Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 19 Feb 2009

Vol. 675 No. 3

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 8a, motion re referral to joint committee of the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann for a Council decision on the establishment of the European Criminal Records Information System, ECRIS; No. 8b, motion re referral to joint committee of the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the establishment of “Eurodac” for the comparison of fingerprints and establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the member state responsible for examining an application for international protection; and No. 6a, Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. 8a and 8b shall be decided without debate.

There is one proposal to be put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 8a and 8b without debate agreed?

Prior to agreeing to anything on the Order of Business today, there are a number of matters I would like the Tánaiste to clarify for the House. I understand the annual report of Anglo Irish Bank is to be published tomorrow. We have also been led to believe that the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, or at least a version of it, will be made available tomorrow. Will we be told the names of the ten investors in Anglo Irish Bank in either of the reports to be published tomorrow? What arrangements are being made to make the reports available to Members of the House? Will they be circulated?

Does the Taoiseach intend to make a statement today on the newspaper report this morning that he had a private meeting with the board of Anglo Irish Bank last April? If he does intend to make such a statement, will he do so in the House and answer questions on it?

I cannot agree to the Order of Business as presented not only with regard to the specific proposals, but also the fact that we are being asked to accommodate in the ordering of business a piece of legislation which is misdescribed as the "Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill". Nothing about the proposed legislation coming before us today is in the public interest. Its title is fraudulent in nature, which reflects much of what has gone before it.

The Deputy can make this contribution in the course of the debate on the Bill.

Nonetheless, it is important to put it absolutely on the record.

Deputy Ó Caoláin can do that later on.

Like the previous speaker, I want to ask, with regard to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, whether we will have a full disclosure of the content of this report. What is the extent of the obliteration process, if this has been employed prior to its publication? What way will it be distributed to Members? Tomorrow is not a sitting day. What are the Government's proposals on having the report made available to Members of the House in all parties and Members of the House who are not members of parties?

With regard to the ten green bottles hanging on the wall, can we have an indication from the Tánaiste that there will be a full disclosure of the identity of the people concerned in the context of the publication of the Anglo Irish Bank report? Now that the bank is in public ownership, is it anticipated that publication of the report will be through a press conference as Anglo Irish Bank has been great at lauding and applauding itself in the past?

A brief contribution is allowed at this time.

We own this bank today. With respect, we are all shareholders in it. I want to know the way in which the report will be presented. Will it be done surreptitiously or openly, allowing an opportunity for members of the press to properly question whoever is making the presentation at the time?

Can we have further clarity on the exchanges over recent days, in particular the Taoiseach's responses to the questioning from Deputies Kenny and Gilmore during Leaders' Questions on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week? With regard to the identity of the persons concerned, is it the case that the right question has not been posed——

This is not Question Time. Brief contributions——

——and that the Taoiseach has been able to avoid responding with the full raft of information he possesses?

I call the Tánaiste. Can she assist the House?

I assumed the objection was to taking both motions without debate. I assume, on the basis of what has been said, that is not the case. The motions need to be put to the House as quickly as possible as the committee is very anxious to discuss them next Tuesday.

I have been asked two specific questions, one on the availability of the Anglo Irish Bank report and also the part of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report that refers to Anglo Irish Bank. This will be laid before the Oireachtas Library, as is normal.

Yes, when it is available.

I have been asked to clarify what will be in the report. I am not familiar with what is in it but I have been advised on the issue of whether the names of the people in question will be disclosed in the report. The names of the ten persons were not disclosed. They are not disclosed to the Taoiseach or the Minister for Finance. It is a matter for the regulator, which is under a strict obligation of confidentiality.

I am sure somebody knows.

Allow the Tánaiste to finish.

The names were not contained in any report to the Minister. The Minister, as a shareholder, has no right to this information.

Were they not whispered or anything?

The shareholder in any bank does not have a right to information——

The Minister could have asked for the information——

Sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, this is very serious.

——before the loan guarantee scheme was put in place.

Allow the Tánaiste to finish.


For goodness sake, let her finish. She has been asked a question and should be allowed to finish.

The legal views are alive and well.

The shareholder in any bank does not have a right to information about customers to that bank. It would completely undermine the confidence of customers generally in Anglo Irish Bank and, therefore, confidence in the bank if the Minister, as a shareholder, could obtain access to confidential information about customers.


What about us, the shareholders?

Therefore, it is important to say, for clarity, that those names will not be available in the public domain. However, it is equally important to say——

What were they buying?

