Deputy cannot debate this issue on the Order of Business.

I am not looking for a debate. I am looking to say something about the debate we will have. I welcome the fact that the Taoiseach has said that there will be consultation on this matter. I have written to the Ceann Comhairle about the way the Taoiseach and the leader of Fianna Fáil conducted themselves the last time this matter was discussed here. I understand from the public media that the Taoiseach also received a letter on behalf of four citizens taking exception to the way he had subverted the legal process and so on; therefore, I look forward to the response to his-----

Do you want to suppress Dáil Éireann? Do you want to suppress freedom of speech in Dáil Éireann? Is that what you are at now?

Will the Deputy please-----

How dare he talk about how I conducted myself here.

Through the Chair, please.

I am fully aware of my parliamentary responsibilities. He cannot shut me up any time soon and he will certainly not suppress me inside this House. How dare he - hypocrite.

Will Deputy Adams stick to the Order of Business?

I am doing so.

He is not speaking to the Order of Business and I ask him to do so.

The contrived theatrical performance-----

We are not having any of this stuff on the Order of Business. I ask the Deputy to stick to the Order of Business and ask about promised legislation.

This conduct impresses nobody, especially not victims and survivors of abuse.

(Interruptions).

Will the Deputy, please, proceed?

These folks want to reduce this Chamber to a piece of theatre.

We are dealing with the Order of Business and promised legislation.

Tá a fhios agam agus táim ag déileáil le sin. I understand that the stated intention of the forthcoming national monuments Bill is to consolidate and update the legislative code governing the protection and regulation of the national archaeological heritage. I welcome that and would like an update on that Bill's progress. In light of the decision by Dublin City Council to vote against a proposed land swap with Chartered Land that would have seen the historic battlefield site of Moore Street demolished, will the Taoiseach move to intervene and find a resolution? I understand that the national monuments Bill aims to protect and regulate our national heritage. If I recall properly, this battlefield site was described by the Taoiseach as the lanes of history. It is of incredible and profound historic relevance. Given that we are approaching the centenary of the 1916 Rising, will the Government intervene, as it did with Temple Bar and the IFSC, on this matter?

The other issue I wish to raise is the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant. The Taoiseach will recall that last year, the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant were axed by the Government.

We are not dealing with that issue on the Order of Business. It is not promised legislation.

It is - if the Ceann Comhairle will let me finish my point. The Government promised to devise an alternative scheme.

It did not do so on the Order of Business. It cannot promise on the Order of Business. We are dealing with promised legislation.

We were promised primary legislation for a replacement scheme. That is what we were promised. I note the number of times the Ceann Comhairle has interrupted me as a number of Deputies have interrupted others.

Do not be so sensitive. I am trying to keep order in this Chamber and it is difficult enough. I am not here to worry about everybody's sensibilities. As I treat everybody equally as best I can, do not be so sensitive. Will the Deputy put his question and I will get him an answer.

I am looking for a timeframe for the introduction of this new scheme, as was promised, and progress under primary legislation, which was also promised.

On the health (transport support) Bill, I have already indicated to Deputy Micheál Martin that it is due early next year. The national monuments Bill is scheduled for the middle of next year. I met a number of personnel in regard to the issue of Moore Street. It is a complex problem, given the views expressed by the different groupings. The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has responsibility for the national monument and made a clear decision on it. Arising from the decision of Dublin City Council, I would like to think time is getting short in terms of it being in a presentable state in 2016. The Deputy will be aware of the allocation for the archives, Kilmainham courthouse and the GPO. It is not unwillingness on the part of the Government; rather, it is due to difficulties with the different groupings as to what they want. Of course, the ground outside the national monument is not owned by the State.

It is owned by NAMA.

That is another issue being addressed by Dublin City Council and the people.

It is owned by the State.

I have asked the Minister to examine the consequences of the decision by Dublin City Council to determine what is the best thing to do.

While I understand the Government is distracted with the unprecedented popular revolt against water charges which has engulfed it -----

We are not going into that issue again.

Does the crisis facing the Government mean that it has changed the promised schedule for bringing forward the other important publication on social housing strategy promised by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government? It was promised before the recent recess that we would have the document and a debate in the House on a crisis that continues. Families are being made homeless on a daily basis because of the failure to address the issue. The Taoiseach promised on several occasions that we would have the document and a discussion on the Government's policy for dealing with this most severe of crises. When is that going to happen?

We discussed this issue at the Cabinet sub-committee yesterday. I will let the Deputy have that piece of information. I expect the Minister, Deputy Alan Kelly, to bring the document to the Cabinet next week and then the Deputy will have it. We will stand by this promise, at least. He will have his discussion and the opportunity to say his piece. The Minister is very interested in seeing to it that the housing situation, in so far as we can impact on it, will be impacted on in the shortest possible time, including voids, social housing and other stimuli through the construction sector.

