Tribunals of Inquiry: Motion (Resumed).

The following motion was moved by Deputy Enda Kenny on Wednesday, 30 January 2008:
That Dáil Éireann reaffirms its confidence in the Mahon tribunal, and its belief that the tribunal is acting independently, without bias and within the remit contained in the terms of reference set by the Oireachtas.
Amendment No. 1 was moved by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government:
To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:
affirms its confidence in the Mahon tribunal and believes it will fulfil the tribunal's mandate pursuant to the amended terms of reference established by the Oireachtas;
notes that the tribunal was established to inquire urgently into certain planning matters and report to the Clerk of the Dáil and make such findings and recommendations as it sees fit;
notes the rulings of the Supreme Court in relation to the tribunal of inquiry's terms of reference;
notes the projected cost of this tribunal of inquiry, urges the tribunal to continue its work and looks forward to receiving the report of the tribunal expeditiously, in order that the Dáil may debate and deliberate on its findings;
urges the early consideration and enactment by the Oireachtas of the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005 to underpin the confidence of the public and the Oireachtas in any future tribunals and to address matters of procedure and practice in the conduct of any such tribunals;
welcomes the opportunity to discuss the procedures and practices involved in investigating matters mandated by Oireachtas Éireann; and
condemns the leaking of tribunal documents as a breach of confidentiality as established by law, and an infringement on the rights of those affected, and supports appropriate actions to investigate such leaks, and further reaffirms the right to confidentiality to which each citizen is entitled in their correspondence with the tribunal."
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1 to amendment No. 1:
To delete paragraphs 4 to 7 and substitute the following:
shares the public concern about the potential costs of the tribunal and, having regard to the comments made by the former Minister for Finance, Deputy Charlie McCreevy, in which he described the legal fees as "astronomical" and "a gravy train", deplores the failure of the Government to take action to reduce the level of legal fees for tribunals generally;
urges the further postponement by the Oireachtas of the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005, pending the completion of the work of the tribunal;
welcomes the opportunity to discuss the procedures and practices involved in investigating matters mandated by Oireachtas Éireann; and
condemns the leaking of tribunal documents by whatever parties or persons may be responsible as an infringement of the rights of those affected, notes the strong denial by the tribunal that it was responsible for any such leaks, and supports appropriate action to investigate such leaks, and further confirms the right to confidentiality to which each citizen is entitled in their correspondence with the tribunal.
(Deputy Eamon Gilmore).

Sinn Féin's approach to the issues raised by this motion is based on our own analysis and our own politics. It was put to me by a journalist this week that Sinn Féin was out of line with the other two Opposition parties in not concentrating all our fire on the Taoiseach over his lack of credibility at the tribunal. We were accused of clouding the issue by introducing all the areas of public policy on which this Taoiseach and this Government have been responsible for monumental failures. I make no apology for our position.

This Taoiseach should go because he has presided over a decade of government which has seen deepening inequality in our society, the squandering of economic prosperity, the downgrading and privatisation of public services, atrocious planning and delivery in housing and infrastructure and above all, the ongoing chaos in our grossly inequitable and inefficient health services. These are the reasons the Taoiseach should step down. In my mind they far exceed in importance the Taoiseach's financial affairs and his engagement at the tribunal.

The Taoiseach's ability to deal with these issues and with the day-to-day affairs of Government is now deeply undermined by the mess in which he finds himself. The Taoiseach has failed to convince people with his account of his personal and constituency finances. He has made contradictory statements and produced convoluted explanations that stretch credibility to the limit.

Sinn Féin endorses the motion in the name of the Fine Gael Deputies reiterating support for the Mahon tribunal. We reject the Government amendment principally because it includes full support for the Tribunal of Inquiries Bill 2005 which would give far too much power to Ministers to control future tribunals.

We now have a serving Taoiseach at odds with the Revenue Commissioners, as he had to admit here in the Dáil yesterday. I question who advised him that Revenue would not be able to settle his tax affairs until the conclusion of the Mahon tribunal. Did anyone do so or was this another convenient way to deflect questions about his tax compliance? We also have a serving Taoiseach who cannot provide a tax clearance certificate. This was the Taoiseach who claimed last year that he was fully tax compliant. It was clear from the correspondence between the Taoiseach and the Revenue Commissioners that they were not and are not satisfied that he is tax compliant.

Last night the Taoiseach's spokesperson responded to the news that the Taoiseach had assisted Manchester businessman, Norman Turner, with a passport application. It was stated that all TDs assist people with passport applications and so we do but how many of us have provided such assistance to wealthy business people who also happen to be major donors to our parties and who also happen to be seeking political and planning support for multi-million euro projects such as casinos and conference centres? Only one party and only one TD fits the bill in that case and that is Fianna Fáil and Deputy Bertie Ahern. It should be noted that the Taoiseach's spokespersons have not felt it necessary to defend the acceptance by Des Richardson on behalf of Fianna Fáil of a donation of $10,000 from Norman Turner at the time he was trying to advance his casino plan. Most citizens would rightly regard the acceptance of such money in such circumstances as deeply unethical, but of course it was perfectly legal, so the Taoiseach and his party feel no need to defend it.

The Government managed at the last minute to produce an amendment to the Private Members' motion but that amendment cannot hide the contradictions within this strange patchwork of an Administration. We have seen the two members of the Progressive Democrats in the Dáil split down the middle with Deputy Noel Grealish attacking the Mahon tribunal and the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, defending it. We have seen the Green Party stopping short of expressing full confidence in the Taoiseach while clinging steadfastly to its Cabinet seats.

In putting its name to the Government amendment, the Green Party is endorsing the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005, a position I did not believe it held. Reform of tribunals is very necessary, especially in regard to exorbitant costs, but this Bill would effectively give the Government the power to suspend or dissolve a tribunal for unlimited reasons and to prevent the publication of a tribunal's report. This is completely unacceptable and will further undermine public trust and confidence in the political system. The Green Party's claimed support for tribunals and for ethics in public life is undermined by its endorsement of this flawed legislation.

I have described this as a strange Government. Its programme for Government was sneaked out rather than launched. The leaders of the three parties in Government, if the Progressive Democrats can still be given that status, have never to my knowledge stood together for a photo call or press conference. If the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats truly believed they were in a partnership Government in which Deputy Bertie Ahern should remain as Taoiseach they would surely be clamouring, as others have done in the past, to be seen at his side at every opportunity. Of course they will not do so because they want to have it both ways. Understandably, they want to remain in Government while distancing themselves from the troubles of the Taoiseach. They want to shirk their collective responsibility for the ongoing and deep-seated policy failures of a Fianna Fáil-dominated Government, heavily influenced by Progressive Democrats ideology, but they all bear collective responsibility for the disasters of this Administration.

This is only the last day of January but already this year we have had a succession of reminders of the disastrous state of our health service. These include the study showing slower access to cancer services for public patients than for private patients, worsening waiting times in accident and emergency departments and longer waiting lists for outpatient treatment, a tightened Health Service Executive embargo on recruitment in the health service, the HSE's refusal to fund the essential increase in GP training places, no increase this year in funding for mental health services and the advancement of the notorious co-location scheme. On top of all this, we have had cuts in hospital services around the country and more are planned in the north east in my area, with other regions to follow. In the north east, services at all hospitals are to be cut under a draft plan revealed this week. Let us make no mistake about it, these cuts have more to do with bookkeeping than life saving.

I referred at the beginning of my contribution to the journalist who challenged Sinn Féin on our position on the Taoiseach's engagement with the tribunal. The journalist said the electorate had made its judgment on the policy issues at the general election. That is not so, as I told him on that occasion outside the gates of this House. At that time, people voted for a Taoiseach whom they understood was and would be tax compliant. They did not vote for water charges for schools. They did not vote for growing job losses. They did not vote for parents of autistic children being bankrupted by the State because they fought in court for the right to education which had been denied to their special child. They did not vote for another two-year wait for basic facilities for people with cystic fibrosis and they certainly did not vote for cuts in health services that are a throwback to the savage cuts of the 1980s.

