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Tuesday, 28 Apr 1998

Vol. 1 No. 4

Business of Select Committee

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Wallace, and his officials. Before proceeding to Committee Stage of the Roads (Amendment) Bill, 1997, the Committee must dispose of two brief items.

Are the minutes as circulated agreed? Agreed. As specified in the minutes and consequent on the decisions made by the Select Committee at its meeting on 2 April 1998, formal submissions were not sought on the Bill, and Committee Stage will be taken today. However, the Marino Development Action Group was invited to submit its views in writing which it has done and these have been circulated to members who undertook to take the views expressed into consideration when dealing with the Bill.

Unfortunately I could not attend the Select Committee's meeting and I notice only four members were present. I have read the action group's submission. This legislation is enabling legislation which is not specific to the port access tunnel, but the group's submission is exclusively focused on that issue. The questions put by the action group to the Committee can more properly be answered by the Department and we should seek to have that done as that would be a more appropriate way to deal with it.

The submission outlines the group's genuine concerns about a proposal that will affect its community. The group realises this Bill is part of that process. On Second Stage it was clear the Bill has general rather than specific application. The Committee should make it clear to the group that we dealt with the Bill on general principles but that the questions it poses regarding the port access tunnel should be directed to the Department. Perhaps the Minister of State would take the submission and the Committee could ask the Department to respond directly on the information sought from the Committee.

We cannot deal with the submission today but we can have another meeting about it.

In that case, can we deal with Committee Stage of the Bill, which is germane to the submission?

That is fine so long as we do not deal with the submission.

The submission is related to Committee Stage of the Bill. If we deal with Committee Stage without reference to the submission, it will appear that the Committee ignored the submission.

This was agreed at the last meeting.

Yes, and I have explained that I could not be present. The Committee decided at that meeting that the action group should be asked to submit its views on the Bill in writing.

Unfortunately, we cannot change what we have already agreed.

The decision of the Committee was to ask the action group to submit its views in writing not later than 21 April. I presume it was the intention of the Committee that its members would have regard to the submission.

Members can have regard to it when putting down amendments. The Committee has already agreed the minutes.

Agreed what?

We have agreed that the submission will not be dealt with at this meeting.

The submission deals specifically with the Bill and makes suggestions on a number of sections. No doubt in the course of our discussion, members will refer to those suggestions in the context of the various sections even though the Committee will not deal with the submission in its entirety.

I intend to raise the group's queries as they relate specifically to this Bill during the Committee Stage debate. However, there should be another meeting to discuss the submission in general and to get a report on the port access tunnel, whether the project is now financially viable, the timescale involved, when the public inquiry will be held and when the environmental impact statement will be available. These are outstanding questions and the Committee could deal with them at a future meeting.

I agree that a future meeting would sort out this problem.

I have no difficulty with that suggestion. My difficulty was that, having invited the submission, the Committee might not deal with it but would deal with the Bill in isolation. The implication would be that the Committee did not have regard to the submission.

The port access tunnel is a separate issue. The Bill is an enabling measure which will have application anywhere in the country. However, we should seek a full response from the Department of the Environment and Local Government on the genuine queries raised in the submission.

That can take place at another meeting.

The points raised by Deputy Haughey are a matter for Dublin Corporation, not the Department. They do not come within the remit of the Department.

Whether the corporation has the money is the responsibility of the Minister.

That is another day's work.