Skip to main content
Normal View

Tuesday, 30 May 2006

National Sports Campus Development Authority Bill 2006: Committee Stage.

I welcome the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy O'Donoghue, and his officials. Today, we will deal with Committee Stage of the National Sports Campus Development Authority Bill 2006. I draw the attention of members to the following printing error on the amendment list: amendment No. 12 should be in the name of Deputy Wall as well as that of the Minister. I understand Deputy Deenihan has not tabled amendments but wishes to raise issues for consideration on Report Stage. While I am happy to facilitate him in airing the issues he wishes to raise on Report Stage, the difficulty is that he may only point out the issues of concern to him, as they cannot be debated or decided on today.

That does not present a problem.

Before we begin, I will introduce the officials from my Department. I am accompanied by Ms Helen Nugent, principal officer, and Ms Orlaith Gleeson, assistant principal officer.

The National Sports Campus Development Authority Bill 2006 provides for the establishment of the National Sports Campus Development Authority, which will succeed, in function and responsibility, the limited company Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Limited, known as CSID, and continue the role of overseeing, planning and developing a sports campus at Abbotstown, which will include the National Aquatic Centre. I have tabled 13 amendments to the draft Bill, dealing with four substantial issues, to which we will come in due course. I look forward to the debate on the Bill, which is of great interest in the House and throughout the country.

Section 1 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, subsection (1), line 18, after "Act" to insert ", unless the context otherwise requires".

This amendment is often included in legislation and is in line with the substantive amendment to section 28, dealing with the definition of a subsidiary of the company.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, line 9, to delete "section 30” and substitute “section 6 or 31”.

This is a technical correcting amendment to confirm that land acquired under section 6 is included in the definition of "site".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 6, subsection (2), line 13, to delete "sections 14 and 15 ” and substitute “sections 14, 15 and 18”.

This amendment provides that in section 2(2) references to a member of staff will not include the chief executive for the purposes of section 18. It provides that the chief executive will be treated in the same way as a member of the authority committee or a director of a subsidiary. It is tied to the substantive amendments to section 18 and sets out the position of the CEO of the authority, if he or she becomes a member of certain political institutions, to which we will come in due course.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 3 to 6, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 7 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with the functions of the authority. I wish to discuss a proposal to add an additional function in subsection (1): "(e) ensure that programmes are targeted at female participitation”. My proposal would have the effect of ensuring girls and women involved in sport would be accommodated in facilities on site and that at all times their treatment would be fair. I hope to move an amendment to this section on Report Stage.

In paragraph (d) it is proposed that the functions of the authority shall be to encourage and promote the use of the sports campus by persons participating in sport at professional and amateur levels and by members of the public generally. I expect the associations of those participating in sport at professional and amateur levels will organise activities for their members but how will the facility be offered for use by the general public? Will it be hit and miss or will the general public be able to use the facilities on a regular basis? Provision in respect of the general public may be more hit and miss than regular in nature. Will that affect the running of the facility?

Section 7 sets out the functions of the authority. Subsection (1) states that those functions include the development of a sports campus on the site, its furnishing and equipment, management, operation and maintenance and the encouragement and promotion of its use by professional and amateur sportspeople and members of the public. It is not the case that the campus will be exclusive and off limits. On the contrary, the authority will encourage and promote its use by everyone. There is no question of exclusivity because the campus facilities are for all.

Deputy Deenihan proposes to bring forward his amendment on Report Stage. As he has given us notice of it, we will work to determine whether it can be accommodated between now and then.

On the commercial aspect of the sports campus, will the National Aquatic Centre will be under the aegis of the new authority or will a private operator be brought in now that Dublin Waterworld is out?

