Business of Joint Committee

Deputy Kate O'Connell is substituting for Deputy Noel Rock. Before we begin, I remind members to switch off their mobile telephones as they interfere with the recording equipment. We will now go into private session.

The joint committee went into private session at 12 noon and resumed in public session at 12.19 p.m.

We are now in public session and I again remind members, witnesses and those in the Public Gallery to switch off their mobile telephones as they interfere with the recording equipment.

Before commencing our main business I wish to deal with correspondence and EU scrutiny. No. 307 is an email from Deputy Catherine Murphy deferred from the meeting of 11 July last requesting hearings in the autumn on the regulation of sales of second-hand aircraft to offshore commercial entities. I invite the Deputy to discuss it.

There are almost 5,000 jobs in aircraft leasing in this country. We are one of the biggest operators in the aircraft leasing sector. However, there is a lack of transparency about who the aircraft are sold on to and that might compromise the industry. There has been evidence that some aircraft that have been sold have been used for purposes such as leaving remote airfields in Russia to go to Syria. That could cause us problems.

I ask that the Irish Aviation Authority as the body responsible for the aircraft register be invited in to discuss what protections need to be put in place.

The clerk will make that arrangement if it is agreed. Agreed.

No. 308 is an email from Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh. As the Senator is absent, we will deal with that when he arrives or at our next meeting.

No. 309 is a letter from Ms Maria McKenna, LocalLink requesting an opportunity to appear before the committee to discuss the opening up of LocalLink to public procurement. It is proposed that we convene a meeting on this matter in early autumn. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Nos. 310, 311 and 315 are emails and letters from the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eamon Ryan and Senator Humphreys requesting that a Ranelagh residents group comes before the committee to give its perspective on MetroLink, which is the subject of today's meeting.

No. 312 is an email from Deputy Munster forwarding a request from Deputy Joan Collins regarding the BusConnects plan and requesting that the unions appear before the committee, which is also the subject of today's meeting.

No. 313 is an email from Mr. Tony O'Brien, aviation services division, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, in response to a query raised at a meeting of the select committee on 11 July regarding visa requirements for UEA citizens. It is proposed to note this correspondence. Is that agreed? Agreed.

No. 314 is an email from Mr. Michael O'Connor, Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, requesting a timeline for the general scheme of the airport noise regulation Bill. Mr. O'Connor has been informed that the committee is happy to meet with the Minister on the Bill as soon as he is ready to do so. Is that agreed?

I sent an email to the committee asking for a change in the running order of today's business. I presume it is not deliberate, but according to the schedule we are first meeting the National Transport Authority, NTA, on its proposals for BusConnects, following which we will meet the unions. This does not make sense. I do not know who thought it was practical to order the business in this way. The reason we invited the unions is they represent the workers who provide the service and we wanted to hear their concerns about the BusConnects plan and to be then flag them to the NTA. I do not know who oversees the schedule.

I have not seen the Deputy's email.

I am asking who thought it was practical to order the business in this way. We should be meeting with the unions first and then the NTA.

It was agreed at the last meeting. If the Deputy wants to-----

This was not agreed. It is impractical. It was agreed that the unions and the NTA be invited in.

If we hear from the NTA first and then the unions we will not be able to raise the unions' concerns with the NTA.

That is fine.

Where is the logic in this?

I have not seen the Deputy's email.

It was sent to-----

I have every confidence in the professionalism of the clerk to the committee in every respect.

I am not questioning the professionalism of the clerk to the committee.

I want to move on. If the Deputy proposes that the order in which we meet today's witnesses be changed and that is carried I have no problem doing so.

I propose that the order in which the witnesses appear be reversed.

Are the union representatives here? If there is a going to be a big gap in the meeting that does not make sense.

I know the unions-----

I see the logic of what Deputy Munster is proposing but the availability of witnesses may be an issue.

We will complete this section of our business first and if the union representatives are here early we can then deal with this issue.

I know that the union officials are here. They are scheduled for the second session of the meeting. I presume the NTA officials will be here at the time requested.

We have no problem facilitating the Deputy if it is possible to do so.

It makes more sense.

I would like to raise another issue. Last December, when we met the IAA and the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association, IALPA, which represents pilots, IALPA was deterred on two or three occasions from raising its concerns with the committee. The reason given for this was the dispute between Ryanair and IALPA which was before the courts. The committee agreed to hold off on the issues on the basis of a firm commitment that once that court case was concluded it would be so informed and another meeting could be rescheduled. This court case concluded last December. It is an absolute disgrace that this committee was not informed that this was the case. It was only when I queried it in light of the current Ryanair strikes that it came to light that the case concluded last December but the committee was not told.

A response of "Right" is not okay. I want to know why the committee was not told. One cannot help but be suspicious given the IALPA representatives were prevented from addressing the committee on two or three occasions.

The clerk to the committee has informed me that Ryanair has appealed that decision.

Yes, but the committee was not made aware of that until, at my request, the committee secretariat sought clarification on the matter. There is no reason for the committee not being informed between December and last week.

I want to move on with the business of the meeting. Ryanair has appealed the case to the Supreme Court.

The committee was not aware of that last week.

That is where the matter stands.

The Chairman is talking nonsense. I am telling the him - the clerk to the committee can verify this - that the committee-----

We must move on with today's business.

That is what we are trying to do.

I want to hear from the witnesses, if I can.

With all due respect, we are dealing with correspondence now.

We have not moved on to the next business. I am raising issues related to correspondence and transparency.

There is no correspondence on this matter.

The Chairman is saying-----

I will have to adjourn the meeting if we cannot reach agreement. The Deputy can deal with these issues following this session.

This is the session in which we deal with correspondence.

I know that but I want to hear from the witnesses.

I, too, want to hear from them. I am anxious to hear what they have to say.

Why then can we not move on?

I am looking for clarity around the correspondence.

I do not see the correspondence.

I will ask the question again. Why was the committee not informed that the court case concluded last December?

I do not know the answer to that question.

Will the Chairman seek an answer to it?

I will ask the clerk to the committee to do so, if that is okay.

Okay. I would like the matter to be put on the agenda for our next meeting.

I thank the Chairman.

Is the Deputy happy now?

I will await the response.

I always try to work with people rather than against them.

I will await the outcome. The Chairman is delaying the process now.

I emphasise that I find the clerk to the committee and committee staff exceptionally helpful at all times.

I never said otherwise. I am just seeking clarify on a matter.

I just wanted to make that clear.