——as the Taoiseach indicated in answers to this House on a number of occasions, as did two colleagues of mine last night and earlier this morning, that neither the Taoiseach nor any member of this Cabinet, nor, for that matter, any Member of this House in any way wants to deter from due process. At the same time, it is very important that, arising from that due process, the full rigour of the law will be applied.

Is the first proposal agreed to?

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 8a and 8b, without debate, be agreed to.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 65.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • Cullen, Martin.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Moloney, John.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Mulcahy, 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, Seán.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.


  • Bannon, James.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Ulick.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Clune, Deirdre.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Crawford, Seymour.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Creighton, Lucinda.
  • D’Arcy, Michael.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deenihan, Jimmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Enright, Olwyn.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Flanagan, Terence.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Hayes, Brian.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Phil.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McEntee, Shane.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • 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.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheahan, Tom.
  • Sheehan, P. J.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Timmins, Billy.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
  • Wall, Jack.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.
Question declared carried.

The Tánaiste referred to the confidence of customers. In the context of the legislation dealing with the credit institutions and the guarantee scheme, is the Government considering proposals to nationalise, support or merge Irish Nationwide with another institution, particularly in light of the comments of that building society's former chairman to the effect that, without Government support, the future looks bleak? Were the Ministers who represent the Green Party fully apprised of the contents of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report into Anglo Irish Bank?

We cannot discuss that matter now.

I am referring to this matter in the context of the guarantee scheme.

On the Order of Business, the Deputy must inquire about legislation.

If that company had carried out its work on Anglo Irish Bank in a proper manner, the persons and mechanics relating to the Quinn overhang would have been dealt with.

We cannot discuss that matter now.

The Tánaiste might wish to discuss it. This is a matter of major importance.

The Tánaiste cannot do so. I am obliged to implement Standing Orders.

This matter relates to the guarantee scheme.

As previously stated, under Standing Orders there are no Leaders' Questions on Thursday mornings.

Deputy Kenny is not posing any such questions.

That makes matters difficult for the Chair.

I am asking questions on the legislation.

The Deputy's questions are not appropriate to the Order of Business. In light of the fact that I am obliged to operate within Standing Orders, which are made not by me but by Members of the House, I must ask that the Deputy do so also.

Soon no business will be transacted in this House.

My questions arise on foot of legislation passed by the House. Is it intended to publish the letter sent by the legal advisers to Anglo Irish Bank to the Financial Regulator in order that——

Members may only ask questions relating to legislation.

——people might be made aware of the detail of what was involved?

We cannot discuss that matter.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has stated that it would be preferable if the names of the ten persons involved in a so-called golden circle were published.

We cannot discuss that matter.

Does the Tánaiste share the Minister's view? Given that the people now own the bank in question, will she publish the names of those involved?

The Tánaiste may only comment on legislation. Is legislation promised in respect of the banks?

No. The legislation is as laid before the House.

So the Tánaiste will not answer any questions.

I call Deputy Gilmore. Deputy Kenny may raise these matters on Question Time.

The Tánaiste wishes to answer.


I would be more than happy to answer questions. However, this is the Order of Business.

Leaders' Questions are not taken on Thursday mornings.

This is an important issue on which the Tánaiste has refused to answer a question.

There are several important issues. That is not my fault.

Leaders' answers are not provided on Tuesdays or Wednesdays.

This might be the final Thursday on which the House sits.

The Tánaiste informed the House that it was intended to place in the Oireachtas Library the annual report of Anglo Irish Bank and the PricewaterhouseCoopers report. I interrupted her reply to ask when this would be done. I ask her to clarify when these reports will be made available to Members.

I asked the Tánaiste if the Taoiseach would take the opportunity of making a statement in connection with a report that he held a private meeting with the board of Anglo Irish Bank. I have submitted to the Ceann Comhairle a Private Notice Question on that matter and do not wish to pre-empt his decision on it, other than to point out to the Tánaiste that it is desirable that the Taoiseach make a statement on this issue as soon as possible, rather than allow speculation to develop in connection with it over the weekend. The Private Notice Question I submitted would allow him an opportunity to do this. Will the Tánaiste indicate whether the Taoiseach intends to make a statement?

There are methodologies for raising these matters.

On the same matter if I may——

The Deputy must be brief and in order.

The Deputy was not in order earlier.

I asked the Tánaiste what would be placed before the Houses of the Oireachtas. Will the unabridged version of the PricewaterhouseCoopers report be placed in the Oireachtas Library? On the matter of the so-called "unnamed ten", it strikes me——

We will not return to that issue. The Deputy may raise it later.