Campus Stadium Ireland Development, CSID, brought a successful suit against Dublin Waterworld in the High Court, which has been appealed by the defendant to the Supreme Court. It was revealed in the course of the case that there was an assignment of the lease to a private individual about which Campus Stadium Ireland Development Limited, not having been informed of the matter, knew nothing. In any event, the national sports campus development authority will manage both the new campus and the aquatic centre. The question of whether the authority will run the aquatic centre as a going concern will have to be considered. I am coming to the conclusion that it would be best if the authority ran its own business and did not seek to employ others to run its affairs for it, unless the latter is absolutely necessary. CSID will cease to exist when the national sports campus development authority, NSCDA, is established. The functions hitherto exercised by CSID will in future be exercised by NSCDA in accordance with its statutory remit under the legislation.

I agree with the Minister on that approach. It seems certain that Dublin Waterworld, pending the Supreme Court's decision, will no longer be involved in the centre. Is Dublin Waterworld running the centre at present?

I understand that there is a stay on the execution of the High Court's judgment and that until it is lifted, Dublin Waterworld will run the centre. I have been very clear in my strong support of the civil actions that have been taken by CSID against Dublin Waterworld and I maintain that position. It is not for me to make a decision regarding a matter that comes within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. However, as far it is concerned, CSID will fight the case right to the end of the judicial process.

Section 7(2)(a) provides that the development shall include facilities and services of a commercial nature. Will those facilities and services include hotels?

There are no plans for hotels on the site. It must be borne in mind that discussions must take place with the local authority to determine how the entire site should be developed. In that context, members will be aware that consultations have been ongoing with a view to ensuring that we have a proper development plan for the area. I do not want anyone to think we have not been consulting with the local authority because we have been doing so.

Will the Minister ensure that before the new authority takes over management of the aquatic centre, a reputable engineering consultancy such as Kavanagh Mansfield is retained to examine reported structural defects and resolve outstanding issues with the snag lists that were prepared before and after the opening of the centre? It is important for the authority to ensure that any defects in the building for which it assumes responsibility are resolved. I acknowledge that there are arguments in respect of those defects. We should not allow circumstances to develop over two years that would mean the new authority will be obliged to take responsibility for defects that currently exist in the building.

My view is that the building has been surveyed to death. It has been surveyed and resurveyed. I have continually stated that while there have been leaks about leaks, there were no actual leaks. I have also said that the problem with the roof was resolved without any cost to the taxpayer. The aquatic centre is one of the finest of its kind anywhere in the world. It hosted the European short course championships and the Special Olympics and while various media reports about defects were appearing, many thousands of people were enjoying the facilities at Abbotstown. We intend to publish the Kavanagh Mansfield report, which might help to allay Deputies' concerns, shortly.

There is a difference between a survey and a structural engineer's report. While I agree with the Minister that the aquatic centre is a fine facility, I urge him to demonstrate that the building is structurally sound in all its component elements. I appeal to him and his officials to follow through on that and ensure that any defects will be repaired for the sake of the new authority.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 8 stand part of the Bill."

On subsection (3), a proposal by Mr. McManus to make a donation of IR£50 million for the provision of a sports centre was put on hold because of problems that had arisen and Government policy in regard to it. Does this have any bearing on the Abbotstown development, or is that proposal dead in the water?

In February 2000 a sum of €63 million, or IR£50million, was promised by Mr. J. P. McManus in the context of the provision of an 80,000 seat stadium at Abbotstown. There were a number of conditions, including a requirement that a national stadium be located at Abbotstown. In January 2004 the Government decided that Ireland's stadium requirements would be met by the development of the Lansdowne Road stadium. Mr. McManus naturally sought release from the funding commitment because he was anxious that the funds be available for use in other sports-related projects in the State. The Government agreed to facilitate the release of the funds. On 15 July 2004, as the official beneficiary of the donation, the Department of the Taoiseach returned the original letter of assignation to Mr. McManus's bank, thereby irrevocably waiving any right under it. Thus, the assignation was cancelled and has no further effect.