I am inclined to draw an analogy here. The average voter now is like a diner who is starting to regret what he ordered in the restaurant. The Fianna Fáil-Progressive Democrats stew with Green side salad has arrived, but it does not smell right and the voter-diner knows he made a bad choice. It is now time to send back the meal, bring in the health inspector and to have the whole damn place closed down.

And maybe to order dessert.

We will keep you in place, a Cheann Comhairle.

I am happy to support amendment No. l moved by my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, in the House last night. The motion is consistent with the support the Green Party has always shown for the tribunal of inquiry into planning matters, from 7 October 1997 to this day.

The tribunal of inquiry is a necessary legal mechanism to investigate the barrage of strange, unjustifiable and bad planning decisions in Dublin and beyond which have afflicted the development of this country. Political decisions, influenced by the interests of a small cabal of property owners and developers, often resulted in frenzies of rezoning which have set back parts of Ireland by decades. In order to have confidence in the planning system, the truths about the lack of planning in the past must be systematically and judiciously unearthed.

This debate should also serve as a reminder of the need to prevent the incidents we now know about from happening again. The Minister, Deputy Gormley, will deliver on his promise to reform local government so that the public will have confidence in planning. I trust all parties will support such reforms aimed at bringing transparency and responsiveness to local government.

As for the Opposition, which has so energetically talked about this debate throughout the whole Christmas recess, I categorically reject the Leader of the Opposition's claims of absent Green Party Members and roll-overs. We were in the House last night for the debate; my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, has presented the House with a motion of unconditional support for the tribunal. If this debate is not just a cheap political stunt, then the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party should now put their voting intentions where their mouths are and support the Government motion.

They have confidence in the tribunal, as the motion states; they accept the rulings of the Supreme Court in regard to the tribunal, as the motion states; they urge the tribunal to continue its work speedily, as the motion states; and they support future tribunals enjoying the confidence of the public, as the motion states. They were the ones who initiated this debate about investigating planning matters so they should welcome this discussion and, although some Opposition Members may have known about imminent tribunal leaks and did nothing about it, the Opposition ought to condemn legal leaks and breaches of confidentiality and defend the right to confidentiality of citizens in correspondence with the tribunal. There is nothing in the Government motion they cannot accept.

As for the Labour Party, its Deputies should take note of what its current leader said in the House during the debate on establishing the tribunal in October 1997: "The political arena is not the place to judge anyone's guilt or innocence, as those words are not the currency of politics." Let them support the motion, let the tribunal get on with its work and let us get on with the work we were elected to do.

I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, wishes to share time with Deputy Cuffe and others. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I welcome the opportunity to support amendment No. 1, as colleagues on this side of the House are doing. One aspect of that amendment refers to the opportunity to discuss the procedures and practices involved in investigating matters mandated by Oireachtas Éireann. This is a fundamental element of the entire debate, namely, the right to comment. If one were to judge by some of the statements coming from the Opposition benches, one of the rights which it is proposed to circumscribe is the right of people on this side to hold an opinion or to express it. It is a fundamental right and one that any of us who values human dignity or human rights would certainly defend. The fundamental question to which members of the tribunal would seek an answer from this House is exactly what the Oireachtas requires and expects of it. The original motion setting up the tribunal set that very clearly and unequivocally.

Unfortunately, in the interim, there were occasions when that mandate was not observed in the manner that it ought to have been. Are Members suggesting that during those times people who had reservations about the rights of citizens and how they were dealt with ought to have remained silent? Even if they were, they certainly have the findings of the High Court and the Supreme Court to rely on if they wished to have something to validate their concerns. One of the statements of an eminent judge was to the effect that the tribunal was established in 1997. Some of us who have been here prior to that time and who have seen the Oireachtas quite rightly set up a number of tribunals tend to forget how long it is since this particular tribunal was set up. I doubt if any Member of either House in 1997 anticipated that this tribunal would still be sitting 11 years later and, apparently, it is not much nearer to reaching the conclusions that it was mandated to reach.

The judge rightly stated that the tribunal was established in 1997 and that the concept behind the tribunal is that there be an inquiry into definite matters as a matter of urgent public importance. The fact that the tribunal is still inquiring ten years later is the antithesis of an urgent public inquiry. There are all kinds of reasons for that, but fundamental to it is the requirement of the Oireachtas.

There are people here and in the other House who, from what they have stated, require of the tribunal heads on plates. They do not really require or expect — certainly they do not want — facts, findings and recommendations as set out by the Oireachtas. Ultimately, that is what the Oireachtas charged this tribunal with doing. The Oireachtas, as the body which set it up, has every right — in my view, every duty — to comment on how it is done, but it is of course entirely unjust if Members of the Government are accused of undermining the tribunal when people equally undermine the tribunal by setting out a stall which clearly demands of it findings of fact which advance a particular political perspective. That is something that this House, and no Member of it, is entitled to demand or expect. It is a fundamental question and one to which we all are obliged to face up.

No doubt there are concerns in the public arena about issues such as cost, there are concerns about issues related to the treatment of people and there are all kinds of other ancillary issues. Ultimately, the long-term goal of this inquiry is relatively narrow and relatively straightforward, and it is perfectly reasonable to hold the view that what it was set up to do is what this Parliament requires it to do.

When one sees muddying of the waters with issues about passports — I, like most Members, have assisted people in getting passports — dragged in, one inevitably makes the judgment that the tribunal issue is part of another political agenda. There is no fundamental issue with parties and people having political agendas, but when they pretend and seek to put them in the respectable context of a tribunal and they are merely political point-scoring, of course they are open to being criticised on that front.

The point made by Deputy Mary White and many others is of singular importance. The key point she made is that no Member of the Oireachtas, who is interested and committed to this tribunal or, indeed, any tribunal doing the job that it was set up to do, could object to any element of the Government amendment. I would say that they would be duty bound to go with the terms of the amendment in the width and depth of what is required of the tribunal and in the expectation, rightly, of this Parliament that the job that it was set up to do is the one that it does.

I thank my colleagues for sharing time.

In advance of this debate Fine Gael spokespersons were at pains to suggest that this motion is in direct response to criticism of the tribunal by members of the Government, as if to imply that criticism of the methodology and functioning of the tribunal in some way equates with sleaze or planning corruption. Indeed, this was one of the central planks of the contributions of Deputies Kenny and Varadkar last night and this is a contention which I reject out of hand as a myth.

There is no institution of this State which has immunity from accountability to this House. It is my conviction that Members of this House have not alone a right but a positive duty to hold any organ of State, this or any other tribunal, to account. We have a positive duty and a right to do that by virtue of our membership of this House, by virtue of our democratic mandate.

The Opposition which tabled this motion would do well to remember that the tribunal is an instrument of this House and it operates under terms of reference set down by this House. It reports to this House and it functions under legislation enacted in this House. It is a ludicrous proposition to suggest, as this motion does, that we are not allowed to hold that tribunal to account, and I reject it. It is an abdication of political responsibility and political accountability.

Let us be absolutely clear on this point. We, as Members of this House, have a right and a duty to hold the tribunal to account, but what we do not have, what no Member has, is the right to compromise the independence of the tribunal by placing ourselves in the place of the judges of the tribunal and predetermining the outcome of the tribunal. Unfortunately, that is exactly what many members of Fine Gael are guilty of. They have placed themselves in the place of the judges of the tribunal. By resolution of this House we delegated fact-finding functions of this House to the judges of the tribunal. We did not delegate those functions to Deputy Varadkar or Senator Regan, we delegated those fact-finding functions to the judges of the tribunal.

On 20 December, outside the gates of this House on national television, Deputy Varadkar declared no less than that the Taoiseach's evidence on that particular day was demolished by counsel for the tribunal, and only last night, again in a clear abuse of Dáil privilege, he took it upon himself to predict with great certainty what the outcome of the tribunal would be.

I ask this question, not alone of Deputy Varadkar but also of members of Fine Gael opposite, how can they possibly put their names to a motion which calls for the independence of a tribunal from this House when, by their own words and public pronouncements, it is the very antithesis of independence? It is a contradiction and a hypocrisy and if they do not see it, it is the height of arrogance.

