Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Apr 2007

Vol. 635 No. 3

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 16, revised Estimates for public services 2007, Votes 1 to 41, back from committee; No. 17, motion re Competition Act 2002 (section 18(5) and (6)) Order 2007, back from committee; No. 18, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a Council decision on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen information system, back from committee; No. 25, Criminal Justice Bill 2007 — Report and Final Stages (resumed); No. 19, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of memoranda of understanding on the Nordic battle group and operational headquarters, back from committee; and No. 3, Health Bill 2006 — amendments from the Seanad.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of oral questions to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; (2) Nos. 16, 17 and 18 shall be decided without debate and in the case of No. 16, Votes 1 to 41 shall be moved together and shall be decided by one question which shall be put from the Chair and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; (3) the following arrangements shall apply to No. 25: (i) the proceedings on the resumed recommital shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 60 minutes by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; (ii) the proceedings on the Report and Final Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; (4) the proceedings on No. 19 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the speeches shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, and which shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; (ii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; (5) the proceedings on No. 3 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4 p.m. and any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question which will be put by the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments to the Seanad amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Health and Children; (6) Question Time shall be taken at 4 p.m. for 75 minutes and, in the event of a private notice question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes and the order shall not resume thereafter; and (7) the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 April 2007.

There are seven proposals to put to the House. Are the arrangements for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 16, 17 and 18 without debate agreed?

In respect of No. 18, Britain is a member of the Schengen group and, as a consequence, so is Ireland. Is the Tánaiste satisfied, on behalf of the Government, that the operation and use of the second generation Schengen information system will give a truly accurate account of the persons entering this country? There has been some discrepancy in this regard in the past.

On No. 18, I recall when this was referred to committee only last week that there was an indication that full address of all that is entailed in the Schengen information system mark II would be accommodated. Yet it is coming back to us here and being pressed for approval without debate. That is certainly not in line with my understanding of the Government's intent. As I understood it, there was a cross-party interest in ensuring proper scrutiny of all that is involved, particularly given that data protection legislation that needs to be front loaded to facilitate a further consideration of all that is involved has yet to present. There is so much involved in all of this. We should not pass it without further scrutiny and debate.

Did Deputy Ó Caoláin make these points in the committee?

Unfortunately, I do not have access to all the committees, any more than Deputy Rabbitte does. This is the forum to which I have direct access and I would be happy to participate in a full engagement on the floor of this House.

I understood this matter was debated at length and thoroughly investigated at a meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights under the chairmanship of Deputy Ardagh. I wish to correct the impression given by Deputy Ó Caoláin. What I said was that if it was considered, after it had been debated at committee, that there was a further need for a debate in this House on the issue that this was a matter the House could decide at that point. It is my understanding that the Deputy's party did not contribute to the discussion of this issue in committee.

I appreciate that there are multiple commitments for smaller parties. However, we agreed we would send this to a committee for detailed examination. Any Member of either House is entitled to attend meetings of Oireachtas committees and speak with the permission of the Chairman. Deputy Jim O'Keeffe attended the meeting on behalf of Fine Gael and Deputy Lynch represented the Labour Party. We cannot have a situation where we must have a full blown debate in this House because people do not turn up at the relevant committee meeting.

In response to Deputy Kenny's question, we have a common travel area with the United Kingdom. I cannot put my hand on my heart and say I know exactly how many people are entering and leaving Ireland. I could only do so if I put people at every crossing point and counted those coming in and out. That is not possible.

I wish to respond.

There is no provision for further contribution.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 16, Revised Estimates for Public Services 2007 — Votes 1 to 41; No. 17, motion re the Competition Act 2002 Order 2007; and No. 18, motion re the Schengen information system, be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 25, recommittal and Report and Final Stages of the Criminal Justice Bill 2007, agreed to?

The debate on this Bill has been constructive up to this point. The Fine Gael spokesperson, Deputy Jim O'Keeffe, and Deputy Howlin on behalf of the Labour Party have engaged in a considered debate. The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has taken into account several of the relevant points raised by Deputies from these and other parties.