Mr. McManus subsequently made a number of very generous donations to sports interests, especially in the Limerick area. I again take the opportunity of sincerely thanking him for his tremendous generosity. Not only has he been a benefactor of sports projects in the State, he has also been a benefactor of many charitable organisations. I mean it when I say he has, without doubt, been generous beyond all measure.

I join the Minister in acknowledging Mr. McManus's contribution and his continued contribution towards various sports facilities and charitable organisations, especially in the Munster area. We are provided with an opportunity of acknowledging this. I also understand that, if there are proposals at national level, Mr. McManus will be amenable to providing similar support at that level.

I concur with the Minister and Deputy Deenihan and congratulate and thank Mr. McManus on the magnificent work he and his organisation are doing in the Munster region. I heard things about him at certain times which I did not like but, in fairness to him, what he has done seems unreal and is acknowledged. He should be commended for it.

Lest anybody think there is something sinister in what I am saying, I am asking a general question. I, too, recognise what Mr. McManus has done, not alone in the Limerick and Munster area but also nationally. He has used sport for the benefit of the Limerick area through some of the charities he has organised and it has all been for the benefit of the people.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 9, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following:

"(8) Notwithstanding subsections (5) to (7), an ordinary member of the Authority appointed under subsection (2) shall, unless he or she sooner dies, becomes disqualified for, resigns or is removed from office, hold office until the Minister appoints a person to replace that person as such a member of the Authority.”.

This section deals with the membership of the authority and terms and conditions of membership. Members of the authority are appointed for a specific period. It is my intention that this arrangement will continue but with an adjustment to reflect practical considerations to allow the authority to continue its functions without being hindered by the existence of a vacancy. To cover the possibility that there might be a slight delay in appointing a member of the authority, thus leaving a vacancy or a more serious situation with the board acting ultra vires if it continues its work while containing members whose terms have expired, the amendment provides that a member of the authority shall hold office until the day the Minister appoints a replacement, unless he or she dies, resigns, becomes disqualified or is removed. It is based on a similar provision in the Greyhound Industry (Amendment) Act 1993.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 9, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

On subsection (3), which refers to ensuring an equitable balance between men and women in the composition of the authority, I suggest the Minister refer to the Arts Act 2003, in particular section 11(7), which states "Of the members of the Council, not less than 6 of them shall be men and not less than 6 of them shall be women". It is important to enshrine this in legislation. There are no women on the board of Bord na gCon. This flies in the face of the aim of having a gender balance on State boards. At any track in the country there is a 50:50 gender balance, yet there is still no woman on the board. That is a grave injustice to women. I would not want the same to happen in this case. We must stipulate a balance of 50:50 in the Bill. I will be bringing forward an amendment on Report Stage with, I am sure, the total agreement of the Chair.

What is the logic of providing for three, four and five-year periods of membership of the authority?

On Deputy Deenihan's question, it is provided that there shall be an equitable balance between the genders. Government policy is that the target for female membership of State boards is 40%. It is my intention to appoint suitable women to the authority. The Deputy seeks to have this written in stone. We will consider his amendment when it is brought forward.

Regarding Deputy Wall's query, the idea is to ensure a rotation or change of membership. This is regarded as a healthy way to proceed to ensure there will be fresh ideas, fresh thinking and fresh faces on the board from time to time, while at the same time maintaining a level and blend of experience which will be necessary to help the board in its work.

Will it be the case that in the 12th year seven members of the committee will be changed?

I am sure the Deputy knows.

Three multiplied by four is 12 and four multiplied by three is 12.

New people will be appointed each time others leave.

If three leave, three new people will be appointed, and if four leave, four will be appointed.

Subsection (9) provides that a person shall be disqualified for holding and shall cease to hold office as a member of the authority if he or she is adjudged bankrupt or convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty. Is this provision to be found in existing legislation?

Yes. It is a standard provision.

Is it applied vigorously?

To the best of my knowledge, it is.

There were cases mentioned in the media regarding certain agencies but nothing seems to have happened.

