An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

The House has agreed that, for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency only, the rapporteur's report of the Order of Business shall be taken as read. There are three proposals arising from it. Is proposal No. 1 for dealing with Tuesday's business agreed to?

Not agreed. There are serious and pressing questions that need to be put to the Minister for Justice and clarified on the floor of the Dáil. The Taoiseach's overarching objective in the midst of all of this has been to evade, spoof and deny that accountability to the Dáil. The fact that the Minister will not make herself available to make a statement and take questions is shocking and unacceptable, but what is much worse is that the Taoiseach would facilitate that behaviour. The elected representatives here have not only a right, but a duty to put the necessary questions to the Minister. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Taoiseach is continuing to block this legitimate parliamentary work. He should recall that, as recently as 2017, he led the charge for accountability. He was right to do so, but he is wrong now and failing in his duty as Taoiseach by preventing the necessary accountability-----

I thank the Deputy, but we cannot have a long speech about it.

-----on the floor of the Dáil. It raises questions beyond the particular appointment and this particular scenario. It raises questions around what the Taoiseach might be trying to hide. More fundamentally, is this a manoeuvre by the Government to ensure that accountability will be stymied and stifled in every set of circumstances? It will not get away with that.

Please, Deputy. We cannot have a long debate now.

It is not smart or acceptable. The Opposition is united on this. I ask that the Minister for Justice present herself, make a statement and take questions. It is a straightforward request.

I wish to raise the same issue. Amazingly enough, the same Minister was able to create history today by holding a press conference on an Opposition Private Members' Bill.

The Deputy should be glad.

I am glad she supports it.

It is not. Let me call a spade a spade. The Taoiseach is creating the most dangerous precedent in the House that I have seen since becoming a Deputy. No Minister will be accountable to the Dáil if this is what the Taoiseach allows to happen. Who will be the next Minister with questions to answer and who is struggling on something? He or she will not want to appear before the Dáil and will not do so because the Taoiseach of the day decided that the Minister for Justice, Deputy McEntee, should not appear before it. As I stated last week, all of the arguments that the Taoiseach has put forward are bogus. This will get sorted out one way or the other. We will get to the truth. There will be bigger issues for the Taoiseach than the Minister for Justice when we do. The Taoiseach has one chance left. He can grin and smile away-----

-----but he knows how serious this is. He knows the history of the House. He is one of its longest serving Members. He is creating the most dangerous precedent I have seen in my time in the House.

The Opposition has a right to require accountability from a Minister for his or her actions and decisions. If the Taoiseach was sitting on the opposite side of the House, he would insist on that. It seems that he is going to be a part of the charade being followed by the Minister for Justice in terms of making out that it is in any way acceptable that she comes in here under the normal parliamentary questions rota. The Taoiseach knows in his heart that is wrong and he would not accept that if he was on the Opposition benches. A basic tenet of our parliamentary democracy is that there is accountability by Government to the House. The Taoiseach is denying us that accountability by protecting the Minister, Deputy McEntee. It is wrong and he is setting a very dangerous precedent.

There is a video on Twitter of the Taoiseach versus the Taoiseach, with him superimposed as leader of the Opposition in 2017, demanding accountability and dismissing the nonsense arguments he is making about separation of powers, the Constitution and that we cannot possibly discuss this contrasted with the kind of answers he gave last week which repeated those arguments. What is happening is an abuse by the Government of the majority it has. It is an abuse to hide behind the idea of separation of powers and that we cannot possibly answer questions about this to avoid accountability to the Dáil. That is what is happening repeatedly on Leaders' Questions. I watched all of them last week. Very simple questions have been asked and people have refused to answer them. The Minister for Justice, who is responsible, has refused to answer questions and is being shielded by the Government from coming in here and answering questions. Instead, we have the absolute insult of a suggestion that accountability is achieved by doing regular oral parliamentary questions, where questions are submitted in advance, answers are prepared and so on. It is absolutely scandalous.

You have made your point, Deputy.

