Order of Business

Tuesday’s business shall be No. 3, motion re amendment of takeback date for motions re legal acts in the justice area and insolvency proceedings; No. 4, Revised Estimates (back from committee); No. 11, Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 12, Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017 - Second Stage (resumed). Private Members' business shall be No. 107, motion re hospital waiting lists, selected by Fianna Fáil.

Wednesday’s business shall be No. 13, Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Bill 2016 (changed from Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill 2016) - Report and Final Stages (resumed); No. 1, Heritage Bill 2016 [Seanad] - Second Stage; No. 4a, motion re amendment of terms of reference of the Special Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution; No. 14, Companies (Amendment) Bill 2017 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 15, Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 [Seanad] - Report and Final Stages; No. 11, Inland Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 - Report Stage (resumed if not previously concluded); No. 16, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Bill 2017 - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 12, Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill - Second Stage (resumed). Private Members' business shall be No. 108, motion re fair deal scheme, selected by the Rural Independent Group.

Thursday’s business shall be No. 6, motion re legal acts in the justice area (back from committee); No. 5, motion re insolvency proceedings (back from committee); No. 17, statements re mother and baby homes; No. 12, Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman Bill 2017 - Second Stage (resumed if not previously concluded); and No. 1, Heritage Bill 2016 [Seanad] - Second Stage (resumed if not previously concluded). No. 7, report on the recognition of Traveller ethnicity from the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality, will be debated in the evening slot.

I refer Members to the first revised report of the Business Committee dated 25 May 2017.

In relation to Tuesday’s business, it is proposed that the motion re amendment of takeback dates for motions re legal acts in the justice area and insolvency proceedings shall be taken without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken immediately. The Revised Estimates (back from committee) shall be taken without debate and shall be moved together and decided by one question.

In relation to Wednesday’s business, it is proposed that the Dáil shall sit at 10 a.m. to take the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Prohibition of Onshore Hydraulic Fracturing) Bill 2016 - Report and Final Stages (resumed) and the Heritage Bill 2016 [Seanad] - Second Stage (resumed) and if the proceedings on the Bills conclude before 12 noon, the Dáil shall suspend until 12 noon; the motion re amendment of terms of reference of the special committee on the eighth amendment of the Constitution shall be taken without debate; and the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2016 [Seanad] - Report and Final Stages shall be taken in Government time.

In relation to Thursday’s business, it is proposed that the motion re legal acts in the justice area and insolvency proceedings shall be taken without debate; the statements re mother and baby homes shall adjourn at 3.30 p.m., if not previously concluded, and statements of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for parties or groups, or a Member nominated in their stead, shall not exceed ten minutes each, and all other Members have ten minutes each, there shall be a ten minute response from a Minister or Minister of State, and all Members may share time; and the Dáil on its rising shall adjourn until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

There are three proposals to put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with today's business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?

It not agreed. On No. 4a, the terms of reference for dealing with the eighth amendment of the Constitution, the Ceann Comhairle will be aware, as will the Chief Whip, there was quite a debate about this at the Business Committee and our representative, Deputy Boyd Barrett, indicated that we disagreed with the disallowing of substitution on this committee and sought a debate on it. We would like this House to debate that change of Standing Orders, not least because it has quite a serious impact on the extent to which new politics applies in this House because it will hit Senators and Deputies who have a track record of fighting on the issue of abortion rights and for a pro-repeal stance disproportionately as against the way it will affect the larger parties. Some of the larger parties struggled to find people to sit on that committee.

On an obvious point, substitution needs to be allowed because a Member could become ill, have a family disaster or fall under a bus and need to have a substitute on the committee. This issue is not so simple as the Business Committee portrays it to be. There should be room for a debate in the House, otherwise what does new politics mean if we cannot reflect it in terms of how we deal with this issue? Members of the Civic Engagement group in the Seanad are also very concerned about it.

Can I clarify if the Deputy's point of objection is to the principle of what has been proposed or is it to it being taken without debate?

Both. One final point, there should be room for us to make amendments if necessary. If we are going to have a debate on it, we should be allowed to amend the proposed amendment to the Standing Orders because all those things will apply.

I call Deputy Ó Laoghaire. Is it on this matter?

On a separate matter.

On a separate matter related to Wednesday's business.

Can I speak on the matter that was raised?

No. There can only be one spokesperson for the group.

I have questions about the matter.

There can only be one question from each group.