It is a standard provision in legislation. Where there is a breach, the Deputy should bring it to the attention of the relevant Minister. I cannot say if it is included in all legislation setting up statutory bodies but I can say it is standard. I have come across it several times.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 10 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 11 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with committees. It is not that I am representing women only but perhaps a committee should be set up to look after their interests. I do not know whether it should be specified in the section that a permanent committee should be established to ensure the interests of female athletes and women involved at an amateur level are looked after at all times. I may consider tabling an amendment to this effect on Report Stage.

Would the same gender equity principle not apply to the committees as to the authority?

Not automatically. It has been Government policy for some time that 40% of the members of State boards should be women. Difficulties are often encountered in finding suitable women to serve on State boards. There is no doubt that where women have served on State boards, they have been excellent. I am amenable to Deputy Deenihan's suggestion, without being in any way patronising, that we look at how best we can involve women in the various committees. I will consider the matter when the Deputy brings forth his amendment on Report Stage.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 12 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 13 stand part of the Bill."

A question arose recently in regard to the chief executive of a State company. Who has the power to appoint or dismiss a chief executive?

It is normally done by the board.

Is a chief executive protected by employment laws?

Like any other contract, a contract of employment is subject to the laws of the land and to interpretation and enforcement by the courts.

Will this apply to the chief executive of the authority?

It applies to all chief executives.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 14 and 15 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 16 stand part of the Bill."

Superannuation is now a major issue in many State companies. Will the pension rights of those already employed by the CSID be transferred to this body?

The Deputy may rest assured that they will.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 17 agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 5 to 9, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 16, subsection (1), line 9, after "subsidiary" to insert ", the Chief Executive".

This section deals, in general, with a situation where an individual associated with the authority becomes a Member of the Oireachtas, European Parliament or a local authority. As drafted, the Bill provides that a member of the authority or a committee or the director of a subsidiary ceases to hold that position, whereas a member of the staff of the authority or a subsidiary is seconded from employment for the duration of his or her membership of the institution in question. The amendment provides that the CEO should stand down from his or her post and not simply be seconded from it, as would any other member of staff. In addition, as a logical consequence, a person who is for the time being entitled to sit in either House of the Oireachtas or on a local authority or who is a Member of the European Parliament will be disqualified from being CEO. Obviously, when he or she no longer falls within either category, the disqualification will not apply. As indicated, the role of CEO is special and not one to which a secondment is appropriate. It is more akin to a member of the authority than a member of staff in this scenario.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 16, subsection (1), line 20, to delete "or a director of a subsidiary" and substitute the following:

", a director of a subsidiary or the Chief Executive".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 16, subsection (1), lines 21 and 22, to delete "or a director of the subsidiary" and substitute the following:

", a director of the subsidiary or the Chief Executive".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 16, subsection (2), lines 37 and 38, to delete "section 13(4) or 15 ” and substitute “section 15 ”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 17, subsection (3), line 1, after "subsidiary" to insert ", the Chief Executive".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 18, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 19 and 20 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 18, subsection (1), line 9, to delete "general administration of the".

This section deals with accountability for the general administration of the authority. However, this is not clarified in the Bill, as drafted. General administration of the authority relates to its workings rather than what it sets out to do. From my reading of the Bill, the authority will only be required to give a detailed reply to an Oireachtas committee on matters such as the number of personnel employed rather than account for its ambitions and the work undertaken by it. The words "general administration" should be omitted. The authority should be required to account for its actions to an Oireachtas committee.

Acceptance of the amendment would have the effect of making the chief executive of the authority answerable to Oireachtas committees on matters relating to the authority rather than the more limited definition of matters relating to the general administration of the authority as provided for. I do not propose to accept the amendment because to do so would place the chief executive in the unacceptable position of having to account to an Oireachtas committee for matters outside his or her area of responsibility. Section 13(3), which sets out the functions and responsibilities of the chief executive, states "The Chief Executive shall carry on, manage and control generally the administration and business of the Authority and shall perform such other functions (if any) as may be determined by the Authority". Thus, the chief executive is responsible for matters relating to the administration of the authority.

