Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 12a, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the accession to the Convention on the International Hydrographic Organisation; No. 12b, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of Memoranda of Understanding on the Nordic Battlegroup and Operational Headquarters; No. 13, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Finance Act 2004 (Section 91) (Deferred Surrender to the Central Fund) Order 2007 — back from committee; No. 21, Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 5, Criminal Justice Bill 2007 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) Nos. 12a, 12b and 13 shall be decided without debate; (2) the Report and Final Stages of No. 21 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 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 Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; and (3) the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 5.30 p.m. There shall be no Order of Business tomorrow, that is, within the meaning of Standing Order 26. The taking of any divisions shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Tuesday, 27 March 2007. Accordingly, the following business shall be transacted in the following order: the Pharmacy Bill 2007 [Seanad], Second Stage, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. on that day. The Criminal Justice Bill 2007, Second Stage (resumed), and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 5.30 p.m. on that day.

There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 12a, 12b and 13 agreed?

It is not agreed. I raised the subject matter of 12b many months ago with the Minister for Defence and was told that the memorandum of understanding would be placed in the Oireachtas Library, which did not happen. In a reply to a parliamentary question I was advised the memorandum was to be amended, but it was not amended, I understand, because other member states refused to amend it. It is a very important document because it sets out what we are about to do regarding this battle group. Among other matters we will be using the facility at Northwood in Britain to train.

We cannot have a debate on the detail of what might be contained in the document. This is purely a procedural motion to refer it to a select committee.

We need accountability and transparency on the floor of this House on the matter. Fianna Fáil will go to its Ard-Fheis next weekend claiming its great commitment to neutrality.

We cannot have a detailed debate on the issue.

There is no commitment to neutrality in the Fianna Fáil Party and this is the evidence of it. That is why we need to debate the matter on the floor of the House.

This is a further nail in the Irish neutrality coffin. I will not go into the background of the issue. My preference would be to deal with it in the House before it is referred to a committee. Proposing to send it to committee without debate here is bypassing one of the stages of democratic accountability for such a major change in Irish foreign and defence policy as outlined in the motion. We deserve that it be debated fully here so that all the implications of the motion can be teased out, including that the proposed battle group will have its headquarters in Britain and that we will be joining a battle group with other NATO members. That in itself deserves full debate in the House before referral to committee.

I remind members of the Government opposite that it successfully managed to lose the first referendum on the Nice treaty by not listening to the legitimate concerns of many people about a slide into a military alliance which would not be accountable to this House. The tradition of this House on all sides has been to support Irish neutrality as understood in the context of the times in which people find themselves. If the Government refuses to grant time to allow this to be properly debated and all the fears and the legitimate concerns that go right back to the anti-conscription movement of 1918 to be articulated, it will hand a present to those people who do not want to support the European project. No benefit is to be gained from burying this matter through a secrecy of silence and stifled debate. There is every benefit to be had from openness and honest debate. Otherwise the actions of the Minister, Deputy O'Dea, would be rightly presented as subterfuge, dishonesty and covering up something about which he is not prepared to speak in public on the floor of this House, and I do not mean through the paid columns of the Sunday Independent.

We have no problem with the referral to the select committee. However, when the select committee has had its deliberation perhaps time could be made available in the House for a debate at that stage.

I am prepared to be reasonable on the matter. The Government's attitude is one of reasonableness. Let us be clear that there is no sweeping of this under the carpet. If this is referred to a committee, every Member of this House is entitled to attend and discuss it at length.

It is too important.

It is not too important for every Member, if they are interested in the matter, to attend the meeting and express their point of view. If that committee comes up with a radical difference of opinion, which deserves further debate in this House, we can decide it in that context. However, let us first ascertain where people stand on the issue. I agree with Deputy Quinn that our opposition regarding neutrality is well understood. The Government stands behind the triple lock unambiguously. I remind Deputy Quinn that one of his would-be allies in an alternative government has rubbished and opposed the idea of a triple lock. I will not go further than that. There is agreement between the Deputy and this side of the House on the maintenance of the triple lock, but there is no agreement on the maintenance of the triple lock on the other side of the House.

Let us have a debate here.

It is not a debating issue, it is a profound issue that the Labour Party does not share with its proposed allies.

The Government should live up to its responsibilities and have a debate here.

It is an accountability issue and the Tánaiste is in no position to lecture anybody about accountability.