To make another brief point in passing, the time allocated for the debate on Covid is completely inadequate. The result is that smaller parties have six and half minutes of speaking time on what is a crucial debate.

The recruitment process for all positions in the State should be completely transparent, none more so than that of a judge on the Supreme Court. The idea that political horse trading plays any part in this is the biggest threat to the separation of powers. There were two vacancies on the Supreme Court in July. Only one was filled. Questions are now being asked in public about why the second position was not filled, given the multiple candidates who applied for the job. Is it the case that the second position is also part of the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party coalition deal?

As Deputy Michael Healy-Rae said last week on behalf of the Rural Independent Group, we are not in favour of this. We have no interest in an impeachment process and we made that quite clear. There are no grounds for impeachment. However, we want the Minister for Justice to come to the House. Her predecessor should also come before the House because he slipped her the note. This is horse trading at its worst.

I asked the Taoiseach at the leaders' meeting if he was aware that the name was coming before the Cabinet and he never answered me. A murky deal has been done. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and we all have to engage in due process. Anybody who is on a board of management understands processes and how people have to absent themselves if they have connections.

To his credit, the former Minister, Shane Ross, stopped the Government from making the appointment for ten months. When the letters started moving two days before the election between the Chief Justice and the then Minister, Deputy Flanagan, that was the start. The Government thought the then Minister, Shane Ross, would be gone within a couple of days. He lost his seat but there was a caretaker Government and he stopped that being done. It is blackguarding of the people.

There is talk of the separation of powers between the Judiciary and the House politically. Damage is being done every day by the prevarication here. We want the Minister for Justice to come before the House to answer questions. We often allow a rota swap between Ministers. We will not do that now because the Taoiseach is blackguarding the House.

I have answered questions on this on a number of occasions.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach without interruption.

I have answered questions, and I have answered them straight. I want to say, through the Chair if I may, that I have made it clear that it has all been laid out in terms of how the appointment was made. There was no horse trading involved. There was no involvement whatsoever in terms of judicial appointments, the formation of the Government or the programme for Government. Any assertion to the contrary is false.

The Deputy can make all the accusations he likes. Just because he makes them does not mean they are correct.

I know what I signed up to and what I did not sign up to. The proof of the pudding is that I followed the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board's recommendation in terms of the suitability of the candidate so that I would not-----

Suitability for consideration but not suitability for appointment.

The Taoiseach is deliberately misleading the House again.

-----embroil myself in judicial appointments.

That is the point. It goes back to February, which was when the request relating to the need to fill the vacancy came.

Before the election.

Why is the Taoiseach protecting the Minister?

Why is the Taoiseach running scared?

On 9 March last, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board met. That was long before any negotiations to form a Government.

Then why was the position held open until July?

The board recommended Séamus Woulfe. Those are the facts.

(Interruptions).

What about the three judges?

(Interruptions).

The board recommended Séamus Woulfe for consideration, not for the position.

That is the only context. I was not embroiling myself-----

Let the Minister answer questions.

As far as I am concerned, the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, which is chaired by the Chief Justice-----

(Interruptions).

Sorry, will the Taoiseach sit down for a moment? Six Members have posed questions to the Taoiseach, all of them without interruption. Will they let him respond, please, with the same courtesy that was extended to them?

I was making the point, in answer to the questions and the assertions made, that the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board is chaired by the Chief Justice.

It has the presidents of the four courts involved-----

We are well aware of all that.

(Interruptions).

This is waffle, a Cheann Comhairle, and dangerous waffle.

-----and members of the Law Society as well. That is what I did not ignore-----

Oh, you are some piece of work.

I accepted the board's recommendation as to the suitability of Mr. Justice Woulfe. That is the point from my perspective. I had no interest-----

Then you should not be the Taoiseach.

Why does the Taoiseach not let the Minister come to the House?

-----in embroiling myself in the politics of this-----

(Interruptions).

-----good, bad or indifferent. When it came to the Government, once it was established, to ratify that, that is the context in which I ratified it.

No, that is not accepted.