The Ceann Comhairle is right that we will not return to the issue. However, it strikes me as strange, given the nature of the Taoiseach who could turn——

Will we include the Northern Bank in that?

A Deputy

It is not guaranteed.


The Deputy has no knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery. What about the money Sinn Féin has in America?

Given the Taoiseach's failure to turn to——

Will Deputy Ó Caoláin tell the House about the Northern Bank golden circle?

What is the situation in relation to the Minister for Finance? How could he say there was no interest and not find out what it was that has inspired Deputy Kenny to pursue this matter so relentlessly over the past number of days?

The Deputy has a hard neck.


Deputy Ó Caoláin is close to the door.

Why does the Government feel so comfortable about the whole matter? The problem, I believe, is that it is aware of the full facts.

The Deputy is an arch pontificator.

I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. This is my final warning.

A question has not been properly answered.

I will have ask Deputy Ó Caoláin to leave. He is close to the door.

I have to leave at any rate.

That may be just as well.

The first document, the annual report of Anglo Irish Bank, is a public document which will be made available when published. The second document to which the leader of the Labour Party referred is the PricewaterhouseCoopers report which will be laid before the Houses. I assume the documents will be laid before the Houses simultaneously but I will discuss the matter and advise the Deputy of the position straightaway.

Will it be published on the Internet?

As I indicated, the annual report will be published and made available tomorrow. Everyone will be able to read it as it is a public document.

Will it be available in Irish?

Will it have a photograph of the Taoiseach on the cover?

Allow the Tánaiste to answer the question, please.

On the other issue, which is not appropriate to the Order of Business, aspersions are being cast on the Taoiseach to the effect that it is inappropriate, as part of our day-to-day work, to have a social occasion or dinner with a particular company or companies, banks or otherwise. This is the normal day-to-day work of the Taoiseach, Minister for Finance and other Cabinet Ministers.

The Order of Business is about legislation, not Facebook entries.

I am sure the leaders of the Opposition parties also do what is appropriate.

The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill has not come before the House this week as scheduled. When will it be taken in the House?

Given the backlog in the legislative programme caused by the introduction of a raft of emergency Bills in the House, will the Tánaiste, Taoiseach and Whip consider extending the sitting time of the House before the summer? Will the Government consider arranging for sittings of the House to clear the backlog during the scheduled Easter recess and break for St. Patrick's Day?

On the recent discussion about the compellability of witnesses before Oireachtas committees, is the Government considering introducing legislation on compellability and the powers of Oireachtas committees? In the event of constitutional difficulties arising in this regard, as has been indicated in a number of reports, will the Government consider holding a constitutional referendum on the date of the local and European Parliament elections to iron out and correct anomalies in legislation to ensure committees can fully perform their functions?

As the Deputy will be aware, legislation taken in the House yesterday ran on with the unfortunate result that debate on the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill could not commence. Subject to the agreement of the Whips, I understand the legislation will come before the House in the week after next.

On compellability, while the Government has not received a request to introduce legislation on the matter, it will consider the issue if a committee of the House requests the introduction of legislation.

Two Bills are required from the Department of Education and Science. The Chairman and members of the Joint Committee on Education and Science have been informed that Committee Stage of the Student Support Bill cannot advance because the Department wishes to introduce a series of amendments. Students depend on the enactment of the Bill to have rationalisation of the grants system proceed. Will the Tánaiste advise what course of action Opposition Members can take on behalf of their constituents to advance the Bill?

Two primary schools established in north County Dublin under the aegis of the VEC are currently illegal and do not enjoy legal cover. The Minister has not made an order under existing legislation to provide such cover on a temporary basis. When will the relevant legislation be published and debated?

I will discuss the position regarding the Student Support Bill with the Minister for Education and Science and revert to the Deputy on the availability of Government amendments. On the education (patronage) Bill, which the Deputy is anxious to have before the House, it is anticipated that heads of the Bill, which are at an advanced stage, will be available this month, with publication expected in early spring.

On primary legislation, following the withdrawal of the education Ireland Bill, the Minister for Education and Science informed me the legislation would be merged with the qualifications (education and training) Bill, the purpose of which is to amalgamate the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, HETAC and FETAC. Will the Tánaiste ensure the legislation is expedited given the potential for the Exchequer to gain additional income from the regulation of this sector, including education?

