Order of Business

It is proposed to take No. 16, motion re joint committees; No. 17, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 18, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the Statute of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) (back from committee); and No. 18a, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the draft Commission of Investigation (Certain matters concerning transactions entered into by IBRC) Order 2015.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than midnight; (2) Nos. 16, 17 and 18 shall be decided without debate; (3) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 18a: (i) the speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, or a person nominated in their stead, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case, and such Members may share their time; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; and (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; and (4) Topical Issues and Private Members’ business shall not take place today.

Tomorrow’s business after oral questions shall be: No. 18a, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the draft Commission of Investigation (Certain matters concerning transactions entered into by IBRC) Order 2015 (resumed); No. 5, Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; No. 6, Communications Regulation (Postal Services) (Amendment) Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 7, Urban Regeneration and Housing Bill 2015 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 16, 17 and 18 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18a agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal regarding Topical Issues and Private Members’ business agreed to?

No. I have been asked by a number of Members in my party to object to the fact Topical Issues has been removed from the Order of Business. I would point out that, over a 70 day period since Easter, the Dáil has only met on 18 days. Therefore, the time for Deputies to raise issues of significant concern has been extremely restricted and limited by dint of how the Government has ordered the affairs of the House in the past two months in particular, and this applies to Topical Issues, Leaders' Questions, Questions to the Taoiseach and so on. There has been, to a certain extent, a shutting down of the Dáil. I believe it is a deliberate strategy that the Taoiseach has been following for some time. The less time he spends in the Dáil, the better, from his and the Government's perspective in terms of media management, spinning and so on. That is my sense of it. Many Deputies wanted to raise matters under Topical Issues and felt that provision should have been made for them in order to enable them to raise issues of topical concern.

There is a deliberate strategy here. This is a very important matter of public interest and we are having a commission of investigation. The terms of reference were set out by the Government in draft form because of the importance of this and because of the necessity to have a clear, independent authority deal with this matter. The Minister for Finance sat down with the leaders and spokespersons from the parties opposite and took their proposals into account. He has shown, in my view, flexibility and consideration of the views genuinely presented by Members of the other parties. These are included in the terms of reference and, because this is such an issue of public importance, as has been said-----

I am not talking about that.

-----we have discussion today and tomorrow on it. For that reason, obviously, Deputy Martin and others will have the opportunity again on Topical Issues on many occasions.

Question put: "That the proposal regarding the Topical Issue debate and Private Members' business be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 85; Níl, 38.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Bannon, James.
  • Barry, Tom.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Conway, Ciara.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Maloney, Eamonn.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Nolan, Derek.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Spring, Arthur.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Walsh, Brian.
  • White, Alex.

Níl

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, John.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg; Níl, Deputies Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Dara Calleary.
Question declared carried.

On the extensive media coverage concerning a means tested grant to allow people to replace water pipes in their homes to decrease lead levels in their water supply, has the Government indicated when we can expect a water services Bill to implement that? What will be the average cost per household for this work? Can the Taoiseach outline the rationale as to why people will be charged for this pipe replacement while they will continue to be charged for water when lead levels are not safe? Does he agree water charges should be removed for those homes affected?

In respect of the strategy approved by the Government today arising from the water metering programme of Irish Water which discovered that there are significant numbers of houses with lead piping through which their water supply flows, most of these are pre-1960 builds. Some buildings affected were built between 1960 and 1970, including public buildings, schools and houses.

The regulator issued a ruling that where Irish Water was supplying water that was not drinkable or was not up to standard, then there would be no charge. For the majority of those cases where the water flowing through the pipe to the point mostly on the private residence where the lead pipe takes over to bring it through to a sink or a water tank, the Government has now introduced a grant assistance and a home improvement grant which has been in place but will be continued. The details of this were announced earlier by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

In cases where water supplied by Irish Water is not drinkable, there is no charge as the regulator has ruled. Cases with the water coming through to the point where the lead begins is the issue. That is why the Government wants to support people to replace these pipes from the mains to the private accommodation where it actually applies.

I am not being facetious but they do not get to drink it when it is underground. Is it safe?

It has been going on for years, Deputy Martin.

Get out the lead of your pencil.

It was that way 12 years ago when Deputy Martin was in power.

We cannot have a debate on this on the Order of Business.

This morning, the Cabinet agreed to take another 300 migrants between 2015 and 2016. I very much welcome that small easing of the burden and the plight of people affected, particularly arising from the conflict in Syria. It may be a pertinent time to ask the Taoiseach about the international protection Bill and the report of the McMahon working group on direct provision.

A recent report from the Joint Committee on Public Service Oversight and Petitions on the direct provision system concluded that it is not fit for purpose. This report will be debated here on Friday. Two weeks ago, the Ombudsman for Children expressed concerns about children in the direct provision system. The special rapporteur on child protection has repeatedly raised his concerns that our State may well be in breach of human rights treaties because of the length of time children are held in the system. The Health Information and Quality Authority has produced a further disturbing report on the same issue. The Taoiseach informed me before that the report by Mr. Justice Bryan McMahon will be published by the end of May. It is now June. When will his report be published? Will the Taoiseach commit to holding a debate on it when it is published? When does he expect the international protection Bill to be published?

