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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Vol. 969 No. 7

Order of Business

Tuesday’s business shall be No. 177, postponed division on motion re European Union (Common Fisheries Policy) (Point System) Regulations 2018 (SI No. 89 of 2018); No. 20, statements on the outcome of the referendum held on 25 May 2018; No. 8, motion re instruction to the committee on the Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016; and No. 21, Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016 - order for Report, Report and Final Stages. Private Members’ business shall be Second Stage of No. 43, Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018, selected by Sinn Féin.

Wednesday’s business shall be No. 21, Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016 Report and Final Stages (resumed, if not previously concluded); No. 1, Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2017 - amendments from the Seanad; and No. 22, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 Report and Final Stages (resumed). Private Members’ business shall be Second Stage of No. 44, Residential Tenancies (Greater Security of Tenure and Rent Certainty) Bill 2018 selected by the Labour Party.

Thursday’s business shall be No. 21, Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016 - Report and Final Stages (resumed, if not previously concluded); No. 1, Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2017 - amendments from the Seanad; and No. 22, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Report and Final Stages (resumed, if not previously concluded). Second Stage of No. 45, Maternity Protection (Members of the Houses of Oireachtas) Bill 2018 shall be debated in the evening slot.

In respect of the proposal of arrangements for this week’s business, I refer to the first revised report of the Business Committee, dated 24 May 2018 and in relation to today's business, it is proposed that:

(1) The Dáil shall sit later than 10.00 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 11.00 p.m.;

(2) There shall be no Taoiseach’s Questions within the meaning of Standing Order 38(1)(a);

(3) Statements on the outcome of the referendum held on 25 May 2018 shall be taken on the conclusion of the postponed division on the motion re European Union (Common Fisheries Policy) (Point System) Regulations 2018 (SI No. 89 of 2018) and shall be followed by questions to the Minister for Health. Statements shall be confined to a single round by a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for parties and groups, or a member nominated in their stead of five minutes each with a five minute response from a Minister or Minister of State and all Members may share time;

(4) motion re. instruction to committee on the Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016 shall be taken without debate and any division demanded shall be taken immediately; and

(5) Residential Tenancies (Student Rents, Rights and Protections) Bill 2018 - Second Stage shall conclude after two hours, if not previously concluded.

In respect of Wednesday's business, it is proposed that:

(1) The Dáil shall sit later than 10.00 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 11.15 p.m.; and

(2) Second Stage of the Residential Tenancies (Greater Security of Tenure and Rent Certainty) Bill 2018 shall conclude after two hours, if not previously concluded.

In respect of Thursday's business, it is proposed that:

(1) The Dáil shall sit later than 7.48 p.m. and shall adjourn on the conclusion of proceedings on Second Stage of the Maternity Protection (Members of the Houses of Oireachtas) Bill 2018;

(2) Topical Issues shall take place not later than 8.00 p.m., or on the conclusion of proceedings on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017, whichever is the earlier; and

(3) The Dáil on its rising shall adjourn until 2.00 p.m. on Tuesday, 12 June 2018.

Is the proposal for dealing with Tuesday's business agreed?

No. Could more than five minutes be allocated to make statements on the referendum? Only five minutes per political grouping is available and the scale of what happened on Friday and Saturday is so huge that we need time to assimilate it, for example, before the Minister publishes the legislation.

We get the Deputy's point.

Please, I am allowed a minute to explain why I think it is important.

We will ask for it.

Deputies and Senators who took the "No" position may want to decide they want to live in a different time zone to the one they advocated. Primarily, however, this Dáil should discuss the massive numbers who turned out to vote, the huge increase of 100,000, almost 10% more than voted before and the revolutionary response they gave in respect of church and State. Could ten minutes be allocated?

I call Deputy Eamon Ryan but it has to be a brief intervention.

I want to back Deputy Coppinger. She is absolutely right. We should give it time.

Last week at the Business Committee we had a battle on our hands to get extra time and we are sitting late on Thursday as well. We are completely under pressure with Government legislation but if people want to sit longer tonight or tomorrow I am happy to do that.

I have to put the question. Is the proposal for dealing with Tuesday's business agreed to?

On a point of order, if the Government is willing to accept the longer-----

It is up to the Business Committee.

It is a bit late now to-----

It will be starting immediately after this.

It will be starting immediately after this.

Maybe an extra hour could be found tomorrow.

