Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 19 Jan 2011

Vol. 727 No. 1

Order of Business.

It is proposed to take No. 18, statements on European Council, Brussels; and No. 3, the Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill 2011 — Order for Second Stage, Second and Remaining Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of Private Members' business, which shall be No. 84, motion re health insurance (resumed), which shall take place at 7 p.m. tonight or on the conclusion of No. 3, whichever is the later, and which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 99 minutes; and the proceedings on No. 18 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 85 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements shall be confined to the Taoiseach and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, which shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, a Minister or Minister of State shall take questions for a period not exceeding 20 minutes, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; the suspension of sitting under Standing Order 23(1) shall take place at 1.30 p.m., or on the conclusion of No. 18, whichever is the later, until 2.30 p.m.; and the Second and Remaining Stages of No. 3 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: the proceedings on the Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6 p.m., the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; and the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 7 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister forFinance.

There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 1 agreed to?

No, the Labour Party will not agree the Order of Business today. The Taoiseach told us earlier today and yesterday that the Government does not intend to provide time to debate the Labour Party's motion of no confidence in the Government. That is the first time Government has refused to provide Government time to debate a motion of no confidence. That, of course, is the Government's decision, and, if it is, we will deal with it next week in Labour Party Private Members' time.

I do not believe there is a self-respecting Parliament anywhere that would not put to the test continued confidence in a Government in the circumstances we now have, where clearly a large number of people, even on the Government side, do not have confidence in the Taoiseach, where a senior Minister has just announced his resignation, which has been informed to us, in circumstances where Government backbenchers are raising questions about what other Ministers may have said or not said to them about confidence in the leader of the Government——

Standing Order 26 provides for a brief statement on the Order of Business.

——and certainly in circumstances where the overwhelming majority of the people want this Government removed from office. I believe it is the duty of the Opposition to put that question to the test and, in circumstances where the Government is not prepared to respond to that test, the Labour Party will not accept the Order of Business today.

I am putting the question.

If I may, a Cheann Comhairle, I do not at all accept the contention of the Deputy. We have made it clear that this is the final parliamentary term for the Government and that we will seek to dissolve Dáil Éireann upon the enactment of the Finance Act. We have already indicated that the timeframe for this will be the end of February-early March, and we will move in that way. Therefore, on the basis that a general election is planned for the spring, the question of taking a confidence motion at this point is, in the words of the Fine Gael Party, ill timed and ill judged.

I would also make the point that the suggestion I do not enjoy the confidence of the House as Taoiseach is not correct.

That will be tested. If the Labour Party means to test that next week, that is fine.

It needs to be tested.

On every occasion that it has been questioned so far, that confidence was available to me and I am confident it remains available to me.

There is another point to make in regard to the internal party matter that was resolved yesterday. If the Deputies are suggesting that I do not enjoy the confidence of my own party then that would suggest that democratic decision-making is something they do not understand, which I am sure is not true. Deputy Gilmore became leader of his party through a democratic process — I do not know whether it was a unanimous endorsement. If it was, fair enough. There was a contest prior to that when Deputy Quinn defeated Deputy Howlin. If I recall correctly, Deputy Quinn enjoyed——

We had a slightly wider franchise than in the Taoiseach's case.

A Deputy

Not in Deputy Quinn's time.

It is unfortunate the trade unions did not have a vote. Deputy Quinn should do something about that. He should try to become a socialist some time by giving them a vote.

They were voting for Bertie at the time.

The point I am making is important. When Deputy Quinn got more votes than Deputy Howlin, all of the Labour Party subscribed to the leadership of Deputy Quinn, and rightly so, and everyone united behind that decision. It is similar with my party.

The Taoiseach is forgetting that in the case of my party it was not a challenge to the leadership.

The Deputies are suggesting that people take the opportunity to vote in a certain way when an issue comes up but do not subsequently support the leader.

That is the Taoiseach's business.

The Taoiseach is elected by the Dáil.

I recall the time when the Deputies opposite were more interested in democratic centralism than they are now. That was not something in which they would have been involved, in a situation where everyone agreed or, more likely, the late Eamon Smullen or somebody else would send in a text and it would have to be read out because the politburo in Gardiner Street was telling the Labour Party what to say.

Question put.
The Dáil divided by electronic means.

Under Standing Order 69, I propose that the vote be taken by other than electronic means.

Question again put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 26.