However, we have only reached amendment No. 104 out of a total of 171 amendments to this important Bill. Debate will resume at section 31, out of a total of 53 sections. One of the sections that remains to be dealt with is that relating to detention. The Tánaiste said on Second Stage that "we must tread carefully when authorising extensions to detention periods". He has pointed out before that he sees what he sees and knows what he knows. This is a fundamental aspect of the Bill and it must be teased out properly and debated thoroughly and fully. However, it will not be reached under today's proposal, which allocates only one hour for the remaining Stages. In keeping with the Tánaiste's observation, this is something that requires much further discussion, not only from a political point of view but also from the perspective of ensuring this legislation is teased out properly and fully understood.

I do not know whether the Tánaiste or Government Whip will agree to allocate additional time today for this debate. In view of the Tánaiste's comments on Second Stage that this is an area in which we must tread carefully, it would be wrong to have the Bill pushed through without including this issue in the recommitted Report Stage debate. The Whip should either offer an amendment to today's Order of Business, bring the House back a week earlier on 17 and 18 April or reschedule this debate for 24 and 25 April.

We do not want a situation where the Government points out the importance of the Bill but does not allow an issue as fundamental as detention to be debated properly. In view of the Minister's own observations on the matter, I make my proposals to him in good faith. This is not the way to proceed. The section on detention will go through without any discussion on the Report Stage recommital. This is not good enough in respect of an issue as fundamentally important as this.

I agree with the observations of the leader of the Fine Gael Party. This is an extremely important Bill. All types of corners have been cut in regard to it, putting enormous pressure not only on Opposition spokespersons and their support staff but also on the staff of the Houses.

Recommitted Committee Stage will resume for one hour, but there are important issues that have not been debated at all, the most important being the potential for sevenday detention. A distinguished former Attorney General wrote yesterday that this provision is unconstitutional. It is important that we address these matters in open debate in this House so that there is no doubt, as far as we are concerned, that the law we make is as robust and constitutionally sound as we can make it. I have tabled an amendment to this section, which I believe will improve it. As it stands, however, we will not even have a chance to debate it. That is fundamentally wrong.

The Tánaiste indicated yesterday that the Dáil would definitely be back after the Easter recess. Nobody in the House or outside it can say the Opposition has not been constructive. We have disciplined ourselves in terms of the type of debate in which we have engaged and have made very good progress in constructively remodelling sections of the Bill. However, we do not know where we stand on many fundamental matters. For example, the Minister undertook to rethink over night his position in respect of mandatory sentencing. We have not yet had sight of the Minister's Report Stage amendments and do not know whether section 24 will remain in the Bill.

We do not know, as of this minute, what enactments will remain in Schedule 2, whether the comprehensive Schedule currently provided will remain or whether particular provisions will be removed from it. These are fundamental matters. I ask that the suggestion from the leader of the Fine Gael Party, Deputy Kenny, to use the time today to conclude Committee Stage and adjourn the debate to allow for a separate Report Stage following the Easter recess be accepted. This would give everybody time to reflect and it would ensure we provide a robust package to which we can all sign up in response to gangland crime. This is the proper, fair and sound way to proceed. I ask that the Tánaiste accept the proposal made in good faith from this side of the House.

As somebody who has engaged fully in the Second and Committee Stage debates on the Bill, I am opposed to the proposal. As we teased out this Bill, it became obvious the Minister was not on the sure footing he believed himself to be on. He undertook to re-examine a number of parts of the Bill, including section 24, and stated yesterday he would consider withdrawing it. This shows the Minister is floundering. The more we debate this Bill the more glaring are the problems, the more unconstitutional it appears and the more obvious it becomes we are making a mistake in the manner in which we are proceeding with it in this House. Enough time is not being provided to adequately debate the Bill. I support the call that Committee Stage continue today and that adequate time be provided between Committee and Report Stages to allow everybody, including the Minister and his officials, to reflect on what is a fundamental change in our justice system. I urge that the debate on this Bill not conclude today.

I have listened carefully to the debate on the matters raised. I have been, as I indicated I would be, reasonable at all points. I would be willing to devote the first day of the resumed session to Report Stage of the Bill on one condition, namely, that we get the business done that day and Members do not engage in the usual antics in respect of guillotines and mock posturing on that subject.