I suggest that we do not conclude the statements. If we do what is scheduled for today and simply adjourn the debate and hold it when the Business Committee can fit it in later in the week, for a more considered debate than we would have in five minutes.

I accepted it even though I was not happy with the decision of the Business Committee to have five minutes. I would have preferred the d'Hondt method, if we want to be absolutely fair about speaking times in the House on matters of this kind. People cannot come in here and say five minutes, which we had to agree to and I had to agree to as a leader, and then say they want to change that. I am all for a larger debate ideally but it will not be because-----

Fianna Fáil opposed any debate that I proposed at the Business Committee.

We are having a debate. I have no issue with a debate.

I proposed it at the Business Committee.

I know the Deputy did but he cannot run the House.

I am not saying we should run it.

I have no difficulty with a longer debate. I have no difficulty with the Dáil coming back to this debate. I would like to get advance notice. I would like the Business Committee when it makes up its mind not to be coming in 24 hours later with a new proposal. That is what is going on all the time and it is unsustainable.

Deputy Martin should have thought about that five years ago and we would not have this.

I totally accept what Deputy Martin is saying on this. Last Thursday morning there were no statements on this important matter but we decided to give it time. If the House wants extra time I am happy to agree to adjourning the debate and trying to find extra time later in the week but that is not my decision. I am only one member of the Business Committee.

Is it agreed the Business Committee will not conclude the statements but adjourn them? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Thursday's business agreed to? Agreed.

We have 22 minutes remaining for questions on promised legislation. I will call the leaders of the parties or groups first, starting with Deputy Micheál Martin.

On the Order of Business-----

No, on promised legislation.

Yes, it is also the Order of Business.

Yes, on the Order of Business.

On the criminal procedure Bill, a large number of murders and serious crimes have been committed in recent weeks, and while we cannot discuss them specifically, there are issues arising from them to which we as an Oireachtas probably need to give further consideration in due course. There are still numerous complaints about delays in trial hearings and in criminal cases. The Council of Europe has raised concerns about delays in criminal cases in Ireland, and there seems to be a consistent delay in tackling this issue. There is a commitment in the programme for Government proposing legislation to reduce excessive delays to trials and court proceedings, including pre-trial hearings. Revised heads of a Bill were approved in June of 2015 and pre-legislative scrutiny of it has been completed. Will the Taoiseach confirm when the criminal procedure Bill will be passed through this House?

The Minister, Deputy Flanagan, will take that question.

That is one of a number of Bills in the criminal justice area that have been raised by Deputy Martin. It has been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny, following which further work has had to be undertaken in conjunction with the Attorney General. It is at drafting stage. We will be in a position to advise the House in the next few weeks as to an exact timeframe but the issues are the subject of drafting in my Department.

I call Deputy McDonald on promised legislation.

I want to raise with the Taoiseach an extremely important and pressing matter relating to the ongoing CervicalCheck scandal. More than three weeks after requesting access to the medical records and despite public and private assurances to the contrary, some patients have still to receive those records. That is despite it being made clear to CervicalCheck that these are required urgently. Some of the records in question were ready for release on 14 May last. That was confirmed by CervicalCheck, yet more than two weeks later, they have not been released because they have not been signed off on by Mr. Damien McCallion. In addition, a small number of records that have been released have been altered and omit a number of important documents. This is unacceptable and flies in the face of assurances given by the Taoiseach and his Ministers that this would be handled with openness and transparency. Will the Taoiseach act on this with the utmost urgency and ensure every patient and their legal representatives are provided with these full and complete records without delay?

I understand there have been some delays in providing medical records that have been requested by women affected and their sisters and also some difficulties finding some of the smear slides in laboratories. I know CervicalCheck is under a lot of pressure trying to do lots of different things at the moment, as people can understand. Additional staffing is going into CervicalCheck and it is very much my wish, that of the Minister for Health and, I believe, everyone in this House that records, old smears and anything that needs to be handed over should be done without any further delay.

I call an Teachta Brendan Howlin.

Like others, I have raised a number of times with the Taoiseach the issue of legislation to remove the mandatory retirement age in the public service. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform promised this would be before the House in this session. Extending the retirement age voluntarily would give comfort to many people who are now reaching retirement age and are not quite clear how this matter is to be resolved. A circular was issued, No. 21/2017, that extends retirement age to 66 for civil servants but there are no such circulars in regard to other public servants or people like judges, although in my direct discussions with the Minister, I believe that is his intention. When will we see the legislation, and in the interim, pending the enactment of the legislation, will very clear guidelines be given so that people will not be anxious that they will be forced out of employment and can be assured that they will be allowed stay on?

