I thank the Minister for his courtesy in seeing the Criminal Procedure Bill through to finality. It is by no means the most significant piece of legislation we have put through in this area. The Minister for Justice and Law Reform claims that his Department has enacted some 60% of the legislation put through the House in the past couple of years. I do not know if the percentage is as high as that, but the legislative burden in the justice area is very high. While this Bill would not rank at the top, it is, nonetheless, important, given the progress that has been made in the area of forensic science, DNA evidence and so on in recent times. It is right that the law comes into kilter with those developments.
It is regrettable that at the midnight hour of this session we are completing important Bills — we move from here onto the important Multi-Unit Developments Bill — and that inadequate time is given to these. At other times of year the Government did not manage its legislative schedule very well. There were times in the year just finished when the Government could not field legislation. Now, we are guillotining legislation, almost by rote.
I agree with my colleagues, Minister Ó Cuív and Deputy Shatter, with regard to the workload of Deputies. It is fair enough for there to be comment and criticism about whether we should be doing all of the things we do, but the proposition that people will disappear for three months holds no validity. Ministers will function and will look forward to the break from the Dáil to tackle work that needs to be done. Similarly, there is an enormous amount of work to be done by Deputies on this side of the House, particularly by those with front bench responsibilities. The Dáil is not a factory for making widgets or producing concrete blocks. Time is required for reflection on some of the material that must be processed through the House.
It is dispiriting for most Deputies to read articles such as those in theEvening Herald this evening, which has devoted a page to the alleged three months summer break of Deputies. The article is accompanied with a photograph which was, apparently and lamentably, supplied to it by a Member of this House. The photograph was taken in the Visitors’ Bar and is described as TDs making jolly at the break. There is no Deputy in the photograph and there was no Deputy in the Visitors’ bar on the night in question, except the one who took the photograph and one junior Minister who was perfectly entitled to be there. This kind of trivialisation and misrepresentation of what goes on in here is all too often accepted by Members on the basis that we are expected to bend the knee to this type of denigratory reference to Parliament. It does not serve to help tackle any of the problems that confront this Parliament that we should acquiesce in that kind of denigration of the work that goes on here. I am sorry it was aided and abetted by a Member of the House who ought to have more sense.