It is proposed to take No. 22a, motion re Leave to Introduce Supplementary Estimates – Votes, 3, 14, 34, 41, 42 and 43; No. 22b, motion re Referral of Supplementary Estimates – Votes, 3, 14, 34, 41, 42 and 43 – to Select Committee; and No. 51, Residential Institutions Redress Bill, 2001 – Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) No. 22a and, subject to agreement on No. 22a, No. 22b shall be decided without debate and any division demanded on Nos. 22a and 22b shall be taken forthwith; (2) proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 51 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.45 p.m. today, and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 27 November 2001; (3) the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 4.30 p.m. there shall be no Order of Business, that is, within the meaning of Standing Order 26(2) and 26(3), and accordingly, the following business shall be transacted in the following order: No. 8 Extradition (European Union Conventions) Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, the proceedings on which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m., and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 27 November 2001; and No. 9, Air Navigation and Transport (Indemnities) Bill, 2001 – Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, the proceedings on which shall, if not previously con cluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.30 p.m., and any division demanded thereon shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 27 November 2001.
Order of Business.
There are three proposals to be put to the House. The first is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 22a and 22b without debate. These are the motions concerning Supplementary Estimates. Is the proposal agreed to?
No, I wish to give notice to the House that my party has tabled a motion of censure on Deputy Gildea following his scurrilous and unfounded allegations against my party colleague, the former Minister for Justice, Deputy Owen. Given that the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform sat idly by and allowed these unfounded allegations to be put on record when he knew they were untrue, will the Tánaiste make Government time available today to allow me move this motion on behalf of my party?
These were serious allegations and they are all over the newspapers this morning. Even though they were withdrawn, the adverse effects on Deputy Owen are manifest in this morning's newspapers. It is profoundly unfair that a Deputy should use the privilege of the House to make scurrilous and unfounded allegations and then withdraw them and walk away from any responsibility. So that we have a sense of fair play, I want an opportunity this morning to move the motion on behalf of my party that Deputy Gildea be censured for his behaviour last night.
I was in the House yesterday evening when the scurrilous allegations—
Does the Deputy oppose the proposal?
I support it and I am invoking Standing Orders.
Does the Deputy oppose the proposal on the Order of Business?
I am responding to the Order of Business. Standing Order 162 states:
Any Standing Order or Orders of the Dáil may be suspended or modified...and for a particular purpose, upon motion made after a notice.
That motion would be required to come from the Government. Since the Tánaiste was not present in the Chamber last night, as I and others were, to hear the scurrilous remarks coming from the Government backbencher, Deputy Gildea—
Who wrote his script?
He subsequently consulted in relation to it in the Whips' office with the Minister for State.
The remarks that were made, and which were so ungraciously withdrawn, if withdrawn at all, still stand on the record as we see it because we do not know what the record will show. It is essential that this matter be dealt with as urgently as possible. I ask the Tánaiste, as a Member of a coalition Government whose support is dependent on this Government Independent backbencher, whether she has a comment to make on the failure by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, her Cabinet colleague, to in any way support the office of that ministry. He sat silently in the House and allowed scurrilous remarks to be made about an office holder, remarks which he knew to be patently untrue. Has the Tánaiste raised this matter with the Taoiseach or with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform?
There is clearly a need to treat this matter with urgency. The privilege of this House—
Is the Deputy opposing the proposal?
I am opposing the proposal. The privilege that Members enjoy in this House should not be taken for granted. It should be used with extreme care. When serious allegations are made against a colleague, it is very important that the allegations are followed through and checked out and if unfounded, as seems likely in this case, they should be declared so. The House stands with a cloud over it until the matter is dealt with. This cannot be overlooked and should be dealt with.
As Deputy Quinn said, I was not in the Chamber when these remarks were made. I was at a budget meeting with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance.
A photo call.