That is not a rule. There are two separate-----

It is. The Deputy and the other Deputies-----

The Ceann Comhairle can allow questions on what has been asked.

-----are part of the one group.

I know but I have questions that have not been asked.

Then the Deputy should have got Deputy Bríd Smith to ask them. I call Deputy Ó Laoghaire.

Yesterday evening, my party wrote to the Ceann Comhairle's office regarding the revelations we heard, which emerged since the last meeting of the Business Committee, seeking a debate on the matter and for the two relevant Ministers to come into the House to discuss it. I was informed that the appropriate avenue to raise this matter was to submit a Topical Issue. I was successful in having a Topical Issue on the matter accepted but that provides for only three Deputies to raise the matter while I am sure many other Deputies would like to ask questions of both Ministers on the matter.

That is not relevant to the Order of Business

I request that the Business Committee meet to discuss this and find appropriate slots for both Ministers to come in and discuss the matter this week.

All right. Does anybody else wish to contribute? The Deputies are objecting to the order.

Are you going to answer the questions? Are amendments allowed for tomorrow's debate?

It is not my job to answer questions about whether amendments are allowed.

Can I ask the members of the Business Committee who agreed it then?

The Deputy should speak to a representative of the Business Committee.

I did speak to a representative. We assumed there could be amendments.

I understand the committee is meeting this afternoon to discuss how the matter will be dealt with. Is that not correct? It is correct.

I am allowed to ask on the floor of the Dáil about the proceedings and business.

There is a long-established rule of the House, Deputy.

Are amendments going to be taken to this?

No, we are on the Order of Business now.

It is up to Deputy Bríd Smith to do it.

The Deputy has a problem with democracy. Every week we come in and it is the same problem as the Deputies do not like what is agreed.

I wish to ask a question about how the Ceann Comhairle will proceed.

You are out of order, Deputy Coppinger.

Okay, you will answer the question then.

The rules of the House indicate there should be one spokesperson per group.

This is childish.

Deputy Bríd Smith had her say.

Who is going to answer the question? Are you?

We will meet at 4.30 p.m. and try to address those questions.

I would like the rest of the people here to know about it.

We do not usually get involved in these matters.

Then sit down.

I have only ever once questioned the Business Committee and that was over taking two weeks of holidays. That was attacked from all sides of the House. I have stayed silent since on the weekly recommendations of the Business Committee.

That is not exactly what happened.

Could I make the point? This is habitual, every week now. The Business Committee makes a decision and it is habitual to have two or three reservations about it two or three days later.

It is the same people.

I have to say-----

There is an argument for consistency of membership of a particular committee on an issue as complex as this.

There was not when it came to housing and water.

I did not interrupt anybody, Deputy Boyd Barrett.

They are making it up as they go along.

Please accept the basic parameters of a parliamentary democracy that when people stand up to speak, they are allowed to. I did not interfere with anybody or interrupt anybody on that side of the House when they spoke. I agree with the order of the Business Committee. There must be some degree of certainty and solidity about our work. If a recommendation comes from the Business Committee to proceed in a certain manner, we should take the vote. We cannot just have four or five people standing up every week and saying that because they do not agree with the order, we will not proceed. We are trying to accommodate every nuance and position. Being thrown under a bus in the political world is a regular occupational hazard.

Particularly in Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

If somebody really falls under a bus, the power is there for such a member to come off a committee and for someone to go on it.

We are not talking about that type of scenario.

The Deputy is wrong.

What is really going on here is different. We were very quick to nominate our membership of the Business Committee; we had no difficulty at all in nominating Members.

Deputy Micheál Martin is wrong.

We should proceed with voting on the proposal.

I am simply asking that we have a debate on this and that there is room to put amendments. Having this without debate is completely unfair.

The point is made.

Question put, "That the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business be agreed to."



Will the Deputies claiming a division, please, rise?

Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett, Mick Barry, Thomas P. Broughan, Ruth Coppinger, Joan Collins, Gino Kenny, Catherine Martin, Eamon Ryan and Bríd Smith rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen, I declare the question carried. In accordance with Standing Order 70, the names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Question declared carried.

Are the proposals for dealing with Thursday's business agreed to? Agreed.

