Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 20, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimate [Vote 44]; No. 21, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimate [Vote 44] to select committee; No. 22, motion re Revised Estimates for Public Services [2002] [Votes 1 to 43] (back from committee); No. 23, motion re referral to select committee of Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Poland, Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria and Agreement between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; No. 24, motion re Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Act, 2000 (Section 5) (Specified Period) Order, 2002; No. 66, Civil Defence Bill, 2002 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages; No. 67, Courts and Court Officers Bill, 2001 – Order for Report and Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 11 p.m., Nos. 20, 22, 23 and 24, and, subject to the agreement of No. 20, No. 21 shall be decided without debate and in the case of Nos. 20, 21 and 22, any divisions demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; Report and Final Stages of No. 66 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.30 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Defence; and Report and Final Stages of No. 67 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Private Members' Business shall be No. 139, motion re public services.

There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 20 to 24, inclusive, without debate agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 66 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 67 agreed? Agreed. We now move to Leaders' questions.

It is a cowardly act to scapegoat Mr. Paddy Teahon for a project for which the Taoiseach was solely responsible.

I remind the Deputy that this issue is before the Committee of Public Accounts and Members should not pre-empt the hearings of the committee in their remarks. That is a long-standing ruling which has been strictly observed and the Deputy will remember that during the DIRT inquiry it was the committee's request that that would be the situation.

I put it to the Taoiseach that he breached Cabinet instructions in arranging that a memorandum to Government from his Department came from Mr. Teahon directly through the private office and on to Cabinet. It was the Taoiseach who decided money would be allocated to this without proper Cabinet procedure and it was the Taoiseach, rather than Mr. Teahon, who made all the crucial decisions on this. What the Taoiseach is doing now is scapegoating a public servant and trying to pass the blame while walking away from the blame himself.

A Pontius Pilate job.

Will the Taoiseach confirm that the Cabinet meeting of Tuesday, 19 December, which took place at 11 a.m., agreed to a certain set of proposals while the decision in the memorandum brought by the Taoiseach to the Cabinet agreed to a certain set of proposals which were simultaneously being assessed, according to the recently published report, on the same day? Will the Taoiseach indicate whether the assessment panel's conclusions had been made available to him personally before he brought that memorandum to Government? Will he say whether Mr. Teahon indicated to him any of the reservations set out in this report? Did he draw his attention to them in any particular way? He presumably spoke to the Taoiseach about the memorandum since there was great pressure and urgency of time. Did he indicate at any stage to the Taoiseach that the assessment panel was still deliberating, if that was the case, had yet to deliberate or had just concluded its deliberations? If so, in the course of that discussion, which I presume he had with Mr. Teahon prior to going into Cabinet, was he made aware of any of the reservations or concerns that the assessment panel had about the decision they were making, which was made on the same day – perhaps around the same time the Cabinet was meeting?

The Government today decided it would accept the recommendation that had been made by the board of Stadium Campus Ireland, that it would divide the two positions. We put it to Mr. Paddy Teahon, a person of outstanding integrity and commitment in my view and that of the Government, that because of all the controversy related to this, he should remain on the board but not continue in his position as chairperson – we would appoint an interim chairperson. In relation to Deputy Quinn's questions, none of those issues was raised by Paddy Teahon on that day. They were working to a very tight schedule, which is the reason for a lot of this. They were working to a schedule to try to get into planning by 22 or 23 December 2000 and they were endeavouring to get all the assessment panel work done. It appears from the correspondence that they had been told by PricewaterhouseCoopers that there were some difficulties at that time – they were told on that day. The papers show that on that day the issues regarding Waterworld UK had arisen. They did not make me aware of any of those issues, I suppose, for clarity, as it was also in the papers for the committee. I was responsible for bringing the memorandum to Government but Mr. Teahon attended that Government meeting to bring the Cabinet through the particular meeting.

Is there—

There is no provision for such questions as the Deputy knows.

