Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 6 and 50 are related. Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 7 form an alternative proposal, while amendment No. 8 is an alternative. Therefore, amendments Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, and 50 may be discussed together.
Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill, 1996: Committee Stage.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 7, subsection (1), line 41, after "Schedule" to insert "and in this Act referred to as the New Docks".
This amendment seeks to submit a short title for the development in question, both for the area itself and for the authority which will be the subject of later amendment. I do not have a preference for a particular title. Suggestions such as "Liffeyside" and "Dockside" have been put forward. I tabled the amendment to facilitate discussion on the matter. It would be desirable to have a short, snappy title such as "the New Docks".
I raised this matter on Second Stage. In the interest of helping the authority to market itself in the most business like manner we have to find some way of shortening the name. When I was with An Post it was called "An Bord Poist". It seemed an impossible name for an organisation. We gave much thought to the name and came up with "An Post" which did not need to be translated. I look back on that with a feeling of success as it was accepted and adopted very easily.
The reason for putting down amendments was to help the authority. One of the problems with a long name is that it tends to be shortened to its initials. I do not know how that can be done with "Dublin Docklands Development Authority": The initials would be unpronounceable.
We should remove "development" from the title in both the Irish and English versions. What is wrong with the "Dublin Docklands Authority"? It is far less of a mouthful. An equally acceptable term would be "Dublin Docklands Development". Perhaps we can shorten it even more.
The Irish version of the name has an extra word which is quite unnecessary. There is no need for "Baile". I checked this with Dublin Corporation. In Irish it is "Barda Átha Cliath" and they are adamant that that is correct. "Bardas Baile Átha Cliath" would mean Dublin City Corporation.
There is just one docklands in Dublin. I would welcome the Minister's comments on this effort at making sure that the authority is more marketable, pronounceable and more likely to be accepted.
I welcome the Minister to the House. I agree with Senator Quinn. It is a matter of common sense. I am not sure about "the New Docks" proposed by Senator Daly because the area is 1,500 acres and it encompasses more than the docks, even though the focus is the Liffey. The development in Belfast was called "Laganside".
This is a 15 year programme and the name should be simple because we are looking at an international as well as a national market. Senator Quinn gave the very good example of An Post. Everybody knows what is being spoken about when An Post is mentioned. We need a simple title which conveys the process that is underway. Perhaps "Liffeyside" would be appropriate as the common thread is the Liffey.
On Second Stage Senator Quinn expressed the view that the title of the new authority was cumbersome and that a shorter, more user friendly title should be found. Other Senators expressed similar concerns. In the light of these comments we have considered the matter again.
Although the title may be cumbersome I am still in favour of keeping the Dublin Docklands Development Authority as the authorities' formal title. However, I sympathise with the Senators' point that this title may be too cumbersome for the authority to use in its everyday work. I am accordingly proposing amendment No. 8 thus allowing the authority adopt a business name in accordance with the provisions of the Registration of Business Names Act, 1963. This will place the authority in a similar position to many other entities who have a formal, corporate title but carry on business under a different name.
If we are to provide for the authority to have a business name, we should leave it to the authority itself to agree on the name and to submit it for ministerial approval in due course prior to registration. This will enable the authority to take the necessary time to canvass widely and will ensure a sense of ownership by the authority of the name ultimately used. While I am grateful to Senators Daly and Quinn for suggesting alternative names for the authority, I hope they will agree to withdraw their amendments in favour of mine.
There are certain things which a committee of the House should not attempt, including devising names, and the Minister of State's amendment is an attempt to address this. It is important that we do not impose a name that is difficult to use, even in the legal or long-term sense. The Minister of State's intentions are in the right direction and I have no difficulty in regarding the registration of business names as the correct way to establish a bright, marketing and attractive name for the new organisation.
We are attempting to put life into this area. It is a worthy objective. The name will be important and if the organisation is straddled with a cumbersome name, even in legal terms, it will present a recurring difficulty. I am happy to withdraw my amendments in favour of amendment No. 8.
I also accept the Minister of State's position. The purpose of my amendments was to devise a way of providing a short title to ensure that the area would be readily identifiable, especially by tourists and visitors to the city. This will be a rejuvenated area and amendment No. 1 attempts to make it clear that it is a new development in what was the old docks system. While the "New Docks Authority", or "NDA", would be an apt description, I withdraw the amendment.
Everybody would agree that the overall development of this concept will be expensive. Apart from tax incentives and other initiatives to promote and develop the area, I am sure specific Exchequer funding will be provided to enable the project get underway. Has any consideration been given to the type of funding that will be required?
I would like to be helpful but that is a matter that must be addressed in the master plan. It is not appropriate at this stage to cite figures. The master plan is part and parcel of this project and it will give a clear idea of costs. The commitment is defined clearly in section 10.
The Government announced yesterday the decision to demolish the tower blocks at Ballymun and replace them with a new development and it gave figures for costs — about £178 million. I note that this is not necessarily the section on which to raise this point but the public would like a broad indication of the overall costs of the docklands project for the first few years. I will not insist on specific figures.
I was a member of the original docklands task force which set the parameters for the master plan. The ownership of the land there is in the private sector and the State or semi-State sector. Given the commercial remit of the semi-State sector I expect it to play a pivotal role in conjunction with the private sector. If people expect a Temple Bar Mark II they will be disappointed. Waterside developments sell off the plans. The project will have to be tax driven to some degree but I am sure it will be targeted to encourage specific types of development. With the private sector, the public sector and Government involvement through tax incentives, there will be a tripartite approach which will involve the community.
There is little point giving the Senator an indication of costs if they are not accurate. At this point, prior to the master plan being drawn up, it would be premature to give an estimate. This is a standard provision which allows for the expenses. The Senator will have to be reasonable and accept that the master plan must be drawn up first. The Ballymun project is a different case because it is defined clearly and a considerable amount of assessment has been carried out on specific technical and construction matters. We have an estimate of costs for the Ballymun project but it is a different type of project.
There are two elements involved — the cost to the Exchequer of the overall concept and the provisions in the section which covers the setting up of the authority. Are there figures for this latter element? Before giving approval I am sure the Minister for Finance looked carefully at the costs of establishing the authority and fulfilling the provisions in the Bill. I am prepared to waive my request for an indication of the costs of the overall project, although I am sure the Minister of State must have an idea of the likely costs. However, she must have definite figures for the likely expenditure on the administration of the authority.