The remarks should not have been made. They were unwarranted. I discussed this matter with Deputy Owen last night. The Ceann Comhairle gave a ruling. The Chief Whip, on behalf of the Government, discussed the matter with Deputy Gildea and asked him to withdraw the remarks. He has done so. I regret very much that the privilege that is afforded to Members should be abused in any way and should cause offence to Deputy Owen and her family as this has done. On behalf of the Government, I feel strongly that it should not have hap pened. That is why the Chief Whip communicated that with Deputy Gildea.
The proposal is—
I asked a question.
The debate is—
I asked a question.
The Deputy has contributed to this debate. He cannot make a second contribution. Under Standing Orders there is no facility for a second contribution.
The Ceann Comhairle is trying to bury this one.
If Deputy Noonan has a brief question he may ask it, but without further comment. He may ask a brief direct question.
I asked the Tánaiste to allow Government time today so that I, on behalf of my party, can move a motion of censure against Deputy Gildea which we have tabled. I have no other option. There is no Private Members' time today. This is a matter of grave urgency. Only the Government—
The Deputy has put the question. He should not comment any further.
I am putting the question. The Ceann Comhairle has a responsibility in this also.
The Deputy should withdraw that remark.
The Deputy should not lecture the Chair on its responsibilities. The Chair will do what it has to do. The Deputy will not lecture the Chair.
I am in order and will not be silenced.
The Chair is quite inde pendent in this House and will act independently. I will not be influenced by any Deputy.
I am in order to say that it is a part of the Ceann Comhairle's job to vindicate the rights of Deputies in this House and to protect their reputations.
The Deputy will abide by Standing Orders. The Deputy cannot make up the rules as he goes along.
I am abiding by Standing Orders.
The Deputy is endeavouring to make up new rules as he goes along.
The Ceann Comhairle allowed me to ask a question. I am being orderly. Before I finished my question, the Ceann Comhairle interrupted me. I will not be silenced on this matter.
I gave the Deputy permission to ask a brief question. He asked the question but then he continued with other comments which were repetitive and which he had already made in his first contribution.
There are people thrown out of the House every day of the week for less than making such allegations. What about the allegations?
I specifically asked the Tánaiste if the Government will provide, some time later today and subject to the agreement of the Whips, for a motion of censure to be moved and debated in this House, as suggested by Deputy Noonan.
I will explain the Government position. Deputy Gildea has withdrawn the remarks.
He has not.
It would be a different story if the remarks were not withdrawn, but they were.
Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Byrne, Hugh.Callely, Ivor.
Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Cowen, Brian.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary. Tá–continued
Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G.V.
Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Hayes, Brian.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.
Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.
A Cheann Comhairle—
Before I go to the next proposal, I feel I must respond to the criticism made by Deputy Noonan. The position is that the Chair has to implement Standing Orders.
And protect the reputation of Members.
Yes. The Standing Orders are there to protect the Members and it is up to the Chair to—
It is up to you to protect them.
If Deputies would cease interrupting, I would point out that under Standing Order 26.2, when a proposal is opposed, the Ceann Comhairle shall permit a brief statement from a representative from each party in Opposition. In fact, I allowed two statements from Deputy Noonan when I should only have allowed one. I was then criticised for allowing a second statement, which I should not have allowed. I wish to advise the House that from now on I will comply with these Standing Orders and apply them strictly.
Members should not be allowed to make false allegations.
There will be no discussion on what has been said.
A Cheann Comhairle, may I make a point of order?
No, we are moving on to the next proposal on the Order of Business.
On a point of order—
What is the point of order?
Before Deputy Owen speaks, may I make this point? On reflection, it may very well be that Deputy Gildea did not understand the full enormity of what he alleged.
We are not dealing with that.
But there is no excuse for you, Sir, under-estimating the gravity of the allegation that was made.
The Chair does not accept that.
It ought to be dealt with accordingly and not on the basis of some technical interpretation of Standing Orders.
The Deputy is again making false accusations against the Chair.
It was a mockery of procedure and it ought to be dealt with.
Will the Deputy please resume his seat and allow the Chair to continue?
The Tánaiste has made ungracious remarks.
The Deputy is again in defiance of Standing Orders.
How else can we deal with it?
