Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 37, Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2014, [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 38, statements on the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Convention (Voting Rights).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members’ business, the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the adjournment of Private Members’ business which shall be No. 190, motion re Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise and shall, if not previously concluded, adjourn after 90 minutes; the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 38: the statement of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, and such members may share their time; the statement of each other member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, and such members may share their time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply, which shall not exceed five minutes.

Tomorrow’s business after Oral Questions shall be No. 39, Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2015 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 5, Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 38, statements on the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Convention (Voting Rights).

There are two proposals to be put to the House. The first is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting. Is that agreed? Agreed. The second is the proposal for dealing with item No. 38, Statements on the Fifth Report of the Constitutional Convention (Voting Rights). Is that agreed? Agreed.

The Taoiseach confirmed earlier that the Government told a major untruth before the last general election that it would introduce the Dutch model of universal health insurance, UHI. Papers were published, there were detailed documents and visits to Holland and the country was led to believe for a full year that this was the Holy Grail of health solutions and health policies. I was astonished earlier to hear the Taoiseach say that the Dutch model was not going to be implemented and that there would now be a different model and system. It is an extraordinary and breathtaking breach of a promise the Taoiseach made to the people. It transcends even Deputy Ruairí Quinn's promise about third level fees. The former Minister, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, said that is what tends to happen during election campaigns but I find this extraordinary. This is one of the Government's pillar policies. A white paper on UHI was published last year. The Taoiseach said that there would be a statement on what the cost of compulsory insurance will be. We are still waiting for the publication of the costings. When can we expect the publication of the costings which have been promised previously during Leaders' Questions? Will the Taoiseach be upfront with the people about the cost of this policy and what they will end up having to pay?

I am aware that the general scheme of the marriage Bill 2015 was published last March. Following the success of the marriage referendum, will the Taoiseach confirm when the Bill to allow same sex marriages to take place will be scheduled before the House? Will he confirm when the administrative details to allow marriages between gay couples to take places will be finalised?

The Minister for Justice and Equality has confirmed on behalf of Government that the intention is that the marriage equality Bill will be enacted before the summer recess, so it will move through the House very quickly.

The Government is not resiling from or reneging on its intention to introduce universal health insurance. Universal health insurance is the objective of the Government but the original target is delayed.

The Dutch model is gone.

The Minister has quite some work to do in respect of the cost.

Let me confirm for the Deputy again, in case he cannot hear me, that the Government is not reneging on the commitment to introduce universal health insurance. It will be the universal health insurance system that will apply in this country, not as applied in the Netherlands.

What are the costings?

We have the Minister working on that issue.

That is the lie, though.

I call Deputy Gerry Adams.

It is not like the system in the Netherlands. That is the lie.

No, Deputy. I have called Deputy Gerry Adams.

The Taoiseach has said the marriage Bill will be ready or enacted before the summer recess, which means that it will be taken before the end of July. That is a very tight timescale. We all celebrate very much the compassionate decision taken in the referendum in favour of equality and inclusivity, but will the Taoiseach give a complete assurance that the Bill will be published before the recess? Also, we cannot have an à la carte attitude to equality. All Government economic decisions need to be equality-proofed. In particular, funding should be restored to NGOs and agencies charged with tackling inequality.

In the programme for Government and the statement of Government priorities last year the Government affirmed its support for the full implementation of all aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements. As the Taoiseach is aware, there are significant elements of the various agreements which have not been implemented, including the introduction of a Bill of Rights, Acht na Gaeilge and so on. The British Government has also threatened to scrap the Human Rights Act which is an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement. We know that the Assembly in Stormont is today debating the so-called welfare reform Bill.

I am sorry, but we are on the Order of Business.

What I am putting to the Taoiseach is that there are major pressures on the institutions in the North. This is not solely about the threatened cuts to welfare payments but also about the Tory Government's planned cuts to budgets. The Taoiseach is equal co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement. Has the Government raised these issues or concerns with the British Government? Will the Taoiseach-----

I am afraid he cannot do so on the Order of Business.

Will the Taoiseach engage directly with the British Prime Minister and remind him that the Good Friday Agreement is a binding international treaty and that the commitments entered into in it must be implemented?

We will have to discuss that matter.

I expect the marriage equality Bill to be enacted in the House by 16 July. I think that is the date which is perhaps the week before the House is due to rise.

I am going to meet the British Prime Minister before the next European Council meeting. I mentioned this issue to him when I rang him to congratulate him on being re-elected as Prime Minister. This country and the Government are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, as Deputy Gerry Adams is well aware. The human rights issue is dealt with in an international treaty. That is an issue I will raise with the British Prime Minister.

The Deputy mentioned a point about Acht na Gaeilge, a Bill of Rights and so on. Obviously, the focus of the Government in Great Britain was on the election. Now that the Prime Minister leads a single party Government with a majority, I will be happy to take up these matters with him again, including the fact that the Agreement should be implemented in full.

I hope discussions will take place today on the welfare issue which is of great importance. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Charles Flanagan, has been in constant contact with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and the Deputy First Minister at Stormont. I wish the First Minister well in his recovery. I understand he was brought to hospital with a condition which I hope will be treated. I hope he will make a full recovery.

The Taoiseach is in a unique position in that he is the only party leader who has refused to go on Radio Kerry to debate current issues.

Hold on one second.

This comes under the Government's policy in the programme for Government on the open-----

I can tell the Deputy that it is not an issue for the Order of Business.

No, it concerns the Government's policy on openness and transparency. I have a question for the Taoiseach. Jerry O'Sullivan has been looking for him to go on Radio Kerry for a long time.