It is called parliamentary democracy.

The Bill will then go to the Seanad.

How many hours will be allowed for Report Stage?

That is a matter for the Whips. I will agree to Report Stage being taken on the first day the House resumes following the Easter recess and only on the condition proposed. The alternative scenario is that we conclude the debate on the Bill in this House today, the Bill will then be forwarded to the Seanad for debate and returned to this House for final consideration. That is the choice I am offering Members. I am being reasonable. If others are willing to play ball, that is fine, but I am not willing to have the worst of both worlds.

The Opposition has shown firm evidence that it is willing to engage constructively on this. It is unfair——

I am offering Members a choice.

What is that choice? Is it that we not have a division——

We will do as Deputy Howlin suggested and complete Committee Stage today.

I am attracted to the proposal. However, is the proposal that the House not divide on the Order of Business when the House resumes following the Easter recess? Is that the condition?

No, it is very simple.

We will work to complete the Bill.

I accept that Deputies Ó Caoláin and Ó Snodaigh are not agreeable to the proposal. However, I am asking that other parties agree to the proposition that we devote one day only to Report Stage of the Bill on the resumption of the Dáil, following which the Bill will go to the Seanad. If that is not agreeable, for whatever reason, my proposal is that we conclude the debate on the Bill today and forward it to the Seanad for debate. Following amendment by the Seanad the Bill will return to this House for discussion.

We will only be able to discuss Seanad amendments. That is ridiculous.

That is the choice I am offering.

That is not the choice with which this Parliament should be faced.

The Tánaiste speaks today on behalf of the Government. However, he does not know now whether the Taoiseach intends to dissolve the Dáil on 24 April, the day the House is scheduled to resume. Neither he nor anybody else can know that; it is the sole prerogative of the Taoiseach. From that point of view and given normal business including Leaders' Questions, the Order of Business and Private Members' Business will be taken on the day in question, only two or three hours will be provided for Report Stage of the Bill. This is a fundamentally important issue. I see no reason the Dáil cannot resume on 16 and 17 April to discuss this matter exclusively. This would allow for a two day debate on the critical issues outlined by Deputies Howlin and O'Keeffe without interfering with the Taoiseach's prerogative on 24 or 25 April which, with respect to the Tánaiste, neither he nor I can know.

If the Tánaiste is willing to take Report Stage when the House resumes, I suggest we resume on 17 and 18 April to do so exclusively. If he has to return from far off climes, he has a duty to do so. This is reasonable in the context of ensuring a full, open, thorough and comprehensive discussion on a matter which the Tánaiste rightly said is one on which we should tread very carefully.

I am clear about where I stand on this issue. I am willing to devote the remainder of today to a Committee Stage debate on the Bill and to take Report Stage on the day the House resumes.

Not the rest of the day, only one hour.

I am not in a position now to say what time will be allocated to Report Stage on the day. I am agreeing to Report Stage being taken on the resumption of the Dáil. If that is agreeable, that is fine. If not, we can proceed with the Order of Business as proposed. The Bill will then be forwarded to the Seanad for debate and will return to this House for final consideration. One way or the other, that is what I will do.

As for the timing of the general election, that is not my concern. I am determined to bring forward a package which deals with gangland crime. I said in December I would do so and I am sticking by my word on this.

Is the proposal agreed?

What is the Tánaiste proposing?

The proposal is that the Bill be recommitted today and debated until 1.30 p.m. and return to the House for final consideration following its debate in the Seanad.

Discussion on the Bill will continue when the House resumes on 24 April.

There is no point playing the gombeen on this. I have made it clear——

The Tánaiste has not made it clear.

If the Tánaiste's proposal is not agreeable, we will put the original proposal.

The Tánaiste might as well head up to the park.

Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is proposal No. 4 re the Nordic battle groups agreed? Agreed. Is proposal No. 5 re amendments from the Seanad to the Health Bill 2006 agreed? Agreed. Is proposal No. 6 re Question Time agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal that the Dáil on rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 April 2007 agreed?