I have pointed out that if Members are not satisfied there is a way of dealing with it by way of putting down a motion of censure. That is the way to do it.
Why is the Government refusing to allow debate?
That is a matter for the Government or the Opposition if they want to. We will now proceed to the next proposal before the House. Is the proposal for dealing with item 51, Residential Institutions Redress Bill, 2001 – conclusion of Second Stage – agreed to?
On a point of order—
There is a proposal before the House. What is the point of order?
Can I make a point of order, please?
I do not want to speak until you are sitting, otherwise I will be out of order.
Make the point of order.
I was elected to this House in 1981 and in all the years I have been here I have felt – maybe not always as strongly as one could – that the Chair has vindicated the rights of Members. If Standing Orders are to have any meaning whatsoever you must continue that practice as you have been doing, and vindicate the rights of Members of this House. I have been ruined, quite frankly, by the untrue, unfounded allegations made last night. My name has been associated with the word "bribery" in today's newspaper headlines.
The Deputy knows what she should do.
Despite the withdrawal of the allegations by Deputy Gildea, the media naturally are allowed to report anything that is said in the House.
The media should withdraw the allegations.
The only way I can get my good name back is by allowing this motion of censure to be passed.
There is not a scintilla of truth in what Deputy Gildea has said.
I have allowed the Deputy plenty of latitude.
I must ask you to intervene, a Cheann Comhairle, otherwise any Member of this House could make such allegations.
The Deputy should resume her seat and listen to the Chair.
Allegations of bribery and corruption have been made and the role of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and my role, have been called into question.
The Deputy should resume her seat and listen. I have allowed the Deputy to make a statement.
If the matter is not dealt with today every radio station in the country will use it. You have got to protect my name.
When the motion comes before the House the Deputy will have the opportunity.
You have got to protect my name.
The Chair is on its feet.
You have got to protect my name, a Cheann Comhairle.
That is a matter for the House, it is not a matter for the Chair.
You have got to protect my name.
Could the Deputy resume her seat? It is a long standing rule of this House that when allegations, serious or otherwise, are made, the Chair asks the Deputy making the allegations to withdraw them. If the Deputy withdraws them that is the only provision for the Chair.
I have pointed out what it is open to Members to do. The Ceann Comhairle is not a judge and this is not a court of law.
That is not the point.
There is a procedure, however, by way of a motion of censure and that is the way to do it. Let me repeat that the Ceann Comhairle is not a judge and this House is not a court of law.
Only the Government can suspend or change Standing Orders. The person speaking on behalf of the Government is Deputy Harney, as Tánaiste and Leader of the Progressive Democrats. It is in her gift to propose that some time later today, subject to the agreement of the Whips, time will be allocated in which the rights of Deputy Owen could be vindicated. Deputy Gildea, the Government backbencher, could then apologise for the slur that has been put on Deputy Owen's name and for the damage caused by the media reports. I am asking the Tánaiste to use her initiative to give an undertaking that time will be made available later today for a motion of censure to be moved by the Fine Gael Party to allow due and proper redress to be given to a Member of this House. It could be any one of the rest of us and it certainly could be any of the future redundant Ministers on the current Government benches.
I have the utmost respect for the Office of the Ceann Comhairle. I would like it if we could proceed in an orderly way and if the Tánaiste could help us. We have no method of debating this in the House today. We need Government time to move the motion of censure. The damage inflicted on Deputy Owen has been very serious. The false allegations made by Deputy Gildea under privilege are being carried on the national airwaves, but they are also being carried on most of the local radio stations. They are being carried in a manner which gives the impression of truth, even though Deputy Gildea's churlish and technical withdrawal of the allegations is also being mentioned. There is no possibility of our repairing this damage if these false allegations are allowed to be made over the next five or six days without rebuttal. We are putting this proposal to the Tánaiste in the interests of everybody's rights, but particularly in the interests of the good name of a long standing Member of this House, Deputy Owen, and in the interests of the credibility of the Office of the Minister for Justice, Equality, and Law Reform. I am extremely disappointed the current Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform sat there last night with a smirk on his face and allowed allegations to be read into the record which he knew were untrue and did not intervene.
