It is proposed to take No. 5, Finance Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed); No. 6, Social Welfare Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 34, Garda Síochána (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed). Tomorrow's fortnightly Friday business shall be No. 60, Social Welfare Appeals Bill 2013 and No. 19, report on the design and layout of ballot papers used in the Seanad referendum in October 2013.
Order of Business
There are no proposals to be put to the House.
In the light of the decision of Labour Party Senators yesterday to support a Fianna Fáil motion in the Seanad to have a referendum held to enshrine the protection of Irish Water in the Constitution, will the Tánaiste tell us whether she intends to bring a Bill before the House shortly to give effect to that decision, or was it the case that the Senators were acting in a personal capacity?
Is this about promised legislation?
It relates to promised legislation in the light of that decision.
On the road traffic Bill, in the light of the upgrade works at Newlands Cross and the impact these works are expected to have on traffic activity on the M50, we face the prospect of congestion-----
We are not talking about traffic congestion at Newlands Cross. This is the Order of Business.
I accept that, but does the Government have any view on the need to bring forward legislation providing for congestion charges, in line with proposals made by the NRA which suggested the introduction of multi-point tolling on the M50?
Is there promised legislation?
It falls under the heading of the road traffic Bill.
What other promised legislation is on the way on pensions? As the Tánaiste knows, the deferred pensions of airline-----
The Deputy should resume his seat. The Order of Business is about promised legislation.
With respect, all of the issues raised concern promised legislation.
I must confess that I am not up to speed on the situation at Newlands Cross. However, if the Deputy is referring to road traffic legislation, I understand it is due to be published next year.
On the issue of congestion charges, does Fianna Fáil now have a new policy? Is it proposing the introduction of congestion charges and tolling for everyone coming into Dublin?
I am asking when the Government intends to bring it forward.
In the interest-----
Will you please stick to the Order of Business, Tánaiste?
I am trying to answer his question. He might clarify the question.
What about her Senators?
What about the referendum to protect Irish Water?
Who are the independent Labour Party Senators?
What about their former Senators?
Will Deputies please stay quiet? Thank you.
I have three matters to raise. First, I notice the symphysiotomy redress scheme has been announced today. Will time be made available for a discussion of this in the Dáil?
Second, can I have an update on the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into the mother and baby homes? Is the Tánaiste in a position at this stage to give even an indicative date for the publication of those terms of reference?
Finally, I have raised with the Tánaiste before the matter of the reformed and consolidated domestic violence Bill, which would enable Irish ratification of the Istanbul convention. She has told me previously that it will be seen at some point in 2015. Can she be more exact than that in terms of the date of publication?
On the first point, a €34 million redress scheme has been agreed for symphysiotomy survivors, as has been announced. The programme for Government committed to addressing that issue. I want to pay tribute to all of the groups who have worked so hard in this regard. I had the privilege of meeting quite a number of the women involved. I know many continue to suffer physical and mental anguish. I believe and I hope the redress scheme will bring some comfort and recognition for the women involved of the many decades of suffering they have endured. I know many members of their families have suffered alongside them as a consequence of what happened.
Many of my colleagues, some of the Deputy's colleagues and members of all parties in the House, including the Fine Gael Party, have had fairly constant contact with the different groups-----
They did not. They did not listen.
-----in particular, the Minister of State, Deputy Ged Nash, and Senator Mary Moran in the case of the Labour Party. Given many of the women are at an advanced age-----
Sorry, Tánaiste. We cannot have a debate on this issue.
I am just responding to the question. Second, the work is ongoing in regard to the mother and baby homes. I believe I told the Deputy on the last occasion that it had gone to each Department to get their responses, and that work is ongoing. I do not have an indicative date as yet.
In regard to the Deputy's concerns around violence against women and abuse of women, I understand the ratification of that will be next year.