Perhaps Deputy Power does not see it.

The Taoiseach asked us to judge him on his evidence.

Hardly a day went by in December without Senator Regan going on the national airwaves and pronouncing at great length on the veracity or the credibility——

Money grows in socks.

We are doing what the Taoiseach asked us to do, judge him on his evidence.

——I did not interrupt Deputy Coveney — of each and all of the witnesses who came before the tribunal, yet their party brings a motion——

It is his party's Ministers who started it; we did not.

——before this House deigning that the tribunal should be independent of this House.

It is not for me or any Member of this House to go through the various and varied allegations of Mr. Tom Gilmartin. It is not for me or any Member of this House to pass judgment at this stage on the credibility or otherwise of any witness.

It certainly is.

What about former Deputy Ray Burke?

That is a function that we, by resolution of this House, have delegated to others to do. Deputy Varadkar and his ilk want to be judge, jury and executioner in this entire process.

The Revenue will do it.

Do Members opposite not understand the hypocrisy that is involved in this?

Deputy Power's time has expired.

I suggest that new members of Fine Gael are far removed from the concepts of due process, fair play and equality before the law——

What about honesty and integrity?

——which their predecessors enunciated in a document entitled "The Just Society". They have left those high-minded principles which good-minded members of Fine Gael set out many years ago.

The Deputy's time has expired.

I will conclude on this. What I have found particularly distasteful and disturbing in recent weeks is the new Fine Gael approach since the election of personalised and vindictive attacks against the Taoiseach. The leader of that party, Deputy Kenny, stated in Brussels, in the heart of Europe, where this country is respected and admired for our achievements, that the Taoiseach was not fit to hold public office in this country or throughout Europe. That was a new low.

That was an abdication of a good Fine Gael philosophy, besmirching a great Fine Gael tradition of putting country before party. It was a new low.

Deputy Power would rather cover up.

This was an allegation against the Taoiseach, against whom there has been no finding of wrongdoing.

We must call it a day, Deputy Power.

What about the campaign against the Anglo-Irish Agreement on American soil?

I will conclude now. No finding of wrongdoing has been made by any tribunal or any institution of this State which Fine Gael seeks to uphold.

I must call Deputy Gogarty.

Will Brussels give him a job?

I reject the contradictions in their motion. I reject the hypocrisy of the motion.

Will Brussels give him a job when it is over, when they get rid of him? It will not.

I commend the Government's amendment to the House.

I had to apologise to the Joint Committee on Education and Science, of which I am Chairman, for leaving it to come here, but I felt it was important to comment on this issue. I reiterate the Green Party's absolute confidence in the Mahon tribunal. I come from a constituency that is very much the focus of the workings of the tribunal, which has alleged, and in some cases demonstrated, corrupt practices by councillors from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. If an Opposition party wants to cast aspersions, it should at least start from the position of being on high moral ground. Unfortunately, that is not the case. To my mind, the only person with any real morality in a leadership position in Fine Gael over the past number of years is Deputy Michael Noonan, because, at some cost to Fine Gael's electoral prospects, he abolished corporate donations within the party. He said Fine Gael would not take corporate donations.

Unfortunately, this was reversed. The coffers of Fine Gael have grown once again. As Members know, the Green Party does not take such donations. It is always in the halfpenny place when trying to compete with Fine Gael on the ground. That is unfortunate, but it is the way things stand. If Fine Gael wants to convince the larger parties, be it Fianna Fáil or the Labour Party, which takes generous trade union donations, that this is not the way to go and that political decisions must be seen to be taken without a hint of influence, it should, as the main Opposition party, show leadership, abolish corporate donations and fight with one hand tied behind its back as the Green Party does at election time.

Like the Green Party, which wants to abolish fishing, shooting and hunting.

That is quite untrue. I want to tell the Opposition about hypocrisy.

The Green Party wants to abolish rural life. It wants us all on our bicycles riding around Dublin.

Currently in my constituency, An Bord Pleanála is about to consider a strategic development zone called Clonburris, which is even bigger than Adamstown. The plan for Clonburris was passed recently by members of South Dublin County Council. When the Leader of the Seanad, Senator Frances Fitzgerald, heard it was passed she said the campaign against Clonburris was not yet over, that we still had An Bord Pleanála. She said in the Lucan newsletter that Fine Gael had launched a first appeal against the Clonburris strategic development zone. However, the two Fine Gael councillors at the meeting voted for the development plans. The Senator said one thing, but the councillors said something else. If that is not hypocrisy, or at least stupidity, I do not know what is.

The Deputy should talk to the motion.

The Deputy is the most yellow member of the Green Party.

The Deputy moved to the Government side of the House despite saying how corrupt it was when he was in Opposition.

Allow Deputy Gogarty to finish his contribution.

I have a valid excuse to ask those two councillors why they supported this plan. The reason I can ask that question is because Fine Gael takes money from developers. It has Galway and Punchestown tents. It should show some moral leadership and stop taking corporate donations. Maybe then, it could start throwing muck.

The Green Party has given Fianna Fáil the green light.

Fine Gael's record in my constituency is abysmal. The transport gridlock and the chronic congestion are just as much the fault of the Fine Gael Party.

The Green Party betrayed the people and rural Ireland after the election.

On a point of order, has Deputy Gogarty any evidence that Fine Gael is taking money from developers?

That is not a point of order. We will move on. I call Deputy Mansergh.

It has taken donations from developers and still does.

Has the Deputy any substantive evidence of that?

It is still, legitimately, taking them.

The Green Party is yellow. Its roots are gone.

When I started monitoring this debate last night, Deputy Varadkar was in the middle of mangling Irish history. If Edmund Burke ever said or wrote what has been attributed to him — "it is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph" — it was not in College Green or the Irish House of Commons, because he was never a member of it.

He was a high Tory, like Deputy Mansergh.

Can Deputy O'Dowd not keep quiet for a moment?

Deputy Mansergh, without interruption.

Burke definitely did say, however, "magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom", a virtue conspicuously absent in the Opposition parties since the general election.

This is coming from a man who flew all over the world with a former Taoiseach.

I would be interested in learning more about the Fine Gael proposals on rural broadband, or what plans Deputy Gilmore has to transform the Labour Party.

We have heard about absentee landlords. What about absentee Deputies who do not even live in their constituencies?

At least the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and the Public Service, of which I am a member, spent two and a half hours usefully yesterday questioning the Governor of the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator on the implications of turbulence on the world's markets, a matter with implications for Irish jobs. In contrast, this motion is simply a vehicle for maintaining a relentless Opposition focus on the Taoiseach, so that by talking of nothing else it can claim the Government is being distracted from its tasks.

I have no difficulty affirming confidence in the Mahon tribunal, although I do not subscribe to the doctrine that either courts or tribunals should be above and beyond criticism, either in this House or elsewhere. The Supreme Court has been quite critical of the tribunal. However, the Opposition parties do the tribunal no service by repeatedly attempting to pre-empt its findings, operating on the Alice in Wonderland judicial principle, sentence first, verdict afterwards.

I do not much approve of political trials, but one cannot fail to note that, just as the beef tribunal was turned into a trial, first of Charles Haughey and then Albert Reynolds——

Deputy Mansergh would know all about that.

——similarly the Mahon tribunal about certain planning matters has ended up — one might wonder how — as a trial of Bertie Ahern, complete with a Ken Starr style special prosecutor. A star witness protected by the tribunal has sought, with a good deal less wit than Beaumarchais over 200 years ago in France, to maintain that it is not corrupt to give money, only to receive it.

Was it Charles Haughey who said that?

Guided and prompted by a journalist friend, reputedly familiar with Colombia and a variety of passports, as well with the many highways and byways of Irish politics, the witness is a vehicle for floating all sorts of hypotheses in the hope that an investigative trawl will throw up something. Then when documents are circulated, they are promptly leaked to this journalist or other journalists.

The 17th century French writer Nicholas Boileau once said: "Le vrai peut quelques fois n’être pas vraisemblable.” The truth can sometimes be improbable.

The Deputy is on a world tour.

