Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 21 Oct 1997

Vol. 481 No. 7

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 4, motion re Standing Order 91, No. 5, motion re referral of Taxes Consolidation Bill, 1997, to Standing Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, No. 1, Arbitration (International Commercial) Bill, 1997, Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, and No. 7, Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Bill, 1997, Second Stage (resumed). It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 4 and 5 shall be decided without debate.

Private Members' Business shall be No. 15, motion re public service pensions.

Is the proposal regarding Nos. 4 and 5 agreed to?

I wish to put a question.

It is not in order to put a question until we reach the Order of Business.

At that stage the Order of Business will be already agreed. I wish to ask a question before the Order of Business is agreed to.

It is not in order to ask a question at this stage.

I do not wish to come into conflict with you, Sir, and I will be guided by you. However, there is a question I must ask the Taoiseach and I intend to ask it. It is germane to my personal integrity.

Such a question does not arise on the Order of Business.

Then I cannot agree to the Order of Business.

Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

It would be helpful if the Chair would allow me to put the question.

No. The question to which the Deputy refers does not arise on the Order of Business. There must be other ways to raise the matter.

Does the Taoiseach——

I must put the question to the House. The Deputy is not in order.

The Taoiseach made statements outside the House affecting my integrity which he knows are false.

That matter is out of order at this stage. I will proceed to put the question.

On a point of order——

I ask the Taoiseach to withdraw those remarks.

Is the proposal regarding Nos. 4 and 5 agreed to?

On a point of order——

Is the proposal regarding Nos. 4 and 5 agreed to?

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 58.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Blaney, Harry.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Matt.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Foley, Denis.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Séamus.
  • Kitt, Michael.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McGennis, Marian.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moffatt, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O'Donnell, Liz.
  • O'Flynn, Noel.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Batt.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G.V.


  • Ahearn, Theresa.
  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Belton, Louis.
  • Bradford, Paul.
  • Broughan, Thomas.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Carey, Donal.
  • Cosgrave, Michael.
  • Coveney, Hugh.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Farrelly, John.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Éamon.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McDowell, Derek.
  • McGahon, Brendan.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Gay.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghin.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • Penrose, William.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerard.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Wall, Jack.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brennan and Callely; Níl, Deputies Barrett and Sheehan.
Question declared carried.

Does the Taoiseach propose to make a statement in the House on suggestions he made about named Members who he suggested might have leaked Government documents, in particular the references he made to me by name? Does the Taoiseach accept that I did not leak any Government documents, did not authorise anyone to do so and, in the case of the documents referred to, could not have done so because I left my copies of these documents in the Department and they are now in his possession, not mine?

This matter is out of order on the Order of Business, but I will allow the Taoiseach to comment briefly. There cannot be a discussion or debate on this matter.

I thank you, a Cheann Comhairle, for allowing me to comment. I noted what Deputy John Bruton said outside the House on what I said on this matter and it is incorrect. There are no grounds for me to withdraw what I said about anything which has arisen from this controversy. I would like to state what I said rather than what people imagine I said. I made three comments on this matter.

The first was on Thursday night when I said: "Only a few people see the documents. I do, as Taoiseach, and the previous Taoiseach also received a document. Perhaps the previous Taoiseach can explain that". I have nothing to withdraw there.


Then I stated: "Very few people received the document. I did not receive the document last January. Those senior people who were in office at that stage received the document. Deputy Bruton said he received a document and I am sure he would clarify the truth to the country as to whether it was him".

Deputy Bruton then made a statement and, as soon as he had made the statement, I said that if Deputy Bruton said he did not do it, then, naturally enough, I would accept that. These documents are very restricted.

I received a letter yesterday from Deputy Bruton to which I intend to reply. I received it just before 6 p.m. but it was referred to on the 6 o'clock news before I got a chance to read it. In the letter, Deputy Bruton states he did not take any documents from the Department and I readily confirm that when I checked it that was the case.

Why did the Taoiseach not check that before he attacked me in public?

Did the Taoiseach leak it himself? He knows quite a bit about it.

Order, please.