No. The Tánaiste is correct that my colleague, Deputy Ó Snodaigh, and I do not accept this proposal. I acknowledge he has agreed to extend the time for the Committee Stage debate. However, we believe the proposal in respect of the taking of Report Stage on 24 April is wholly inadequate in terms of addressing the Criminal Justice Bill 2007 and all it entails. We believe the Dáil should resume prior to 24 April as so much business needs to be addressed. The methodology employed by the Government, cramming through legislation in the last days of a dying Administration, is not acceptable. There are many other important matters that also need to be addressed, not least yesterday's publication of the MacEntee report which further investigated the Dublin-Monaghan bombings of May 1974. Real concerns have been expressed by Justice for the Forgotten. All the matters surrounding the issue of collusion should be addressed here. The Taoiseach should accommodate a full debate in the House on these serious matters which arise from the single largest loss of life in all the tragic years that we have now, thankfully, seen consigned to our history books. It is important to recognise that, 33 years later, many people are still dependent on the Government to elicit the full factual truth of what happened back in 1974.

We cannot debate that matter now. The Deputy can make a brief comment as to why he is opposing the motion.

Fair enough. The MacEntee report clearly indicates that there are many more questions to be addressed. The Taoiseach should accommodate the demand of Justice for the Forgotten for a full public inquiry. We should be debating that here.

I call Deputy Rabbitte.

It should be a matter for this House to discuss.

The Deputy should make a brief comment as to why he is opposing the motion. He cannot debate the issue now.

I am urging that a special day be provided for such a debate in the week prior to 24 April. I have no doubt the people of County Monaghan would be equally interested in it, a Cheann Comhairle, as Dublin Deputies. I urge the Tánaiste to revisit the proposal.

It is entirely futile to raise a point on this matter, but for the life of me I cannot understand why we cannot resume before 24 April. We have been sitting until midnight quite frequently for the last three or four weeks. Some 24 Bills have been promised for this session, yet only 12 have been published. Why can we not resume on 17 April in the normal way? I know the Government has no intention of doing so and I do not wish to divide the House on the matter. However, I see no reason for not resuming earlier, other than to free up the Taoiseach to wander the highways and by-ways for 20 days, canvassing unimpededly.

And the Deputy himself.

No. Deputy Rabbitte does not do that.

I can think of no reason why we cannot resume earlier, other than that the Taoiseach does not like to be in this House and escapes on the least pretext.

Instinctively my party opposes the idea of a two-week break at Easter when there is still so much business to deal with. Coming near the end of the fifth year of the 29th Dáil, the argument is rather why we should bother coming back after the Easter recess. This Dáil has reached the end of its natural life. It is time to go to the people and on those grounds I will not be opposing the proposal.

The Government intends to do more business in the House this month.

It goes on and on.

Whether the Opposition likes it or not.

We regard it as a duty.

No one is keeping Members in the House who no longer have an appetite for doing business. They can go wherever they want.

That is no way to refer to the Taoiseach.

Deputy Ó Caoláin raised the issue of debating the report prepared by Mr. MacEntee. I believe that report deserves time and consideration, and we will have to come back to consider it in this House, however we agree to do so. When the Deputy calls for a public inquiry into that particular atrocity, he should remember that on 21 November 1974, 21 people were killed in Birmingham. There was a massive miscarriage of justice and we have never had an inquiry. People much closer to him know the truth of all that.

The Tánaiste would say that.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 7 be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 46.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brady, Martin.
  • Brennan, Seamus.
  • Callanan, Joe.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Carty, John.
  • Cassidy, Donie.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Fox, Mildred.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Glennon, Jim.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, Michael.
  • Nolan, M. J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Ned.
  • O’Malley, Fiona.
  • O’Malley, Tim.
  • Parlon, Tom.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Sexton, Mae.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wright, G. V.


  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Higgins, Joe.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Paul.
  • McHugh, Paddy.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Gerard.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • 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.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.
Question declared carried.

I would like to raise a number of matters. The Government published its list of legislation on 30 January and it included 25 Bills to be published before the end of this session. Some 12 or 13 Bills have been published and I ask the Tánaiste to outline for us the number and titles of the remaining Bills to be published up to 24 April, the day the Dáil is due to resume. In other words, will the Tánaiste give us a list of the remaining 12 or 13 Bills to be published, in accordance with the list published by the Minister in January, before 24 April?