That is not what we are asking.

I have answered that repeatedly. In the context of other judges indicating their interest, that has been answered. That goes to the Attorney General of the day and the Minister for Justice.

The Minister for Justice then brings to the Cabinet the name of the nominee for appointment.

So why not let her come in?

That has always been the position. It has always been consistently the position that one name comes to the Cabinet from the Minister for Justice.

The Minister for Justice will answer questions in the House on this issue and that has been made clear by the Minister.

A Cheann Comhairle-----

The Tánaiste also has answered questions on this on a consistent basis.

-----not alone will the Taoiseach not insist that his Minister for Justice present herself, make a statement and take questions and answers, he is now abusing Dáil time to fabricate a fairy tale-----

No, the Deputy asked a question-----

-----and to put inaccurate information on the record of the Dáil. Neither of those things is acceptable. Furthermore, the Taoiseach seems to think this is a source of amusement. No one else here finds this funny in the least.

Deputy, please.

The Taoiseach is behaving in a way that is an abuse of his office.

We are trying to-----

What was not factual in what I said?

That the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board appoints judges. It does not appoint judges.

Excuse me-----

I said the board recommended him as a suitable candidate.

Can we please-----

Yes, and that is the point.

Deputies are turning the Dáil-----

That is not what the Taoiseach said.

The Taoiseach is happy with that. He is happy to ignore everything else.

Deputy Kelly, please do not reduce the House to a Ballymagash-type situation. Questions have been raised, the Taoiseach has dealt with them-----

-----and we are now going to move on.

There is not agreement-----

Excuse me, we are going to move on. The question is that Tuesday's business be agreed to.

On a point of order, I appeal to the Ceann Comhairle not to allow a dangerous precedent to be set here. Procedurally, there are many concerns about the manner in which the Taoiseach is handling this, and I think that should be a matter for the whole House to be concerned about.

Please, Deputy-----

It is a long-established tradition in this House that Ministers come in and account for their actions.

Please, Deputy-----

The Taoiseach is cutting across that and, procedurally-----

Deputy, please resume your seat.

-----he is doing a great deal of damage with this.

Very dangerous.

Deputy Shortall-----

There will never be a Minister here answering questions again.

Deputy Shortall, do not try to embroil the Chair in this matter. It is not for me to determine what business is done by the Government in business time. Standing Order 29 makes it abundantly clear that it is the Government's prerogative to decide what business is transacted. I have no role whatsoever in that.

(Interruptions).

The heavy gang are back.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with Tuesday's sitting be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 19; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Mattie McGrath and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?

It is not agreed. The Taoiseach spoke of the separation of powers being precious in our democracy. I want him to reflect on the fact that we are talking about the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, the court whose judges interpret the people's Constitution and protect the people by assessing legislation and dealing with cases. It does not get more important than that. Therefore, the process of appointment to that court could not be any more important to our democracy. We know that at least three judges, we assume of the High Court or Court of Appeal, eminently qualified people, expressed an interest in sitting in the highest court in the land. The Taoiseach referred to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, which assesses if somebody is qualified to be considered.

There can be a shortlist of seven at the most but the board does not make the decision or the recommendation.

We cannot get into a long debate.

I want the Taoiseach to reflect very deeply on this because he is somebody who repeatedly professes a passion for our democracy and the separation of powers. We are talking about the process of appointment to the Supreme Court.

Thank you, Deputy.

It could not be more serious. The Taoiseach needs to bring the Minister to the House in order that she can be accountable to the elected representatives of the people and take their questions and statements in line with the tradition of the House.

This is spiralling beyond all expectation. This is our third week dealing with it. We have been through two weekend news cycles and it has not gone away. There are acres of space on Wednesday's schedule for this to be brought up. We are looking at the Minister in the Seanad on the screen over our left shoulders. We will not be giving this up. We will be bringing it up again at the Business Committee on Thursday, should the committee be allowed to meet. W are not having requests granted for Business Committee meetings, which is another problem emanating from this. This is spiralling. I ask the Taoiseach to take control of the matter so that we can deal with it once and for all.