  • Ahern, Bertie.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Ahern, Noel.
  • Andrews, Barry.
  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Ardagh, Seán.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Behan, Joe.
  • Blaney, Niall.
  • Brady, Áine.
  • Brady, Cyprian.
  • Brady, Johnny.
  • Browne, John.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Carey, Pat.
  • Conlon, Margaret.
  • Connick, Seán.
  • Coughlan, Mary.
  • Cowen, Brian.
  • Cregan, John.
  • Curran, John.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Devins, Jimmy.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Fahey, Frank.
  • Finneran, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Michael.
  • Fleming, Seán.
  • Flynn, Beverley.
  • Gogarty, Paul.
  • Gormley, John.
  • Hanafin, Mary.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Hoctor, Máire.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Peter.
  • Kenneally, Brendan.
  • Kennedy, Michael.
  • Killeen, Tony.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lenihan, Conor.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • Mansergh, Martin.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • 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’Donoghue, John.
  • O’Flynn, Noel.
  • O’Hanlon, Rory.
  • O’Keeffe, Batt.
  • O’Keeffe, Edward.
  • O’Rourke, Mary.
  • O’Sullivan, Christy.
  • Power, Peter.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Sargent, Trevor.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • White, Mary Alexandra.
  • Woods, Michael.


  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McManus, Liz.
  • Morgan, Arthur.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O’Shea, Brian.
  • O’Sullivan, Jan.
  • O’Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Sherlock, Seán.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Upton, Mary.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies John Curran and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Joe Costello.
Question declared carried.

Is No. 18, statements on European Council, Brussels agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal relating to the suspension of sitting under Standing Order 23(1) agreed to? Agreed.

Normally, a Cheann Comhairle, we would object to a guillotine on a Bill but as a demonstration that we are accepting the Government's intention to speed-track legislation to allow the election to be held, we are not objecting to the shortening of time on this particular Bill.

Have you indicated, a Cheann Comhairle, what proposals——

Yes. We have agreement on Nos. (1), (2) and (3), and Deputy Stagg is expressing agreement on No. (4).

I object to the guillotine of this matter. The Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill is a very important issue, with all that has emanated from it and with the echoes up to the present time. We object to the guillotine for Members properly to debate what is involved at each stage. The Government is not providing that opportunity. The legislation is important. It does not go far enough. We want all speakers to have the opportunity to participate so they can so record.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 4 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

I understand there were to be discussions between the Taoiseach and the leader of the Green Party about the arrangements for the Finance Bill. Do the arrangements, as circulated by the Taoiseach, stand or does he accept the offer I made yesterday to co-operate with the Government in having a more practical and efficient conclusion to the Bill? The Taoiseach and I both know it is possible to have a decent discussion on the Finance Bill and to have it completed earlier than the Government intended.

The Taoiseach, in his comments this morning, mentioned the importance of the passing of the Climate Change Response Bill. I accept the principle of the Bill and will put a reasoned amendment on Second Stage. Will the Taoiseach set out a timescale similar to the Finance Bill for the Climate Change Response Bill?

The Climate Change Response Bill is in the Seanad at present. It is envisaged that other Bills will be taken in parallel with the Finance Bill. Budget related Bills, must be taken sequentially. Within the period of a week or two following the passing of the Finance Bill other finance related Bills can be brought by the Minister, with other legislation running in parallel with that. The schedule has not changed.

Is it intended that some of the parallel legislation would run beyond the conclusion of the Finance Bill?

It is not envisaged that legislation would run beyond the Finance Bill. It would be dealt with in parallel, trying to get all the work done.

The Taoiseach informed us this morning of the resignation of Deputy Micheál Martin as Minister for Foreign Affairs and told us he was assigning the Department of Foreign Affairs to himself. Is that a temporary little arrangement or is it intended to be for the remaining life of the Government?

If in doubt, leave them out.

Has the Taoiseach received offers of resignation from any other Minister or Minister of State?

Deputy Roche is over there smiling like a crocodile in a tropical swamp.

I learned from Deputy Rabbitte.

The responsibility for foreign affairs has been assigned to me. It is a matter for the Taoiseach to decide whether there will be anything else. That is the situation this morning.

There is a 14 member Cabinet now.

The Taoiseach might assume other roles if things keep going like this.

The second half of the question — has the Taoiseach received offers of resignation from any other Minister or Minister of State?

No. I have been here since half past ten. I have not received any.

The programme of legislation the Chief Whip presented last week contains three Bills related to the Finance Bill and the outworking of budget 2011. These include the Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill, which is before us today. There are 15 other Bills listed. In his commentary on this last week, the Taoiseach singled out the NTMA (amendment) Bill. Has the Taoiseach, with Cabinet colleagues, prioritised any of that list of 15 Bills to be brought forward within whatever weeks remain of the current Dáil? Can the Taoiseach give us an update on the status of any of the other 15 Bills and is he determined to see any of them brought forward before the Dáil dissolves?