Which he fuelled.
There are often political points made in the House. The Tánaiste is in a position this morning to do something significant to vindicate the rights of all Deputies by allowing one hour today to our party to move a motion of censure and allow it to be dealt with. The Government Whip might succeed in getting Deputy Gildea to make a fulsome apology in the House during that period. He should come in here and be a man. He should not hang outside the railings.
Standing behind the curtains.
He should come into the Chamber.
He should come into the House, be a man and apologise to the injured party. Let us get this done properly today.
It is the same script writer.
It is the Government's responsibility because he is propping up the Government.
The Tánaiste has the opportunity to so direct this morning in the absence of the Taoiseach. I ask her again, on behalf of my party, to make Government time available today.
I said already, on behalf of the Government, that the remarks should not have been made, that they were unwarranted and that the Chief Whip within minutes of the remarks being made spoke to Deputy Gildea and asked him to withdraw them and the remarks were withdrawn. We would be dealing with a different situation if they were not. It behoves anyone covering the events in the Dáil to do so in a balanced and fair way.
Blame the media.
It is late to say that now.
I do not write the newspapers.
The Government should show solidarity.
The Tánaiste, without interruption. I ask Members to cease interrupting.
This is not about politics but about protecting Members of the House.
Deputy, your leader has asked for an answer from the Tánaiste. Please allow her to answer.
There should be solidarity. Everyone should stand together on this issue.
I have already made my views known both here and privately to Deputy Owen.
There should be solidarity. It is not party politics.
This matter should not have occurred. The remarks should not have been made. They are totally unfounded and unwarranted. I cannot be any stronger than that.
Give us an hour.
I have said the Government Chief Whip, on behalf of the Government, spoke to the Deputy in question, who is an Independent Deputy in this House.
Give Deputy Owen a chance.
The Government is afraid he will not prop it up.
The Government is afraid to upset Deputy Gildea and affect the deal.
Is the proposal for dealing with No. 51, conclusion of the Second Stage of the Residential Institutions Redress Bill, 2001, agreed?
Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Briscoe, Ben.Browne, John (Wexford).Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, Mary.Dennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.
Kenneally, Brendan.Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Keeffe, BattO'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G. V.
Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.
Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon. Creed, Michael.
Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John.Hayes, Brian.Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.
Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Jim.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.
Is the proposal for dealing with to-morrow's business agreed to?
The Tánaiste's inactivity on this issue is making the Government complicit in the responsibility for the slur cast on Deputy Owen. We want Deputy Owen's name vindicated today in this House. I again ask the Tánaiste, who is recognised on all sides of this House as a fair minded person, to provide us with time today so that we can move this motion of censure.
I make it very clear, in case there are concerns at Government Whip level, that our motion of censure, which is already lodged in the office, does not attach penalties. We are not asking for a suspension. We are saying the movement of the motion of censure is the penalty.
We also want a platform to allow Deputy Gildea to come back into this House and do more than the technical withdrawal he indulged in last night. This is an extremely serious issue.
While we were speaking here the "Pat Kenny" show, which has a huge audience, played the full tape again of Deputy Gildea's intervention last night. This is extremely damaging to Deputy Owen. It is not sufficient to say we can rectify it in due course. It has to be rectified now. I again ask the Tánaiste to give us time today to do this.
Deputy Gildea has indicated he wishes to comment.
First of all, I would point out that when you requested me to do so last night, I said, "I accept your request and I withdraw the remark." I would like to follow that withdrawal today by saying that I apologise to Deputy Owen and her party—
The Deputy should be ashamed of himself.
Order, please. Let us hear Deputy Gildea without interruption.
—for the hurt caused to Deputy Owen and her party. Thank you, Ceann Comhairle.
Does the Deputy withdraw the contents of the remarks.
He should withdraw the remarks.
The remarks were withdrawn last night.