What we are earnestly asking the Taoiseach to agree to is to allow the Minister of Justice to come in and be accountable to the House. It is no less than he has required of several Ministers in the past when he was sitting on the other side of the House. I ask the Taoiseach to be reasonable. He is running the risk of doing serious damage to procedures here if he does not allow this. He is running the risk of allowing a situation whereby a Minister can shirk responsibility for anything in future simply by answering a question under the normal oral questions. The Taoiseach knows in his heart that this is wrong. It also means that several Members of the House will not have an opportunity to ask the Minister questions.

I thank the Deputy.

It is a charade and the Taoiseach should end it, in deference to us all.

What is happening here is the Government has decided to draw a line in the sand in terms of Ministers and taoisigh being forced to come in here, answer questions and be responded to in a free-flowing format. That format has presented problems for the Government. It has clearly created situations of embarrassment and pressure for the Government and for particular Ministers. The Government has decided this is the issue in respect of which to draw a line in the sand and establish a norm whereby Ministers are no longer accountable in that fashion. In the past few minutes, the Minister for Justice has stated-----

Sorry, Deputy, can we have silence in the Gallery, please?

I thank the Ceann Comhairle. In the past few minutes the Minister for Justice has said there is no issue with her answering questions. She said she offered to change priority questions and every party said "No", and she said the suggestion is that priority questions cannot be used to hold Ministers to account. It is, again, an insult when very single Opposition party and grouping is saying we want accountability in the form of the Minister coming in to answer questions, with ten or 15 minutes per party, back and forth.

The Deputy has made his point.

That is what the people are looking for. There is a problem with the Minister answering questions. She is refusing to do it and she is being facilitated by the Taoiseach. That is a disgrace.

This is very sad. Cúpla bliain ó shin, in 2017, the Taoiseach was on the Opposition side remonstrating about the appointment of an excellent Attorney General, Máire Whelan. He was not very kind in the words he said or the comparisons he made. The real problem here is not, as I have said, anything to do with impeachment, it is the appointment process. The former Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, blocked it for eight months. That is common knowledge. This is more about the Taoiseach's weakened position. He is the most feeble and inept Taoiseach I have ever met. He is beholden to Fine Gael for this job and that job. Fine Gael got this job and they pulled the wool over the Taoiseach's eyes. They are pulling it every day and they will keep pulling it while he lets them. By the way, commiserations for Sunday.

I join the calls to the effect that the Minister has to be accountable to the House because, ultimately, it is where the Government is supposed to be accountable. It is very interesting and telling the difference that moving across to the other side of the House has made in this case. If the Taoiseach was on this side, he would be calling for the Minister to come to the House but because he is over there he is blocking it. That is the reality of the situation.

The Minister did offer to come to the House next Tuesday to answer-----

Would the Taoiseach have accepted that? He would not have accepted that.

Hold on a second, I did not interrupt anybody. The basic point is this. The Minister offered to come to the House next Tuesday to answer questions on this issue and the Minister was refused.

Stop insulting us.

Stop the nonsense.

Even some of your backbenchers do not believe you.

I have answered questions here. Other Ministers have answered questions on their various portfolios. The last person to do so was the Tánaiste-----

We want the same for the Minister for Justice as the Tánaiste.

-----and I do not think Deputy Paul Murphy laid a glove on anybody. I do not understand why priority questions do not seem to be about accountability any more. Priority questions and oral questions are about accountability. The Minister had said she wanted to come in next Tuesday to deal with this for 90 minutes but that was refused. We are going over old ground here.

We will keep going over it.

The Taoiseach is on shaky ground.

My clear, principled position on this from the get-go has been on the separation of powers. I am very committed in that regard and always have been. That remains my position.

The separation of powers is the reason the Taoiseach has to do it.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 26; Níl, 19; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Michael Healy-Rae and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with Thursday's business agreed to?