That legislation is on the priority list so we should see it in this session.

What of interim arrangements?

It depends on the sector.

It will not be enacted.

I want to raise with the Taoiseach the plans to legislate for the referendum vote that took place at the weekend. Time is of the essence. Is the legislation already written and prepared? People expected that it would be and that we would do all that is possible to get the legislation passed by the end of the summer.

There are two issues I want the Minister to consider before he publishes the legislation. One is that a message must be sent to women that they will not be penalised or criminalised, for example, the five women who will try to take abortion pills today. An instruction needs to be sent to the Health Products Regulatory Authority, HPRA, not to intercept those pills. They are prescribed by a doctor, which is the justification given by the HPRA.

The second issue is the suggestion that women would potentially have to attend a GP twice and pay €300 to access an abortion. I hope that these are wild rumours. This should be no different to any other medical situation where one visit for a consultation and a prescription is all that is required. Having to pay €300 for this procedure will be extremely prohibitive for working women and lower paid women who do not have medical cards. If that was to be the case the women may as well resort to the tele-medicine websites that can provide the service for €90. This would not be in line with what we want to do, which is to regulate and provide the procedure within our own health service. I ask the Minister to dispel the notion of any barriers being put in the way of women with regard to the so-called 72 hour paternalistic "cooling-off period".

The general scheme of the Bill has been prepared and was published in March. There has been a lot of preparatory work done around that general scheme to allow us to draft the legislation quickly. There is not a draft Bill ready yet but a lot of work has been done on the general scheme to allow us to legislate and prepare the legislation quite quickly.

The Minister, Deputy Harris, will meet with the spokespeople tomorrow and will go through some of those other issues. I expect that it will be treated as a normal healthcare service and will fall within the same rules of the General Medical Services Scheme.

With regard to importing medicines online, abortion pills or any other pills, it is not lawful to import prescription medicines online. This is for very good reasons around patient safety.

On page 59 in the programme for Government the incoming Government promised to update the national eye care plan and also promised to evaluate the Sligo cataract surgery model, which had been raised in the talks for Government by the Rural Independent Group. I put it to the Taoiseach that the reality in the constituency of Cork South-West is that people are waiting years for cataract operations. These are the official figures. In sheer frustration and concern for our elderly who were going blind, and in some cases have gone blind, Deputy Danny Healy-Rae and I organised a bus to Kingsbridge Private Hospital for cataract surgery under the cross-Border directive. We thought we would shame the Government into action but we were wrong. I have called for an operating theatre to be opened in Munster in hospitals of excellence like Bantry or Mallow to carry out these simple procedures, which would prevent these elderly people having to travel to Belfast. On Sunday, 10 June bus No. 10 will travel to Belfast from west Cork and Kerry. I formally invite the Taoiseach, or any representative he wishes to send, to travel with us on bus No. 10 to see first hand what these people endure to get their cataract surgery outside the State.

I congratulate the Deputy and his colleagues for organising a bus in this regard. This is a very impressive feat and well done to them on that.

People can avail of the cataract procedures under the EU directive. People are free to travel to any jurisdiction to avail of that healthcare or they can go to private hospitals within the State. This is covered under the EU healthcare directive. The waiting lists for cataract operations are improving and are getting better. There is a lot of emphasis being put by the HSE on upping the number of procedures that can be carried out each year. This will continue.

What is the Taoiseach's response?

Yesterday the European Commission set out a whole series of new rules to discourage single-use plastics across the EU. The rules have been put forward to the Parliament and are proposed to be obligatory. They mirror exactly the provisions contained in our Waste Reduction Bill 2017. Last week the committee voted to put that Bill through to Committee Stage.

It is clear that no cost would be incurred by the Exchequer in implementing the provisions, yet the requirement for a money message has still been attached to it. Will the Government allow it to proceed to Committee Stage in order that we might debate how it will be implemented and listen to what the European Commission states needs to be done in what it yesterday described as a race to the top? According to it, there is urgency attached to states doing this work. We have the legislation and carried out the analysis.