There are no additional costs in terms of the authority itself because it is replacing the Custom House Docks Development Authority and will use its staff and accommodation. I can get the Senator accurate figures on the cost of that but I understand it is approximately £1 million. Additional funding will not be required at this stage but there might be funding requirements in the future. The original structure, the Custom House Docks Development Authority, is already being funded and this new structure will draw on those resources.
Part of the reason I am asking this is that substantial Government funding was provided to enable the Custom House Docks Development Authority to undertake its work and that money was to be paid back by the authority to the Government. The taxpayer is going to have to foot the bill for much of this. Is there any provision to protect the taxpayer if huge revenues accrue to this authority? According to the initial task force report, the Custom House Docks Development Authority has still to repay substantial funds to the State. That situation needs to be examined, especially in the light of the developments which will take place under this Bill. Will the taxpayer who will provide the initial finance be in a position to recoup some of these funds when the concept is successfully operating and making substantial amounts of money, perhaps millions of pounds?
We are straying from the Bill. I assure the Senator that repayments are being made and that the authority is self-financing in relation to this.
The Custom House Docks Development Authority?
It has far more funds than it is paying back.
It is paying back that money and will continue to do so.
The issue is that it has far more funding than it has to pay back. Initially it received funding which it did not have to pay back; it only had to pay back some of the funding. If the Minister of State cannot follow what I am trying to say there is no point in pursuing the matter. When the new authority begins to operate it will need substantial Government funding to enable the project to get off the ground. If that is funded in the same way as the Custom House Docks Development Authority, some of the funding will be clawed back from the authority when it begins to make money. Will the financing be provided on the same basis as that provided for the Custom House Docks Development Authority?
My understanding is that the Custom House Docks Development Authority will be subsumed into what will, essentially, be a brand new authority. The infrastructure and the cash will all come together under the new authority. The seven executive members will take control of the Custom House and the docks and will be the dock authority. I am trying to be helpful because, as I said last week, 8 a.m. meetings tend to sharpen the mind and this was part of the overall discussion at that meeting. The infrastructure already exists and will be new only in so far as the personnel and remit are concerned. The matters which concern Senator Daly are all in place.
I do not want to repeat myself. It has been clarified that the authority is being subsumed and is self-financing. It is making repayments and will continue to do so. This is a standard provision should a need arise. We should not pre-empt the master plan by making future projections rather than including an enabling provision.
If matters are not clarified, we cannot complain if mistakes are made in the future. The Custom House Docks Development Authority received substantial funding when it was established. I do not have the precise figures regarding Government financial injections but I am sure the Minister has them. The authority repaid a certain amount of those funds but I am not sure it repaid the total amount or if it was required to do so. However, the authority has made substantially more money than was originally envisaged. I may be incorrect but the problem will be solved if the Minister provides precise figures. I am trying to avoid a position where the Government advances substantial funds to the new authority to get it up and running but is unable to claw back the full amount although the authority may make substantial amounts of money.
That does not apply to the Custom House Docks Development Authority. The Senator is raising a red herring. The original funding provided to the authority is being repaid and will continue to be repaid. The Custom House Docks Development Authority is self-financing and there is no requirement for major funding to set up the new authority. That is not the expectation. The Bill includes an enabling provision for a certain approach but we cannot pre-empt the requirements of the master plan. It is not the case that money will be thrown at an authority without an expectation of a return and anybody who presumes that does not understand the ethos or principle underlying the authority.
I do not presume anything. I want facts and figures from the Minister of State. What was the total advance to the Custom House Docks Development Authority and how much has it repaid? Perhaps she could provide these details at a later stage.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 12, between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following new paragraph:
"(c) The Chairperson shall be a person who in the opinion of the Minister has a knowledge, expertise and experience in matters connected with the management, development and operation of similar type projects.".
The purpose of the amendment is to set down guidelines regarding the qualifications of the chairperson of the authority. While I am sure the Minister in her wisdom will appoint the best possible person, anybody could be appointed in the absence of defined qualifications. The amendment seeks to ensure that the chairperson would have the qualifications of experience, knowledge and expertise for the position.
While I appreciate the constructive intention of Senator Daly's amendment, I do not wish to unduly narrow the range of experience and expertise from which the person to be appointed as the chairperson of the authority will be chosen. In considering the appointment of a chairperson, a broad base of experience and expertise will be sought which will enable the person appointed to fulfil the chairperson's duty set down in section 19 to ensure the efficient discharge of the business of the authority in addition to the capacity and drive to deliver this major project. However, there is no need to specify this in legislation. It will be for the Minister of the day to ensure that a chairperson who meets the criteria I mentioned is appointed. Accordingly, I ask the Senator to withdraw the amendment.
I appear to be in the minority. If the House is satisfied the amendment is unnecessary, I will not press it. However, another important office was filled recently and I wonder whether the same position could arise in this case. Last year, following lengthy and detailed discussion, a number of harbour authorities were appointed. The chairman of one of the authorities is a civil servant who was an employee of a semi-State organisation. I have no difficulty with the person involved, who is eminent and highly qualified. However, the chairperson of the new authority could be an employee of the Custom House Docks centre or a semi-State body. Is that practice desirable? I am raising the point because an executive of a semi-State body was recently appointed chairman of a new port authority. I have no objection to that individual but it is probably undesirable to appoint executives of semi-State bodies as chairpersons of boards.
My personal view is that the best woman for the job should get it. However, I will accept the best man or woman.
The position I mentioned was filled by a man. One of the Minister's colleagues made the appointment; perhaps the Minister should suggest to him that he should have appointed a woman.
The Minister without interruption.
The requirement nowadays is to secure the best talent for positions. It is wrong to set down criteria which are too narrow and which may exclude people from positions. If people are kept on tracks and cannot move from the public to the private sector or from different areas of expertise, there is a danger that talent will be lost or will not be used most effectively. We need to ensure that the best person ultimately gets the job.