Deputy Gildea made two interventions last night following the first suspension and the calling for the Ceann Comhairle by the Acting Chairman, Deputy McManus. His first intervention was "Can I continue with my remarks?" It is a matter for Deputy Owen whose reputation has been damaged as to whether she accepts the half apology that we have just heard here.
There is a pattern to this. On Tuesday we had the running through of legislation, yesterday we had the wrong and erroneous accusations from the Taoiseach about my comments and behaviour and today we have the failure by the Government, led today by the Progressive Democrats, to give time for this motion. This time has been given on the airwaves. Notwithstanding what Deputy Gildea said, and he can say it more fulsomely and abjectly, I again make the same request of the Tánaiste. I am supporting Deputy Noonan's request for—
Get the same scriptwriter to write a full apology for Deputy Gildea.
The Tánaiste wishes to speak.
I welcome the fact that Deputy Gildea apologised. I wish that had happened sooner, but I welcome the fact that it has happened. I think it is very significant that he has done so. He has withdrawn the remarks and he has now apologised.
A Ceann Comhairle—
Under the Standing Orders, I cannot allow a second contribution. The Deputy should not defy Standing Orders.
I will not defy them.
The Deputy is doing exactly that.
No, Sir, I merely want to establish if the gravamen of the accusation still stands.
That is another accusation.
It is not acceptable that the gravamen of the accusations should remain on the record of this House. I do not understand the Government's reluctance to deal with it in the manner requested by the Leader of the Fine Gael Party. I suspect the Taoiseach, who I know is opening an office for Senator Dan Kiely in north Kerry—
The Deputy should resume his seat.
—ought to be contacted urgently because this is far more important business where the reputation of a former Minister in the House is being traduced in a fashion that we have not seen before. A simple apology does not dispose of that accusation.
Is the proposal for dealing with tomorrow's business agreed to?
Ahern, Michael.Ahern, Noel.Andrews, David.Ardagh, Seán.Aylward, Liam.Blaney, Harry.Brady, Johnny.Brady, Martin.Brennan, Matt.Brennan, Séamus.Browne, John (Wexford).Callely, Ivor.Carey, Pat.Collins, Michael.Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.Coughlan, MaryDennehy, John.Doherty, Seán.Ellis, John.Fleming, Seán.Flood, Chris.Fox, Mildred.Gildea, Thomas.Hanafin, Mary.Harney, Mary.Haughey, Seán.Healy-Rae, Jackie.Jacob, Joe.Keaveney, Cecilia.Kelleher, Billy.Kenneally, Brendan.
Killeen, Tony.Kirk, Séamus.Lenihan, Conor.McCreevy, Charlie.McDaid, James.McGennis, Marian.McGuinness, John J.Martin, Micheál.Moffatt, Thomas.Moloney, John.Moynihan, Donal.Moynihan, Michael.Ó Cuív, Éamon.O'Dea, Willie.O'Donnell, Liz.O'Keeffe, Batt.O'Kennedy, Michael.O'Malley, Desmond.O'Rourke, Mary.Power, Seán.Roche, Dick.Ryan, Eoin.Smith, Brendan.Smith, Michael.Treacy, Noel.Wade, Eddie.Wallace, Dan.Wallace, Mary.Walsh, Joe.Woods, Michael.Wright, G.V.
Barnes, Monica.Barrett, Seán.Bradford, Paul.Broughan, Thomas P.Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).Bruton, Richard.Burke, Ulick.Carey, Donal.Clune, Deirdre.Connaughton, Paul.Cosgrave, Michael.Coveney, Simon.
Creed, Michael.Currie, Austin.D'Arcy, Michael.Deasy, Austin.Dukes, Alan.Durkan, Bernard.Fitzgerald, Frances.Flanagan, Charles.Gilmore, Éamon.Gormley, John. Hayes, Brian.
Healy, Seamus.Higgins, Joe.Higgins, Michael.Hogan, Philip.Kenny, Enda.McCormack, Pádraic.McDowell, Derek.McGahon, Brendan.McGinley, Dinny.McManus, Liz.Mitchell, Gay.Mitchell, Olivia.Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.Neville, Dan.Noonan, Michael.