Abair é sin as Gaeilge.

The Deputy is speaking to the Irish people now.

Any reasonable person will understand the difficulty the Taoiseach has in constructing in perfect good faith the rationale for every lodgement in his accounts, 13 years ago.

I must ask that Deputy Mansergh be afforded the courtesy of Deputies' attention.

How can we listen to that?

He does not want to listen.

The Opposition Deputies are great democrats, are they not?

The Deputy should stick to the motion.

When I was preparing in the last week the submission of my campaign accounts to the Standards in Public Office Commission, I came across a substantial lodgement only three months ago that was not a donation that I could not immediately remember or explain until I found a file which showed me it was a combination of my constituency office allowance and a telephone allowance.

This debate is not about the tribunal. It is about the Taoiseach, now into his third term, with significant achievements to his credit, peace in Northern Ireland, unprecedented prosperity, 20 years of social partnership and the best EU Presidency that President Chirac could remember.

Ask Paul Quinn's parents if there is peace.

The Taoiseach is mentioned in the European press, which Fine Gael and Labour MEPs clearly do not or are unable to read, as a possible candidate for President of the European Council. He has been invited to address the US Congress. The attempt to bring him down does no service whatsoever to this country and reflects poorly on the leadership substance of Deputies Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore, whose parties were afraid of saying during the general election what they are saying now. I am not surprised that the Labour Party's opinion poll rating is down to 10%. The Fine Gael Party, still suffering from post-electoral stress disorder, having failed to win an election for the sixth time in succession, is the spare wheel of Irish democracy, trying desperately to convince the Dáil that Fianna Fáil has an ethical puncture.

If we are the spare wheel, Deputy Mansergh is the loose nut.

Just yesterday, I was talking with former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. I want to see no more good governments brought down by synthetic pseudo-ethical furores, like the passport nonsense of the past 24 hours. The Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party will stand with its leader, the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, and, with its Green Party and Progressive Democrats partners and Independent support, will carry on with the Government to the completion of its five-year term.

Is that the Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey's view?

For a member of Fine Gael to ridicule a Member of the House for quoting a Frenchman represents a new low in parliamentary politics in this House. That is not the direction we should be going.

There is a separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Presidency. It is a very dangerous precedent to attempt to muddy the waters between the three pillars——

As the Minister, Deputy Willie O'Dea, did.

——that uphold democracy in this State. A line in the sand must be drawn between this House and the tribunals.

The Taoiseach put a line in the sand.

That is what I and my party stand for.

Why will the Members not listen to people with respect?

Deputy Kehoe, Deputy Cuffe is entitled to be heard.

The important issue is that the Government has confidence in the tribunal, and we have stated that confidence in our response to the Opposition's motion. Let us not get caught up in obsessing over every nuance of what the tribunal is doing. Instead, let us take a step back and examine the reasons for its establishment in the first place. It was a response to concerns about planning, something which the former Minister for the Environment, former Deputy Michael Smith, described as a debased currency.

I am not convinced that Fine Gael is a paragon of virtue in this regard.

What about Fianna Fáil?

They are no angels.

A representative from Fine Gael appeared on an episode of "Prime Time" a few months ago and, frankly, made Pat Shortt and D'Unbelievables look statesmanlike in comparison, given the type of activities Fine Gael is engaged in to this day on every highway and byway of the country. Fine Gael is leaving future generations with the legacies of bad planning — lines of stationary traffic for hours every morning, schools not located within walking distance of homes——

The Deputy is in Government; he should deal with it.

The Deputy is in Government so he should solve it. He sits on his hands.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. I do not believe Fine Gael can be without guilt in this regard. Fine Gael should look at its own party members, particularly at its councillors, and see whether they are paragons of virtue with regard to proper planning.

At least we have councillors throughout the country.

Deputy Cuffe without interruption.

Did the Deputy listen to Patricia McKenna this morning telling the Green Party what to do?

I am gravely concerned about rezoning practices that continue to this day.

The Deputy is in the right place to learn about them.

We must make changes to ensure that zoning is examined for sustainability.

The Government changed the environmental plan sent out to every county.

I believe change is needed in how political parties are funded and how changes are made in county development plans. A member of Fine Gael asked us if Fine Gael had accepted money from developers. The evidence is available in the Standards in Public Office Commission. The evidence is clear that Fine Gael has taken funding from people who have an interest in development. Money must be taken out of politics.

Do it then, and pull out of Government.

We need to examine how politics is funded. I have grave concerns at how members of Fine Gael were able to spend tens of thousands of euro on billboard campaigns prior to the general election being called, yet in the very narrow four week period of the campaign their funding reduced dramatically. That is not right.

It was all above board.

It is not good for the body politic——

Why not introduce legislation to deal with it? The Deputy's party is in Government.

——and it is not good for correct decision-making. I have every hope that my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, will, within the term of this Government, introduce changes——

He should scrap the directive sent to every county council.

——that will try to reduce the possibility of temptation in that regard.

Deputy Cuffe without interruption.

It is now eight and a half months into what I hope will be a five-year term of office for this Government. It is important that we deal with the weighty issues of the day such as health, education and proper planning. The obsessional sideshow with which Fine Gael is attempting to dominate proceedings this week is not good for politics or for putting the best interests of this country first.

I wish to share time with Deputy Charles Flanagan, Deputy Creighton and Deputy Deenihan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

It is important to remind the House of the wording of the Fine Gael motion given the comments of previous speakers. It states: "That Dáil Éireann reaffirms its confidence in the Mahon tribunal, and its belief that the tribunal is acting independently, without bias and within the remit contained in the terms of reference set by the Oireachtas." One would have a right to assume that this should not be a contentious motion. In truth, it probably would not have been in any period over the last ten years until now, when the Taoiseach is giving evidence and must answer straight questions about his financial affairs in the mid-1990s.

People have correctly asked why Dáil Éireann is spending its first week of the 2008 session debating the Mahon tribunal and not addressing issues that affect people's everyday lives. God knows there are plenty of such issues at present. However, this motion is necessary because of a concerted effort by a series of Government Ministers to undermine and discredit the work of the tribunal. They were marched out before Christmas to express a phony outrage at how the Mahon tribunal was conducting its business. They included our most powerful and experienced politicians. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, said he was astounded by what the tribunal was doing. The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Deputy Séamus Brennan, supported him and complained of a lack of fairness. The Minister of State, Deputy Dick Roche, accused the tribunal lawyers of being petty, personal and provocative and of asking questions that were quite unacceptable. He referred to unfair procedures that were unacceptable in civilised society, appalling treatment and accused the tribunal of badgering the Taoiseach.

The Minister for Transport, Deputy Noel Dempsey, was almost embarrassed by some of the comments of his colleagues. I have some admiration for him for having the courage to say that he believed his colleagues were motivated by political loyalty. That is the Fianna Fáil world — political loyalty above all else and as long as they are not caught, they can do as they wish. These were not random, unco-ordinated responses by individuals with a genuine concern for fairness or balance. This was a co-ordinated effort organised by the Government press secretary, whose function is to be a spokesperson for the Taoiseach, to divert attention away from the detail of the Taoiseach's evidence to the tribunal and to focus attention on the functioning and other aspects of tribunal activity, such as the cost.

The political motivation was clear. Everybody in Government was uncomfortable discussing the Taoiseach's explanations for the origin of private donations to him in the 1990s. That was understandable. The strategy was, therefore, that attack was the best form of defence. The whispering campaign around Leinster House was that it was all the tribunal's fault, overpaid lawyers were being paid a fortune in taxpayers' money, the tribunal was too expensive, it should move more quickly and it no longer represented value for money. It was suggested that it might be time to shut it down and end the costly circus once and for all. We heard the same last night from the Minister for Defence, Deputy Willie O'Dea. He said he and others were raising legitimate questions. It is no coincidence that he happened to be raising legitimate questions at the same time that tribunal lawyers were asking legitimate questions of the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern, and questioning the credibility of his evidence to the tribunal.

