It is proposed to take No. 4, Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to adjourn at 2 p.m. if not previously concluded; and No. 1, Employees (Provision of Information and Consultation) Bill 2005 [Seanad] — Second Stage (resumed).
Order of Business.
There are no proposals to put to the House.
I object, Sir, to No. 4.
You cannot object to the Order of Business, Deputy, as there are no proposals before the House. It is the Taoiseach's prerogative to decide on the business of the day.
It is an inappropriate Bill. Every minor fine in it is a criminal offence which means that anybody so caught cannot travel to the United States, for instance. There was no consultation with the fishing industry about this Bill.
Deputy, we cannot have a debate now. You will have an opportunity to speak on the Bill shortly.
When is it proposed to publish the report into the Abbeylara shooting? It has been promised on a number of occasions, including in June and September. I have been informed by a number of suppliers to the health service, mostly small suppliers, that the former health boards have cash flow difficulties with regard to paying manufacturers and service suppliers.
Do you have a question on legislation, Deputy?
Does the Tánaiste propose to introduce a Supplementary Estimate this year to deal with current cash flow difficulties in paying suppliers?
The Abbeylara report has not been received yet. If a Supplementary Estimate is introduced, it will not be to deal with the matter raised by the Deputy. The mental health commission, for example, was not established this year because of a dispute with the consultants. There is some additional money that may be allocated to other needs in the health area between now and the end of the year but I am not aware of any issue regarding the payment of suppliers.
Can I bring the matter to the attention of the Tánaiste?
If we are not permitted to oppose No. 4, we are entitled to ask the Tánaiste, given the dispute between the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Dempsey, and the Minister of State, Deputy Gallagher, whether the Government will proceed with this Bill. When will No. 66 on the legislative programme, the criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, be published? Will it provide for the protection of witnesses on a statutory basis?
Rather than making a matter of frivolity at a time when two warring gangs are feuding and risking public safety on the streets of this city, does the Tánaiste not agree that the photograph on the front page of today's edition of The Irish Times is, at minimum, an ill-judged tasteless stunt by a Minister——
I suggest the Deputy finds another way of raising this matter.
——mad on publicity and completely without regard for the environment in which he permits this to happen.
That is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
Deputy Rabbitte should take the matter up with the editor of The Irish Times.
The Minister should have considered his responsibilities.
The editor should know the Minister is a clown.
Was the gun loaded?
We were lucky it was not loaded.
The Tánaiste should be allowed to respond without interruption.
The Government will proceed with the Sea-Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill 2005. It is important legislation and will be debated next week. We hope to have it passed as quickly as possible. The criminal justice (miscellaneous provisions) Bill will be brought forward next year.
What about the Minister, Deputy O'Dea?
Will he now be known as Willie the Kid?
That is the worst joke I have heard this morning.
Deputy Sargent should be allowed to speak without interruption.
Are we to expect any ministerial accountability for a photograph showing the Minister for Defence——
That issue does not arise on the Order of Business.
I am merely asking the question. The answer is obviously "No".
I call Deputy Durkan.
My question is relevant to the Order of Business.
Deputy Durkan has been called. I will return to Deputy Sargent if he has an appropriate question.
My question relates to promised legislation. I have raised the matter under Standing Order 31 and am entitled to find out whether the Government has a view on it.
The Deputy is not entitled to raise it. I have dealt with this matter under Standing Order 31.
Deputy Sargent should raise the matter with The Irish Times.
The Government has a view on——
I have called Deputy Durkan. I will call Deputy Sargent again presently.
The Minister for Defence can defend himself. He does not need the Ceann Comhairle to do so.
I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.
I am asking a basic question.
I ask the Deputy to obey Standing Orders and the ruling of the Chair. If he does not want to do that, he is aware of the appropriate action.
I obey Standing Orders and I accept the Ceann Comhairle's ruling on Standing Order 31.
Deputy Sargent was shot down by the Minister, Deputy O'Dea.
Last week, I tabled a question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, requesting information on funding for the next phase of the Naas General Hospital development programme. The reply I received was that my query had been referred to the Health Service Executive.