Were section 21 to be widened in the manner contemplated by the amendment, it might result in the chief executive being drawn into questioning or expressing before an Oireachtas committee an opinion on Government or ministerial policy on the authority. This would not be appropriate or desirable. The board of the authority is responsible to the Minister for the wider remit of the objectives and operations of the authority. Furthermore, in that regard, the Minister is responsible to the Houses of the Oireachtas and may appear before the relevant committees to account for matters relating to the authority. It is not appropriate, therefore, that the chief executive should be made answerable for the wider remit of the authority.

I accept the Minister's response but may wish to raise the matter again on Report Stage.

More and more responsibility for what is happening in sport, tourism and other areas which fall within the Minister's brief is being given away by the Dáil. As a consequence, we do not have an opportunity to ask questions on the running of State bodies. Acceptance of Deputy Wall's amendment would have ensured accountability to the Dáil in this regard. Parliamentary questions on such matters are regularly disallowed because responsibility rests with such bodies as the Irish Sports Council and so on. When we raise questions in the Dáil on Campus Stadium Ireland, we will be told it is the responsibility of the National Sports Campus Development Authority. This presents us with major difficulties and creates a deficit in accountability to the House. I find it frustrating when asking simple questions to be told the Minister has no responsibility in the matter. I do not know how this problem can be addressed. While I accept the authority will be responsible to the Minister, it will not be directly accountable to the Dáil and we will not be able to get answers to questions on its operations. Has the Minister a view on that?

The Minister of the day has no responsibility for the day-to-day operation of a semi-State agency, board or council under his remit. It is the case, of course, that the Minister is accountable to the Dáil for the overall policy direction which the board, council or agency takes and may be questioned on it. If one tables a parliamentary question on a grant for a given centre or project, the reply will state it is a matter for the authority concerned, because that is a day-to-day matter for the individual authority. I accept Deputy Deenihan's point that this may be frustrating and I found it frustrating when I was in Opposition. If the Deputy had a query in respect of a given matter relating to the new authority to be established under this Bill or any other authority, in my view the authority in question would reply speedily with the information.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 18, between lines 10 and 11, to insert the following subsection:

"(2) The Authority shall be accountable to the Oireachtas and shall give a substantive reply within 7 days to any written question submitted by a member of the Houses of the Oireachtas.".

A frustrating part of a backbencher's life is that questions on State agencies do not come under the remit of the Minister. If the Minister were to accept my amendment, it would set a precedent for other Ministers. Recently the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children set up an agency to facilitate responses to parliamentary questions in the Dáil. I cannot see a reason that something similar should not be done in respect of other agencies. When one tables a question relating to an agency such as Waterways Ireland, Bord na gCon, Tourism Ireland, the reply has reached the point of being a joke because it is to the effect that the Minister bears no responsibility for them. I tabled three such questions on retired greyhounds recently and the Ceann Comhairle sent them back to me. However, I am sure if I had tabled a question on hounds, the questions would have been answered. I have raised the issue again with the Ceann Comhairle.

The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs came before this committee two weeks ago and when we raised the issue of questions on State agencies he asserted that he asks the relevant agencies to supply a written reply to Members. It is logical that the Member should receive a reply. If the Minister takes my amendment on board he will be setting the standard to make the Dáil amenable to backbenchers. It is common sense that if a Member asks a question on a relevant agency, he or she should be entitled to a reply. I hope the Minister, in his wisdom, will be able to accept this amendment.

Deputy Wall is having difficulty finding out who is responsible for retired greyhounds. It would be almost impossible to find out who is responsible for retired politicians — some of whom are every bit as fast.