People are sick of this type of politics: the cute hoorism, diversionary tactics to divert attention away from finding the truth and the politics of party loyalty over-riding what is in the public interest. Members of the House will wonder and scoff at the headline in today's Irish Examiner: “Government overtakes Church as our least trusted institution”. The article states that a mere 35% of so-called educated high earners said they trusted the Taoiseach and the Government to do the right thing. That is why this motion from Fine Gael is justified, despite all the other issues that need attention. We would not be an Opposition worth its salt if we did not confront the hypocrisy of Ministers attacking a tribunal that they set up, questioning the costs of which they approved and questioning the delays to which their party members, including their leader and our Taoiseach, contributed. If the tribunal had got straight answers when it asked for them, it would be over by now and its costs would be far less than they are. That is why this motion is important. We have been forced to reaffirm our confidence in the efforts and mandate of the Mahon tribunal, which is trying to get to the truth about the issues under investigation in an unbiased way, within its remit. We will not allow clever political manoeuvring or bullying to knock the tribunal off its course. The tribunal process has been expensive and it has taken far longer than initially envisaged to get to the bottom of the inquiry. Our priority should be to get accuracy and truth. While we would all like matters to be finalised as speedily as possible and to reduce the tribunal’s expenses as much as possible, it is more important to ensure that the tribunal has an opportunity to establish the facts.

The Taoiseach has been called to the tribunal to answer the accusation that he took donations from Mr. Owen O'Callaghan, but he has not yet answered those questions. Fianna Fáil always argues that the manner in which the Taoiseach is being questioned has no relationship with that fundamental issue. That is not so. The tribunal has always followed the money trail when it has been dealing with those who have appeared before its hearings. It has always tried to examine bank accounts and asked for explanations of where certain account entries came from. The explanation that has been offered in the case of the Taoiseach is simply not credible, unfortunately. That is why almost everyone who discusses this case in family homes and pubs believes it is unreasonable to expect Opposition politicians not to raise legitimate questions about the credibility of the Taoiseach's evidence.

New evidence emerged last night, in the context of payments which were made in 1994, about the Taoiseach's relationship with Mr. Norman Turner, a Manchester-based developer who was hoping to invest in a large casino development in the Phoenix Park. The Taoiseach went to two Manchester United matches with Mr. Turner in 1993 and 1994. Although Mr. Turner made a donation of $10,000 to Fianna Fáil through Mr. Des Richardson, that figure never appeared in any Fianna Fáil accounts. Given that we know the Taoiseach organised a passport for Mr. Turner on 9 August 1994, is it not legitimate to ask whether it is more than a coincidence that the Taoiseach lodged £20,000 on 8 August 1994, the day before the passport was issued? Is it not legitimate to question the fact that the Taoiseach lodged the equivalent of £25,000 sterling — exactly — on 11 October 1994? Is it not legitimate to ask questions about the Taoiseach's lodgment of the exact equivalent of $45,000 on 5 December 1994? The lodgments were made at a time when the current Taoiseach, as the Minister for Finance of the time, was being lobbied by somebody with whom he had attended football matches, and for whom he had organised a passport, to allow a casino to be developed in the Phoenix Park.

I would like to respond to the comments of the Green Party Deputies and to reflect on the absence of the Progressive Democrats Deputies throughout this debate. The Green Party chose to lecture Fine Gael on its record. I will not stand up in here and say Fine Gael is without sin in terms of payments to politicians, as it is not without sin. Fine Gael is a big party. We have a job to do to ensure we move things forward in our party in the right manner. We will do that, but we will also hold the Government to account. The Green Party is trying to lecture my party on corporate donations, while doing nothing about the receipt of such donations by its partners in government, but we will not take that kind of hypocrisy from them. The Green Party, which spent years on this side of the House jumping up and down about issues of this nature, is now in government. It is in a position to wield influence, but it is choosing not to do so. It used to come in here to say the right thing when it was easy for its Members to say the right thing. In recent times, however, when Fianna Fáil Ministers have gone on the plinth to undermine and attack the tribunal, the Green Party has chosen to be silent. Green Party Deputies have said during this debate that they support the tribunal and that it should be allowed to get on with its business. They said nothing when their Cabinet colleagues attacked the tribunal, however. That is hypocrisy. We will not take a lecture from the Green Party when it is acting in such a hypocritical manner.

The Progressive Democrats once offered hope to many people in this country. I say to its representatives, as a young politician in another European country once said to Tony Blair, "you were the future once". The Progressive Democrats Deputies are so spineless that they will not come to the House to speak on this motion.

I wish to deal with two points which have arisen in the context of the Mahon tribunal — the concept of collective Cabinet responsibility and specific aspects of Mrs. Justice Denham's judgment in the Supreme Court, which has been selectively quoted by Fianna Fáil Ministers and on which clarification is needed.

Collective Cabinet responsibility has been repeatedly undermined by Fianna Fáil Ministers over recent months. Fianna Fáil has always been a party that likes to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. Its Deputies are fond of assuming the mantle of opposition when it suits them, while continuing to enjoy the privileges of government. We have seen this in the case of the Aer Lingus debacle at Shannon, just as we have seen it in respect of the Mahon tribunal. We see Ministers, Ministers of State and Government backbenchers behaving in this manner on an almost weekly basis — this week, it was evident in the debate on co-location.

Fianna Fáil has finally professed its confidence in the Mahon tribunal in recent days, since this motion was submitted by members of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party. This rare display of co-ordination among Cabinet Ministers follows months of sustained attacks on the integrity of the tribunal by a succession of Ministers, including Deputies Brennan, O'Dea and Dermot Ahern, and the Minister of State, Deputy Roche. This wild flip-flopping from one point of view to another among Ministers is worrying. It suggests that while the constitutional provision in respect of Cabinet confidentiality remains alive and well, the equally vital provision for collective responsibility has been seriously wounded by Fianna Fáil's opportunism. Article 28.4.2° of the Constitution states:

The Government shall meet and act as a collective authority, and shall be collectively responsible for the Departments of State administered by members of the Government.

The Government has as much of an obligation to uphold the fundamental principles of the Constitution as any other citizen of this State.

It is dishonest and hypocritical of individual Ministers to take potshots at the tribunal in an attempt to curry favour with the Taoiseach. The Ministers who criticise the tribunal undermine the concept of collective responsibility because the Government is legally and constitutionally responsible for proposing that the tribunal be established, deciding how it is run and determining how much money is paid to lawyers. Until recently, successive Governments displayed a noble respect for the dignity and importance of the Constitution. Several Ministers resigned rather than breach this law including Richard Mulcahy in 1924, Paddy Smith of Fianna Fáil in 1964 and Frank Cluskey of the Labour Party in 1983. It is rare for Ministers to be allowed to dissent. In the two cases that come to mind — those involving Pat Cooney from my own party and Jim Gibbons from the Fianna Fáil Party — permission was sought and granted for them to disagree with Cabinet policy.

The fundamental importance of collective responsibility to the integrity of government and democracy has been eloquently affirmed by many academics, writers and commentators over the years. In his review of the Constitution, Dr. T.K. Whitaker put it bluntly when he said that "collective responsibility is, in turn, essential to a Government's ability to plan and act cohesively". Séamus Dolan of the law faculty at NUIG more recently said:

The concept of cabinet confidentiality flows from the notion of collective responsibility, as referred to in Article 28.4.2. Collective responsibility mandates that individual ministers present a united front to the public, and individual ministers must each offer public support for government decisions and policies, regardless of their own private or personal views on the topic. This, by implication, means the individual minister is not entitled to criticise government policy or decisions if he wishes to retain his ministerial office.

When Fintan O'Toole wrote recently in The Irish Times about the blatant disregard of the Minister, Deputy O’Dea, for collective Cabinet responsibility in the case of Aer Lingus at Shannon, he spelled out the bottom line regarding the attitude of Fianna Fáil to the concept:

The governmental chaos of the last week may look like anarchy, but it is really a form of autocracy: the Government owns the Constitution and can do with it what it likes.