Does the Deputy have a question on promised legislation?
Legislation may be required because we cannot get answers to the parliamentary questions we put to the Minister——
Is legislation promised?
It should be.
No legislation is promised in this regard.
In that case, will the chief executive of the HSE come into the House to answer questions? The Minister provides the funding and my question was about funding.
The Deputy must find another way of raising this matter. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
I appreciate that but the Tánaiste wishes to answer.
I call Deputy Costello. Deputy Durkan is generally very orderly.
Unless the Tánaiste has handed over responsibility for funding to somebody else——
The Deputy should submit a question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children.
Perhaps the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea, will answer my question.
Reports in today's newspapers indicate that the Minister for Defence, following talks with the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Attorney General in the aftermath of the remarks made by Anjum Choudhury in Trinity College last week, intends to seek an amendment——
Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?
That is the question. The Minister for Defence claims he will seek an amendment to the incitement to hatred legislation. When is this amendment expected?
Does the Tánaiste agree that the photograph in today's edition of The Irish Times of the same Minister pointing a gun——
That issue does not arise.
——might be described as provocative? It might be the first case to be examined.
It is the first shot in the general election.
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform intends, by way of a statutory instrument, to amend the legislation on incitement to hatred.
What about the second matter I raised?
The Minister, Deputy O'Dea, should be disarmed.
We will set Paul Williams on the Opposition Members.
Will the Tánaiste give some indication when these regulations will be introduced?
I understand it will be within the next two weeks.
Given the urgent need to discuss the ever-rising cost of medicines, the practices of the pharmaceutical industry and the need to encourage increased availability of generic medicines, will the two pharmacy Bills be taken together and is there any prospect they will be expedited?
Both Bills deal with the regulation of the pharmacy profession. The first Bill, which deals with some fitness to practice issues, will be brought forward early next year. The cost of pharmaceuticals, which accounts for 11% of the health budget, is not the subject of legislation but rather of negotiation. Such negotiation will take place shortly both with the industry and other elements of the pharmacy supply chain, including pharmacists and wholesalers.
The Tánaiste indicated that her Department may bring forward a Supplementary Estimate this year. What other Departments will present the same? Will today's Estimates for 2006 include all the Supplementary Estimates in the outturn provided for 2005 so that we have a proper picture of the overall spending position for this year?
In regard to my Department, I am considering the allocation of some unspent moneys to priority areas. I have mentioned the moneys allocated for the mental health tribunals which have not been spent and will not be spent this year. I am not in a position to say whether other Ministers may plan to bring forward Supplementary Estimates.
Will the outturn figures be accurate? Will they reflect those anticipated provisions?
The outturn figures will, but I understand today's Estimates for public services will not.
Will the Tánaiste ensure any money saved in the mental health area is spent in that area which is starved of funds? This morning, her Department and the HSE made a presentation on combatting MRSA. It is clear they are losing the battle and that guidelines and good intentions are not enough.
Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?
Will the Tánaiste consider making MRSA a disease notifiable to the HSE?
I suggest the Deputy submits a question to the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children.
The Tánaiste is in the Chamber and I know she is concerned about MRSA.
This matter is not appropriate. Questions on health cannot be addressed simply because the Tánaiste is taking the Order of Business.
Will she consider changes to legislation? We must stop the foostering around which is not delivering results and has facilitated an increase rather then decrease in MRSA.
The Deputy should submit a question to the Minister.
The Minister cannot answer questions because the law does not allow it.
That is right.
There is little evidence of democracy in this regard.
There does not seem to be any regulation in regard to plastic surgery. Will the medical practitioners (miscellaneous provisions) Bill cover this area? When is the earliest date of publication for that legislation? As we are dealing with real doctors, will the position for the Government's chief science adviser be advertised this time around?
The latter issue does not arise on the Order of Business.
It arises on every other business.
We do not have a licensing regime for hospitals but the medical practitioners (miscellaneous provisions) Bill will make the registration of professionals mandatory in future. We must look in due course at the licensing of hospital facilities and other places where medical treatments take place.
