Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 4 Mar 1998

Vol. 488 No. 2

Ceisteanna — Questions. - Agreements with Members.

Dick Spring


2 Mr. Spring asked the Taoiseach if he will place in the Oireachtas Library copies of written agreements, if any, he has entered into with Deputy Healy-Rae in return for the support of that Deputy for the Government. [5515/98]

I have stated on a number of occasions that the Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats Government set out proposals in An Action Programme for the Millennium for increased funding for specific State programmes. The House will be aware that announcements have already been made about a whole range of increases covering education, health, roads, water and sewerage schemes, housing, sport and job creation, among others. This will allow certain programmes to be accelerated which, in turn, will allow certain projects to be brought forward and completed somewhat faster than planned. As I stated, I discussed certain priorities with Deputies who support the Government. In some instances the Deputies shared these priorities with this House and they are on the record of the House in that regard. I do not propose to add anything further to the record of the House or to place various copies of correspondence with Deputies in the Dáil Library.

I reiterate that it is the Government's intention to deal with most of the issues raised by the Deputies in question during the life of this Government. We plan to do this within the parameters of departmental expenditure Estimates.

I am sure the rest of the House will join with me in wishing Deputy Healy-Rae a speedy recovery, certainly not a premature departure. Deputy Spring's request, which I support, is reasonable. It is that a copy be made available of any formal undertakings given by the Taoiseach, as head of Government, to any Deputy in return for that Deputy's support of this Administration. All other things being equal, any of those commitments may provide for the expenditure of public moneys. While some correspondence may be private, will the Taoiseach make available extracts from such private correspondence which relate exclusively to commitments he as Taoiseach, on behalf of the Government, gave by way of policy initiatives or public expenditure undertakings for the constituency of Kerry South?

As I stated previously, Deputy Healy-Rae raised most of the issues here. On one occasion and on last year's Estimates he raised other issues, so there is nothing new. He also put much pressure on me and the Government to find alternative industries for Pretty Polly. Most of the other issues, including roads, sewerage schemes and local authority grants related to the Estimates. I join with Deputy Quinn in wishing him a speedy recovery and I hope he may leave hospital quickly. Primarily, Deputy Healy-Rae writes to me about local authority matters.

Is there an exchange of correspondence between the Taoiseach and the Deputy in question, for whose speedy recovery we all hope, which involves commitments by the Government concerning public expenditure? If such correspondence exists, does the Taoiseach believe it is proper that this House should have access to it and that it should be placed in the Library?

Most of the contacts I have had with Deputy Healy-Rae have been in the lobbies. I had some correspondence with him last summer, primarily on roads and other local authority issues. I have had correspondence with him on issues relating to the Department of the Environment and Local Government. I spoke with Deputy Healy-Rae between the election and the formation of the Government, as I did with other Deputies, and had some correspondence with him. In fairness to the Deputy, most of the issues on which he has given me handwritten notes relate to the local authority and are not issues in which he is trying to change the parameters of public expenditure.

I take from the Taoiseach's replies to my two questions that there are no formal written undertakings signed by the Taoiseach or any member of Government on behalf of the Government committing it to explicit forms of expenditure in the constituency of South Kerry at the request of Deputy Healy-Rae.

In terms of assuring the Deputy, as I would any Deputy to whom I reply, I would do my utmost to convince a Cabinet colleague to assist or ensure something is done. I told the Deputy concerned I would take account of the views he put forward, which he does not do very often. I will do my utmost to ensure something is done. I have influence over some matters but little over others and Deputy Healy-Rae understands that.