It is not agreed. The reality of the situation is that, under the stewardship of the Taoiseach, a number of Ministers have come into this Chamber in similar circumstances, and questions have been taken, they have made a statement and everyone in the Chamber has had the opportunity to cross-examine them on various issues. All we want is exactly the same for the Minister for Justice. The Minister for Justice should be no more precious than the Tánaiste or anyone else in this Chamber. She should come in here and answer the questions that need to be answered. The truth is the Taoiseach is hiding something and the longer this goes on, the more the public see that. The way to deal with this is to bring the Minister in here, as has been asked for, not for scripted questions and scripted answers, but for proper questions and answers to be taken in this Chamber by everybody, and to do this before the end of the week.

I appeal to the Taoiseach. At the end of the day, it is his head that is on the line. People can see that he is the one who is responsible. She is his Minister. He needs to bring her in here and make this happen as quickly as possible.

This is spiralling. This is going to go on every week. We are going through this every week until the Minister comes in. The Taoiseach seems to be under some misapprehension that this will just float away. This is going nowhere. Everybody now has concerns in regard to what happened here. We need to know what happened here. This will not just disappear. Members will ask parliamentary questions and we will get specific answers because the Government will have no choice but to give them since we will make sure they are in order.

As this information drips and drips, with the help, dare I say it, of the media, I can tell the Taoiseach the issue for him will not be Deputy Helen McEntee, the issue will be the future of his Government. He is the one who is covering this and ensuring we do not get accountability. This now is about him. Make the decision now. If the Taoiseach does not allow her to come in here, this will now be about him as much as about the Minister, Deputy McEntee, and about his decision-making in not allowing her to come in.

The Minister, Deputy McEntee, has been extremely disingenuous in her handling of this issue. What she is engaged in is a twisting of the truth and, today, the Taoiseach is doing exactly the same. He is twisting the truth. He knows perfectly well that the request is not for her to come in and do the normal oral questions. He knows exactly what we are talking about. What we are asking for is exactly the same as he has asked of other Ministers and has been granted in the past. The question now is what the Taoiseach is afraid of and why he will not uphold the rights of Members of this House.

For two weeks now, with the amount of public attention given to this and the amount of time given to this in the House, one could reasonably ask why the Taoiseach does not just agree. If she has nothing to hide, why does the Minister not just come in here and answer questions? The only conclusion one can draw, as Deputy Shortall pointed out, is that there is something to hide, and that there is a problem with the answers we would get in that context.

The very generous offer to come in and do oral parliamentary questions, as every Minister has to do every couple of months in any case is very cynical on the part of the Government. The Government is abusing the fact that the average person in the street does not know the difference between different types of questions. If that was okay, why, three years ago, did the Taoiseach not just ask his questions of the Minister for Justice on oral parliamentary questions?

In terms of the appointment of Máire Whelan, why did he insist-----

No, the Taoiseach had a specific session. He did not just do it through regular oral parliamentary questions. He insisted on a specific-----

We did not have questions.

That is the point but he was arguing for questions.

We did not have questions.

If the Taoiseach wants, he can go and read the transcript from three years ago. Deputy McDonald very deliberately used some of his own words from three years ago last week to suggest that he could be on this side of the House issuing exactly the same speech in question. He knew at that point in time that what he is offering now was not acceptable because it does not amount to accountability.

By his refusal to allow for questions to be asked in an open and transparent fashion, the Taoiseach is giving the impression to the general public that there is something to hide. That will be the impression with regard to his Government if he continues to stonewall on the opportunity for the Opposition to ask questions. The Taoiseach actually has an opportunity to change the culture of Leinster House. He has an opportunity now to create a culture of transparency and openness whereby all Ministers have a responsibility to answer questions, even the question I put to him at the start of this, namely, why the second vacancy was not filled and whether that also part of the coalition deal. That also was not answered. We would have an opportunity to ask that question of the Minister.

Two weeks ago, on behalf of Deputy Mattie McGrath and our group, I stated that it was the proper and correct thing for the Minister to come in. When you are in a hole and when you are digging, the best thing to do at some stage is to stop. The Taoiseach knows in his heart and soul this is not going to be given up. The leaders of the different groups are not going to give up.