I understand Senator Daly's concerns. However, I am inclined to follow his good example when he had the good sense as the first Minister for the Marine to appoint me to the Cork authority. That type of discretion should remain with the Minister.
Similar type projects.
Is the amendment being pressed?
No, but I will have to examine my conscience.
Amendment No. 10 is out of order as it involves potential charges on the Revenue.
Amendments Nos. 12 to 21, inclusive, are related to amendment No. 11 and may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.
What about amendment No. 10?
The amendment has been ruled out of order. The Senator has been advised to that effect.
I have not. I do not see why the amendment should be viewed as a charge on the Exchequer.
That is the ruling and I have no choice but to abide by it.
I move amendment No. 11:
In page 12, lines 39 to 49, and in page 13, lines 1 to 5, to delete paragraphs (a) and (c) and substitute the following:
"(a) local organisations which, in the opinion of the Minister, are concerned with, or are representative of persons engaged in the promotion or the carrying out of small business, including manufacturing, retail, services and other local economic development in the Dublin Docklands Area,
(b) community network organisations which, in the opinion of the Minister, are concerned with existing local community development in the Dublin Docklands Area or with the promotion of the social, economic, finance, culture, health, sport or general interests of communities in that Area,
(c) non profit organisations which, in the opinion of the Minister, are concerned with the local environment, conservation of the architectural and natural heritage and sustainable use and improvement of the built and natural environment.".
I welcome the Minister of State to the House, not that she needs very much of a welcome. Coming from the political background that she does, I am sure she will find herself in sympathy with the general tenor of the amendments which I have put down. I will confine my contribution to amendments Nos. 11 and 19 which are in my name and I will make a glancing reference to amendment No. 21. I seconded Senator Quinn's important amendment regarding the inclusion of a member of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
In my opinion, there is no real conflict between what the Minister has already encompassed in the Bill at this point and what I am suggesting. It is clear to me that the Minister wishes to include representatives from the local area and from various community oriented groups. That is the common purpose we share.
These amendments are important to me because they came about as a result of consultation with the very groups whom the Minister seeks to import into the Bill herself. If these groups feel strongly that this is the way to maximise their contribution, it is incumbent on the Minister to look at what they are suggesting rather than impose something from the top down. It is an important part of the democratic process that the wishes of the people, who are in the process of being generally included in the docklands authority, should be taken into account. There is no conflict between the Minister's aim and that of these groups. The fact that these amendments have been prepared for, and suggested to me, by these very groups suggests that they should, at least, be carefully considered. They do not contradict anything the Minister is proposing. They focus very clearly on the kind of community involvement and expertise that is desired and on the kind of people who shall be included in the docklands authority. For example, in paragraph (a) of amendment No. 11 "...persons engaged in the promotion or the carrying out of small business, including manufacturing, retail, services and other local economic development in the Dublin Docklands Area" are specified.
If one considers the Temple Bar development, which has been very successful, there are some inbuilt problematic areas in that situation because money was poured in from the top. Much of that money has done a great deal of good, but I am not sure how sustainable it is in the long-term because it did not take into account the interests of the existing small business and communities who are being squeezed out of the area at the moment. It is regrettable that in spite of the great success of Temple Bar, for which I am very happy, the organic quality of that area is in danger of being substantially diluted. By including a paragraph detailing the promotion of small businesses, manufacturing and so on, we would make specific something I am sure the Minister would find herself in sympathy with. The same applies with regard to the community network organisations; the very people whom the Minister wishes to introduce into participation have sought to assist the Minister in focusing in on precisely what kind of organisations there are and what kind of need there is. I welcome the Minister's wish to include these people.
In paragraph (b) these groups have given itemised instances of "...the promotion of the social, economic, finance, culture, health, sport or general interest of communities in that Area". I would find it difficult to argue with the ideas behind that, virtually every area of interest is covered and specified and it does not conflict with the Minister's wishes. In paragraph (c) the groups have expressed a desire for the inclusion of "non profit organisations which, in the opinion of the Minister, are concerned with the local environment, conservation of the architectural and natural heritage and sustainable use and improvement of the built and natural environment". I would be interested to hear the Minister's views on this. It may be that the precise wording is not considered appropriate by the Minister and her advisers but I am sure — if I may use a word which has been bandied about this House recently — the "ethos" of that paragraph will recommend itself to both the Minister and her advisers.
Amendment No. 19 is related to No. 11 and simply specifies where and what number of people, if No. 11 is accepted, shall be appointed in this manner. I shall leave amendment No. 21 to my colleague, Senator Quinn, as it is in his name. I will be supporting him strongly. I have worked with the Dublin Chamber of Commerce over many years and I think they have done a lot of extremely good work for the city. I think I am correct in saying that in a sense they emerged from the eighteenth century docklands when they were formed in response to the Ouzel Galley. I am sure Senator Quinn may want to elaborate on that and I do not wish to steal his thunder. I will be supporting his amendment that a representative of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce be included on the authority which, for historical and practical reasons, seems to be appropriate.
I apologise for not welcoming the Minister to the House earlier. She is very welcome, as is the Bill. As Senators Norris and Daly have made clear, we are attempting to help the Minister to improve this Bill and tweak it if necessary to ensure that it works well. I have always had a problem with the hands of an authority being tied by stipulating that they must have representatives of various bodies on their council. To a certain extent, I find it difficult to say that a council must have representatives. I prefer to use the word "reflect"; councils should include "people who reflect the views of...".
I am horrified at the very thought of a 25 person council. It seems very difficult and unwieldy. Rather than cover all of my amendments together at this stage, I would like the Minister to respond to the strong case made by Senator Norris in regard to amendment No. 11. Senator Norris has made the case for local representation and seeks to ensure that there would be such representation. He has included three different groups of local representatives. If this is going to work, it is essential that it reflects the views of many different inputs. We have to support the case Senator Norris has made. I would like to come back separately on each of my other amendments rather than covering them all together. At this stage I would like to support Senator Norris in his objectives and I am sure the Minister will support them.
I remind the Senator that amendments Nos. 11-21 are being discussed together.
I gather we will deal with each amendment separately. I would prefer to speak on each amendment and listen to the Minister of State's response because it would be difficult for her to respond to a plethora of amendments.