The Mahon tribunal has shone a spotlight on the contempt with which this Government has treated the essential principle of collective Cabinet responsibility. This practice must be brought to an end. It is a privilege to serve in Government and that privilege comes at a small cost. Ministers should not need the Attorney General to remind them of their responsibilities but in this case they clearly do. The Taoiseach's appearances before the Mahon tribunal have highlighted further worrying precedents in the Government's attitude towards our entire legal system. In their sycophantic quest to defend the Taoiseach, Ministers, and indeed the Taoiseach's own legal team, have questioned the impartiality and intentions of some of the judges and barristers employed by the State. This is a most worrying precedent. The Government may begin to object to the modus operandi of the tribunal and seek to cast aspersions on the impartiality of its judges and legal teams. Where will this practice end? Will the Government now question the integrity of the Supreme Court if its judgments or ways of working do not suit its purposes in the future? A dangerous precedent has been established and that is why it is wholly wrong for Ministers to attack the tribunal for their own narrow party political ends.

Equally disturbing is the Government's practice of selecting sections of a Supreme Court judgment on the tribunal and taking them totally out of context for the purpose of massaging and manipulating public opinion. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, and others are at fault in this regard. The Supreme Court judgment that Ministers are so fond of quoting only highlights the extraordinary delay caused by the lack of co-operation of the Taoiseach and others with the tribunal's processes.

It is not true.

Mrs. Justice Denham says that a tribunal of such length is the antithesis of an urgent public inquiry. How right she is. The people of this country will be hard pressed to believe that Fianna Fáil can in any way be concerned about the length of time this tribunal is taking when the Taoiseach himself has frustrated and delayed the work of the tribunal with his tactic of constant evasion and confusion.

That is not true.

Deputies Roche, Brennan, O'Dea, Dermot Ahern and others have clearly forgotten the other judgment of the same learned Mrs. Justice Denham on the operation of the Mahon tribunal last year. I refer to the second O'Callaghan judgment of 30 March 2007, in which she stated: "the work of the Tribunal is of great importance to the community ... The very institution of the Tribunal with its powers risks baseless allegations being made". This was prophetic indeed, except that no one expected the baseless allegations to come from the corridors of power not far from where we are sitting.

The Denham judgment refutes all allegations of unfairness and bias in the tribunal's procedures. Mrs. Justice Denham categorically refutes these allegations when she states: "A reasonable person, having knowledge of all the facts, and perceiving these decisions of the Tribunal . . . would not have a reasonable apprehension of bias, impartiality or unfairness on behalf of the Tribunal, [and] would not have a reasonable apprehension of prejudgment on the issue of credibility by the Tribunal." She then comments on the procedures of the tribunal, which have since been scathed by the Fianna Fáil Cabinet, saying that in the first instance the tribunal had established its own procedures, none having been given to it by the Government, and that those procedures had in fact illustrated a very careful approach by the tribunal all along. Mrs. Justice Denham also calls on bodies not to interfere with the work of the tribunal, stating that it was highly undesirable that the court would have to be called in to review the work of the tribunal while it is still at hearing. She stated that it was the people's representatives who had established the tribunal and set its terms of reference and that no time limit was set by the Oireachtas for the tribunal to complete its work.

These are things that are unlikely to be repeated, but it was this House and this Government that established the tribunal, this Government that set its terms of reference, and this Government that chose not to place a time limit on its operation, and now it is this Government that is seeking to undermine the credibility of the tribunal and its work, but only because it has become too close to the heart of the Government, namely the Taoiseach and his finances.

I listened with interest to Deputy Mansergh speaking about people on this side of the House prejudging the tribunal.

Only this morning, when talking about certain matters that have come to light and will be referred by Fine Gael to the Mahon tribunal, as mentioned by Deputy Coveney, Deputy Mansergh told the nation on radio that the matters are both insignificant and irrelevant. Yet he spoke this morning in the House about prejudging.

Deputy Cuffe made a point about the independence of the Judiciary and the separation of powers. I agree with what he said on both counts. I advise Deputy Cuffe and his Green Party colleagues not to direct their ire towards this side of the House. If he respects the independence of the Judiciary and upholds the separation of powers, let him address the matter to his Fianna Fáil colleagues in Government, with whom he shares a lot of time, particularly in recent months.

It is important to note that this motion is essentially an attempt to restore public confidence in the Mahon tribunal and its procedures and in the concept of upholding standards in public office and public life. I probably speak for a number of the newer Deputies when I say that I am absolutely aghast not only at the defensive and hypocritical response we have heard from Government representatives in the Chamber last night and this morning but also at the nature of their attacks over the past number of months. The tribunal was set up to try to clean up politics, rout out corruption and establish the truth about payments to politicians. It has gone some distance towards achieving these aims. It has been working to the best of its ability within the framework established by the Oireachtas — by a Fianna Fáil-led Government — to establish the facts. At the time the tribunal was established and during the course of its proceedings and the publication of a number of interim reports, most of the senior Cabinet Ministers who spoke on this motion last night and today, as well as the Taoiseach himself, affirmed and reaffirmed their confidence in the value and virtue of the tribunal.

I will highlight some quotes from the Taoiseach in this regard. Speaking in this Chamber in 2002 about former Deputy Ray Burke, he stated:

The Government has initiated the most far reaching inquiries, not only in the history of this State, but in the recent history of most democratic countries. We are determined to find the truth, whatever it is.

Later, he went on to say:

The uncovering of a previously hidden and unacceptable past has undermined confidence in the administration of our affairs. For politics to recover the confidence of the people the facts must be laid bare . . .

This is almost laughable in view of the Taoiseach's approach to the tribunal over the last number of months and years.

Deputy Mansergh, who has left the Chamber, has stated again and again his confidence in the tribunal, the Taoiseach and the accounts which he put before the public both before the general election and subsequently. However, speaking in Seanad Éireann in 2002, he stated: "One of the salutary lessons of the interim report [from the Flood tribunal, now the Mahon tribunal], which will apply to other tribunals and also the future work of the Flood tribunal, is that it gives a clear answer to those who might be tempted to give tribunals the run-around, concoct fantastic or preposterous stories to explain inconsistencies or, in general, show contempt, through the tribunals, to the Oireachtas and the people". How far Deputy Mansergh has come since he moved from Seanad Éireann to Dáil Éireann.

The most worrying aspect of this is that for the past six months an independent tribunal of inquiry has come under sustained attack not only by members of the Fianna Fáil Party but also by senior, eminent Cabinet Ministers. They have bombarded the media with press statements containing attacks on and allegations about the operation and independence of the tribunal. It is time we laid them bare and exposed the myths they have put forward. Deputies O'Dea, Dermot Ahern, Hanafin and Roche have all questioned the tribunal at various points. Deputy Roche stated of the tribunal: "It was petty, it was personal, it was prurient". He was referring to the cross-examination of the Taoiseach, something that is a natural part of any tribunal of inquiry and is clearly a fundamental step in establishing the truth about the tribunal's subject matter. The most significant aspect of the sustained attacks by Cabinet Ministers is their timing. The most disingenuous argument that has emanated from the Government benches on this tribunal is that it has taken too long, been delayed and it is time it concluded its work. This attack has emerged only in the last six months when the Taoiseach went before the tribunal to give evidence in September and December. Before that we heard nothing from these Ministers. Over the last six to nine years there were no questions or criticisms on the delays in the tribunal from the Government benches. To allege that the issue that concerns Cabinet Ministers is the length of time this tribunal is taking is untrue, misleading and disingenuous. This is a concerted attempt in the last few months to undermine the tribunal because Ministers are not happy with its findings, the evidence emerging and the questions the Taoiseach has to answer on his tax affairs, personal donations he received and, as we have seen in the last 24 hours, links between him and particular developers and his facilitation of their passport needs.

We have seen the mantle of corruption passed through the generations of leadership in Fianna Fáil from former Taoiseach Mr. Charles Haughey, former Deputy Ray Burke and Deputy Bertie Ahern. We are all aware of the issues with Deputy Bertie Ahern signing blank cheques for his mentor Mr. Haughey. That mantle of corruption is being passed to the new and future leadership of Fianna Fáil and this is a significant issue. During the debate on the motion of no-confidence in the Taoiseach we proposed in October, Cabinet Ministers entered this Chamber one by one to defend the Taoiseach. They too are tainted, and shall be tainted in the future. On "Prime Time" Deputy Barry Andrews said the tribunal is not a legal process. It is appalling for a Member of this House to say that. It is a violation of the separation of powers.