O'Keeffe, Jim.O'Shea, Brian.O'Sullivan, Jan.Owen, Nora.Perry, John.Quinn, Ruairí.Rabbitte, Pat.Reynolds, Gerard.Ryan, Seán.Sargent, Trevor.Shortall, Róisín.Stagg, Emmet.Stanton, David.Timmins, Billy.Upton, Mary.
I am very disappointed the Tánaiste did not allocate time to allow me to move a motion of censure on Deputy Gildea. Deputy Gildea's apology in the House was not fulsome and he has not withdrawn the substance of the allegation he made last night, which still stands on the record. Is the Tánaiste aware of a pattern which has emerged since our return from the summer recess whereby, when motions are moved by the Opposition, members of the Government, in particular the Fianna Fáil Party, from the Cabinet down, reply by making malicious, vicious, personalised attacks on members of the Opposition? As the Tánaiste has other duties and is not always present at Private Member's time, she may not be aware of this pattern which is standard practice for her companions in Government. There is also a pattern of Government backbenchers, again in the Fianna Fáil Party, making personalised comments on the record of the House about Deputies on this side of the House, sometimes about their private lives. This happened in Mr. Haughey's time. I suggest to the Tánaiste that there is a dirty tricks department operating in Fianna Fáil—
Come off it. The Deputy really has lost it.
Who wrote Deputy Gildea's speech?
—and that charges are centrally scripted. I do not believe Deputy Gildea's contribution was all his own work. This is a very serious issue and the Tánaiste should be aware of it. Even this morning, Deputy Kelleher, in interchanges across the House, appeared to be making another allegation, this time against the Labour benches. This has developed into a pattern. If the Government continues to tell lies about us, we will start telling the truth about it.
That would be a pleasant change.
That is the way we will respond.
I made no allegation against any Member of this House this morning.
What did the Deputy say about producing letters?
I asked Deputy Rabbitte to forward to us the letter he spoke about several years ago.
Order, please, this is Leader's Questions. Deputy Noonan, without interruption.
We consider the charges made against Deputy Owen last night to be extremely serious. We know and the Tánaiste has accepted that the allegations are totally unfounded. We want time in this House today to move a motion of censure on Deputy Gildea. We can only get that with Government agreement. I am giving the Tánaiste one final opportunity to give it to us. If it is refused again for the fourth time this morning, we will leave the House and take no further part in its proceedings. The Government can have the House to themselves if that is what it wants. We will not stand idly by while the reputation of one of our Deputies is traduced in the manner in which it has without an opportunity to vindicate Deputy Owen's position.
When the coalition Government, of which the Tánaiste is an integral part, was formed, there was an expectation that the courage she had displayed in the past, particularly against the bullying she and Deputy O'Malley experienced in the Fianna Fáil Party under the regime of Mr. Haughey, which was served so loyally by some of the Members beside her, would be maintained in Government. Deputy Noonan and I have made a number of requests today. I believe we speak for everybody on this side of the House, if I may presume to speak for my colleagues in the Green Party.
I made the same request.
Yes, the leaders of the three Opposition parties have made the request. The record now shows and the media is now full of scurrilous allegations against a former office holder. As a current and former office holder, the Tánaiste knows precisely what kind of experience this is. It is not sufficient for an apology to be offered at this stage by Deputy Gildea because the precedent has been set by which any Member may have an accusation of the most scurrilous kind made against him or her and at the end of the process, once the damage has been done, the accuser can withdraw it. There must be a sanction, which must be immediate and must be seen to be taken collectively on behalf of all 166 Deputies.
The Tánaiste has received a request from the leader of the largest Opposition party, supported by the leaders of the second and third largest Opposition parties. We are not seeking a vote or a defeat of the Government but a victory for Members of the House. The Tánaiste has declined the request. I regret that if she does not offer precisely what has been asked for four times by Deputy Noonan, I will lead my colleagues out of the House in support of the Fine Gael Leader and in support, not just of Deputy Owen who was a Cabinet colleague of mine, but of every Deputy.