This will be relentless and there is no harm in that if there is nothing to hide. Why should the Minister not come into the House and answer basic questions from Members who are elected to represent everybody? They just want answers. That is all there is to it. Why not, please, relent and stop the adversarial action the Taoiseach and his Government seem to be taking because in the end he will not win. She will have to come into the House and answer questions in a proper way. That is only right and proper and the Taoiseach may as well do it now rather than fight and do it next week or in two or three weeks. The sooner he does it, the better for him, the Government and the country.

I support the call from the other Members. It is obvious that it has to happen. If the Taoiseach were on this side of the House, he would be doing the exact same. If Deputy Leo Varadkar was the Taoiseach he would be saying "No, no" but Deputy Martin would be saying "Yes, yes". It is going to happen so the Taoiseach should just make it so.

Deputy Griffin is looking to get in but I can only hear one Member from the Government, unless he wants to answer instead of the Taoiseach.

Why not? Fine Gael-----

(Interruptions).

In relation to this appointment the justice concerned was recommended as suitable for the job by the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, JAAB.

No. He was recommended as being suitable for consideration by JAAB, not for the job.

No. It came through the JAAB process unlike what happened in 2017. That did not happen in 2017. Does Deputy Kelly confirm that? Will he accept that?

I was not part of the Government.

Does the Deputy accept it as a fundamental difference, as I do?

That is not the point, and the Taoiseach knows that.

I believe it is different because there is a process in place and a judicial appointments board is an important process.

It is a vetting process.

I was happy not to be questioning that process.

The Taoiseach misunderstands his role in all of this-----

The second point I would make is this-----

-----which is very worrying given that he is Head of Government.

Please, the Taoiseach without interruption.

The Minister, Deputy McEntee, said last week that she would come into the Dáil to answer questions on this matter. That offer was refused-----

-----because Deputies are now into the format of how the questions are answered.

Go away out of that.

That is the truth. For some reason we are led to believe that the-----

The Taoiseach is twisting the truth.

-----Priority Questions format is an impossible format through which to get accountability. That is nonsense.

They are scripted.

We are down to the format of how questions are asked and answered.

(Interruptions).

I have been in the House a long time. I acknowledge that. I have been in a position to get answers during Priority Questions in short spaces of time on plenty of occasions, as have other Deputies.

Not on an issue like this one.

To come back to the point in terms of the process and the appointment, I have explained the process to the House.

What has the Taoiseach explained? He has explained-----

There is no big deal here-----

-----the fact that he was inert, inactive, uninformed and that he did not carry out his task.

Please, Deputy.

-----in terms of how Mr. Justice Woulfe was appointed. It was similar to previous appointments by the Government of the day but in this case he was recommended as a suitable candidate through the JAAB process-----

Three others were also.

-----which is chaired by the Chief Justice and the presidents of four other courts.

What about the other process?

That has been conveniently ignored in this particular case. The Minister, Deputy McEntee, said that she was prepared to come before the House next Tuesday and for some reason that was not facilitated.

The Taoiseach knows the reason.

You are a disgrace.

I respectfully suggest that it should have been facilitated-----

That is disgraceful.

-----and the Members should have then assessed whether they were happy with that process after allowing the Minister to take the questions last week.

(Interruptions).

It would have been faster and far easier if that had been facilitated but for some reason it was not facilitated.

The Taoiseach knows the reason.

I have my own views as to why it was not facilitated, which is that there is a desire to keep it going.

The Taoiseach is well aware of the reason.

The question is-----

The Taoiseach is utterly disingenuous.

I am sorry, Deputy, but I am putting the question.

The Taoiseach should not abuse his position in that way and go unchallenged. It is outrageous.

Question put: "That the proposal for Thursday's business be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 25; Níl, 19; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Troy, Robert.

Níl

  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Martin Kenny and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn.
Question declared carried.