The House has agreed to take the amendments together. You may speak on your amendments and after the Minister of State has replied, you may come back. The amendments will not be taken separately.
On that basis, I will speak on all my amendments.
Amendment No. 12 proposes to insert the following subparagraph: "(iii) one member shall be so appointed from among the officers of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment who are established civil servants for the purposes of the Civil Service Regulation Act, 1956.". "The Bill provides for the appointment of two civil servants to the council, one from the Department of the Environment and the other from the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
Nobody from the Department of Enterprise and Employment will be appointed to an authority which will be concerned with economic regeneration. This omission highlights a major flaw in the Bill, which is conceived by people who think in terms of local government and not economic regeneration. The Bill reeks of a mind-set which is a long way from what the docklands need. If there is a case for appointing civil servants to the council — I have no problem with that — to omit the Department of Enterprise and Employment is like staging Hamlet without the prince. I urge the Minister of State to consider this amendment.
Amendments Nos. 13 and 14 propose to replace Bord Gáis Éireann with Forbairt and the ESB with IDA Ireland. My aim is to focus on the future rather than on the past. Bord Gáis owns a considerable amount of property in the area comprising a large derelict site where the gasometers were located. There is a problem of contamination on this site and it will cost a small fortune to decontaminate it and make it suitable for other uses. Bord Gáis' role is to clean up the site and get rid of it. It has no future use for the site as part of its business since it is not a property developer. Bord Gáis should not be a property developer or an investor in property because it needs to invest in its own industry. Bord Gáis should get on with the job it has to do, which means getting out of the docklands as soon as possible. It has no future in the docklands and has no place on an authority which is guiding the economic regeneration of the area.
I propose to replace the Bord Gáis representative with one from Forbairt. Forbairt is responsible for economic regeneration and for developing indigenous industries. Not only is it madness not to have a representative from the Department of Enterprise and Employment on the council but it is madness on stilts not to directly involve Forbairt, which could stimulate new industry in the area. The authority has a greater need for a representative from Forbairt than from Bord Gáis Éireann. I am talking about the future rather than the past. Fobairt is the future while Bord Gáis is the past in this instance since its involvement only comes about because it owns derelict sites.
I would make a broadly similar argument as regards the ESB, which owns property in the area. I do not see it as an engine of economic regeneration or making a worthwhile contribution to the authority's deliberations, certainly not to the extent of appointing a representative to the council. The ESB is in a different situation to CIE, which is properly represented under the present proposal. Traffic problems are at the heart of the challenges facing the docklands. CIE is also the holder of a considerable amount of property which is ripe for development, but the same does not apply to the ESB. Whoever dreamed up this subsection operates under the principle of rounding up the usual suspects even if they have no future in the area.
Instead of appointing a representative from the ESB, it would be more useful to appoint one from IDA Ireland. Just as Forbairt can help develop indigenous industries in the area, IDA Ireland can help attract overseas investors to locate there. Appointing such a representative to the council would ensure direct involvement by IDA Ireland and that it would be high on its priority list of locations. I wonder about the mind which contemplated appointing Bord Gáis and the ESB to the council while at the same time ignoring Forbairt and IDA Ireland. It makes me wonder if these people have heard of Forbairt or IDA Ireland. If not, it is time they did.
Amendment No. 15 adds a further member to the already unwieldy council. However, it is a member who cannot be done without, and I spoke about this matter on Second Stage. The creators of the Bill have ignored the tourism and leisure potential of the docklands area. I do not know if they have a dream of turning the docklands area into a gigantic international financial centre. If so, it is a pipedream. Whatever the master plan comes up with, it is inevitable that leisure and tourism will be identified as a major part of the area's future potential. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is represented on the council, but there is no mention of tourism. It makes me wonder about the type of world in which those who dreamed up this Bill are living. There is no way we can fill this area with financial institutions — a large proportion of leisure and tourism activities is required.
We can make the docklands a central part of Dublin's tourism offering and attractive to visitors and Dubliners. Tourism and leisure can be to the docklands what financial services were to the Custom House scheme. The first step towards achieving that would be to appoint to the council the head of Dublin Tourism or perhaps Bord Fáilte, because maybe this is a national rather than a city effort. Tourism and leisure must be represented if we are serious about this.
Amendment No. 18 proposes that the Provost of Trinity College or an officer of the college nominated by the Provost be appointed.
I thought Senator Norris would approve of that. I do not have a declaration of interest to make in this case——
Which makes the Senator's argument stronger.
This amendment brings me back to economic regeneration. There is an overriding need to create new jobs in the docklands area and encourage companies to set up there. A prime source of these companies can be Trinity College. In America and increasingly in parts of Europe, universities are becoming economic powerhouses and are using their cutting edge knowledge of technology to spawn new high-tech start ups with close links to the research resources in the colleges. Trinity College is heavily involved in the business of creating campus companies but cannot locate them all on the campus. It has an interest in having them as close to the campus as possible. Any plan for the docklands will have as its aim that the area is designated by Trinity College as the site for its campus companies. Trinity is already thinking in this way and we should encourage it to continue to do so and the best way to do this is to involve it directly by giving it a seat on the council.
Initially, most campus companies are very small; normally they are high tech companies of the future and those that succeed can become very large. We have seen examples of this. The docklands offer a location where small companies can grow without having to move. If we think about the source of potential jobs we will realise that Trinity College should be at the heart of the docklands scheme.
The success of the docklands will come, to a large extent, from a large number of small, private businesses which will create, innovate and generate business. However, we are in danger of assuming that this is a local authority. If we omit the chamber of commerce we are suggesting that this development can be run by a centralised structure. There is an urgent need to create an individual, enterprising mindset on the council. That will come about by ensuring representation for the chamber of commerce.
It is hard to believe that this scheme was conceived without considering representation for the chamber of commerce. The Minister will say that this will be taken into account. However, I am worried by the mindset which offers representation to companies like Bord Gáis and the ESB yet does not include the chamber of commerce. I am proposing representation for the chamber of commerce knowing that this scheme will only succeed if there is significant input from the private sector. The chamber of commerce has represented private enterprise since the Ouzel Galley 250 years ago. It is one of the successful representative bodies in the city and the Minister should ensure that it is represented on the council.