It is not. Deputy Creighton should spend more time studying law.

It is time for the Government to stand up and defend the integrity of a tribunal it established.

This motion is a response to an orchestrated and sustained attack on the tribunal by Fianna Fáil Cabinet Ministers and some Ministers of State over the past six months. A number of Ministers set out to undermine, intimidate and discredit the workings of the tribunal. I have been in this House for approximately 21 years and I have never before seen this precedent set by Ministers. I wonder why. This is a clear and simple motion that supports the view that the tribunal is working independently without bias and within the remit contained in the terms of reference set by the Oireachtas. Fianna Fáil Ministers have filled the airways with accusations that the tribunal is operating outside this remit and is biased. If they maintain this view they should place it on record in this House, which they have not done. They have attacked the tribunal for the past six months and they attack Fine Gael for proposing this motion. The choreography of what happened in the House before and since is well-directed by the press offices of the Government or Fine Gael — or rather, Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Deenihan is mixing his parties. He is in Fine Gael, we are in Fianna Fáil.

There is no confusion there.

These attacks by Fianna Fáil Ministers on the tribunal are due to the tribunal's progressing with its work in finding the truth, a truth that does not suit Fianna Fáil. As a number of speakers mentioned, in 1997 the Taoiseach said in the Dáil that the most efficient and effective way to progress this type of inquiry is to follow the money trail, and the tribunal is doing that. A number of speakers referred to the cost and length of time of the tribunal. The delays are due to the obfuscation and contradictory statements by many of the principal participants in the tribunal, including the Taoiseach. The reasons for the attacks on the tribunal by Fianna Fáil Ministers will be revealed only when the findings of the tribunal are published.

I wish to share time with Deputy Conor Lenihan. The Tribunal to Inquire into Certain Planning Matters and Payments, established by the Oireachtas has today, as it has had for the last ten years, all the resources, powers and independence it requires to complete its work. In his speech opening the debate Deputy Kenny clearly outlined that he and his party have no difficulty prejudging the tribunal's findings. At the same time, without a hint of irony, he suggested that any Minister raising a question is a "boot boy" who is "intimidating" the tribunal. Fine Gael has also denounced as "sinister" statements which come nowhere near the type of criticisms levelled by judges of the High Court and Supreme Court.

The course of this debate has confirmed the suspicion that Fine Gael's motion is all about politics and nothing to do with a genuine concern that the tribunal be free to fulfil its terms of reference. This superficial and complacent motion betrays the motivation of a party which is desperate for others to achieve for it what three leaders have failed to do. Only in the completion of its work and the publication of its final report will we be able to form a real judgment on the tribunal. In the interim, Members of this House are entitled to raise concerns if they so choose. To seek to gag them with the idea that such questions interfere with the tribunal is ludicrous.

The largest and most consistent attempt to undermine the tribunal has been from those who have sought to manipulate its proceedings in different ways, including through the near decade-long selective leaking of documents. The tribunal has heard evidence of it receiving allegations culled from media reports and passed off as first-hand. It has heard of a principal witness being used by a journalist to pass on rumours in the form of allegations. It has confirmed the receipt of forged material designed to back up a false allegation. In concluding its work, and to demonstrate that it has been balanced, the tribunal will have to pay attention to these and other examples of the abuse and manipulation of its proceedings. The tribunal should also explain how it can justify bringing The Irish Times to the Supreme Court and threatening its journalists with jail over one leak when no action is being taken to follow up the tidal wave of leaks printed by others. A circulation policy which all but guarantees these leaks requires either amendment or a better justification than has been provided.

All parties agree that the cost of the tribunal is excessive. It is a pity that the new lower daily rates which former Minister Charlie McCreevy proposed were not accepted by the tribunal's personnel. However, we would today be hearing even louder attacks if the Government had insisted on these new rates to such an extent that the personnel had resigned. The solution to the obvious shortcomings of the tribunal on cost and duration is to be found in the Bill published by the last Government. It is only by enacting it that we will have the right framework for ensuring that inquiries on serious public matters can be carried out more effectively in future.

That is a camouflage for closing the tribunal.

Through this Bill, not through motions such as this, public confidence in tribunals can be assured. Since 1997 the legal and administrative framework within which politicians at local and national levels operate has been transformed. Many of the abuses which have been dealt with at the tribunal have been addressed comprehensively. We need the tribunal's work to proceed to a conclusion, which includes treating all persons fairly and to the same standards. It should also involve seeking to challenge those who have caused it serious difficulty through attempting to manipulate it. The legislation we have enacted for the tribunal and the resources which the Government has provided for it ensure it is free to carry out its work with full independence.

The Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, has 50 seconds.

I must say, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that Fine Gael Members are behaving in a bitter and misguided way in this debate.

He has 50 seconds. Will he combust?

In particular, this morning Deputy Phil Hogan tried to make an issue of the fact that Mr. Norman Turner, a gentleman who is not a Member of this House, obtained an Irish passport through the constituency office of the Taoiseach, Deputy Bertie Ahern. That is totally and utterly wrong.

It is true. Is the Deputy saying it is not true?

It is a totally bitter and confused state that Fine Gael is in if it is has become a hanging offence in this House for someone to transact a passport application for a person, namely, Mr. Turner. That is a totally ridiculous, low level of debate to which Fine Gael is stooping. I find it ironic, in particular, that the person who did this is Deputy Hogan, the man who decided, in all his subtlety, to leak the budget by fax to a newsroom.

At least he resigned, unlike the Minister of State's crowd.

It is really strange that he said on "Morning Ireland" this morning that he will hand the application information to the tribunal.

(Interruptions).

In other words, the tribunal will presumably spend another ten years investigating why almost every Member of this House transacts passport applications on behalf of constituents——

I am loathe to interrupt——

——or interested parties.

(Interruptions).

This is the kind of ridiculous inquiry that the Opposition would like the tribunals to carry out.

I am loathe to interrupt the Deputy but I now call on Deputy Phil Hogan——

If the tribunal foolishly takes Deputy Hogan's advice with regard to this passport application, we will be waiting another 100 years for its report.

I call on Deputy Hogan to conclude the debate.

This debate is important and should not be trivialised by the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, because it gives us a special window on the future of Irish politics and the standards that we must all embrace. It provides a real opportunity for those on the other side of the House who have been conferred with leadership status or have leadership ambitions, like the Minister for Finance, Deputy Cowen, to place a distinctive footprint on the political stage. It also allows those, such as the junior Ministers and junior Government partners, who present themselves publicly as being wed to principle, probity and the public good, to put substance behind their public posturing.

There are times in politics when people believe they must take a stand on what is right and proper. They must be brave, courageous and act out of real concern for the wider community rather than their own personal interest. They must display true leadership, conviction and integrity, even if that discommodes long-standing friendships, upsets personal convenience or threatens the preservation of patronage and power. They must eschew political loyalties, if that is required, to do what is right and proper.

The Mahon tribunal arose primarily as a result of the actions of dishonest, dishonourable and deceitful people who put their personal gain above the achievement of the public good that they were either elected, or employed, to serve. The dishonour they have conferred on what should have been a noble calling to the profession of politics, an honour and a privilege that has been given to us by our constituents, is incalculable. The actions of the few have cast a slur on all politicians and it will take at least a generation of politics before that slur is lifted. They have blighted us all.

What is equally important to recognise is that the Mahon tribunal arose because of an inadequate ethics and public standards regime. Since the mid-1990s, we have introduced a new regime of ethics in public office, which has played catch-up ever since. We have a bolt-on ethics regime, one which has evolved and developed as each political scandal unfolds, and we discover the inadequacy of the previous legislation. The ethics regime seems to be arriving breathless at each new scandal and requires the topical treatment of new legislation to allow it to prepare for the next ethics crisis. The Minister for Finance has impeded and frustrated the resourcing and reform of the Standards in Public Office Commission.