In the programme for Government, there is a commitment to introduce a reformed and consolidated domestic violence Bill to address all aspects of domestic violence, threatened violence and intimidation in a manner that protects victims. This echoes commitments from the election manifestoes of both the Fine Gael and Labour parties. Yet, with less than a year to go in its term, the Government has not signed up to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

Sorry, Deputy, but we are short of time.

There is now a major crisis following the decision of Tusla to end funding for Rape Crisis Network Ireland. When will the Government produce the reformed and consolidated domestic violence Bill, finally honouring this commitment? Will the Government review the decision on funding for the Rape Crisis Network?

The heads of the domestic violence Bill are expected very shortly. The heads of the international protection Bill were cleared on 24 March, so it is on its way through the system and should not be too far away.

The Minister informed the Government this morning that she expects to have the report from Mr. Justice Bryan McMahon in two weeks. That will be published and we will have a debate in the House on it.

Maith go leor.

The building control Bill, which will place Construction Industry Register Ireland, CIRI, on a statutory footing and thereby provide in law for the registration of builders, contractors and specialist subcontractors-----

Sorry, Deputy. Just cut out the preamble and ask the question. There are only four minutes for everybody.

When will the legislation be published?

The heads of the Bill are being finalised at the moment and it is expected that it will be published later in the year.

I call Deputy Healy-Rae. Please do not go on.

It is very wrong-----

That is all grand, but what Bill are you talking about?

The health information Bill. People are going blind waiting for cataract operations. What will the Department of Health do about it?

What Bill are you talking about?

The health information Bill.

The Bill will be later this year, but the presentation or publication of the Bill should not prevent the system from being able to treat people where they need treatment. The opticians and experts who work in the area of cataracts have quite a deal of work completed and have a very heavy work programme. The wait for the publication of a Bill should not stop people from getting the treatment they need.

When the report of the Moriarty tribunal came out, the Taoiseach said it would not be left to gather dust. When I asked the Minister for Justice and Equality about the action she was taking to give effect to the recommendations in the report, she said that many of the recommendations were anticipated by the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005, which is awaiting Report Stage in the Dáil. What is the reason for the undue delay in progressing the legislation and when can we expect Report Stage in the Dáil?

The recommendations of Moriarty were grouped into five categories, namely, political funding, company law, Revenue matters, regulation and tribunals of inquiry.

The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 was enacted by the Oireachtas on 28 July 2012. It brought into force restrictions on corporate donations and considerable reductions in the maximum amount a political party or individual could accept as a political donation. The Standards in Public Office Commission, SIPO, has published guidelines for political parties on the steps to be taken in receiving donations and prohibited donations. It has also published guidelines for the register of corporate donors. Under the 2012 Act it is a requirement that political parties submit audited accounts to SIPO for publication. This requirement begins with regard to the 2015 accounts, which must be submitted to SIPO by mid-2016. Such requirements, which mandate that the income and expenditure of a political party be open to scrutiny, go beyond the recommendations of the Moriarty tribunal. In addition, the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) Act 2014 reduced the levels of payment applicable to political leaders and Independent Members, and provides that Independent Members are now required to furnish to SIPO an annual statement of expenditure. Also relevant is the introduction of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015, to be commenced on 1 September this year. This will require a web-based register of lobbying to be implemented by SIPO, designed to bring far greater transparency in relation to those communicating with public officials and public policy matters. The register launched on 1 May this year.

On company law, Moriarty recommended that a provision similar to section 172 of the UK Companies Act 2006 be adopted in relation to directors' statutory duties. The Minister, Deputy Bruton, stated that he considered this to be covered by Part 5 of the Companies Act 2014, which came into force on 1 June last year and which provides for the codification of directors' duties.

On Revenue matters, section 101 of the Ministers and Secretaries Act placed on a statutory footing the independence of the Revenue Commissioners in exercising the statutory functions provided to it under taxation and customs enactments. With regard to other recommendations on this issue, namely, representations to the Revenue Commissioners by officeholders and transmission to other agencies of information obtained by the Revenue Commissioners under bilateral arrangements, the Minister, Deputy Noonan, has stated that these matters have been considered and will be considered in the future.

On regulation, the Minister, Deputy Noonan, identified a number of specific actions. A new fitness and probity regime was introduced in accordance with the Central Bank Reform Act. The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Act 2013 attempts to strengthen the ability of the Central Bank to impose and supervise compliance with regulatory requirements and to undertake timely prudential interventions. A number of EU actions are cited as contributing to the improvement of the financial regime. Agreement was reached on the single supervisory mechanism in relation to the supervision by the ECB of systematic important banks within the Union.

The Moriarty tribunal made a number of observations about the operation of tribunals of inquiry. The Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 awaits Report Stage debate in the Dáil. While it is not directly related to the operation of tribunals of inquiry alone, the introduction of the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 should be noted. It provides for a prohibition on penalising workers who make protected disclosures. It has been noted by Transparency International that a wide definition of "worker" has been provided in the legislation.

I am afraid the time has expired.

That is very helpful, but-----

Sorry, Deputy. Please resume your seat.

-----I did ask a specific question about the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill.

Please resume your seat, Deputy. Thank you.

What is the reason for the delay and when are we likely to see it?

I will bring the Deputy up to date on that.

Please resume your seats.

The Taoiseach is a great man for talking down the clock.

I am afraid the time has expired for the Order of Business. I am afraid you will all have to come back again tomorrow.

Will we get any answers tomorrow? That is the real question.

That is not my job.

The Taoiseach likes clarity.

Paddy likes to know.