Any coherent——

It is a red herring.

It is not a red herring. The two parties are radically divided on this as on many other issues.

We understand the committee system. The Tánaiste should stop lecturing us.

The Tánaiste should do his duty as acting leader of the Government and have the debate here.

They do not have a common position and they are codding the people that they could form an alternative government.

We know how the committee works.

The two parties do not agree on these issues.

The Government should get on with it and have a debate here. Of what is it afraid?

Let us send it to the——

Let us put a triple lock on the Tánaiste.

(Interruptions).

Allow the Tánaiste to continue and then we can put the question.

Let us send the issue to the committee——

(Interruptions).

Keep coming.

Let the battleground be in here.

Allow the Tánaiste to speak without interruption.

Let us send the issue to the committee and let us see how badly divided Fine Gael and Labour are on the issue.

Let us see how many Members from the Government side show up.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with item Nos. 12a, 12b and 13 be agreed to.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 60; Níl, 43.

  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Browne, John.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Cooper-Flynn, Beverley.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Boyle, Dan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies English and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 21, the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad], Report and Final Stages, agreed?

This Bill has effectively been guillotined. For this reason, we will oppose the proposal.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 21 be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for sitting tomorrow Friday, 23 March 2007 agreed to?

No, it is not agreed. In respect of the Dáil sitting tomorrow, the Criminal Justice Bill 2007 is welcomed by Fine Gael, but there are many very serious issues at stake. I ask the Tánaiste whether it is appropriate for us to discuss a Bill like this, which deals with bail, the right to silence and detention periods, in ten or 12 hours. Does he think this is a sufficient period of time in which to debate these important issues?

This Bill comprises 128 pages and deals with important issues such as altering the bail regime, reorienting the right to silence and providing for seven days detention and electronic tagging. To propose that it should be guillotined in this fashion cuts across everything this Parliament ought to stand for.

I have seen transformations in Deputies who have crossed from this side of the floor to Government but have never seen anything like the transformation that has come over the Tánaiste. He opened proceedings today by lecturing us that anybody who wanted to appear at a committee had a right to do so as an excuse for debate in this Chamber. He now proposes to put through a Bill as major as this in the fashion proposed here.

For example, the Tánaiste requires amendments to be submitted tomorrow before Second Stage has concluded. This is an abrogation of everything that parliamentary scrutiny ought to stand for. Furthermore, requiring the staff of this House to comply with this kind of regime is unfair.

The Tánaiste has set up this arrangement for tomorrow, presumably deliberately, because he knows that many Members have an imminent appointment with their employers and may not be here. If that is the case——

I thought the Deputy only had one job.

That is true in my case, but I am not sure about the Deputy.

(Interruptions).

If that is the case, why can the Tánaiste not permit the Bill to wind to an orderly conclusion? To further stipulate, as the Tánaiste sought to do, that next week we would take Committee and Remaining Stages in the same time slot was simply outrageous. The Whips persuaded the Government Chief Whip to depart from that.

What has come over the Tánaiste, who was once a very active and occasionally very inventive Member on this side of the House, to lead him to regard parliamentary scrutiny as an irritant which he must tolerate and to believe that our purpose here is only to rubber stamp legislation? On a previous occasion, he came in to the House with a couple of hundred pages of amendments so the Lord knows what he might do next week on this Bill.

Deputy Rabbitte should make a brief comment.

Yet on these fundamental issues, Members on this side of the House are essentially required to take the Tánaiste on good faith and nod it through. We know where we all went wrong the last time we did that.

The Green Party opposes the manner in which this Bill is being taken, not least because taking it on Friday without a vote is an insult to the intention of the legislation, as well as to this House. Hiving it off on to a day where it is understood that many Deputies will be here but unable to vote is an insult to the parliamentary process. I wonder whether the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste are serious about this legislation or whether they are slightly embarrassed by it, want to keep it under the radar and not have it too closely scrutinised so Friday seems to suffice for that.

It does not suffice for proper parliamentary scrutiny, particularly when the amendments must be submitted before the end of Second Stage. This really does indicate that it is designed not to be properly scrutinised but to be somehow railroaded through. This is an insult to the House and the people.