Is it proposed to give an update on the situation arising from the fact that 40,000 nurses are on a work to rule that will have a serious impact on the health service? Will the Tánaiste expand on his reference to the MacEntee report on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings? If I understood the Tánaiste correctly, he suggested there would be an opportunity for a debate on this when the House resumes. Those of us who were around at the time will recall with clarity and sadness the events of those turbulent times.

Perhaps the Tánaiste will explain what type of debate he intends to have when the Dáil resumes.

The Tánaiste indicated he has an appetite for more work. Is he preparing for the last supper?

It could be the crucifixion.

Looking at legislation under the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I count 13 Bills which do not seem to have moved far on the list. They include the defence of life and property Bill, the heads of which were to have been published in February; the crimes Bill; the criminal justice (confiscation orders) Bill; the criminal justice (DNA database) Bill; the criminal justice (money laundering) Bill; the criminal justice (suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism) Bill; the criminal justice (trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation of children) Bill; the criminal justice (UN Convention against Corruption) Bill; the family law Bill; the legal costs Bill; and the trusts Bill. Will the Minister indicate the position regarding these Bills?

A report cited in today's Irish Independent states that one in five children of 12 years of age know where to get drugs and the drug culture is encroaching on the lives of primary school children. The main findings of the report are that 64% of those aged between 12 and 19 years had smoked——

The Deputy should ask a question appropriate to the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach said some time ago in reply to a question I put to him that he did not believe there are serious drug problems in every village, community and locality. In respect of his responsibility for introducing effective legislation in this area, does the Tánaiste share the sense that the——

The matter does not arise. If the Deputy wishes to raise it in another way the Chair will facilitate him.

The Ceann Comhairle has been waiting to cut me off for the past three minutes.

The Deputy has done well. He has spoken for about five minutes on five questions, one of which is strictly appropriate to the Order of Business.

The Ceann Comhairle came out of the blocks quickly. I could see his eyes blinking in recognition that he had an opportunity to cut me down.

As it is the last day before the Easter recess, the Chair is being lenient with the Deputy.

Today was, I believe, the day on which Pontius Pilate washed his hands of things. I do not want the Tánaiste to be cast in the same role.

I ask the Tánaiste to deal with questions on matters other than the MacEntee report. I will hear other Members on the MacEntee report and the Tánaiste can deal with it thereafter.

I will come back to the MacEntee report. As far as the commitment to publish Bills in this session is concerned, I understand 12 have been published, the text of two others has been approved by Government and is going to the printers and four others are about to published. This brings the number of Bills up to at least 18 before this session is completed. The session continues until the next session starts.


That is the way it has always been done.

Does the Tánaiste know which four Bills are about to be published?

I know with certainty that the ethics legislation to which the Deputy referred is one of the two Bills approved. The coroners Bill and immigration protection and residence Bill are among the four Bills to be published. I am not in a position, off the top of my head, to name all four Bills but they are on the way.

The Tánaiste will be busy on 24 April.

Exactly, and I hope the Deputy is up to all the voting. On the legislative load of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, a number of Bills, some of which Deputy Kenny referred to, are in the drafting stage. I am accused alternatively of not doing anything and legislating as a knee-jerk reaction to everything. I have also been accused of being a serial legislator. We cannot have it both ways. My Department has done a fantastic job over the past four and a half years in preparing legislative proposals.

Self-praise is no praise.

I refer to my Department not myself. I do not want to deal with the MacEntee report yet because the Ceann Comhairle wishes to give——

Members wish to speak on this matter. I ask Deputy Rabbitte to speak to the MacEntee report and I will call him again if he has other questions appropriate to the Order of Business.

Will the House have an opportunity, having regard to the serious matters inquired into by the MacEntee commission, to consider the report in the lifetime of this Dáil? Is the Tánaiste satisfied that all State agencies co-operated fully with Mr. MacEntee? Are some State agencies claiming legal privilege on some documents? It would be helpful if the Tánaiste were to provide this information, if he has it.

My party supports the call for a debate on the MacEntee report, which has been long-awaited and much delayed. In the time remaining to it, the Dáil should take the earliest possible opportunity to have such a debate because the report reveals important issues which require discussion in the House.