The impact of the proposed amendment would be to make the authority directly accountable to the Oireachtas, in addition to being accountable to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, who in turn is accountable to the Oireachtas. The further requirement that the authority should give a substantive reply to any written question submitted by a Member of the Houses of the Oireachtas within seven days would impose an untoward administrative burden on what will be a very small organisation. Operational matters such as the period in which replies must be issued by an organisation will be set by the authority itself in its customer charter. In such a document I would expect that due recognition would be given to providing an efficient response to requests for information by balancing it with the need for sensible flexibility, which will allow the organisation to prioritise the various functions for which it is responsible. In any event, the way around the problem which Deputy Wall has mentioned is for me to recommend to the authority that it should include a commitment in its customer charter that it will respond speedily to queries and that in any event a reply should issue within 15 working days. That is sufficient time, provided that the information is available to the authority within the time specified. I think that is an improvement on where we are.

I thank the Minister for that logical response. This should apply to all State agencies. I hope a mechanism will be put in place so that all State agencies must issue replies to Members of the Oireachtas. Obviously I will raise the issue again on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 21 agreed to.
Sections 22 to 24, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 19, line 2, to delete "1958 to 1994" and substitute "1967 to 2005".

This is a technical amendment to correct the reference to the Landlord and Tenant Acts. My colleague, Deputy Wall, picked up on this issue. While we were aware of the issue, I thank Deputy Wall for his alertness.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 25, as amended agreed to.
Section 26 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 27 stand part of the Bill."

What type of public private partnership arrangements are envisaged?

Phase 1 of the sports campus will be provided by means of State resources alone and it is not envisaged that any public private partnership would be involved at this stage. It is envisaged that at later stages of the development, private investors might be amenable to developing assets. For example, it has been suggested on a number of occasions that while certain projects at Abbotstown might not be very attractive to the commercial sector, a sports arena that had the capacity to host different events might be something the private sector would wish to get involved in. Rather than hinder any developments in which the private sector might like to become involved, I think it is better to leave the door ajar to allow it to make proposals on certain developments. If the private sector is willing to consider investing in Abbotstown in order to provide a given facility which the State cannot provide, the public should not be denied such facilities because the private sector is hindered from providing them.

I welcome that. Will the Minister clarify the amount of land that will be in the ownership of the authority and the amount that will be covered by phase 1 of the development? A proposal was submitted to the Minister for a horseracing track on the site. Has he given any consideration to it? Is there room on the site to facilitate such a development?

The Abbotstown site comprises 495 acres. The training zone for professional field sports is 95 acres, the zone for indoor hall sports, amateur field sports and public recreation is 110 acres and a public park for recreation and amenities takes up 115 acres. The zone designated for future development is 158 acres in size. From time to time, suggestions have been made — especially from one source — on the potential use of the site to provide an all-weather horseracing track. We have no proposals for such a track and if we received such a proposal, it would fall to be considered in the context of available land and competing demands. However, Horse Racing Ireland has agreed in the interim to provide funding for the construction of a track at Dundalk. While I do not suggest that a second track would not be successful, we have plans for an elaborate all-weather track at Dundalk that will also incorporate greyhound racing. It will be a significant attraction. We have no specific plans for a horseracing track at Abbotstown.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 20, between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

"(7) A subsidiary of the Company shall be deemed to be a subsidiary formed and established by the Authority under this section but such a subsidiary shall comply with this section and any provision in its memorandum and articles of association that does not so comply shall, to the extent of that non-compliance, be void.".

As members will be aware, legal proceedings are ongoing between CSID and the operators of Dublin Waterworld Limited. In preparation for the possibility of being obliged to assume responsibility for the operation of the centre, CSID established a subsidiary, CSID Operations Limited, earlier this year. Following legal advice from the Office of the Attorney General, I tabled amendment No. 13 to provide that the subsidiary will continue in existence after the establishment of the authority. The subsidiary will be obliged to comply with the requirements of section 28 of the legislation if it is not already in compliance.