I will not repeat what has been said by the other two Deputies. I am opposed to the guillotine in the first instance. I am also opposed to the half-assed sitting proposed for tomorrow, where there is no Order of Business or questions to the Taoiseach or Ministers. If we are to sit on a Friday, Monday or whatever day, we should have a proper sitting which allows votes to happen on the day on which they are called, if they are called at all. It is for this reason that I oppose the Friday sitting and also oppose the guillotine.

By way of background to this, as the House is aware, I indicated in October 2006 that I was setting a rebalancing committee in process to study the criminal law. I established that committee in November. A series of very brutal murders took place in December and on all sides of this House, there was a call for urgent action on the part of the Government. In December, having consulted with my Cabinet colleagues, I indicated the outlines of a criminal package. In the early weeks of this year, I published the scheme of this Bill, which was widely discussed at that time. The Bill is to be discussed over three weeks in this House. Let us be clear about that. It will be discussed this week, next week and the following week. If people are sincere about making urgent changes in our law to deal with the situation with which Anthony Campbell's family found themselves dealing and have any sincerity about this matter, a discussion over three weeks is perfectly suitable for this debate.

A Deputy

Hear, hear.

The Opposition has been caught out in its rhetoric.

(Interruptions).

The Tánaiste, without interruption. I ask Members on both sides of the House to allow the Tánaiste to speak.

I note people's objections to Friday sittings. Tomorrow is to be a legislation day. There will not be an Order of Business, so we will not spend an hour wrangling over it tomorrow. We will get on with the business of this House.

I thank Deputy Hogan for indicating support for this Bill. I have not heard an unambiguous statement yet from the Labour Party as to whether it supports the Bill.

We have not had one.

A Deputy

They always want both sides.

I know where Deputy Ó Snodaigh stands. He is against the Bill and I commend him on saying that.

The Labour Party is wrestling with its conscience again.

I would prefer a little more candour from the Opposition as to where it stands on the principle of this Bill.

The Tánaiste will get his answer in a few weeks time.

The Tánaiste should give us the time so we can properly debate the Bill.

I am sure I will get it in a few weeks, because in three weeks time we will have the Report and Final Stages of the Bill in this House and then we will be in a position to see whether the Labour Party supports it.

The Tánaiste will get lots of candour then.

Then the Tánaiste will make another mistake and it will be off to the Supreme Court.

Second, Committee and Report Stages will be spread over three weeks in this House.

That is not what the Tánaiste offered.

That will give Members ample time to discuss all their views on the matter.

Nobody wants to listen to the Tánaiste.

All of this posturing means very little to the people.

No one is listening to him.

Go on Ringo.

If Deputy Ring would stop interrupting, we might conclude.

Has Deputy Ring not gone to the Labour Party yet?

An Ceann Comhairle: The question is that the proposal for dealing with the Friday sitting be agreed to.

Go on Ringo.

A Cheann Comhairle——

He is shouting loud now.

Deputy Rabbitte should be allowed to make a point of order.

The last we heard of Deputy Ring, he was going to the Labour Party.

Enda's away, so he is shouting hard.

The Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, should please allow Deputy Rabbitte to speak without interruption.

Does he want it with fries?

Deputy Ring should please allow Deputy Rabbitte to speak without interruption.

I am sorry a Cheann Comhairle. I am only responding to him. The Ceann Comhairle will stop this side, he will not stop that side.

Is it not the case that the expert group to which the Minister referred——

That is not a point of order.

——has not even reported yet?

The Minister is misleading the House.

That is not a point of order. The Deputy will have to raise the matter in another way.

Is it in order for the Tánaiste to mislead the House in the fashion he just did?

I will put the question.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with the Friday sitting be agreed."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 57; Níl, 38.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Keaveney, Cecilia.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McDaid, James.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Donal.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Donnell, Liz.
  • O’Donovan, Denis.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Michael.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Wilkinson, Ollie.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connolly, Paudge.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Cowley, Jerry.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies English and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

Does the Tánaiste recall the commitment made last October regarding changes in ethics legislation? When he was supporting his master in his hour of need last October over various financial matters, a commitment was given that there would be amendments to the ethics legislation. When will we see this Bill and will it be enacted before the general election?

The Tánaiste will be aware of issues relating to the home defence Bill that was outlined by Fine Gael some time ago. He made a commitment to introduce legislation along these lines and the heads of a Bill were published some weeks ago. Will he indicate when it will be published and whether it will come to the Oireachtas before the end of this session and be enacted before the general election?