I am not sure it is clear that it has no Exchequer implications, but if it does, the Oireachtas will seek a money message. I am not sure if it has done it yet, but if it determines that it has Exchequer implications, it will have to seek a money message. I am not sure if that has been done and will have to check.

Like the Government, I welcome the proposals from the European Commission that were published yesterday. They are very much in line with our own thinking and what we want to do as a Government in the next couple of years to reduce the amount of plastic waste and make sure more plastic is recycled. It makes sense, because of the Single Market, that we do this on a Europe-wide basis and not have different laws in different countries at different times.

Thirteen Members have indicated. I ask all of them to be focused in their questions.

When we met outside the Citywest count centre and the scale of the "Yes" result had become apparent, I told the Taoiseach that the next step would be the separation of church and State. He said we would leave that issue for another day. This is another day. In fact, notwithstanding suggestions about the Citizens' Assembly examining these matters, the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 will be before the Dáil today. Amendments to it seek the deletion in full, not in part, of the baptism barrier that allows for discrimination in school entry on religious grounds. Other amendments seek to ensure religious instruction is given after school hours in order that people of no faith or minority faiths will not be subjected to moral or religious indoctrination that is not of their choice. The referendum's exit poll tells us what the key issue for 62% of people was, namely, choice. There has been much debate on the motive - choice was the motive. People do not wish to be told what to do with their lives, futures and kids.

The Taoiseach, please.

In line with the referendum result and its own commitment to diversity, the Government should accept the amendments this week.

The Bill will be debated in the Chamber. We have had detailed consultation on it and the proposal is based on that considerable discussion. We value the diversity in the system which includes Church of Ireland, Methodist, Presbyterian and, of course, Catholic schools. However, that does not mean that an admissions policy should exclude someone unfairly from access to his or her local school. Our proposal is balanced, respects the desire for diversity and meets parents' needs. We must also respect those who choose a religious education for their children. If one respects choice, that is one such choice.

What if people do not share a school's faith?

They can go to a different school.

Ba mhaith liom ceist a chur ar an Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna. Under the programme for Government, the Government committed to enhancing the life of a person with a disability. If so, why does no special school in Cork or elsewhere nationally have a career guidance teacher? This sends the wrong message. Does the Government expect the people in question to have no aspirations in life? Does it, at least, have plans to share a career guidance teacher between several special schools?

A review of career guidance is under way, a matter raised by Deputy Kathleen Funchion last week. Specifically, it will consider the issue of whether provision needs to be made in special schools. The closing date for submissions to the review was last week, but I extended it by a week.

If the Deputy wants to make a submission, we would be pleased to receive it.

A PhoneWatch survey carried out recently shows that there has been a 30% increase in robberies in the Roscommon-Longford Garda division and a 36% increase in the Sligo-Leitrim division. In the Roscommon-Longford area in 2017, there were 339 robberies. In Sligo-Leitrim, there were 247. I know the Minister for Justice and Equality is gone. It is clear that the policing model being pushed by this Government is not working. I ask the Government to review it, including the closure of Garda stations. The issue needs to be addressed. It is a huge issue in many parts of my constituency and many parts of rural Ireland.

The policing model is principally a matter for the acting Garda Commissioner and his team. They are best placed to know what type of policing works in the different communities throughout the country. I point out that, over the past couple of years, we have made considerable progress in increasing the size of our force of gardaí. We will meet our target of increasing the number of gardaí in the country to 15,000 and the wider force involving civilians and the reserve to 21,000. Since Templemore was reopened to new recruits, 1,400 new gardaí have attested, so we are seeing a substantial increase in the number of gardaí available to police our communities.

There is a firm commitment in the programme for Government to resource our hospitals. Last week, I spoke to a lady who was waiting for almost a month to get a report on an MRI scan before it could be sent to her specialist. The MRI scan was done in the same hospital. It only had to go 100 m up the corridor, yet it took a month to do this because there are not enough radiologists to read and report the scans. The key issue here is that when someone goes on holidays, when somebody is sick or there is a problem of some sort, staffing vanishes and the service vanishes with it. There needs to be a huge emphasis on providing for cover in those situations and ensuring that they are properly resourced.

I thank Deputy Kenny for the question. If he wants to send me the details as a specific case, I would be happy to ask the HSE to look into it. In general, the Government is both increasing staffing levels and funding to the health service following on from the moratorium put in place by previous Governments.