Will the subsidiary rather than the new authority, run the centre?

We are providing for the possibility that CSID Operations Limited would take over the running of the centre. It will come under the remit of the authority but may be responsible for the daily operation of the centre. The authority will be umbrella body.

Does the Minister envisage similar subsidiaries running different aspects of the overall campus?

While we have not given that any consideration, it is possible. This is just an operational measure, but it comes under the authority. I have come around to the view that rather than lease these facilities out to the private sector to operational companies, it may be better in many, if not all, instances for the authority to have its own subsidiaries running operations. If we do that, operations will be under our complete control and the risk of untoward occurrences over which we would have no control would be avoided.

Having made that suggestion on Second Stage, I agree with and support the Minister's approach.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 28, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 29 stand part of the Bill."

Is there a limit under which the board need not seek permission from the Minister to borrow money? If the board is required to refer to the Minister for every instance of borrowing, it will not be very efficient. What is the limit up to which the board will be permitted to borrow?

If the authority is funded from the Exchequer, it will not generally need to borrow. However, where it does need to borrow, it will be necessary for the board to notify the Minister. It is perfectly understandable that the Minister for Finance will be interested to know how semi-State bodies are getting on with their finances. To ensure order in the galaxy, it will be necessary for the board to seek permission, irrespective of the amount.

Does the same rule apply to the spending of money by the chief executive?

Day-to-day spending in respect of operational issues will be a matter for the authority and its chief executive.

Provided it has the money to spend.

That is provided it has the consent to borrow or funding from the State where it does not have the consent to borrow.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 20, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:

30.—(1) A conveyance of land under section 7(8) may be by way of a deed of conveyance or transfer, as may be appropriate, or an order (referred to in this section as a “vesting order”) made by the Minister for Agriculture and Food vesting the land concerned in the Authority.

(2) A vesting order shall be in the form prescribed by regulations made by the Minister under this section which he or she is hereby authorised to make and shall have attached thereto a map of the land to which it relates and it shall be expressed and shall operate to vest that land in the Authority for all the estate and interest of the Minister for Agriculture and Food therein but subject to all trusts and equities affecting that land subsisting and capable of being performed.

(3) When a vesting order is made under this section by the Minister for Agriculture and Food in relation to any land, he or she shall cause the order to be sent to the registering authority under the Registration of Title Act 1964 and thereupon the registering authority shall cause the Authority to be registered as owner of that land in accordance with the order."

Section 7(8) provides that land currently owned by the Minister for Agriculture and Food shall be conveyed in whole or in part as the Government directs to the authority and, pending such conveyance, the authority may develop the land. Schedule 1 contains a detailed description of the land at Abbotstown which is owned by the Minister for Agriculture and Food. As it stands, the Bill provides that the transfer from the Minister to the authority shall be by way of conveyance. The amendment provides the option of effecting the transfer by way of vesting order. I include it to provide a second option should a vesting order prove the more effective course of action. The vesting order must be in a form prescribed by regulations by the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 20, subsection (1), lines 18 and 19, to delete all words from and including "by" in line 18 down to and including "compulsorily" in line 19 and substitute the following:

"compulsorily, in accordance with paragraphs 1 to 6 of Schedule 2”.

This amendment is intended to provide clarity. Section 30 provides for the compulsory acquisition of land in a very limited way that relates only to the acquisition of land for access to and from the public road. When an agency is obliged to resort to compulsory acquisition, it is usually the case that other attempts to acquire the land by negotiation or agreement have failed. Should the necessity for the authority to seek the compulsory acquisition of land arise, it is unlikely to be by agreement. Consequently, to make the provision effective, it is necessary to delete the requirement that acquisition be secured by agreement. I refer members to section 6(2), which contains a general power of the authority to acquire, hold or dispose of land or an interest in land.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 30, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 31 to 33, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 34 stand part of the Bill."