I can clarify that Mr. Teahon attended to answer questions on the memorandum that day which is not unusual for the Government. There were several other occasions on which people were at meetings. He attended, as is clear from the papers which have been given to the Committee of Public Accounts, and answered questions on the matter but we were not aware of the circumstances regarding Waterworld UK or the fact that it was a shelf company. That was not necessarily the issue as there could be many shelf companies – many businesspeople use shelf companies. More importantly, they did not have the financial backing or the necessary investment and they were not a company of international standing, as we thought. Neither Mr. Teahon nor CSID knew that either. It was many months later that that became clear and they then had to join with others, when the Tralee-based group was involved. They were subsequently joined by Mr. Moriarty but he was not in on that particular case.

That answers Deputy Quinn's question.

Will the Taoiseach state the terms agreed with Mr. Teahon on the termination of his contract?

The terms will have to be agreed with the Department of Finance.

From what the Taoiseach said do I take it that Mr. Teahon did not resign voluntarily his position as chief executive and chairperson and that he is now to be financially compensated for the termination of a contract, the terms of which have yet to be decided by the Department of Finance? Is that the position? Did the Taoiseach fire Mr. Teahon? Is that correct?

When will the pool be completed and at what cost? What is the current role of Laura Magahy and Associates? What is their intended future role? Will the group which has been given control of management of the pool remain in place?

The current contract is £46.8 million, €62 million. That is the completion cost. The contract is to expire at the end of this year and the pool is to be used for testing and training in spring, by February next year.

What about Laura Magahy and the management?

They are still there. The consortium for executive service contracts is made up of seven different groups. That is still in place and is a matter for the board. The Office of Public Works remains as the technical advisers to the board.

Deputy Noonan asked me about Mr. Teahon's contractual arrangement as he was in payment. An understanding will have to be agreed about that because he will not continue to be paid when he is not chairman and chief executive. That position had been made clear since last May, and the HBR report has stated that there would be a split in the roles. I do not think there is any dispute.

The Government and Mr. Teahon agreed it would be better if Mr. Teahon was not to remain as chairperson, in the interests of finishing the contract and having the pool ready for the Special Olympics World Games. He has worked extremely hard on the project and the fact that certain issues were not sufficiently delved into can be attributed to his desire to do the job as speedily as possible. If all procedures had been followed to the letter of the law, which is the right thing to do, we would not be in a position to complete the swimming pool in time for the Special Olympics, which would be regretted by all Deputies. Our attempt to complete the aquatic centre is the relevant issue, although people are asking many other questions in papers which are before the Committee of Public Accounts.

We will undoubtedly have to return to this issue when all the information becomes available and when we have read and analysed the report we have just received. Can I ask the Taoiseach to confirm my understanding of the present situation? Has Mr. Teahon been fired from his position as chief executive and chairperson of the board of CSID? Has the financial contract for the services he was rendering in that joint capacity been terminated and, if so, will he receive some form of compensation? Have the terms and the amount of the compensation been negotiated or agreed between Mr. Teahon and the Department of Finance?

I remind the House that these issues are before the Committee of Public Accounts.

I am not drawing any conclusions.

The committee has asked in the past that issues before it not be debated in the House.

Deputy Quinn is asking a question.

Unfortunately, the major players in this matter are not on the Committee of Public Accounts.

He is seeking information.

I appreciate the help and assistance of the Chair, but I am merely asking questions. I am not making any allegations or assertions. In addition to the three succinct questions I have asked, can I ask an additional question? Following the Tánaiste's remarks in the public domain and the many discussions she has had with the Taoiseach in the last week, what aspects of the report and the memorandum for Government is she now familiar with that she was not familiar with then? I refer to any details that may have emerged to help her or the Cabinet to come to a different set of conclusions. She has stated that if the Cabinet knew then what it knows now, it may have arrived at a different decision. Can the Taoiseach outline what the decision may have been?