This is a question for the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government. In December 2015, the Government announced its intention to set up a special committee to investigate defective concrete blocks in Donegal with a report date of May 2016. It is now two years after that and the more than 5,000 homeowners who have defective homes as a result of defective blocks still have no clarity or commitment from the Government about putting a redress scheme in place to help them to fix their homes. It is scandalous that the Minister has sat on this and tried to delay in the way that has happened so far. He has, in effect, continued to kick the can down the road. The National Standards Authority of Ireland report was due to be published by April. We are still waiting for that. Will the Minister tell the Dáil when that will be published and will he also tell us when a redress scheme will be put in place so that those homeowners who are living a nightmare will finally get some relief and some assistance from the Government to get their lives back on track?

I thank the Deputy for raising his concerns about this issue. I am aware of them as they are held by a number of other Deputies in this House. Having viewed some of the affected properties, it is a very difficult situation for people to be in. The Minister of State, Deputy English, has been dealing with this issue. It is complex and he has not been sitting on his hands. No one in the Department has. He has been to visit some of the homes to see the situation at first hand. He is meeting officials tomorrow and, following that, we will be able to issue more information about what is happening with the report and the recommendations, some of which are being implemented, and the possibility, if there is one, of a redress scheme in the future.

I plead with Members to ask short questions and I will try to accommodate all.

Despite commitments in the programme for Government, there is a major crisis in County Kerry with the budget for maintenance of our local and regional roads. We are about five months into this year. I wish to highlight that many areas have spent 80% of their maintenance budget and that will lead to a crisis in the fall of the year. I ask the Taoiseach and his Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to look seriously at the situation and to honour the commitment in the programme for Government that adequate funding for maintenance will be provided.

I do not have the exact figures in front of me but overall there has been a very substantial increase in the roads budget this year for regional and local roads. I know some local authorities are behind schedule in the works they intended to do because of the bad weather, but there has been a very substantial increase.

The criminal law (sexual offences) Bill is promised legislation, the purpose of which is to provide for presumptive minimum sentences for repeat sexual offenders. The pre-legislative scrutiny has not been determined yet. Is it possible to give some indication as to when that might be completed and when the Bill would come before the House?

That is important legislation. It is one of a number of pieces of legislation in the criminal justice area that is at an advanced state of preparation. I would be happy to liaise directly with the Deputy as regards indicative timeframes, but that is subject to the work of the Business Committee here in the House.

The referendum was hotly contested on both sides, and rightly so. That is democracy in action. It did give rise, however, to a number of issues around campaigning, and not just online campaigning which we talked about previously but also the plethora of posters and whether there should be limits; the broadcasting ban on TV and radio, the fact that political advertisements are not permitted, and whether that is relevant in the modern age; and the fact that spending caps do not exist in referendums, which they do in elections. All of those questions would be best tackled by an electoral commission, which is in the programme for Government 2016 and was in the Fine Gael manifesto in 2011. Seven years on, however, we do not have one. Where does that sit and will it commence shortly? It would be very useful to tackle many of the issues that are emerging.

We are in favour of establishing an electoral commission for referendums and general elections to manage things like voter lists, registration forms and everything else. It is a complex process but we are proceeding with it. When we proceed with legislation, more than likely it will be done on a phased basis over a period rather than doing it immediately at the next referendum.

In July 2016 I brought a Bill forward entitled the Criminal Justice (Aggravation by Prejudice) Bill, in other words, a hate crime Bill. The Bill provides for the means of dealing with aggravation by prejudice relating to race, colour, ethnic origin or sexual orientation. This is a very important Bill. Crimes aggravated by hate are increasing all the time. The Bill went through pre-legislative scrutiny in the joint committee. Will the Taoiseach explain the reason for the delay in issuing an order? When is it expected that the Bill will be enacted?

Some work remains to be done on the legislation in conjunction with other legislation of a similar nature that has been published but not yet enacted. I propose to bring forward legislation on behalf of the Government that would incorporate issues that have been raised by Deputy O'Loughlin and in a similar Bill that was produced by the Labour Party. While it is my intention to see as much positive, constructive and reforming legislation as possible published at the earliest opportunity, I have in excess of 40 pieces of legislation in the justice area and I am subject to the House in terms of the ordering of priorities.