One section of the Government amendment deals with the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill 2005. That Bill provides for the suspension, under section 9, and the dissolution, under section 10, of a tribunal of inquiry, on notice to the Chairman and after a resolution has been passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Bill applies to tribunals already established and any which may subsequently be established by the Oireachtas. Enacting this Bill while the Mahon tribunal is in session is an implicit threat to that tribunal and its operations. True independence of the tribunal requires that the Oireachtas does not purport, either by accident or design, to undermine or threaten it, personally, in terms of its members, or institutionally, as an operative body. The debate and enactment of this Bill should be delayed until the tribunal has concluded its business and presented its report to this House.

The Government amendment also supports the opportunity to discuss procedures and practices involved in investigating matters mandated by the Oireachtas. Fine Gael opposes this element of the amendment on the grounds that it formalises the explicit and implicit undermining of the tribunal by Ministers in this debate forum. This is nothing more than a cover for sniping at the tribunal in the manner which we have seen in the past couple of months, when the heat is rising in respect of the Taoiseach's evidence.

The Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil Ministers have, on many occasions, referred to leaks from the tribunal and cast a shadow of doubt over whether the tribunal was the source of the leaks of confidential information. Such behaviour is completely unacceptable. In response to these attacks by Fianna Fáil on the tribunal, Judge Mahon had to use up valuable tribunal time to engage in an intensive investigation to refute these attacks. This investigation involved questioning all relevant tribunal staff and Judge Mahon concluded that no evidence was found that the tribunal was in any way responsible for leaking any confidential information. However, Fianna Fáil continues to attack the tribunal and lay the blame for leaks firmly at its doorstep. What is Fianna Fáil's real motive? Perhaps it should look closer to home for the source of the leaks. In the words of Judge Mahon, perhaps the reason information was leaked was "to try and damage the Tribunal itself by allowing it to be suggested, or inferred, that the Tribunal has been the source of leaking of confidential material to others".

I am sure Deputy Noel Tracey can remember telling everyone, over the airwaves, that the tribunal was responsible for the leaks and that he even knew who was doing it. However, he was forced into an incredible and humiliating admission that he had no evidence, or any basis to form this opinion, once he was questioned by the tribunal. Again, this was a diversionary tactic by Fianna Fáil to keep attention away from the Taoiseach. I have no doubt that this tribunal will continue its work to find the truth, despite continued Fianna Fáil sniping and obstructionist tactics.

I support the amendment proposed by the Labour Party, particularly with regard to fees. The Government had an opportunity in 2004 to deal with the fees, if it was serious about reducing them. It went up the hill but came back down again when it discovered that its proposals were not acceptable to tribunal personnel and, effectively, that the tribunal could be closed down.

I wish to make a number of additional remarks concerning the passport issue that I raised yesterday. On 8 July 1994, Mr. John Hynes, chairman of the national lottery board, wrote to Deputy Bertie Ahern, then Minister for Finance, advising him that the National Lottery was studying the feasibility of a casino and invited his views. On 4 August 1994, Mr. Ray Bates, Chief Executive of the National Lottery, informed the Department of Finance that Mr. Hynes had informal contact with the Department of the Taoiseach and had been in touch with the Vector Ogden group about proposals which involved a casino on the Phoenix Park site. On 31 August 1994, Mr. Hynes briefed the Department of Finance, of which Deputy Bertie Ahern was Minister, on his involvement with the casino project. He indicated that he had a series of meetings with the promoters of the Vector Ogden group and that the real driving force regarding casino matters was Mr. Norman Turner. Mr. Hynes reported that he had explained to Mr. Turner that the casino project would involve amending gaming and lotteries legislation, something which successive Ministers for Justice had been loathe to do.

According to the Department of Finance file, "Mr. Turner said that he had had a series of meetings with Government Ministers, including the Minister for Finance, from which he claimed to have received assurances that there would be no problem about the amending of legislation".

Mr. Hynes's briefing on 31 August 1994 also involved confirmation that he had briefed the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Bertie Ahern, on his contacts with the casino promoters. In the course of that briefing Mr. Hynes expressed concern about the scale of gambling operations envisaged. According to the Department of Finance file, the then Minister, Deputy Bertie Ahern, apparently shared Mr. Hynes's misgivings about the extent of gaming machines involved in the project but, other than that issue, there is no indication that he expressed opposition to the concept of the casino project.

He opposed it publicly.

The Taoiseach was privately promoting the project in 1994 but in 1997, when the issue became hot with local residents, he decided to switch tack in order to gain votes in the 1997 general election.

In classic Fianna Fáil style.

There was chaos and contradictions, and now there is cowardice. That is the sum total of this Government's assault on the Mahon tribunal. For the past year or more, Fianna Fáil Ministers have relentlessly attacked the tribunal. One Minister after another has come out to attack it. One Minister after another has impugned its integrity. One complaint after another has been made in an effort to distract from the chaos of the Taoiseach's evidence. Let me be absolutely clear, particularly when addressing the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan — I am not referring to the chaos of the Taoiseach's personal finances. Rather, I am referring to the chaos of his evidence. One day, black is white. The next day, the suggestion is that he never stated black was white and that he meant black was pink. In the context of the coalition Government, black is green with a tinge of blue, the Progressive Democrats.

Chaos is a great distraction from truth. The Taoiseach is a past master at creating chaos. Around the inescapable contradiction, he blames the passage of time, the media and the tribunal. Out come his Ministers, such as the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, in support of the unsupportable. Out come his Ministers cloaking their protection of their leader by discussing the cost of the lawyers, about which they failed to do anything and in respect of whose fees they agreed originally, or the time taken by the tribunal. They do not discuss whether witnesses such as Ray Burke, Liam Lawlor, Frank Dunlop or the Taoiseach himself spoke honestly in private or public session at or in correspondence with the tribunal. If they spoke honestly when asked the relevant questions, the tribunal would have concluded years ago.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

The Taoiseach has difficulty divvying up the truth. He has forced the tribunal to keep digging, as was its right and remit. However, cowardice came into play this week. Suddenly, the Government was not really attacking the tribunal. In Fianna Fáil's amendment, it accepts the independence of the Mahon tribunal and has removed any of the references to bias and lack of fairness made by successive Ministers before Christmas. Fianna Fáil accepts the tribunal is doing its job independently and well, for which I thank the party, but this is a new variation of the Fianna Fáil characteristic of opportunism, namely, opportunism by cowardice. It is watering down what it stated originally and relying on the pathetic acquiescence of the Progressive Democrats and the equally disgraceful collusion of the Green Party. Play the numbers game and the Taoiseach will hang on.

Yesterday, the Irish Independent described the events as “Ahern’s GUBU day”. We believed that we had got away from the era of GUBU, putting it behind us long ago.

The Deputy is still scarred by it.

Revelation after revelation about the Taoiseach's personal finances lead us to believe that we are heading into GUBU 2. I am delighted that the Minister of State raised personal remarks. Fine Gael Members, irrespective of whether we are directly responsible for our actions, know the difference between right and wrong.

Is that why Fine Gael paid its staff under the counter for five years?

I wish the Government well in deciding what is right and wrong. The Minister of State knows that the standards of public integrity Fine Gael has tried to uphold——

The Deputy was in charge of the Fine Gael HQ at the time. He authorised it.

——are a long way ahead of anything he will ever know.

In accordance with the Order of the Dáil of this day, I must now put the following question on the amendment moved by Deputy Gilmore to amendment No. 1 in the name of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the question."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 70.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby
  • Behan, Joe
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe
Question declared carried.
Amendment to amendment declared lost.
Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 67.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J..
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Mahony, John.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 76; Níl, 67.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • O’Brien, Darragh.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • O’Dea, Willie.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.

Níl

  • Allen, Bernard.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Coonan, Noel J.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Gregory, Tony.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Hayes, Tom.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Mitchell, Olivia.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Donnell, Kieran.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • O’Keeffe, Jim.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Perry, John.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P.J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Varadkar, Leo.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Tom Kitt and John Curran; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.