The ethics Bill will be published this session. As the Deputy will appreciate, Senator Morrissey introduced a home defence Bill in the Seanad——

The Tánaiste wrote it.

——and the Deputy's party introduced another one. The heads of the Bill have been approved. I hope there will be speedy progress, since they are well drafted and well crafted heads.

Self-praise is no praise. Will the Tánaiste join me in sending the congratulations of this House to the Irish cricket team on its tremendous sporting achievement? In that regard, has the Government considered the great additional financial burden that will be imposed on it as a result of reaching the last eight? I am advised by Deputy Seán Ryan, who was no mean cricketer in his day, that there will be great additional cost as a result of Ireland qualifying for the Super Eight stage. Perhaps the Government will have regard to that by facilitating the cricket team's extended stay for the remaining seven matches.

Does the Tánaiste now consider it appropriate that he apologise on behalf of the Garda Síochána to Mr. Frank Shortt?

That does not arise on the Order of Business. The Tánaiste is here to answer on behalf of the Government on the Order of Business. If the Deputy has a question for a line Minister, I suggest that he submit it.

The Tánaiste is the line Minister.

Yes, but he is not here in that capacity and I ask that the Deputy obey the Order of Business. He got away with his first item, which was outside the Order of Business.

The Tánaiste is always in that capacity.

I got away with it? I cannot believe that. The Tánaiste spends the entire morning lecturing us on doing our business here and the Ceann Comhairle tells me that I have got away with something. What am I supposed to be doing?

The Chair was lenient on the first issue that the Deputy raised, which was not appropriate to the Order of Business. It is now almost 11.30 a.m. and the Chair is obliged to ensure we comply with the Standing Orders of the House.

The Supreme Court made some very trenchant remarks yesterday regarding the oppression of an Irish citizen, Mr. Frank Shortt. I am sure the Tánaiste, as someone who, like me, supports the gardaí, is as disturbed about it as I am.

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business? We cannot have one rule for the Deputy and one for every other Member.

I ask that the Tánaiste take this opportunity to do something on behalf of the Garda Síochána that has not yet been done.

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

He should apologise for the appalling conduct of a minority of gardaí——

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

——who engaged in the oppression of a citizen.

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Third, when the Tánaiste came galloping to celebrate the partnership between Paddy the plasterer and the Taoiseach last October, he promised legislation as he breathlessly congratulated the Taoiseach on "getting away with it", or did the Ceann Comhairle correct me the last time — perhaps the word was "surviving".

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

It is appropriate.

The question concerns promised legislation.

I will hear the Deputy on that. He need not have such a long preamble, however.

When will we see that Bill? The Ceann Comhairle says that he will hear me, but he keeps interrupting me.

The Chair never interrupts, he intervenes.

I am perfectly entitled under the rules of this House to ask about promised legislation. Is that not right?

That is correct, but not to make a long preamble.

I am not making a long preamble, I am trying to rebut your constant interventions.

Like everyone else, the Chair is obliged to obey Standing Orders.

From here, it looks like he is here to protect the Government.

Would Deputy Stagg like to withdraw that remark?

I am sure I will.

I ask him to withdraw the remark unequivocally.

A Cheann Comhairle——

Unequivocally, or the Deputy must leave the House.

It appears to this side of the House that the Ceann Comhairle is being less than fair.

I ask the Deputy to withdraw the remark.

If the Ceann Comhairle insists on my withdrawing the remark, I will do so.

Remark withdrawn.

When will we see publication of the "we survived it" Bill, and will it be enacted in the lifetime of this Dáil?

The Deputy must be having a senior moment or be so busy preparing his questions that he was not listening to what was said. I was asked that question a moment ago and I said that the Bill would come in this session.

I asked when the Bill would be enacted.

The next Bill must fall.

That depends on the co-operation of the Opposition. If we spend an hour every morning on this kind of nonsense, who can say?

We have not yet seen the Bill.

When the Deputy sees it, he will not be disappointed, and I am sure there will be all-party agreement to its early passage. We spend an hour every day on this routine. The other question was put so long ago that I cannot remember it.

It is just not cricket.

Yes, it concerned cricket.

Croke Park and Lansdowne Road — I do not know where they will have the cricket in Dublin. There will be no cricket in Mayo.

(Interruptions).

To refer to the early part of Deputy Rabbitte's innings when he raised the cricket issue, I congratulate the Irish cricket team very sincerely on its magnificent achievement in the West Indies. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, has made special arrangements to provide consular support for the band of 1,500 Irish supporters there with the players to ensure their welfare.