It would belése-majesté to try to gild the lily after the speeches of Senators Norris and Quinn. I am sympathetic to the thrust of their proposals and I hope the Minister finds a way of taking them on board.
Normally I agree with much of what Senator Quinn proposes. However, I disagree with him on this issue. I understand the ethos from which he comes but, to a large extent, he is trying to exclude the public sector. The State is one of the major players in this 1,500 acre site. Senator Quinn has consistently urged the State sector to become commercial. There is nothing wrong with CIE becoming involved in joint ventures with the private sector.
I support that.
I do not share the undue emphasis on the triumphs of the private sector. We would still be burning candles if we were waiting for the private sector to establish the ESB. Similarly, we would be travelling around on donkeys and carts waiting for the development of a transport system. The private sector tried and failed in these areas. Let us give credit where it is due. State bodies in the docklands area are major players and their job is to maximise their assets on behalf of their company and, in turn, the taxpayer.
Senator Quinn mentioned the chamber of commerce but he did not mention the Dublin Trades Council which represents hundreds of thousands of people. Why should we appoint someone from the chamber of commerce to the council and ignore the trade union movement or congress? This is a tremendous commercial opportunity for the State. It should take advantage of this opportunity and not simply sell sites to the private sector at less than their commercial value. State companies should be involved in successful joint ventures.
Senator Quinn also mentioned Departments, such as the Department of Enterprise and Employment. That is the key Department in this area so it makes sense to have it represented on the council. The Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht has taken control of the entire waterways system. The inner and outer basins in Ringsend and the canals, including Spencer Dock, are central to the development of the docklands. This makes that Department a major player.
The Department of Transport, Energy and Communications is, potentially, a major player in the area because of the involvement of companies such as an Bord Gáis and CIE. Someone seemed to assume that the Bord Gáis site could be handed over to the private sector for buttons. We know the developers on Laganside have coped with detoxifying the site in relation to the Belfast gas industry. Senator Quinn is a fair minded man. However, this is a case where the State sector, exercising its commercial remit in tandem with the Government and the private sector, can drive forward this development.
There are fears that the executive and its chairman will not listen to the voices of the people. Those days are gone. Any executive worthy of the title must take serious note of the community. I have admiration for the work done in Temple Bar. However, I also have reservations. Everyone seems to be very fond of market forces and what happened in Temple Bar was a result of those forces. Ordinary people had property which ballooned in value and many of them sold out.
Many people were forced out.
Not enough account was taken of the needs of ordinary people in Temple Bar. This will not happen in the docklands. The community in Ringsend and the docklands are unique and very determined. No one will talk down to them. One either co-operates with them or this project is going nowhere.
Senator Quinn should recognise the State in the same way that he recognises the private sector as a major player which, potentially, could produce enormous revenue for the Exchequer and the much maligned taxpayer.
Like Senator Quinn, I am opposed to large boards. It might seem a contradiction to suggest increasing the number on this one by two, but where there are so many members it is immaterial.
The Senator is adding to them.
There should be only nine or ten. There will be competing demands on a board this size. I agree with Senator Magner when he says that if the new council set up under the Bill does not take full account of the problems of the local community, the exercise will be a waste of time. It is fundamentally important that account be taken by the new council of the views of local communities as expressed by their partnership organisations.
In the initial task force report, chaired by the Secretary of the Department of the Environment, Mr. Brendan O'Donoghue, reference was made to the fact that almost all representations made to it spoke of the traffic chaos in the area and the urgent need to do something about it to allow the area to work economically and effectively. The first part of my amendment allows for a superintendent from the divisional Garda headquarters or a local area Garda representative to be appointed to the council because there will be a necessity to liaise with them and obtain their views. It is also necessary to have Garda representation on the council because the development is in an area of crime and deprivation. It is necessary for the views and expertise of the Garda authorities who deal with the area to be represented on the council.
From the Second Stage discussion and from studies carried out, it was considered vitally important for the overall regeneration of the area that as many of the local community as possible would be involved in the project from the beginning. As special training or education requirements will need to be identified and a new community college or school is proposed for Sean McDermott Street, it would be desirable to have a representative of the vocational education committee or the principal on the board to deal with the matter of training, education and incorporating the local community. I am sure no principal has been appointed but one soon will be.
There has been a drastic population reduction of 33 per cent in the area in a short time and this is reflected in the task force report. We have not seen figures like that in west Clare and we speak constantly about depopulation and underpopulation in the west. I was flabbergasted when I saw the depopulation which had taken place in this inner city area. It is obvious people moved out because there were no opportunities for them. There was a shift in the pattern of trade, business and commerce which left a residue of people with no opportunities. At the first prospect of new ones, are we to deprive of participation in this new council the people involved in the planning of their education and training to enable them to play a meaningful part? We should not. A case could be made for every group and organisation in Ireland, but priorities must be got right. There is adequate cover in some organisations mentioned for the economic viewpoint to be expressed on the council. However, the council does not adequately reflect the needs of the people of the area to allow them participate fully in this development. As Senator Magner said, if people are not involved in this development, it will be weaker, less effective and dead before it starts.
We are adding to this council every minute. Instead, we should focus on its specific and difficult task.
I have considerable sympathy with Senator Norris's amendment. The wording makes it much more focused for those communities and I ask the Minister of State to examine it sympathetically. Legislation must be clear and if people are to be included for the next ten, 20 or 50 years of the project, they must be clued in from the start. It is sensible that where they devise a form of wording which clearly focuses their business, community and environmental interests in the legislation, it should be examined. None of us has a font of wisdom in terms of legislation. I ask the Minister of State to examine the amendment sympathetically.
I also have sympathy with Senator Quinn's amendments. It might point to the ideological strains in the Government by saying this, but there must be equality between the private and the public sectors. I do not agree with Senator Magner's view. We do not need to be ideologically driven on these matters. Forbairt has a role to play. If there is a substantial role for the public sector, there must be an equal role for the private sector. I ask the Minister of State to examine that as well.
One key issue I ask the Minister of State to address in her response is this. If Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Dublin Tourism are to be added to the council, it should be remembered that a regional structure is already in place, the Dublin Regional Authority. It has not given a proper lead to the four local authorities and other related agencies of which it is comprised. This is an area where it could play a role. We must ask whether this is a regional objective or a Dublin city objective. This has not been addressed by the composition of the council to date.