On a point of order—
There cannot be a point of order on Leader's questions.
All I am saying is I want to be associated with—
The Deputy is being disorderly.
Well done to Deputy Sargent.
Deputy Noonan asked me if I was aware of some of the comments made in debates since the summer recess. I certainly was not aware that people's private lives were being discussed in the Chamber. It is the first I have heard of the matter, perhaps I am very innocent. People, not only Members of this House, but public figures generally, are entitled to their private lives. Privacy is sacrosanct and should be preserved.
Deputy Noonan referred to vicious remarks. Some of the most vicious remarks made in the House in the past two weeks were directed against myself and the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy O'Donnell. We are all mature. There is robust debate from time to time. We must separate personal innuendo, which questions a person's private life or his or her integrity, from critical debate about a person's policy position even if this, too, is occasionally vicious.
This morning I made very clear my view and that of the Government on the events of last night. The Chief Whip responded immediately. Deputy Noonan stated he was unhappy that an apology was not forthcoming. An apology has now been given.
I do not want to go back over the record to make comparisons. However, the last time there was a major controversy of this kind – it involved Deputy Jim Mitchell – it took months to resolve and required a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges to find a resolution. A Cheann Comhairle, I request on behalf of the Government, since this issue has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the Fine Gael, Labour and Green Parties, to call a meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges today.
The Tánaiste should give us an hour to debate the matter. She should not rely on the Committee on Procedure and Privileges—
I call Deputy Noonan for a supplementary question.
I will restate our position in case the Tánaiste misunderstands it. We want an opportunity, in plenary session, to move a vote of censure on Deputy Gildea. We cannot do this in Private Members' time because we do not have it today. We need Government time for which we have asked. The Tánaiste can instruct the Government Whip to give us an hour and this can be dealt with on that basis. We have not attached sanctions to the motion we have put down. We know the normal concern of the Whip is that he will lose a Deputy who has always voted with the Government and we have not attached a sanction to the motion whereby Deputy Gildea would be censured and suspended from the House. We are allowing the motion of censure when it is passed to speak for itself. We need to do this today because it is not possible to vindicate retrospectively the reputation of a Deputy when the media moves on to other issues. If this is debated next week we know what will happen given that time will have moved on. I ask, for the fifth time, that the Tánaiste instructs the Whip to provide us with the hour we seek to move this motion of censure and debate it today.
It is a matter for the Tánaiste's party to have the matter raised at the Committee on Procedures and Privileges if it so wishes. However, in a report on disorderly statements adopted by this House on 15 April 1994 the committee has set out that, as a general rule, the committee should not be required to deal with disorderly allegations and expects more regular means of procedure in the Dáil itself to be pursued in order to resolve the matter.
Give us an hour of Government time.
As a Member of the House—
It is leaders' questions and it is disorderly for the Deputy to speak.
I am a Member of the House the same as anyone else—
Under Standing Orders I cannot allow the Deputy to speak.
I would like to say a few words.
The Deputy cannot. The Deputy is not a leader.
Will Deputy Power support our motion?
I call on the Tánaiste to speak.
All any Member here has is his or her good name.
The Deputy should resume his seat. He is not in order.
We have rights here and we also have responsibilities.
The Tánaiste without interruption. It is leaders' question time.
A Deputy is entitled to save face.
On the last occasion controversy arose about allegations made in this House by a Deputy in respect of persons who were not Members the matter was dealt with by the Committee on Procedures and Privilege. If that is not possible on this occasion and if people remain dissatisfied, notwithstanding the apology—
Would the Tánaiste be satisfied with that?
That is what Deputy Noonan asked for this morning. He said he wanted a vote of censure because there had not been an apology. The allegations are withdrawn and an apology has been made.
The allegations have not been withdrawn.
Order please, I call on Deputy Quinn. There is no provision to allow—
The other side can have the chamber to itself.
The Deputies opposite can chat among themselves.
Deputy Power is the only decent one among them.
I will now take relevant questions on the Order of Business.
Members of the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Green Party left the Chamber.