The Deputy is asking the Taoiseach to speculate.

What were the key additional factors that may have brought about a different decision?

Deputy Quinn made three succinct points in his first question. I can confirm just as succinctly that he is wrong on all three.

They were questions, not points.

If I can answer them—

The Taoiseach must be allowed to speak without interruption.

Deputy Quinn asked if Mr. Teahon was fired, but such a suggestion is incorrect. Given that there had been an agreement to split the posts of chairman and chief executive, the Government put it to Mr. Teahon that it was not desirable that he should be appointed in the new position of chairperson, especially in the interests of the aquatic centre project which needs to be completed.

The Government sacked him.

He was sacked.

The Taoiseach should be allowed to conclude without interruption.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): It was a dismissal by any other name.


The Government had him walk the plank.

Deputy Enright, allow the Taoiseach to finish.

Secondly, there is no question of compensation.

Bring me the head of John the Baptist.

As I stated, Mr. Teahon received payment for work as chairperson and chief executive, a joint responsibility which one would not normally have, and I am sure some of that money is yet to be paid. Deputy Quinn's third related point, that there may be negotiation of compensation, is not valid as it is not the position. The Government and Mr. Teahon both thought that Waterworld UK, which was part of the consortium, was a company not only of substance but of international standing.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): It was as weak as water.

Just like Fianna Fáil.

We believed that Waterworld UK could carry out the project in a substantive way with its own resources, but it was subsequently shown this was not the case. It was not that Waterworld UK was a shelf company or that Dublin Waterworld was there, but the fact was that the company did not have the substance. The point made by the Tánaiste, the Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and I was that if Waterworld UK's lack of substance had been known by Mr. Teahon and others, we would have had to decide whether to pursue the contract in such circumstances. A decision to continue may or may not have been made. The point made by the Minister, Deputy McDaid, the Tánaiste and I is that the contract was not pursued when the company ran into similar difficulties in Stockport or Southport, as it was researched and problems were uncovered.

That concludes leaders' questions. I call Deputy Howlin on the Order of Business proper.

In response to a question put to him last week, the Taoiseach indicated that there were to be discussions with the social partners about an amendment to the redundancy payments Acts. Will legislation be introduced to increase the miserable statutory redundancy payments available to workers? Those under the age of 41 receive half a week's pay per year of service and those over that age receive a week's pay. Will the amendments be introduced?

There has been progress and perhaps I will pass a note on the matter to the Deputy. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has set up a review group to look at the operation of the scheme and it seems that legislation will ultimately be required. The scheme, about which Deputy Quinn asked last week, is funded from the social insurance fund and operates on the basis of the redundancy payments Acts. The task of the review group is to identify the legislative, administrative and system requirements of a more efficient, simpler and customer service driven scheme, to examine the benefits payable under the scheme, to develop options for the social partners and to report to the Minister.

When will it be done?

It will take some time.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): It will be done by the next Government.

It will take several months.

Can the Taoiseach give any hope that it might be retrospective?

I do not know, as legislation will be required and some Bills are retrospective and some are not. I will ask that the full note be sent to the Deputy.

Will the Land Commission Bill come before the House before the dissolution? Can the Taoiseach give us a chance to discuss the high level of interest charges and—

I call the Taoiseach to discuss the Bill.

—the fact that farmers are not being paid?

It is not necessary to make a statement on the matter.

Farmers are asking when they will be paid and the Land Commission is looking for its money.

I call the Taoiseach on the Land Commission Bill.

Monaghan farmers are asking too, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

The heads of the Bill have been agreed in the last few weeks and the Bill will be drafted soon.

Haemophiliacs have been waiting a long time to have their rights vindicated. What is the state of play in relation to the Bill to amend the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal Act, 1997? The Bill was promised by the Government over a year ago. I understand that discussions on the matter reached Cabinet level today. Will the Bill be before the House before the Government leaves office?

I call the Taoiseach to speak on the Bill.