Deputy Bruton asked me to reply and I would like to do so. The Deputy points out that I should have had time in the five days to check the files with the staff in my Department, that if I had done so, I would have found out that he did not take any green books with him when he left office, nor did any of my staff. Furthermore, I would have discovered that it was his practice to return all such reports, when read, to his officials. In reply to the letter which I intend sending to Deputy Bruton, I will make it absolutely clear that he did not take any documents out. However, I will not agree with the second part of his letter, that none of his staff did.

Is there any other matter on the Order of Business. I have ruled that we cannot have a discussion on this matter. It is completely out of order.

Is the Taoiseach suggesting members of my staff may have been responsible for the leaks?

No, I am not suggesting that. Deputy Bruton asked me——

What is the Taoiseach trying to suggest?

I am answering the letter, Deputy Dukes.

Why is the Taoiseach calling people's character into question?

There is no problem with calling people's character into question. I have been waiting three weeks for Deputy Bruton to withdraw baseless allegations he made against me. Deputy Bruton asked me a question in a letter and I am prepared to answer but there are other matters about which I am not making any allegations.

The Taoiseach implied Fine Gael leaked the documents.

I did not.

A member of the Deputy's staff took documents away. That is a fact.

Will you please allow the Taoiseach to continue?

In relation to other matters that were raised, when I gave confidential information it was based on a letter that is now in the public domain, so there is no need for Deputy Barrett to raise those issues. Deputy Bruton has asked me a question and I will answer it in so far as it relates to him. He did not take the documents. I will convey the information within my Department to him in my letter. However, it is a matter for Deputy Bruton or the Garda to follow up all of these matters. I am sure they will interview many of us in this House. They might interview me. They have already interviewed my officials. I am not making any allegations but I am stating that what Deputy Bruton said in his letter about none of his staff being involved, is not correct. That is all I am stating.

I cannot allow the matter to continue any further. We have had a brief discussion on it.

Let me say that I——

Will the Deputy resume his seat while the Chair is speaking? We cannot allow this matter to be discussed any further on the Order of Business.

It would be improper to stop this.

I will allow one final short supplementary question, and that is all.

I appreciate the Taoiseach has said he accepts that I was not involved in any leaking and that I would not authorise it.

He did not say that.

I also appreciate that he is not making any accusation against officials who worked for me. Will he reconsider whether it was wise or proper of him, therefore, to have named me in the context of the leaks in his first intervention on that subject? Would he not agree that by naming me he was being grossly unfair, given that he has now had to admit there is no evidence to suggest I was involved?

The Deputy should get his facts right before he starts writing letters.

A final intervention by the Taoiseach.

I would not accept that because I took the view that Deputy Bruton was quite happy to use the leaks in allegations against a candidate.

And still is.

Four days had passed and he stated nothing publicly. For that reason I think it is quite fair.

I did not refer to the leaks. My only comments related to Mr. Adams' endorsement of Mary McAleese. I did not rely on the leaks in any comments I made. The Taoiseach is entirely wrong and unjust in suggesting that my comments on this matter were in any way related to the leaks.

Go check with your staff.

Will Deputy Bruton please resume his seat?

The Taoiseach should be a man and apologise. Does he accept that now? Why did he not accept it ten seconds ago?

I will suspend this sitting for 15 minutes because there is gross disorder.

Sitting suspended at 4.50 p.m. and resumed at 5.05 p.m.

We will resume on matters arising out of the Order of Business.

Does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation to provide for an additional referendum on Cabinet confidentiality when this referendum is completed?

There is no such proposal. During the course of the debate on the present referendum I made a commitment to Deputies Howlin, O'Malley, Lenihan and O'Keeffe that within the context of the constitutional review committee and following the completion of the tribunals, we would look further at this matter to ascertain if issues are still outstanding. During the debate in the House nobody proved that there were such issues.

What action do the parties in Government propose to take to communicate their position on the referendum and to ensure that there will be a satisfactory outcome?

The Deputy's party has tabled a detailed question on that for tomorrow. Under the new regulations, the case for and against are being drafted at present and will be ready shortly.

Has responsibility for drawing up the case for and against been given exclusively to the Progressive Democrats, or will Fianna Fáil have a role?