It is always a pleasure to come to the Seanad to witness the civilised nature of the debate. I congratulate Senators on their achievement in reconciling the irreconcilable. On the one hand, they argue for a slimmed down and efficient council and, on the other, they want to include everyone on it. The debate shows it is difficult to strike the right balance and I am conscious of the needs of a wide range of bodies and organisations.
In framing the composition of the council to be established under section 16, the Bill seeks to strike an appropriate representation and balance between the various interests, including State bodies, semi-State bodies, elected community representatives, unelected community representatives, business and professions. The council's 25 ordinary members will comprise of two representatives of Government Departments, five from specific semi-State bodies, the Dublin City Manager or his nominee, five city councillors, eight persons from among the selections made by various interested organisations prescribed under section 16(5) and four persons with expertise relevant to the authority's work.
Of the 11 amendments in this grouping, I begin with amendment No. 16, which is my own. This is a technical amendment which takes account of the replacement of the Dublin Port and Docks Board by the Dublin Port Company, with effect from earlier this month. I have carefully considered the other amendments tabled for section 16 and was reminded while doing so of the Dáil debate in relation to representation on the council. I explained then that the number of organisations with an interest in the docklands area would make it impossible to give each one a place on the council. If I were to accept all the other amendments tabled for section 16, the council, which is already large at 26, would be increased to well over 30.
However, in order to ensure that the council is as broadly representative as possible, organisations within broad groupings will be prescribed in regulations under section 16(5) and will then be invited to select candidates for appointment to the council. That is the only mechanism that can work. Section 16 (5) has been framed in a manner that will allow a wide range of organisations to be prescribed, including organisations with a purely local focus as well as those with a wider Dublin or national focus. That will reflect the importance of the Dublin docklands area, not just locally but to the city and country as a whole.
For that reason I cannot accept amendment No. 11 from Senator Norris as it would narrow the range of organisations that could be prescribed and therefore narrow the breadth of representation which would be desirable for the council. Senator Norris's amendment No. 19 is related to amendment No. 11 and would involve a radical alteration of the balance of representation which section 16 tries to achieve. In particular, it would mean that representatives of the community organisations in the area would have greater representation on the council than the elected members of Dublin Corporation of the area. Therefore, I cannot agree to this amendment.
In amendments Nos. 12, 13, 14, 15 and 18, Senator Quinn is seeking to remove BGÉ and the ESB from the council and have representation on the council provided for employment creation interests as well as certain education and tourist interests. As BGÉ and ESB are key property holders in the area, they will have a critical role in its regeneration and accordingly I wish to retain their representation on the council. I have no difficulty in principle with the other aspects of Senator Quinn's amendments in so far as he seeks to have certain employment creation, education and tourism interests nominated to the council. The only practical way to provide this is through section 16(5), under which organisations can be prescribed for selecting candidates for appointment to the council. When making regulations for this purpose I assure the House that I will endeavour to ensure that all interests covered by Senator Quinn's amendments will be catered for and will do likewise for the interests which amendment No. 17 is concerned with.
I do not accept the Minister of State's reply, although I am sure it is not intended to mislead the House. She says my amendment narrows interest but I feel it focuses interest on precisely the area in which we all want to see people involved. This is traditionally a deprived area with high rates of unemployment. In some recent developments jobs were created, but not for people in the area, which is true of the Irish Financial Services Centre. If I were a long-term unemployed resident who found a lot of money was being spent on the financial services centre but that not even the menial posts were going to the local community, I would not find that encouraging but provocative. My amendments are intended, at their request, to focus on those organisations and groups.
In relation to having as many or more local community representatives than elected local government members, so what? Those local government members have their say in Dublin City Council, which is an appropriate forum. I would not exclude them because of their political appointment, but putting them on the board merely because they are elected representatives may not be necessary. If there was an equal or greater number of local community representatives, is that not local democracy at work? What are we afraid of? Those in these organisations, with whom I have worked over a number of years, are persons for whom I, and no doubt also the Minister of State, have the greatest possible respect.
I was amused to see the Provost of Trinity College inserted. I was not approached on this by Trinity, but then I am rarely approached by the college. On occasion I have made it my business to contact them and be briefed on matters concerning them. The universities should be more alert to the fact that they have the privilege of representation in the House. I do not represent the board of Trinity College or the University of Dublin. I represent the graduates of that college and am proud to do so, but the board and officers of Trinity College would be well advised to alert themselves to the fact that they have a unique channel to the democratic process which they do not use half enough.
I am glad Senator Quinn put this amendment down, and in a sense it demonstrates the welcome co-operation in many areas between the two university systems. Senator Quinn, coming from the business community, made a cogent argument about campus industry which shows the substance in that issue. I was surprised at Senator Magner's contribution; I usually agree with him, flagging myself as a champagne socialist. There is more socialism than champagne about me these days, but perhaps circumstances will change.
Senator Quinn was not arguing on ideological grounds when he stated that Bord Gáis had a property holding which was not just inert but contaminated, so that they represented the past. What he wanted to do was introduce energy there. He mentioned CIÉ. It is not yet private enterprise, nor is Forbairt or the IDA. Its interest is to introduce industry and energy to this area. Perhaps Senator Magner got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning because I found no strong ideological content in Senator Quinn's contribution.
The Minister of State should reconsider amendments Nos. 11 and 19 on the basis that the argument I made was not narrowing but focusing. I am glad the argument was taken up on the Government benches and appeared to be accepted by a Government representative.
I hope the Minister will accept some of these amendments. The proposal of a Government amendment means the Bill will be amended in the Seanad. There is no technical difficulty getting it through without amendment so the Bill will have to be referred back to the Dáil. We will not reach Final Stage of the Bill today so there will inevitably be a break between Second Stage, Committee Stage and Report Stage. We will have a sos between 1 o'clock and 2 and we will then proceed to other matters. There may be an opportunity for the Minister of State to consult with her senior colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Howlin, in the meantime so she that can convey our views. I await advice from the Leas-Chathaoirleach on whether I am correct in thinking it is technically unlikely that the Bill will go through all Stages today.