Secondly, in relation to the Lindsay tribunal legislation, will we see a second tribunal to investigate—

The Deputy has made her point.

There are two questions.

The Deputy is asking about two separate Bills.

The Act which set up the Lindsay tribunal has been found to be limited, but the Government has refused to accept that a second tribunal is needed. Does the Taoiseach accept that a second tribunal is needed and does he plan to draw up legislation to facilitate this?

The Bill to amend the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal Act, 1997, is listed to be circulated shortly. There are three or four aspects of the Deputy's second question. Can I ask her if she is referring to the Gardiner report?

The Gardiner report constitutes a 60 page opinion, with a number of appendices, one of which comprises over 50 pages of legal advice from US lawyers. The Minister for Health and Children, who brought the report to Government, intends to discuss its contents with the Irish Haemophilia Society. He will also present the society's proposals on the compensation scheme for HIV-infected haemophiliacs and their dependants.

Is there any point in asking the Taoiseach about the Campus Stadium Ireland Bill given that the goalposts seem to have moved? What is the point of the Bill still being on the Order Paper given that we are going into an election?

The heads of the Bill have been approved and the Bill is being drafted.

May I have your guidance, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle? In regard to the Gas (Regulation) Bill, the Minister of State, Deputy Jacob, misled the House in a statement he made that Bord Gáis made a commercial decision in regard to pipe laying.

That does not arise at this time.

How can we can have the Minister of State coming in to clarify the position given that the Minister for the Marine, Deputy Fahey, stated publicly that were it not for him and his intervention with Bord Gáis the pipeline would not have gone to Galway?

Deputy Reynolds is being disorderly.

There is a need for clarification.

If the Deputy does not resume his seat I will move on to the next business.

There are two different pipelines.

I ask Deputy Reynolds to resume his seat in deference to his two colleagues who wish to offer.

May I ask the Taoiseach when the Minister for Health and Children will lay regulations before the House to bring into force the Children Act, 2001, which was passed last June, relating to juvenile justice and crime issues? Not a single section of that Act has come into force.

I will raise the matter with the Minister and ask him to give the Deputy the details.

It is a disgrace that nine months later not a single section has come into force.

I wish to ask two questions. In regard to education, when will the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill be passed? Has the Taoiseach any plans to reallocate some of the moneys saved from the Laura Magahy company for the purpose of improving some of the national schools across Laoighis-Offaly?

The Deputy's first question is in order.

The moneys saved from the Laura Magahy company would certainly be of great benefit to some of those attending national schools across the country.

The Bill has been circulated today and will be in the Seanad either today or tomorrow.

(Mayo): I wish to ask two questions on legislation. It is generally recognised because of the tardiness of the Government in introducing broadband we are fast losing our place in the whole e-commerce world. The Communications Regulation Bill which we asked for week in week out since Christmas and which was published three weeks ago is only at Second Stage in the Seanad. The Digital Hub Development Agency Bill which was published in January still has not been introduced in either House. What is the situation in relation to those two Bills and have we a guarantee that they will both be enacted before the Taoiseach decides to run to the Park?

The Communications Regulation Bill has already been through the Seanad so I presume it is waiting to come before the Dáil. The Digital Hub Development Agency Bill has been ordered for Second Stage in the Seanad.

Deputy Enright and I are on the one wavelength but I am not clear about the Taoiseach's reply in regard to the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill which was published last night. What is the timeframe for this important Bill which affects so many people with special needs?

It is an important and urgent Bill. I said we would give it priority. As I understand it, it is to be in the Seanad tonight. If it is not tonight it will be—

Is it the intention that it will go through?

Yes, it is the intention that it will go right through.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): Yesterday on a Carlow radio station the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform added 7,000 and 9,500 Fine Gael votes and got 14,000.

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

(Carlow-Kilkenny): Will the Taoiseach consider introducing old-fashioned ballpens in Ministers' offices so they can get addition right sometimes?