When does the Taoiseach propose to introduce legislation to end the unfair tax treatment of cohabiting couples with children, as promised on page 15 of the programme for Government and as recommended by the Commission on the Family and the tax and welfare integration group?

The next Finance Bill will address the taxation issues.

Will the Taoiseach accept that it is my intention and the intention of my party to ensure that every co-operation is given to the Garda inquiry to ensure that no leaks take place? I have checked with my staff who left office with me and they have assured me that none of them took any of the green books with them.

We cannot have further discussion on that matter.

I have no doubt that the Deputy will co-operate fully with the Garda. The gardaí interviewing people on my staff and within my Department are dealing with these issues. I am blaming nobody.

A Deputy

You did.

I have no idea who leaked these matters. It is a criminal offence. I hope the gardaí will be able to resolve the issue. It would be of great benefit if they could do so. I will reply confidentially to Deputy Bruton. The matter rests there, as far as I am concerned.

Will the Taoiseach indicate when the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill will be published? Go mbeadh suim ag roinnt mhaith daoine le Gaeilge sa Bhille seo chomh mhaith. There was reference in the programme for Government to an ombudsman for Irish speakers. Is this part of the additional remit of the Ombudsman or will a separate ombudsman be established for that role?

Legislation is due early next year and the matter will be looked at at that stage.

Has the Government decided on the date for the next local government elections?

A decision has not been made on that.

Will the Taoiseach make time available today or tomorrow to allow the Minister for the Environment and Local Government to make a public apology for his disgraceful conduct in Galway on Sunday evening?

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business. I am calling Deputy Joe Higgins.

It is unacceptable that a Deputy assaulted a respected member of RTE.

There were scenes reminiscent of the 1980s.

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business. The Deputy is completely out of order. Will he resume his seat? Deputy Joe Higgins has the floor.


Will the Taoiseach confirm that a file has been sent to the DPP?

(Dublin West): Does the Taoiseach acknowledge that even cursory public debate has shown that the proposed referendum on Cabinet secrecy is wholly unsatisfactory, will facilitate cover-ups rather than——

We cannot discuss that; the matter is out of order.

(Dublin West): It is proposed legislation.

It is not. The Deputy should ask a question that is in order.

Matters have gone full circle when Deputy Joe Higgins agrees with Michael McDowell.

(Dublin West): Will the Taoiseach recognise the situation and introduce procedures to postpone the referendum?

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business.

This matter was looked at by the previous Government and this Government. Some of the most eminent members of the legal profession drew up what was believed to be a satisfactory amendment. Some of the comments made are totally wrong. People should look at the good work done in this House in the passage of that Bill and strongly support the amendment. A great deal of what has been said outside the House is wrong.

A slap for Michael McDowell.

In view of the horrific evidence which emerged in a recent court case of sexual abuse of children in residential care, and the recent decision by the DPP not to prosecute anybody in connection with the Goldenbridge case, when is it proposed to introduce legislation to establish an independent inspectorate of child care? Will that legislation be introduced before Christmas? It would offer some protection to children in care on an ongoing basis.

Proposals have been prepared for Government on child care legislation. However, it will be some time before the legislation is ready.

When the Taoiseach described the leaks from the Department of Justice as a criminal offence, surely he meant it was national sabotage. Is he aware that people in the North of Ireland who have been very useful to the Department of Foreign Affairs over the years are seriously concerned——

That matter does not arise on the Order of Business. Will the Deputy please resume his seat as he is out of order?


This is a very serious matter.

The Taoiseach is as concerned about it as the Deputy is.

The Deputy should not try to circumvent the Chair in that manner. I was very liberal in allowing the Deputy ask another question.

This is a very serious matter.

If it is a serious matter it should be raised in a serious manner.

Will the Taoiseach confirm a report in today's Irish Independent that it is now the intention of the Government to introduce a new employment equality Bill which will exclude those with disabilities from equality in employment? I warn the Taoiseach that any employment legislation which does not give equality to all will not be accepted by this side of the House.

The legislation is being prepared. I did not see any such newspaper report, but if there was one it was incorrect.

I will take a final question from Deputy Shortall.

What legislation does the Taoiseach propose to introduce to establish a school attendance service on a proper footing?

I answered that question last week. The legislation is due about the middle of 1998.