Is the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste going?

We look after the people.

Second, I am sure the Deputy will join me in sending our best wishes to the Irish soccer team, which this weekend will play in Croke Park for the first time. I presume the Deputy will join me in congratulating the Irish rugby team on its achievements in Rome last weekend. The under-20s deserve particular mention for their great achievement in winning the Grand Slam in Europe.

I hold a firm wicket. What about the Garda Síochána?

That does not arise on the Order of Business.

The case is so serious that it merits a response from the Tánaiste in the House.

If the Deputy wishes to raise the matter on the Adjournment, the Chair will facilitate him. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

On behalf of the Green Party, I too congratulate all our sporting heroes. The Tánaiste is no doubt aware that there is a serious problem in Galway with drinking water.

Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Yes, it relates to promised legislation. The Water Services Bill 2003 has been languishing in committee. When will it return to the House and does failure of the Government to bring it back to the House not represent a serious dereliction of duty on its part?

The Deputy should allow the Tánaiste to answer his question.

We need greater improvements in water services and I do not believe that the Government is taking the matter seriously.

The legislation is passing through the House and has been ordered for Report Stage. With co-operation among the parties, it will get an early hearing.

In light of the situation of many elderly people who cannot secure accommodation in nursing homes owing to the imposition of new rules, when will the nursing home support Bill be put before the House so that we might discuss it in full? Regarding what happened yesterday, when the House was misled, I sat in my car for an hour and five minutes on the M1 without moving.

That does not arise on the Order of Business. I call the Tánaiste on the first question.

It certainly arises in legislation. The public transport Bill should be discussed. However, it is important that the Taoiseach set right the record of the House.

I would prefer if the Deputy did not qualify his statement because we will move on at 11.30 a.m. and other Deputies have been waiting very patiently.

He misled the House in that it was not because of a ban but because the tunnel broke down.

Both Bills are scheduled for publication this year.

I wish to ask about two promised Bills. Several thousand families living in local authority flats have waited a very long time for the opportunity to buy their homes. Legislation was promised in the form of the housing miscellaneous provisions Bill, but that Bill has not yet appeared. What is the reason for the delay? Is there any prospect of it being published before the general election and, if so, will we have time to debate and pass it? This is a pressing issue.

I also wish to ask the Tánaiste about the long-promised Dublin transport authority Bill. Exactly a year ago, the Minister for Transport promised we would have that legislation in a matter of weeks. What is the reason for the delay and is there any prospect of that Bill being taken before the election?

As regards the purchase by local authority tenants of their flats, the legislation is the social housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill. The heads of that Bill were approved by the Government on 19 December 2006 and it is due for publication early this summer. It is currently being drafted.

The answer is "No".

As regards the second issue raised by the Deputy, the Dublin transport authority Bill will be published this session.

Is there any prospect of it being debated before the election?

With the co-operation of the House, if we did not spend an hour every morning talking about legislation, we might get there.

The Tánaiste is very time conscious.

It is the Government's job to order it.

Two weeks ago, when we raised the question of legislation to control management companies in apartments and housing estates, the Taoiseach said "I am informed that one piece of legislation will not be sufficient to cover all the areas. It will just cover a number of them and work is ongoing on the Bill". The Bill to which he referred is the property services regulatory authority Bill. Will the Tánaiste clarify the position for us? It is a full 18 months since Deputy Catherine Murphy and I raised this crux whereby apartment owners and householders are stuck in these situations with management companies. When will the Government come forward with comprehensive legislation that is required to protect apartment owners and extricate householders who were needlessly forced into management contracts?

We cannot discuss the legislation now.

It is after 11.30 a.m. Other colleagues are offering and I would like to facilitate them.

The second issue arises under promised health and environmental legislation. Is the Tánaiste embarrassed that a parasitic infection, normally associated with the Third World, currently afflicts a major part of Galway?

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

This is after ten years of his Government.

I call the Tánaiste on the legislation.

As regards the property services Bill, the Taoiseach is correct. One piece of legislation cannot deal with the particular set of agendas which relates to management companies. Legislation has already been drafted in my Department on the regulation of property services, but there will also have to be at least one other piece of legislation to deal with the position of tenants vis-à-vis their own management companies, which is a slightly different issue. The Deputy will be aware that I attended a conference at the Law Society recently, which was sponsored by that society and the Law Reform Commission. These issues were dealt with in great detail on that occasion.