The Taoiseach has promised a full debate on collusion. With the publication of the MacEntee report yesterday, it is clear Mr. MacEntee did not secure access to all the information he would have required to properly report on the matters referred to him, not least owing to the destruction — although I understand the word "cull" has been employed — of material held in Garda files and the absence of files which went missing from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform in the period since the tragic events of May 1974. This is a serious matter.

Mr. MacEntee's report, in a number of sections, says more in what is omitted than in what appears in the text. Mr. MacEntee clearly poses a number of serious questions to us. It is imperative that every effort is employed to establish the full and whole truth. This can only be aided through full address, in the House, of the issues concerned in the first instance. At least one full day should be given over to a debate on the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The debate should accommodate the opportunity for Members to put questions. It should not be confined to a trundling out of statement after statement but must have in-depth engagement with the Tánaiste and Taoiseach representing the two critical ministries, the Department of the Taoiseach and Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Against the background of——

I ask the Deputy to keep his comments brief at this stage. We cannot have a full debate on the Order of Business.

There can be no question but that the Dublin and Monaghan bombings represented——

I would prefer if the Deputy did not go into detail. Other Deputies have been brief.

It was tantamount to a declaration of war on this State by the British authorities. I urge the Minister to indicate that a full day will be allocated for a debate. The Government has already voted down an opportunity to hold a debate prior to the signalled resumption of business on 24 April. Will the Tánaiste confirm that a day will be allocated for such a debate in this Dáil, that is, prior to the general election?

As the Ceann Comhairle is well aware, for many years we have pursued with the Taoiseach and urged the Government to find a way to get to the truth of the murky origins of the appalling atrocity of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The day after the publication of the MacEntee report, the relatives and victims, those who have suffered, are still seeking the truth and it is clear that organisations of State, both here and in Britain, are hiding that truth. We have not got to the truth. The Tánaiste will shortly be taking to the lampposts of Dublin South-East again, but before he does so, rather than have this issue continue until the autumn, will he tell the Dáil anything to assuage the worry and angst of those who have suffered and the relatives about how he proposes to get to the truth of this atrocity and lay it before the Irish people.

I do not want to anticipate a debate by having a half-baked debate on the subject today. The Dublin and Monaghan bombings were an atrocity and there is every reason to believe that there was involvement at some level of the security forces in Northern Ireland with some of the people involved in that atrocity. That is a serious and grave matter, which I do not believe anybody now seriously discounts, bearing in mind what we know.

I am absolutely satisfied that the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has given all the knowledge in its possession to successive Dáil committees and to Mr. MacEntee. It has held back nothing whatsoever. Therefore, I immediately reject the suggestion that State agencies are trying to hide the truth from anybody. As the MacEntee report points out, either reports were sent to the Department of Justice by the Garda Síochána and have disappeared or they were never sent. With regard to that proposition, it is not possible 30 years later for the incumbents in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to throw any more light on the issue.

Mr. MacEntee and the committee in Dáil Éireann considered this issue and took evidence from Ministers in the then Government and senior gardaí of the time as to their recollection of these events. If they cannot get at the truth, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform by itself cannot go further because it is not in a position to disprove a negative. All it can say is there is no record in the Department of this material and if it was in the possession of the Department at some stage, it has ceased to be so, in circumstances of which nobody has knowledge — if it was not, that raises other questions. Those questions fundamentally fall to be answered by the people who were involved in these affairs at the time.

Different people occupied the different ministerial positions at the time and, at this remove, I am not in a position to say why the Garda investigation was wound down so quickly, what happened to all the papers concerning the investigation or at what level it was discussed in Government. Only the people who were there at the time can throw light on that issue. Efforts have been made, as I understand it, to find out as much as possible from them, and Mr. MacEntee has produced his report. All I wish to say with regard to records in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is that the conclusion I personally have to draw from this, as the present Minister, concerns the need to ensure records are properly dealt with now, regardless of what happened to these records in the 1970s.