I urge the Minister to rethink amendment No. 11. I am not inclined to be prissy about the wording of the amendment. If she feels the exact wording does not suit the Government, I have no objection to slight changes and it being proposed as a Government amendment. I am not trying to score points against the Government by forcing amendments through. I will not put the amendment to a vote this morning because I want to reserve the opportunity to resubmit it on Report Stage, by which time we will have marshalled our troops.
The Minister of State knows there is no increase in numbers involved in these amendments. The number is not being changed from 25. Any suggestions about who should be represented on the council does not necessarily involve an addition to the numbers. The number is settled at 25. In my amendment No. 17, one representative could represent CIE, Bord Gáis Éireann and the ESB. It would be simple and sensible to include the provision that one nominee would represent the three semi-State bodies. I am sure a person on the council could represent the views of their colleague. This is an important board and it is not fair to the other people who wish to be represented on it that semi-State bodies who already have property in the area should have nominees on the board. There could be a huge conflict. It would be far better for one person to represent the three bodies involved. The same could apply to Departments.
It appears that the original memo on this Bill was circulated to Departments and each Department replied they were happy with the contents of the Bill provided someone represented them on the council. Arising from that, the Government decided Departments and the city manager would be represented.
Membership of the council is heavily weighted in favour of semi-State bodies, Departments and local authorities to the detriment of local communities and bodies such as the vocational education committees or the Garda authorities, which are the subject of my amendment No. 17. I am prepared to press that amendment because it can be accommodated without changing the overall numbers by allowing one person to represent the three semi-State bodies. There will be two vacancies which can be given to those bodies mentioned in my amendment.
Despite the Minister's response, I remain in sympathy with everything my colleagues have said. There are a few points the Minister may wish to consider. First, we should not get hung up about the numbers on the council, although 25 is a large number. In my experience, the quality of the chairperson determines how effectively any number of people function. I have seen boards consisting of five members chaired appallingly with discussions ending up in shambles. I have also seen groups of 50 or more extremely well chaired because the chairperson knew their business. The Minister can choose the chairperson and if the proper one is selected the numbers should not be a decisive criterion.
Second, looking at the functions of council, the key body seems to be the executive board. The executive board is fixed at seven people who will also be selected by the Minister. The council makes recommendations to the executive board — it does not issue instructions.De facto, we all know that where there is an executive board on the council of any body, it is, in effect, the executive board which makes the running most of the time, unless there are major ideological, financial or personal issues involved.
If we are concerned about efficiency of operation, the size of the council is not necessarily a key determinant if the proper chairperson is selected. It is more important to get on board those who have a legitimate interest in the area, to ensure a positive attitude towards the functions of council than it is to worry whether the number is 25 or more. The recommendations as to who should be on the board are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I was also taken aback at Senator Magner's interjection concerning ideology. I did not think Senator Quinn's contribution was ideological. As Senator Norris said, the fact that Trinity College does not consult him may be the highest testimony of Trinity's judgment of these matters, and therefore a stronger argument for including it on this board.
The impact of Senator Quinn's proposal would be the substitution, in two cases at least, of one State body for another. I do not mind if there are substitutions. It is proposed to substitute private enterprise for State enterprise, for example, substituting Forbairt and the IDA for Bord Gáis and the ESB. I do not see why they should be mutually exclusive. If Bord Gáis and the ESB are legitimate stakeholders in property it may be wise to keep them on board.
I agree with the general thrust of Senator Quinn's reasoning that one should look at the future. What is the purpose of this Bill? What are these individuals to do? Whom are they to represent? The constant balance of the functions of representation and performance should be kept in mind.
Senator Daly has made a strong case for the educational provision. One of the purposes of the Bill is to promote the provision of educational and training opportunities. The educational and training institutions in that area should be represented effectively. He has also made a strong argument in favour of Garda representation. If the purpose of the Bill is social as well as economic regeneration and if crime is such a major problem in that area, it is essential that the gardaí should be represented on the council. It may also be useful for the gardaí to hear the viewpoints of representatives of a wide range of business and residential interests.
I was impressed by the Minister of State's words but not by her actions. She said the right things but apparently has not acted on them. I agree with Senator Norris that this debate has been useful and I hope the Minister of State will think about what has been said and take it into account on Report Stage. She said she will not accept amendments on this Stage.
I wish to correct Senator Magner. My proposal that the seats of Bord Gáis and the ESB be given to Forbairt and IDA Ireland respectively was not ideologically based. The proposal looked to the future rather than the past. The drafting of this Bill has not been sufficiently well thought out. If it was, it would accept that the future is in the hands of those who will make this venture a success and not in the hands of those who happened to own the land in the past. Bord Gáis might own a large amount of property in the area but it is not that body's job to get involved in property development. It has enough need for its money. It is its job to ensure it gets the best value for its land before getting out. However, it is important that CIE remain on the council. There was nothing ideological in my suggestion that IDA, Forbairt and CIE have seats on the council.
The suggestion that one member be an officer of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment also related to the mindset of the council. If Departments are to be represented by two civil servants it would be wrong not to take the future into account, and the future will be enterprise and employment. If titles or tags will be accorded to members of the council, I urge the Minister of State to take that amendment on board. If five semi-State companies are to be represented on the council, IDA and Forbairt are more sensible inclusions than representatives of bodies who were involved in the past.
I am concerned about the absence of representation for the Chamber of Commerce and the tourism sector. The Minister of State said they would be asked to nominate members, but I understand the Chamber of Commerce will not have the right to nominate a member. Perhaps she will clarify this matter. A case can be made for the involvement of Trinity College. It is the focus of that area and opportunities for job creation will be linked to the campus companies established there. It would be a shame if Trinity College was not given the opportunity to become involved.
The future of this area, which is as big as the Phoenix Park, will not succeed unless a definite effort is made in the tourism and leisure areas. They will be crucial. Senator Norris made a persuasive case for local community involvement. I hope the Minister of State will listen to and study the many points made in this regard and, on Report Stage, I hope she will take them into account and solve this conundrum. On the one hand we say the council will be too big, but on the other hand we are asking her to add more places. Resolving that conundrum is her task and she is capable of handling it. I hope she will return on Report Stage with solutions to the riddles facing us. The Bill will be improved for it. It must be brought before the Dáil again for approval of Government amendments, so she has the opportunity to put down further amendments on Report Stage which will satisfy most, if not all, the concerns expressed today.