There is a commitment in the programme for Government that Ireland will play a part in promoting fundamental human rights, the rule of law and religious freedom across the globe through the European Union and the United Nations. We all agree with that commitment and, by and large, our diplomats have been very effective in promoting these objectives. However, every Deputy is equally clear and deeply concerned about the denial of fundamental human rights to Ibrahim Halawa, particularly now that his case has been deferred yet again. This is the 24th time his case has been deferred, which is a shocking undermining of his basic human rights and exceptionally unfair, given all of the previous commitments to allow the trial to proceed. His ongoing detention without trial and treatment while in prison speak to the core of the objective of the programme for Government. In that context, when did the Taoiseach last speak to the Prime Minister of Egypt about progressing matters for Ibrahim Halawa? Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade sought to utilise the European Union and the United Nations to make combined efforts to secure justice in this case and bring some solace to Ibrahim Halawa's very frustrated family who feel helpless in the face of ongoing events.

It has been a while since I spoke to President el-Sisi directly. I have spoken to him directly on two occasions and have also written him a very strong letter. We have supported the all-party delegation led by the Ceann Comhairle and the request for release on humanitarian grounds. The Cabinet made a decision to send an Irish medical doctor to Egypt to assess Ibrahim Halawa's health. I will ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to bring the Deputy up to date on the latest position.

I agree with the Leader of the Opposition on this issue. The delay is worrying and the continuing detention of our citizen is unfair and unjust. On the specific questions posed by the Deputy, I raised the issue only last week at EU level with a number of EU foreign affairs colleagues, as well as with High Representative Mogherini and expressed the concern of the Irish people and Government. I meet on a weekly basis with the Egyptian ambassador who is in no doubt about the Government's position on the issue. I am concerned about the further adjournment until 4 July, but the reason for such a lengthy adjournment is Ramadan. In Egypt the courts do not as a rule sit during that season. In the meantime, the welfare and health of our citizen are very much to the fore and we are making representations and monitoring the position on a daily basis.

I add Sinn Féin's support for Ibrahim Halawa.

The Committee on the Future of Healthcare published its report this morning. I commend all of its members, in particular the Chairman, Deputy Róisín Shortall, and the two Sinn Féin representatives, Deputies Louise O'Reilly and Pat Buckley.

Those who made submissions or gave evidence did a sterling job. Our policy goes further than the report, but I warmly welcome its publication because it commits to a public health service. There have been numerous reports on our health services and Governments of the day have refused to implement them. Members of the committee were part of those Governments at that time. This report will be no different unless a government implements it. The recommendations include an implementation committee, answerable to the Taoiseach as well as to the Minister for Health, and a Cabinet subcommittee. I do not know whether the Taoiseach has had a chance to be briefed or to read the report, but will he look positively at the report and will he commit to it?

I have not had time to read it, but I expect there should be an early debate on it in the House. The important thing is there is cross-party political consensus on the main issues in the report, and from a politician's perspective, this is an important element which we have not had before. I commend the members of the committee, who have worked to remove elements of the health system from becoming political footballs. It is a matter of assessing the full report and having a debate on it here and, in so far as possible, following through on it. We will do this and come back into the House.

Since the formation of the Government we have listened to the Minister, Deputy Ross, pontificate about the dramatic reforms he proposes in the appointment of the Judiciary. It is no exaggeration to say he seems obsessed with an area for which he has no ministerial responsibility. Many of us may have concerns about what he proposes, but we will debate it when it actually happens. Having listened to plenty of hyperbole from the Minister, Deputy Ross, over the past year The Sunday Business Post made for staggering reading this week. We discovered that in advance of the new system coming into play, the Minister, Deputy Ross, last week agreed to the appointment of a batch of new judges, including one for a vacancy which, we understand, will not arise until next November. Having acted as the arch critic of any Government interference or of a political fingerprint on the appointment of judges, apparently the only political interference to be allowed is his own. We read about his double standards in the newspaper. Apparently, not only did he determine who was to be appointed but, according to the report, he went through each of the appointments with a fine-tooth comb. Since the Minister, Deputy Ross, seems to think, like Donald Trump, that his vetting is non-political because he is a non-politician, will the Government continue with the new judicial appointment system or is the new Ross system to be the norm?

I expect the Whip will bring in the new judicial appointments Bill on 20 June. Members will have different views on it, but it is agreed from a Government perspective. This is a radical departure bringing transparency, yet it retains the responsibility of Cabinet making decisions at Government level on judicial appointments and having a choice to do so. It is expected to be come in on 20 June and let see how it progresses. The intention is to have it resolved and put through before the summer recess, but this depends on the views of Deputies who comment.

That concludes the Order of Business. My apologies to the 14 Deputies who have not been reached.