I re-emphasise the point that I would be much more comfortable, as would the people appointed to the authority, if we could be satisfied that the National Aquatic Centre was intact and did not contain any defects. There will be a transfer of rights and liabilities. Any issues surrounding the NAC must, therefore, be resolved before it is taken over by the authority. It is only fair that the authority should not be saddled with any of the problems that have affected the NAC. The Minister referred to surveys carried out on the building but a structural engineer's report as detailed as that relating to the 25 m part of the building blown away by the wind was not compiled in respect of the entire structure. Before the authority takes over the NAC, a detailed structural engineer's report should be compiled in respect of the building. I do not believe it would cost a great deal.

Snag lists were prepared before and after the centre opened. I stand open to correction but I understand that the problems listed thereon have not been addressed. It is important that they should be addressed. The NAC is a spectacular building in many ways. I was present when it was opened, however, and I recall seeing buckets placed in certain areas to catch water that was coming from whatever source. All buildings, irrespective of their size, have structural defects when completed. However, the project relating to the centre comprised a large construction site and had to be completed quickly because the Special Olympics World Games were due to be held there. I am not laying blame but people probably rushed when pouring concrete to reinforce certain parts of the structure, etc., and it may not have been given enough time to settle. The Minister has defended the building on numerous occasions but I wonder if he has examined it closely? The media cannot be wrong all the time.

It cannot be right all the time either.

Of course.

If fellows with buckets were present in the centre on the day on which Deputy Deenihan visited, they must have had spades as well.

I was there when the centre opened and I commented to a few people who were with me that it was rather strange that buckets should be laid out to catch dripping water on opening day. I did not need my glasses to see that.

If this goes on, it will emerge that people had umbrellas as well.

I heard that water dripped down onto the Taoiseach's mascara that day.

The centre has been surveyed. There were no leaks of the kind reported. There were, however, certain maintenance problems. In so far as the Deputy's information regarding buckets and so on is concerned, all I can say is that the place has been surveyed on numerous occasions. This is a world-class facility, which thousands of people enjoy every year. It has been host to two major international events. Everyone who used it for those events spoke of it in glowing terms. To allay the Deputy's concerns and to finally put this matter to bed, I must state that Dublin Waterworld, as a result of appealing a High Court case to the Supreme Court, is still on the premises. Given that Dublin Waterworld is still there — I wish that were not the case — we will certainly examine the premises. Better still, we will examine the premises when the new authority takes it over.

Regarding the snag list, I understand that anything contained thereon will be dealt with before the end of this year. The authority can be sued in respect of any right or liability transferred to it. However, the authority can also sue and it can recover and enforce in its own name inasmuch as CSID can do at present. Let nobody be under the illusion that any rights or liabilities will be forgone as a result of the new authority taking over. That will certainly not be the case.

The British Olympic diving team recently used the centre. I understand they left the diving centre because the diving rail collapsed. Perhaps the Minister can confirm whether this is true.

There have been maintenance problems at the centre. If there were no maintenance problems and other issues, I would not have been so supportive of CSID going to the High Court and appealing to the Supreme Court. We will fight this case all the way to the end. Let nobody be under any illusion to the contrary.

In order to protect taxpayers, there should be thorough examination of everything in that building.

What I am trying to emphasise is that the structure has been surveyed.

We are being repetitious at this point.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 35 to 38, inclusive, agreed to.
Schedules 1 and 2 agreed to.
Title agreed to.

I take this opportunity to thank the members of the committee and the Minister and his officials for their co-operation. Does the Minister wish to make any comments?

I thank the Chairman, members and the staff of the committee for the effective and efficient manner in which they dealt with the legislation.

I thank the Minister for being so forthcoming with information and clarification. This has been a good exercise. We were allowed to raise all the issues we deemed important. We will have an opportunity to revisit specific issues on Report Stage and highlight our concerns. The Opposition has also been very accommodating.

I am very glad we were so succinct today and got through this so quickly and efficiently.