In the context of the national pediatric hospital development board Bill, I ask the extent to which the national children's hospital plan has progressed. Have the relevant targets been met in terms of the schedule to date and when are we likely to see further progress?

My other old chestnut is the bail Bill, an issue I have raised on a number of occasions. I ask for the current status of the Bill. Is it likely to be brought before the House in the near future and to what extent has progress been made since I last raised the issue?

On the children's hospital Bill, the design team is in place and working very well. The project is on track. I cannot give a date for publication of the Bill, but it is very much under control. The sod will be turned for the Central Mental Hospital next year.

I do not have a date for the bail Bill. The Deputy has raised the matter on numerous occasions. I will investigate the current stage of completion of the work involved. As the Deputy will be aware, it is quite complicated.

I ask the Taoiseach about an issue I raised previously regarding the technological universities Bill. It has recently been highlighted that difficulties have arisen in the south east with the promotion of a technological university involving Carlow Institute of Technology and Waterford Institute of Technology. The programme for Government proposed a technological university for the region. Is a proposal in place to get discussions back on track in order to achieve the targets set out in the programme for Government?

Shortly after it was elected, the Government made the decision to support the concept of a technological university for the south east, taking into account the merger of Waterford Institute of Technology, Carlow Institute of Technology and other ancillary facilities. That is the intention of Government and that was its decision. For a variety of reasons, there was a recent break-up in the proposed merger. The Minister for Education and Skills met both parties and has now appointed an independent mediator, Mr. Kelly, who has been given ten weeks to come back with a proposition for getting the talks back on track in order that the Government's decision can be implemented. We want to get the matter back on track and ascertain whether the mediator can bring this about.

There has been considerable speculation on water charges legislation and Ministers have refused to rule out the involvement of Revenue. Is it planned to introduce a water services (amendment) Bill which would change the structure of how charges are collected?

Two weeks ago we debated the European Stability Mechanism, ESM, legislation. This is the day on which the ESM receives applications for retrospective recapitalisation of the banks and the billions of euro pumped into them. Can we have a debate on when the Government intends to make an application to the ESM to get our money back, or as much of it as we can?

On the water services (amendment) Bill, the Government will make its views known, having listened to the people, within the next two weeks. There will be a discussion in the House arising from this.

On the ESM Bill, we have made it clear that the option is open to the Government to lodge an application for retrospective capitalisation, if that is its decision, from this point on. As the Deputy noted, today marks the start of that opportunity. The Government will consider the best option in respect of an application for recapitalisation or the value of the banks in Government ownership.

On the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, I ask the Taoiseach to inform the House whether the Minister for Justice and Equality has met the families of victims of the Omagh bombing. The previous Minister promised such a meeting, but it did not happen.

That is the subject of a parliamentary question.

We have heard statements from the Minister for Health on the children's hospital and the twin approach to both planning applications. On the medical paediatric hospital development board, is this a Government position or is the Minister flying a kite? Is there a sense of having both hospitals -----

To what Bill is the Deputy referring?

I am referring to the medical practitioners hospital development board (amendment) Bill. It is on the list.

The Deputy is normally very clear, but this is quite confusing.

The entire situation regarding the site for the children's hospital is very confusing.

The medical practitioners board Bill is awaiting Committee Stage in the Seanad. The criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is due late next year.

Will the Minister meet the families of the Omagh bombing victims?

I do not know whether the Minister has met the survivors or families of the victims of the Omagh bombing.

That is a separate issue which the Deputy will have to raise in some other way.

I will have the Minister confirm the position for the Deputy.

The Taoiseach is a very practical man, or at least he used to be. On the companies (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, the Competition Authority is toothless because farmers are getting so little for their meat -----

This is very important.

I know it is very important but not on the Order of Business.

Meat is very expensive at the counter.

What Bill is being discussed?

I ask the Taoiseach to explain the issue to the people of Ireland. He is aware of the protests taking place at factories.

I do not mind a little leeway, but it is happening every day.

Please give me a little leeway on behalf of the farmers of Ireland.

The Deputy should table a Topical Issue or a parliamentary question.

I urge the Ceann Comhairle to allow the Taoiseach to answer.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine called the beef forum together with all of the interested bodies involved. They agreed on a strategy and I hope that, arising from what they agreed to, the factories will respond to farmers' concerns.

It is an issue of concern to a great number of people. One farming organisation has issued instructions to have a further protest, but I hope, arising from what was agreed at the beef forum, that decisions might be made that do not disrupt that process.

The EirGrid Bill is intended to establish EirGrid as a separate legal entity. EirGrid is currently legally attached to the ESB, which last week rubbished Grid25, the central plank of EirGrid's plans. The Minister can deny that if he wishes. Will the Taoiseach bring forward the EirGrid Bill or allow a debate on Grid25 in the context of the ESB's proposals and submissions last week?

The EirGrid Bill is due next year. If the Deputy wishes to table a Topical Issue with the Ceann Comhairle's consent, he may get permission to raise the matter that way.