I am not in a position to say what happened in the 1970s. The people who occupied my position at that time should be in a position to do so but perhaps they are not. In all good faith, perhaps they are totally incapable of assisting with finding out what happened in this regard. Let us remember that senior gardaí were called before a committee of this House and asked to explain why that investigation was wound down. The public heard the explanations, unsatisfactory as they were, given that memory lapses over 30 years are very significant and people's recollection of events is very different. There is no intent on the part of the Government to conceal or hide anything.

With regard to the transnational and trans-Border aspects of this matter, I am absolutely satisfied the Government has done everything in its power to persuade the United Kingdom authorities to yield up everything in their possession. Whether they have done that to an adequate extent is a different matter, but nobody can level the finger at the Taoiseach and say he has not done his best, meeting after meeting — I have been present at such meetings — to raise this issue and attempt to arrive at the truth.

The year 1974 was the year of Sunningdale, of this murderous atrocity and of many other atrocities, including the Birmingham bombing and the miscarriage of justice which arose from it. Looking back over all of these events, the establishment of the narrow factual truth of each and every event is something which most people want but which is sometimes impossible to arrive at. More and more inquiry into one narrow focus, when other matters are left out of the equation, could sometimes be misleading to the public if it was suggested one could get to the absolute scientific truth 30 years later.

By way of a footnote to that, I will make the following point. People sometimes forget that in 1974 there was no extradition between the two parts of this country. It was the norm in this House in the 1960s and 1970s, and defended across the party divide, that there should be no extradition. Things have changed dramatically but we should not look back at historical events through rose-tinted glasses. They were different times and the Government was struggling for the survival of democracy. To attack the Fine Gael-Labour Government of the time by suggesting it did not deliver an adequate response to those bombs is something which people can have the luxury of doing, but it was in a fight to preserve democracy on this island and to save this country from a conflagration which would have involved tens of thousands of people being killed if certain people had had their way.

I thank the Tánaiste for his remarks. I also raised the question of whether any State agencies were claiming legal privilege over certain documents.

I understand there are some papers relating to one individual who was apparently staying in Dublin over which a claim of privilege has been made. I have not seen these papers, which I understand are referred to parenthetically in the report. As I have not seen them, I am not in a position to make any intelligent or reasonable comment on them but I understand the nature of the claim is to preserve the identity of the informant for good reason. That is all.

We will hear Deputy Rabbitte on another issue.

To return to the legislative schedule, some 25 Bills have been promised for this session. By my count, 12 have been published. In particular, I wish to ask about the Dublin transport authority Bill, which the Minister for Transport announced in November 2006 would be ready by Christmas. Naively, we on this side of the House took that to be Christmas 2006. Will that Bill see the light of day in this Dáil?

I understand the Bill is at an advanced stage of drafting and is very near to publication. However, a couple of matters in regard to it are still outstanding.

I wish to ask about a number of Bills and the prioritisation that might be given by Government in the short time we have available. Is the Tánaiste confident sufficient time will be made available for all Stages of Bills such as the Defamation Bill and the Ethics in Public Office Bill? Will the Child Care (Amendment) Bill come back for its Final Stages?

I understand the long-awaited charities Bill will be published in the coming days. Given its size, we have no hope of getting through all its Stages. Will the Government at least consider opening it up for a Second Stage debate before the Dáil finally dissolves?

The text of the charities Bill was before Government last week and can be expected soon.

With regard to the amount of parliamentary time available, I never cease to remark that we spend an hour every day discussing what we would do if we had the time.

Yet we are off for two weeks.

We listen to the Tánaiste. We want to give him enough rope.

We like to encourage a performance.

The Good Samaritan Bill introduced by Deputy Timmins was defeated in Private Members' time. It was forwarded to the Law Reform Commission. Has it reported back to the Government?

I am not in a position to answer that.

Will the Tánaiste get back to me on that?

If the Deputy gets back to us on 24 April, we will deal with it then.

We are breaking for the recess today and will be back on 24 April to deal with quite a lot of business. We have been waiting ten years or so for the housing miscellaneous provisions Bill, which will deal with the sale of local authority flats. When can we expect to see this Bill?

That is due for publication in early summer.

I hope the Tánaiste's calendar is the same as mine.

Will the Tánaiste advise us as to what mechanism is available for Oireachtas scrutiny in the event of proceeding over the Easter recess with the proposed signing of contracts for the co-location of private hospital developments on public hospital sites?