I wish to raise two issues. On the issue of the symphysiotomy redress scheme, I ask that time would be made available at some stage for a debate, given there are still concerns in this regard.
On the second issue, I suppose the Tánaiste in one way made a career out of the whole issue of political funding, how we fund political parties and ethics in office. The issue of the funding of political parties is very much coming to the fore again and I wonder whether we could have a debate in this House on what we consider appropriate in regard to how we fund our political parties.
That is a matter for the Whips.
In view of issues that were raised earlier by the Tánaiste with regard to some political parties now being funded by corporate America, and suckling at the teat of corporate America, is it possible-----
Sorry, Deputy. We cannot have a debate on this issue. It is a matter for the Whips.
Yes, but I am asking the Tánaiste whether it is possible for us to have a meaningful debate here in view of the fact some political parties in this House receive large sums of funding from unnamed sources that can have a direct impact on how we fund democracy in this country.
Sorry, Deputy. Will you resume your seat? Thank you.
I believe it would be appropriate that we would have a debate to ensure we have an ethical approach to how we fund political parties in this Parliament.
We cannot have a debate on it now. It is a matter for the Whips.
Perhaps the Whips could have a discussion on this. I am sure appropriate arrangements could be entered into that all the parties would probably agree with.
First, will the Tánaiste tell us when the legislation for the establishment of an independent policing authority will be published? We were promised during previous debates that this authority would be up and running before Christmas but it is obvious this will not now be the case.
Second, following the Guerin report, which the former Minister for Justice and Equality is challenging and seeking to have expunged in the courts, can the Tánaiste tell us when we will have the terms of reference of the commission of investigation which is to flow from the Guerin report?
Finally, on an issue I have sought to raise through a series of Topical Issue requests which have not been granted, there has been an unprecedented situation in this country where the vacancy for Secretary General of the Department of Justice and Equality had no applicant.
Sorry, that is not a matter for the Order of Business. It is a matter for Parliamentary Questions.
That is a damning indictment of the Government-----
Resume your seat, Deputy.
----given a situation where we have had no applicant for a position of Secretary General in a major Government Department.
That is not a matter for the Order of Business.
Would the Government consider making time available to debate that?
In regard to the independent policing authority, I am happy to say the heads were cleared on Tuesday and it is a priority for drafting. That is very good progress in regard to an issue which is very important for our democracy and for the Garda Síochána, which is so important for the protection of our citizens.
In regard to the terms of reference for Guerin, I do not have an exact timeline. Deputy Moynihan was contacted recently by the Minister, Deputy Fitzgerald, to indicate that she is finalising proposals and that she will be bringing those proposals to Government shortly.
On the issue of the filling of vacancies and TLAC-----
Sorry, that is out of order.
-----there were applications but no successful ones-----
You do not have to answer, Tánaiste. That is out of order. I call Deputy Ellis.
As the Tánaiste is aware, there is serious disquiet over the request by Irish Water for the PPS numbers of all members in the household. It is reported that local authorities are passing on details of their tenants to Irish Water, including their PPS numbers. People are refusing to give this type of information but, now, we find local authorities are doing it anyway. There is a data sharing Bill due before this House. When will this happen? Will this Bill address the laissez-faire attitude to citizens' personal details which is evident in the case of Irish Water?
My understanding and recollection is that Deputy Ellis's own party in the debate on this matter was quite keen that PPS numbers as unique identifiers would be used in regard to Irish Water.
No, we were not. We did not even have a debate.
Deputy Stanley said it.
When is the Bill coming forward?
The legislation in regard to the PPS numbers was last year. I am not aware there is pending legislation in regard to the Deputy's query.
It is the data sharing Bill.
That Bill was debated over a period of nearly two months and the Deputy's party contributed on it.
Thank you, Tánaiste.
Deputy Ó Snodaigh suggested at one stage that he-----
That is fine, Tánaiste. Thank you. I call Deputy Bannon.