In light of events in Kashmir in the last several weeks and the constant reminders from Charlie Bird and other reporters of these events, will the Government redouble its efforts to help the people affected? The snows are due in ten days' time there.
That is a fair point.
Ireland is the third largest per capita contributor in the world to the relief fund. The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for overseas development and human rights and others will be available to do whatever else we can.
There was confirmation this morning that a large chunk, namely the marine part, of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources will be transferred to another Department. The ongoing feud between the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey and the Minister of State, Deputy Gallagher, has been resolved by taking out Deputy Gallagher's area. Given the promise in the programme for Government, is it possible to have a debate on a future department for maritime matters?
Is a debate promised?
The Tánaiste claimed there would be a dedicated Department, headed by a Minister with a Cabinet place. This is a promise which was abandoned with the Department being cannibalised and spread all over.
The Deputy has made his point.
That can be discussed between the Whips.
We can put it in Dublin Bay.
After the visit of the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, to the United States last week, I assume the Government is turning its attention to legislation on the open skies policy. Will the Tánaiste give a commitment for an economic impact study on the stopover decision on the Shannon region before legislation is introduced? Will the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea, turn his attention to defending his region on this issue on which he is very silent despite being all over a newspaper this morning?
Mighty Mouse to the rescue.
That side of the House does not like competition.
I will give Deputy O'Sullivan my number four preference.
It is all part of public relations.
He is a nasty little man.
The recent decision the Government made on the separation of the airport authorities has meant an increase in traffic at Shannon Airport by 90% over the last year. That has to be a positive economic impact.
What about the economic impact study?
I suggest the Deputy submits a question to the appropriate Minister.
I have but got no answer.
I note from the newspapers this morning, the Tánaiste approves of the sideways move of the Government chief science advisor for obfuscating about his academic qualifications. Given that the Taoiseach has done the same, does the Tánaiste anticipate a sideways or upwards move?
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
It is double standards.
As a matter of Dáil security, did the Tánaiste require the Minister for Defence to leave his weapon at the door this morning?
That does not arise on the Order of Business.
He left it besides Deputy Joe Higgins's handcuffs.
Trotsky was big into weapons.
Where was the ice-pick left?
If not, I was going to ask Deputy Ferris to go over and disarm him.
The Ballybunion Bolsheviks.
Deputies will allow Deputy Joe Higgins to ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.
Weapons are not a laughing matter. However, we do sometimes have to undermine the increasing pomposity of Ministers.
The Deputy should look in the mirror.
The Deputy will return to the Order of Business.
In view of the proven criminal use of chemical weapons on civilians in Falluja by the US army, will the Government withdraw the use of facilities at Shannon Airport that assist this use?
That does not arise on the Order of Business. I call on Deputy Michael D. Higgins.
Will the Tánaiste make searches at Shannon Airport mandatory?
This does not arise on the Order of Business.
It would arise under the crimes Bill which is to have a thorough review. Will mandatory searches be introduced at Shannon Airport?
It is not possible to say when we will have the crimes Bill.
What about the criminality in Falluja?
We will just turn a blind eye to it.
I am sure all Members would like to think that countries with which we have friendly relations are obeying the international conventions on the use of chemical weapons.
The charities regulation Bill and the Údarás na Gaeltachta amendment Bill have been promised from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs for some time. Both Bills have celebrated their eighth birthday under the Minister. Does the Tánaiste anticipate them making the full decade before enactment or will they be withdrawn?
The údarás legislation will be dealt with next year and it is not possible to say when for the charities legislation.
At least that was an honest answer.
What is the delay in the publication of the building control Bill? We are four weeks from the end of this session and it has been promised for the last two years.
That is true and I understand from the Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government we will have it at the end of the year.
Is this because of the request that emanated from the tent in Ballybrit that the building industry does not want this legislation?
The red tide.
The Ballybrit lobby.
Those with vested interests.
I can only say that in the absence of any other explanation.
Old friends are best.