My question comes under improving waiting times for hospital procedures. A constituent of mine who is a nurse has chronic back pain from complications with scoliosis and she has been on a hospital waiting list for surgery for more than 12 months. On two occasions the surgery was scheduled at Tallaght Hospital and on both occasions the surgery was cancelled. The woman in question was escorted to the theatre only to be told that the operation would not go ahead and that she must go home and await a further appointment. The reason given for the cancellation is that there was no high dependency bed. Her surgeon told her that would continue to happen until something is done to address the problem. After seven years in government what plans does the Taoiseach have to ensure that this practice stops and patients do not have their operations cancelled continually, something which has a devastating mental and physical effect on patients?

We have two plans. After years of failed policies of reducing the number of hospital beds, we are going to increase the number of hospital beds in the health service so there is an adequate number of beds. That is why we fully funded the bed capacity review to provide 2,500 more acute hospital beds. Second, we are going to build three elective-only hospitals - one in Dublin, one in Galway and one in Cork. Those two measures together will help reduce cancellations significantly.

My question is also for the Minister for Health. I wish to raise with him again the ongoing CervicalCheck crisis. At the beginning of the crisis we heard about the 1,482 cases and the 209 false negatives. We then heard there were another 1,500 cases and we know those smears are being audited. When can we expect a timeframe on that? I am still being contacted by women who, while not directly affected, are still worried and concerned because they do not know where they stand. It would be appreciated if the Minister could provide a timeframe for the process.

Will the Minister make a short response?

I will revert to the Deputy specifically on a time limit. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK, along with the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology, have been asked to audit all of those files, and that work is about to commence.

I wish to raise an issue with the Taoiseach concerning access to clean drinking water in my constituency, which is remarkable in 2018. The Minister, Deputy Ring, will be aware of it. Areas between Westport and Louisburgh get their water from the mountain and have to filter it with very expensive filtration systems. Plans were in place ten years ago to pipe water from Westport to Louisburgh and to service everything in between. It has come to my attention that it is not in the current capital plan of Irish Water nor is it in its medium to long-term plan. I urge the Taoiseach to address that issue in order that the scheme is included in the medium-term plan of the next capital plan. It is astounding to be talking in 2018 about safe, clean drinking water. Somebody was hospitalised in the past month due to the problem.

Is it in the programme for Government? Will the relevant Minister please take responsibility for it?

That is the irrelevant Minister.

I am delighted Deputy Lisa Chambers raised this issue.

The Government may get Katy Daly to bring it down the mountain.

Fianna Fáil was in government for 17 years and never delivered.

There is a hole in your bucket, dear Liza.

Let me finish.

Get Katy Daly to bring it down.

In 1997, we brought the water scheme from Lough Mask to Cloonkeen-----

I would like an answer to my question from the relevant Minister.

-----and 17 years later we brought it from Lough Mask to Westport and we will bring it to Murrisk, but we waited for 30 years and Fianna Fáil did nothing on it.

Katy Daly will bring it there.

Katy Daly will bring that.

Katy Daly will bring it down in a bucket.

Could we have an answer?

Could we hear from the relevant Minister?

I will not give the relevant Minister the opportunity to respond. If he likes, he could communicate with the Deputy.

I am the relevant Minister for the area.

Members can play this one in MacHale Park.

Could we have a word from the relevant Minister as opposed to the irrelevant Minister?

If the relevant Minister wants to respond, he can do so.

Thank you a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Does the Minister know Katy Daly?

He will have to consult an atlas to find out where Deputy Chambers was talking about.

Give me Katy Daly's number.

The Minister, Deputy Ring, has raised the matter with me and I will communicate directly with the Deputy as to the current plans in place.

I cannot deprive Deputy Danny Healy-Rae. As a Member he has an opportunity to ask a short question on promised legislation.

Perhaps Deputy Healy-Rae would preface his remarks with a reference to the promised legislation.

It is to ask when the Government will do something about the waiting list for young drivers who want to get a driving test. The current waiting time is 24 weeks in Killarney and Tralee.

Deputy Healy-Rae is an example of how to ask a brief question.

Is there a road traffic Bill?

Will the Government do anything about it?

Does the Taoiseach wish to respond?

The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport is hiding under a bed somewhere.

I will ask the Minister, Deputy Ross, to correspond with the Deputy.

That is the end of that.

He does not do questions.

He is not interested unless it is a matter for the Judiciary.