The Deputy can table a question or go and talk to him, but he may not raise the issue on the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach is refusing to-----

No, I am sorry, the Deputy is totally out of order.

I am sorry, but I am not.

The Deputy is totally out of order.

Will the Deputy, please, resume his seat?

This relates to Government policy on openness and transparency.

will the Deputy, please, resume his seat?


I am asking the Taoiseach to go on Radio Kerry-----

I do not care what Government policy states; I am dealing with the Order of Business.

----to talk about current issues, in the way the other party leaders have done.

I would be delighted to do so.

I thank the Taoiseach.

Please, do not respond.

I thank the Taoiseach.

Four years later.

Will Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, please, resume his seat? He is making a joke out of this.

Thank you very much.

I want to tell the Deputy something. I will not call him in future because every time I call him, I get into a dispute with him.


Either he adheres to the rules like everyone else or he does not.

The Deputy has not done so thus far.

Do not plamás me.

I will adhere to the rules.

I am around here long enough to recognise when someone is trying to plamás me.

The Taoiseach answered my question, for which I thank him.

The Deputy knows exactly what goes and if he does not, will he, please, come to my office and I will tell him what he may raise on the Order of Business?

On behalf of Sinn Féin, I join in the good wishes to the First Minister, Mr. Peter Robinson, following his illness. I hope he will make a full recovery.

In April 2014 we brought forward the Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2014 which was accepted on Second Stage. When will it be taken on Committee Stage? Why was there not a moratorium placed on planning applications for industrial scale wind turbine developments pending the enactment of the Bill-----

That is a separate issue.

-----or publication of new planning regulations for wind turbine developments being prepared by the Minister or the Department?

It was a Private Members' Bill. Clearly, the Minister is considering some changes to the regulations governing wind turbines. We have a duty as a country to meet climate change targets. They involve the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, as well as other Departments. I cannot speak about the planning process because, as the Deputy is aware, one does not want to interfere in any way with it. The Bill was passed on Second Stage. My understanding is the Minister will make his views known on the regulations governing wind turbines in the not too distant future. As the Deputy is aware, there are issues that cover a number of Departments.

There is a motion on the Order Paper, No. 197, to which there are 45 signatories. Unusually, it has been signed by almost the entire Opposition. I am calling on the Taoiseach to consider allocating time for a debate on it. It concerns the review by KPMG of Siteserv and other issues. It was pointed out when we were debating the matter that there were conflicts or, at least, perceived conflicts with the individual who was to carry out the review.

I am sorry, but we cannot deal with that issue on the Order of Business.

There has been further damaged by virtue of the fact-----

Is time being allocated to debate the motion?

-----that IBRC joined the process last week.

I am sorry, but the Deputy cannot raise this issue on the Order of Business. Will she, please, resume her seat?

It joined the court case last week. Essentially, a court case was taken by Mr. Denis O'Brien-----

Deputy Martin Heydon is next. I am sorry, but Deputy Catherine Murphy is out of order.

The conflicts of interest are now greater than they were.

The Deputy is out of order. Will she, please, resume her seat? She cannot raise this matter on the Order of Business.

If there is to be a review and we are to spend public money on it and there is someone who is-----

The Deputy has a Whip. She can ask them to go to the Whips' meeting and arrange a debate.

It seems that time should be provided-----

Will the Deputy, please, resume her seat?

That there are 45 signatories on the Opposition side is no small matter.

The Deputy can ask her Whip to deal with the matter at the Whips' meeting.

I am asking the Taoiseach to consider allocating time to debate the motion.

Will the Deputy, please, resume her seat?

I wish to ask the Taoiseach about promised legislation following last Friday's historic vote. It represented another move by the Government to improve equality in society, as well as fixing the economy. I wish to ask the Taoiseach about another issue on which the Government has made progress.

We need to see the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill enacted. When can we expect it to become law? Its enactment is a key element in enabling Ireland to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is key legislation that I hope we will see in the lifetime of the Government.

I am informed by the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, that it is to go before the committee on 17 June.

With regard to the often-long delays in the criminal trial process and the need to reduce delays in the criminal justice system generally, when can we expect the criminal procedure Bill to be brought before the House for debate? Will it be during this Dáil term?

I cannot give the Deputy an accurate date, but it is due for introduction here later in the year.

Tá a lán ceisteanna agam don Taoiseach. One concerns the EirGrid legislation. There is considerable angst in the community over it. It has been postponed time and again. We never get any date for it because, as I have stated previously, dates have been changed on account of public hearings and public submissions.

Only two general practitioners in Tipperary have signed up under the health (general practitioner service) legislation. I can speak only for Tipperary. There is a considerable amount of intimidation and bullying and there are threats. Where are the under-sixes to go if they cannot go to the general practitioners who treat their families? This is farcical in the extreme. I hope the Taoiseach will, at this late stage, ask the Minister for Health to engage meaningfully with the doctors. The doctors provide front-line services, and there is enormous pressure.

The Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2015 is due to be taken on Report Stage tomorrow. My understanding is that about 100 general practitioners per day are signing up.

Not in Tipperary.

I hope the general practitioners will sign up also.

They cannot sign up.

It is a very good scheme for providing free access to services for under-sixes and over-70s.

With regard to promised legislation, what is the current position on the Red Cross (amendment) Bill, which has been promised for some time and which is being sought with some considerable interest? What is the position on the energy (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, which will generate some debate on electricity generation, wind energy, fossil fuel energy and the extent to which energy in general will feed into the national grid?

The energy (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is listed for later in the year. I cannot give the Deputy a date for the Red Cross (amendment) Bill, but I will revert to him on the work that is under way.