I am disappointed that for the third day in a row none of the Green Party Ministers considered it worthwhile to come into the House today. I have questions on secondary legislation in two areas which fall within the remit of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. When will secondary legislation be introduced regarding the designation of bogs and the banning of turf cutting on them? I understand that that secondary legislation is to be brought before Cabinet and then before the House. When will we see it?

Following from the European Court of Justice decision on the environmental impact assessment directive, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, indicated that he would introduce secondary legislation requiring EISs for agricultural construction. When will we see that secondary legislation?

It will probably be next year before the education legislation is available. I will ask the Minister to revert directly to the Deputy on the two items of secondary legislation.

Yesterday Bord Gáis entered the domestic electricity supply market very aggressively. I will be in order if the Ceann Comhairle gives me a chance. As a result of that we are seeing quite significant reductions in the cost of electricity for house owners, which is good. The Government, through both the Taoiseach and the Minister, has promised an energy price review that will result in reductions of up to 15% in electricity costs. We now have the crazy situation whereby the ESB through a regulated price is being prevented from competing with Bord Gáis and is losing market share at a time when two large energy companies could be competing on price to drive price down. When will we get a result from the Government's energy price review, which has been promised and may require regulation?

There is no legislative requirement.

There is a regulatory requirement.

The energy price review is moving on and progressing very quickly. When regulations are needed they will also be introduced very quickly.

They are needed today.

I should explain that when questions are asked on secondary legislation, which are quite legitimate questions of course, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste or whoever is standing in for either may refer the answer to the question to another day in accordance with Standing Orders because there are so many regulations, directives and so on.

On that point, the Tánaiste is representing the Government today.

This is something that was promised by both the Taoiseach and the Minister.

I am just outlining the situation with secondary legislation.

I cannot give a date yet because the review has not been completed.

On a point of clarification, Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste a very important question on the compellability of witnesses appearing before committees of this House. In her reply she said that if the Government received a request it would consider the matter. My understanding is that the Government made its views on this matter known through the Chief Whip last weekend when he said the Government would be favourably disposed to such a request. Given the urgency of this matter and that a very small elite group of people regard themselves as being above and beyond the law and unable to come before the committees of this House to answer questions from the elected Members of Dáil and Seanad Éireann, would the Tánaiste not agree that the Government needs to make an urgent decision and that legislation is required to ensure our committees have proper powers in order to ask appropriate questions to persons they chose to request to appear before those committees?

In the first instance this is a matter for the committee concerned. It must formally request the power to compel. I am not sure that that has happened. I will allow the Tánaiste to answer the question on compellability.

Let me say——

New legislation is required.

The context for this the comments made by the Chief Whip over the weekend, where he clearly stated, as a representative of the Government, that there would be a favourable response.

If a request was made.

I am merely outlining the procedure.

A Cheann Comhairle, you are correct. No formal request has been made. That being said, this matter was discussed among the Whips. Legal advice is being obtained and I believe the Whips will discuss the matter further next week.

There is no view from the Government.

Is the Minister for Finance or any other representative of the Government available to provide a further update on the liquidity of Irish banks at an appropriate time?

That is not in order.

Yes is the answer. It can be done.

I refer to No. 61 on Tuesday's Order Paper regarding Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I wish to acknowledge the Tánaiste's own personal attention to this matter. I request Government time to take this debate. Since my colleagues and I tabled this motion four months ago, circumstances have changed. Time is now running out for boys nearing the age of 18 and it is a life and death situation. We need a debate on whether we are going to ring-fence money and follow up on commitments made two years ago. I ask the Tánaiste to allow Government time on this very pertinent and important issue.

On the same matter, members of the Joint Committee on Health and Children have unanimously supported funding for the exon skipping trials. Existing legislation will not allow this to happen. There is a genuine willingness to do this. It needs to be moved on. Research has established proven benefits for the people who have undertaken the trials. I urge the Government to speed this up.

As this is a request for Government time arising from an item on the Order Paper, the question is in order.

I am very familiar with the issue, which is a very serious one. The Whips should discuss the matter to see if it can be facilitated.

With the 2012 Olympic Games to be held in London fast approaching and given the cutbacks in sports funding which are crippling Irish sport through lack of coaching and other facilities, when can we expect the Irish Sports Council (amendment) Bill to come before the House?

Later this year.

Yesterday in my constituency there were two events, one violent and the other potentially violent. In one case a man was gunned down in cold blood — the sixth gun murder so far this year. In the second one a viable explosive device was found under a car with the potential to explode and cause serious damage or death. Are there any plans to increase the Garda's power of surveillance or for a witness protection programme?