This formula was devised after great thought and consideration. It is difficult to have a perfect solution and I appreciate the goodwill of Senators in their approach to constituting a council. However, the balance in the Bill is the best balance. The mechanism whereby community organisations can have an involvement at council level is also the best mechanism.
The role of organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce has been acknowledged and will be prescribed in regulations. The geographic area involved is large and bodies such as the ESB and BGE are major landowners there. They are pivotal to the success of the authority. While the proposals being put forward are intended to be helpful, I believe this is the only practical way of forming an authority and ensuring a balance among community organisations, State bodies, semi-State bodies and democratically elected representatives. Community groups have an important role, but public representatives have a democratic mandate and they must have a significant part on a council such as this on foot of that mandate. It is important to underpin that principle. It certainly reflects the view of the Government with regard to the local government reform programme that was launched before Christmas.
A number of sections in the Bill refer to job creation and its linkage with local communities. This concept is so important that I commissioned a major review of urban renewal designation. Social renewal as well as urban design and financial implications are central to the review. The principles underpinning this Bill conform with the expressions of concern voiced by Senators. We might have slightly different perspectives on the matter, but at heart there is no great difference in our approaches.
We have arrived at a formula which I believe is the best available. We must ensure we are as comprehensive as possible when prescribing organisations in the regulations. It may be the case, as Senator Norris suggested, that certain organisations would not fit into the definition. We will have to ensure they were not excluded and we will have that flexibility. The mechanism and balance we have devised are the best.
I move amendment No. 17:
In page 13, between lines 33 and 34, to insert the following paragraphs:
"(g) The Superintendent of the Garda Síochána for the Garda Divisional HQ for the area shall be so appointed,
(h) the Principal of the new Community College or a person nominated by the Dublin City Vocational Education Authority shall be so appointed.".
I did not receive a satisfactory assurance from the Minister of State about the principle of having the Garda authorities or the CDVEC represented on the council. I ask her to cast her mind back to the initial task force study. Each and every one of the organisations to whom they spoke concluded from their own observations that there were serious problems as regards policing and traffic management. While that can be managed and processed outside the area, the participation by the community college that is being established there is critical to the availability of courses to train people for positions that will become available within the centre itself. It is essential for the Minister of State to address this. Unless she can give me some assurance that she will look favourably at it before the next Stage, I will have no option but to press the amendment.
The Senator has been given quite a degree of latitude because amendment No. 17 has been discussed with the earlier amendment.
It is a very serious critical matter.
I do not know whether the Garda will have any time to spare if you go for zero tolerance. I have made it clear that this particular formula is the correct one. We have worked out representation and balance in the make up I described when I first spoke on this. It is not possible to change it without creating problems down the line. Much as I accept the points that have been made by the Senator, I do not think it would be the correct option to change this format.
It could be changed very easily, as I suggested, by having one nominee to represent the three semi-State bodies, which would leave two vacancies.
I honestly do not think that is practical when you are talking about the extent of ownership in relation to the semi-States.
Yes, one individual representing the three semi-State bodies.
The Senator is talking about semi-States that actually own land in the area. Obviously, one representative cannot represent another semi-State so I really do not think that is a practical option.
The former ESB generating station there is an arts and crafts place for small businesses. I am not sure they have any major involvement in the whole area, which covers 1,300 acres. It is going beyond the bounds of common sense to propose that a semi-State should have somebody on the council because it has an individual site in that vast area. It would be far better to have one nominee who would be appointed by the Minister to represent the three semi-State bodies involved.
I think I have made my position clear, but I must inform the Senator that approximately 500 acres are owned by these semi-States.
We are talking about a sizeable proportion of the entire area which covers approximately 1,300 acres. The Senator is talking about common sense, but I do not believe that what he is proposing is a practical proposition. I simply cannot accept it.
In my personal view it would be far better to have none of them represented on it, but personal views are not being expressed here. The reality is that nothing will be done by an authority if everybody who has a few acres here and there is represented on it. The Minister of State has decided on the concept, but I think it could be adjusted to take into account important areas like policing, which the Minister of State knows from her own experience is a serious problem. The Minister of State also knows there are serious problems in regard to the availability of young people for meaningful jobs when this development takes place. In that regard, I have further amendments which I will certainly press later.
In relation to this amendment, it is critical for the council to have a person to represent the vocational education committee or the community schools in the area. It is far more important for them to be mentioned.
The time has come to put the question. Will the Senator formally move the amendment?
I moved it already. I moved both amendments.
Does the Senator wish to press the amendment?
Yes, unless I can get some assurance from the Minister of State that she will take it seriously before Report Stage.
We have debated the matter fully. Does the Senator wish to press the amendment?
- Bohan, Eddie.
- Byrne, Seán.
- Daly, Brendan.
- Dardis, John.
- Fahey, Frank.
- Fitzgerald, Tom.
- Henry, Mary.
- Kelleher, Billy.
- Kiely, Dan.
- Kiely, Rory.
- Lanigan, Mick.
- Lydon, Don.
- McGennis, Marian.
- McGowan, Paddy.
- Norris, David.
- O'Brien, Francis.
- O'Kennedy, Michael.
- Ormonde, Ann.
- Quinn, Feargal.
- Wright, G. V.
- Belton, Louis J.
- Burke, Paddy.
- Calnan, Michael.
- Cashin, Bill.
- Daly, Brendan.
- Doyle, Joe.
- Enright, Thomas W.
- Farrelly, John V.
- Gallagher, Ann.
- Hayes, Brian.
- Howard, Michael.
- McAughtry, Sam.
- McDonagh, Jarlath.
- Magner, Pat.
- Maloney, Seán.
- Manning, Maurice.
- Neville, Daniel.
- O'Sullivan, Jan.
- Reynolds, Gerry.
- Ross, Shane P.N.
- Sherlock, Joe.
- Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
- Townsend, Jim.
- Wall, Jack.