We need to tackle the scourge of binge drinking that is having a huge impact on services within the State, in particular in terms of crime and the pressure it is putting on the health services.
What Bill are we talking about?
When can we expect the public health (alcohol) Bill to provide for minimum unit pricing for retailing of alcohol products? This Bill is long overdue and I would like to see it come before the House soon.
I understand a lot of work has been done on this, as the Deputy is aware. I expect it to come before the House next year.
I want to ask the Tánaiste the current status of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill to implement the recommendations arising from the review of Official Languages Act 2003.
Deputy McDonald raised the issue of the mother and baby homes. Will there be a debate on that issue? Many people are still trying to get information about their own personal records in regard to Tuam, County Galway.
I would like that information made available either through a debate or replies to those people.
I understand the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill is on the "A" list to come before the House during this session. In respect of facilitating a debate on mother-and-baby homes in Tuam and other areas of the country, when the work is completed, a discussion among the Whips will almost certainly facilitate a debate in the House.
I am enquiring about two pieces of legislation, one of which is the International Agreements on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Taxation Bill. In light of the appalling revelations this morning in The Irish Times and The Guardian about the massive tax evasion facilitated by the state of Luxembourg over the past 18 years, with the Irish company Glanbia mentioned in those dispatches, will the Irish Government take action on this? Is there a mechanism whereby the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, could be recalled?
We cannot discuss this on the Order of Business.
At the same time, could we recall Commissioner Phil Hogan who got the country into this water mess?
What is the Bill?
I understand the Bill referred to by the Deputy will come before the House in this session.
What about the substantive question?
Not on the Order of Business. The Deputy is around long enough to know that.
Will the Tánaiste give me the time, date and duration of the debate on water charges? People deserve to know the level of charges the Government will force them to boycott en masse in January.
We are not going back into that.
In respect of the International Agreements on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Taxation Bill, on the morning when The Irish Times exposes the most incredible tax dodging by Irish corporations purporting to work in Luxembourg, where they have as much work as they would have on the Blasket Islands, when will the Government stop this incredible scamming on tax by major corporations when working-class people are pulverised for yet more taxes?
To what Bill is the Deputy referring?
I am speaking about the International Agreements on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Taxation Bill. Yesterday, women in their sixties were manhandled by the gardaí.
Will the Deputy resume his seat? He knows as well as I do that he is not allowed display items like that in the Chamber. He is here a long time. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.
The Tánaiste is responsible for this disgraceful situation. What will she do to stop gardaí brutalising local communities for opposing water charges?
If the Deputy abuses the Order of Business, I will not call him. I ask him to resume his seat. He knows he is out of order.
I am saying that right around this country, there is an insurrection against the Government's new austerity tax. People are being manhandled and brutalised by her gardaí and I am calling her to account to stop it.
Will the Deputy resume his seat?
What about the Deputy's people abusing the gardaí?
Gardaí have an oath of loyalty to the State and not to any particular politician - Deputy Joe Higgins, me or anyone else.
No, the Government is abusing them.
It is a professional force, as it ought to be. In respect of Deputy Joe Higgins's query about taxation, the legislation to which he referred will come before the House this session. In my view - the Deputy has been a member of the European Parliament - these matters can be addressed only by close co-operation across Europe and on a global basis if we wish to address them properly.
Ten days ago in a blaze of glory we saw a new Court of Appeal set up and rolled out on foot of a referendum that was held over a year ago. The referendum was rushed but the people decided. A constituent of mine went to lodge an appeal in the Supreme Court last Friday-----
We cannot discuss that on the Order of Business.
He was sent to the new Court of Appeal to find empty offices-----
Table a parliamentary question.
When will the Judicial Council Bill come before the House and when will we see some sense made of what is going on down in the courts?
Is it this session?
The Judicial Council Bill should come before the House this session.
When will the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (Amendment) Bill come before the House?
I understand that Bill will come before the House next year.