The Taoiseach dealt with that issue recently. I point out to the Deputy that Sinn Féin is the only party in the Dáil that opposes all private medicine.

That is not the case. The Tánaiste is not answering the question.

Other parties do not have a problem with St. Vincent's private nursing home and other such places. As the Tánaiste has said on a number of occasions, her aim is to ensure that all public beds ——

Did I hear "the Tánaiste"?

Sorry, the Minister for Health and Children.

The Minister is utterly confused.

He needs a two week holiday.

She said all public beds in all public hospitals should be available on an equal basis to all patients. That is her aim. I am surprised it does not appear to be the Sinn Féin aim to back her in her campaign to bring that about.

The Tánaiste has not answered the question.

I call Deputy Durkan. Please allow Deputy Durkan to speak without interruption.

In the limited time available I would like to ask the Tánaiste ——

The Deputy's time may never come.

I would not like to limit the Tánaiste's time. I want to encourage him along the path. I presume the Broadcasting Bill was approved by Government in all parts. We got an abridged version, which has gone through the House, but the main part of the Bill remains to be debated. What are the intentions in that regard and has it been approved by the Cabinet?

The minerals development Bill has caused some discussion over the past year. Has that Bill been discussed or approved by Cabinet. It would be appropriate to talk about the monuments Bill at this stage in the legislative calendar. What progress has been made on that?

The Deputy should get his monument. He would make a good one.

With regard to the monuments Bill, I assure the Deputy the phrase "Forgotten, but not gone" applies as far as he is concerned.

That could be a reference to the Tánaiste himself.

On the Broadcasting Bill, it is due for publication in 2007. As the Deputy knows, the other Bill has been passed. The e-consultation process is over. The minerals development Bill is due this year also. The Deputy will be happy to say he will be commemorated in the national monuments Bill, which will also be published this year.

Will the Tánaiste confirm publicly that there will be no announcement about an eminent legal person to examine the Stardust tragedy before the Dáil expires?

That does not arise on the Order of Business. That matter has been discussed in the House a number of times.

Without resolution, and this Dáil is almost over.

Has the Deputy a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

I think this is appropriate because we may not see this Minister again in this position. He wants to respond.

The matter is not appropriate to the Order of Business. It is 11.45 a.m. and I want to facilitate Members who are still offering.

In light of the fact that legal costs are still running high, when will the legal costs Bill be brought before the House? Second, on the issue of costs, nursing homes in my area are supposed to provide service for a maximum of €531. When will the nursing homes support Bill——

I call Deputy Costello. We cannot spend the day making Second Stage speeches.

The nursing homes legislation is on the agenda. When will it be discussed and when will the enforcement of fines Bill be introduced?

The nursing homes legislation will be published this year. On legal costs, an interim group has been established and we are working on that legislation in the Department. It is hoped to publish that legislation this year. We have published one fines Bill, but it is not possible to give the Deputy a date for the publication of the second.

We have passed the European Communities Bill which is a dastardly piece of legislation giving authority to the Minister of the day or any line Minister to rule by statutory instrument, thereby bypassing this Chamber and the Seanad. In view of this, has the Government any intention of reviewing the European Union scrutiny legislation so the House can have more power in this regard?

Is legislation promised?

No, I do not think legislation is needed. What we need in the House is a greater appetite for scrutiny.

In respect of the civil law (miscellaneous provisions) Bill and the question of casino clubs, the Minister backed off on his threat to close these clubs and set up a committee to look at the prospect of regulating them. I understand a report from that committee has been on his desk since last December. When will he publish the report and why has there been a delay in doing so? What are his intentions, if any, with regard to legislation on the matter before the end of this Dáil?

I received the report this week.

I heard it was in the Department.

I assure the Deputy it was presented to me this week. Second, I had intended to deal with the civil law (miscellaneous provisions) Bill, which involves a crackdown on arcades and the like that were breaking the law and with casinos. However, in view of the fact there seems to be a consensus that we should take a different approach and license some forms of gambling, the report was put in place. I must bring the report to Government and will publish it as quickly as I can, probably over the Easter recess. We will be able to discuss it on our return.