Is legislation promised in this area? If not, I will need to ask the Deputy to raise the matter for discussion on the Adjournment.

The covert surveillance Bill would be the relevant legislation, which will be taken later this session.

The Tánaiste spoke earlier about the possibility of compellability legislation. Could we include in that a mechanism to compel the Green Party Ministers and Members to attend the Dáil occasionally? Would the Government be prepared to consider that?

Of course the content of legislation may not be discussed on the Order of Business.

The scope of the legislation.

It does not matter whether it is green, yellow or black.

We will wait until we get the motion from the committee.

When will the legislation to amend the National Pensions Reserve Fund come before the House? On Tuesday I asked the Taoiseach about people who are wards of court and have funds managed by the courts system. The difficulty is that many families are worried about what his happening to the funds and whether parts of the funds and equities have been lost.

I talked about preambles and epilogues before.

When that legislation or the other possible legislation that the Minister referred to yesterday is being brought in, would it be possible to include some mechanism whereby the regulatory and information systems cover that issue so that families in that situation can readily get information that they can understand? They are finding it very difficult.

I have explained a number of times that this is not Question Time. The details of the measures do not fall within the ambit of the Standing Orders. That is the problem. That really is a problem of course.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle. However, it is a big issue for the families involved.

The Deputy can understand my problem.

I just want to mention it so that the Tánaiste is aware of it.

The Deputy is not supposed to mention it. That is the problem.

The Chief Whip did come back to me about it.

Yesterday during Question Time, the Minister for Finance said he had received on Tuesday a significant report on the reform of the regulatory sector. Will any arrangements be made to brief Opposition parties on this? From the tenor of what the Minister said, and said on other occasions, he clearly intends to introduce new legislation on the regulation of the banks and finance in Ireland. Could we get an indication from the Tánaiste if she has a time line for that legislation?

On the National Pensions Reserve Fund legislation, it will be dealt with the week after next. Regarding wards of court, as the Deputy knows, the Minister spoke to her personally and indicated that equities were no longer used and the President of the High Court looks after wards of court. On the reform of the regulatory sector, a Bill will be brought very quickly to the Government. After it has made its decision any additional legislative measures required will be introduced.

Last week I asked about ports legislation. I raise this issue because there is a Bill on port authorities and companies currently before the Seanad. My question is on the list and concerns the foreshore (amendment) Bill. Since I raised this issue I have received communication that this Bill will deal primarily with fisheries. On the other hand, the ports legislation which is currently before the Seanad has a clause in it which mentions the acquisition and disposal of property. However, we are left with a net issue. Which part of the Bill will govern the reclamation of land from the sea for port development? This is an issue which arises in all of the port development proposals made to Government. I am trying to be of assistance. When will we have the foreshore (amendment) legislation? Will it deal exclusively with fisheries issues or will it be able to address the issue——

The Tánaiste cannot possibly know that.

——of port authorities reclaiming land from the sea and proposing to develop or even dispose of it when in fact they have no clear title?

The issue is quite complicated as a decision has been made to divide the responsibility for foreshore between the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. All aspects of fishery harbour development and anything attached to the fisheries and seafood sector will remain within the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Everything else will be transferred to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which includes all of the commercial decisions which have to be made, alternative energies and other matters.

That Bill has not yet been completed but the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will continue to process all foreshore applications until such time as its powers have been transferred to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Who processes foreshore licences?

The best thing is for me to ask the relevant official to make himself or herself available to the Deputy.

No. 2 on the legislative list is the industrial relations (miscellaneous provisions) Bill to amend the law regarding JLCs. This is causing a number of problems in the catering industry and in restaurant and bars located outside Dublin and needs to be harmonised. In view of the fact we are entering the tourist season, can this Bill be brought forward as quickly as possible?

A Bill on the sale of alcohol is expected to be published in the middle of the year but needs to be addressed much more quickly. Does the Government intend to proceed with a Bill to increase funding from the Exchequer for the George Mitchell fund?

The industrial relations (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is scheduled for this session but the issue the Deputy raised is being dealt with now by the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Billy Kelleher who has amalgamated——

Can it be dealt with by way of an amendment without coming before us?

I do not think so. It refers specifically to the regulatory framework of NERA. The other aspect the Deputy is discussing has been dealt with by the Minister of State, Deputy Kelleher, between the unions and employers. On the second issue, a Bill on the sale of alcohol is scheduled for the middle of the year. On the final issue, it is intended to move ahead with the George Mitchell scholarships.