I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 to 18, inclusive, together.
My next meeting with the Social Affairs Commissioner has not yet been planned. The last time I met the Commissioner was on 23 December 1998, as I have already informed the House. I forwarded a copy of the motion passed by Dáil Éireann on 10 February 1999 to the Commissioner with a covering letter, which I will read to the House together with the reply I received from Commissioner Flynn.
I have no specific plans to meet Commissioner Flynn in Brussels tomorrow when I understand he is due to return from the USA. If the opportunity arises, I will certainly take advantage of the occasion, as I always do, to meet him and discuss the major issues on the agenda at the moment.
I will read the two letters to the House, the first of which is from me to the Commissioner:
11 February 1999
I wish to bring to your attention the following motion passed by Dáil Éreann last night, Wednesday, 10 February:
That Dáil Éireann
– noting that it has established a tribunal to inquire into allegations concerning the planning process;
– noting the necessity for the tribunal to be allowed to complete its work independently without delay;
calls on the EU Commissioner for Social Affairs, Pádraig Flynn, to make a full, immediate statement clarifying his position in relation to allegations that he received £50,000 while Minister for the Environment in 1989.
I am confident that, without prejudice to your legal rights or the independence of your present position, you will wish to give careful and serious consideration to your response to the formally expressed wishes of Dáil Éireann, as the body which is the democratic voice of the Irish people.
It is signed by me. The reply, which I received in fax form on Wednesday last and in hard copy yesterday, is addressed to me and signed by the Commissioner. It states:
Thank you for conveying to me the text of the Dáil motion of the 10th of February 1999.
I have voluntarily made a statement to the Flood Tribunal last year, many months prior to the recent controversy. Furthermore, I have to date answered all of the Tribunal's questions on this matter, indicating my willingness to co-operate fully with the Tribunal. If and when required by the Tribunal, I will continue to co-operate and provide my evidence on oath, if that be required.
At the outset when my co-operation was sought by the Tribunal, it was requested by the Tribunal Representatives that neither I nor my legal advisers would discuss with, or divulge to, any person the matters discussed with the Tribunal. I so agreed and will continue to abide by that undertaking.
For my part I have to date fully complied with the Tribunal which was after all estab lished by Resolution of the Dáil to investigate issues proper to its remit.
Recent events have demonstrated the inadequacy of public statements when contrasted with the proper and appropriate disclosure, to the Tribunal established for that very purpose, of all the matters which are properly in its terms of reference.
In the circumstances it would be inappropriate to make a public comment on the matter.
In the interim, I thank you and other Members of the House for the positive comments made with regard to my performance of my responsibilities as EU Commissioner. I will continue to fulfil my responsibilities with the fullest commitment and to the best of my ability. I do know that you will appreciate and accept that commitment.
The letter is signed by the Commissioner.