For the Deputy's information, I wish to put on record that my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, wrote to the local authorities that were of particular interest to Deputy Catherine Murphy and Deputy Joe Higgins. Those authorities were effectively using private management companies as a way of reimposing rates in certain areas, to get them to take those estates in charge, and not to use that as a means of hiving off their own responsibility to particular tenants. It is a complex issue, however, as the Deputy will appreciate. The legislation in preparation in my Department will deal with some but not all of the agenda that is necessary to ensure that people are not ripped off by private management companies, or by developers who never trigger the establishment of the companies for estates by holding on to some of the properties. There is a series of issues that must be dealt with.

When will the order be made?

The issue is being worked on in the relevant Departments, which are my Department and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Does the Tánaiste have anything to say about water contamination?

Water contamination is primarily a matter for the local authority in question.

People are falling ill.

If the Deputy wants to raise that matter there are many ways of doing so in this House, but not on the Order of Business.

In the last few days of this Government, is any legislation planned on foot of the White Paper on energy or is it basically a dead letter? Has the Tánaiste made an agreement with the developer, Mr. Gerry Gannon, to establish a Garda station in the Donaghmede area?

The second question does not arise.

Is it news to the Tánaiste?

Is legislation promised?

Legislation is not promised in either area.

It will be promised though.

Will the Tánaiste indicate when the Government and Opposition Whips will arrange to have No. 90, the Water Services Bill 2003 [Seanad], listed for Report Stage? In that case, we can envisage practical action being taken to resolve existing difficulties.

That matter was mentioned a moment ago, although the Deputy may not have been here. I said that with co-operation from the House, I am sure Report Stage of that Bill will be dealt with.

I appreciate the Tánaiste's reply.

Given the number of post office closures all over the country, alarm has been expressed by those concerned about the future of the postal service. In addition, both unions and management have expressed the view that political leadership is required in this regard. When I asked the Taoiseach about the present whereabouts of the postal services (miscellaneous provisions) Bill he said it fell off the wagon. That is his quote, not mine. In view of the fact that the wagon is now on the move, will the Tánaiste peer under it to find out if it is intended to reintroduce that Bill? That legislation is crucially required.

Wanderly Wagon.

The Geological Survey of Ireland Bill was also before the House but fell off the wagon.

I am sorry Deputy but other Members are offering and we must move on.

The Tánaiste is anxious to give a comprehensive answer. Will he look under the wagon again and tell us where is that legislation?

The Deputy always asks about those two Bills and the answer is always the same: they have been taken off the list. It is not promised legislation.

It took rocket science to produce that result. The Tánaiste might have said whether he was going to reintroduce the legislation. That was the question. The Tánaiste should peer under the wagon.

We hope we have dealt sufficiently with people who abuse children and the criminal consequences involved. When will legislation be introduced, however, as a preventative measure to ensure children will be protected in advance of any action being taken by the justice system against people who are considered unsafe to work with children. When will that be done?

The Deputy's question concerns the register of persons who are working with children legislation. It is not possible to indicate at this stage when that legislation will be published because detailed consideration, with significant advice from the Attorney General, is required to deal with the issues involved, which may well be influenced by the terms of the proposed constitutional referendum concerning soft information and the like. The Deputy is well aware of the situation on that constitutional initiative.

It is a preventative measure and should be done as a matter of urgency.

We enacted legislation in this House to establish the Health and Safety Authority to investigate accidents at work. There are currently 29 actions against the HSA for issuing enforcement notices.

Does the Deputy have a question on legislation?

My question is that Donegal County Council is using taxpayers' money——

That question does not arise on the Order of Business.

It does because they are giving two fingers to this House.

I call No. 11a, Appointments to Public Bodies Bill 2007 — First Stage.

What is the point in enacting legislation if the HSA cannot do its job?

The Deputy will have to resume his seat. I call Deputy Boyle.

The HSA cannot do its job. A girl was killed in Donegal in 2001 and the HSA is trying to investigate it. I sought that investigation, which was granted, but the county council is trying to stop it.

I will have to ask the Deputy to leave the House. I call Deputy Boyle.

Justice is required. The Tánaiste, as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform is responsible, but where is the justice for that girl in Donegal?