The Chief Whip outlined in the parliamentary schedule last week which Bills were published, which were already in the House and which have yet to be published. Those were outlined as our priorities. He also said it was not an exhaustive list. However, those are the priorities and we are working to the timescale set out therein.

The Taoiseach will recall that on 14 December last, on foot of the "Prime Time" programme on abuse of the elderly, I raised the mental capacity Bill. In his response, the Taoiseach said the Government would publish the legislation before the start of this session. He pointed out that this is important legislation, not only to protect vulnerable people but to ensure that someone could be prosecuted for wilful neglect if suspected of the type of behaviour highlighted in the "Prime Time" report. The legislation has not been published and is not in the Chief Whip's list of promised legislation. Where is the mental capacity Bill and when will it be published?

The mental capacity Bill is at an advanced stage. Much work was done in the last session to prepare it for publication. The work has not been completed and I am not sure if the priority list that has been devised by the Government will affect the finalisation of that work. The best one can expect, given the circumstances, is that the Bill may be published before the dissolution of the Dáil, but I do not expect its enactment in this Parliament.

The issue of Bank of Ireland bonuses was touched on earlier. The bank is currently pursuing a solicitor in the courts for €67 million. He is reputed to owe a total of €800 million in loans. This solicitor is on the panel of NAMA.

It is not appropriate to raise this matter on the Order of Business.

There are 440,000 people out of work and 100,000 people emigrating. They want to know how someone who is being pursued by a bank for money he owes can be on the panel of NAMA, while some of his loans could be in NAMA.

Deputy, you may raise this matter with the line Minister. It is not appropriate for the Order of Business.

Are there other people on the panel of NAMA, including auctioneers, solicitors and valuers, who could find themselves in the same situation? How are these panels formed? Where is the transparency?

The question is out of order on the Order of Business. I suggest you raise the matter with the line Minister.

Yesterday, when I asked the Taoiseach about the Medical Practitioners (Professional Indemnity) Bill, he intimated to me that the Minister would in her own Bill. When I challenged the Taoiseach on that and pointed out that the Bill had already gone through Second Stage and Committee Stage he said he would revert to me. Where is the Medical Practitioners (Professional Indemnity) Bill? It does not appear on the Chief Whip's plan. What does appear is the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2010. While I am sure we are all very interested in the welfare of greyhounds, surely we should prioritise things differently and look after people who are at risk of injury by doctors who are not insured because of a loophole in the law, which I have sought, through this Bill, to correct. The Minister gave me to understand the Bill was going to Cabinet and that it would pass through Committee in October. The Minister has been pretty true to her word, but there is still no sign of the Bill. Can the Taoiseach tell the House where it is?

The Welfare of Greyhounds Bill passed Second Stage in the Seanad yesterday, with the agreement of all parties, including Deputy Reilly's. If he has a principled objection to it perhaps he would tell the lads in the Upper House.

I made it clear we are all interested in the welfare of greyhounds. It is about priorities.

Deputy James Reilly published the Medical Practitioners (Professional Indemnity) Bill — a Private Member's Bill — on 8 July 2009. Officials of the Department have been in discussion with the Attorney General's office and are currently preparing a memorandum for Government seeking approval of the proposed amendments and of the provisions set out generally in Deputy Reilly's Bill. That draft memorandum should be ready early next month.

I thank the Taoiseach.

I refer to the deposit guarantee scheme, whereby €2.7 billion must be set aside by 2020. In other words, a smaller banking sector must contribute €300 million per annum between now and 2020 . Can the Taoiseach provide Members with advice or information on——

Deputy, it seems to me as though the Minister for Finance might be——

I refer to forthcoming legislation.

From where will the smaller banking sector get €300 million per annum to put aside into the Central Bank as a security to back up the deposit guarantee scheme? This morning, Members already have heard about the bank bonuses etc.

Deputy, this is a statement.

Higher bank charges and interest rates have been promised.

From where in the banking sector will this €300 million per year come?

Deputy, really, it is only envisaged on the Order of Business——

No, it is on the deposit guarantee scheme, about which there is legislation.

—— as to when the promised business is due to come forward.

Sorry a Cheann Comhairle, I wrote to the Whip to have this matter brought before the House.

I know. However, we cannot have a full debate on the Order of Business.

The Deputy is trying to be orderly.

I am doing my best to be orderly. I have written to the Whip to bring this matter before the House.

I know. However, it is 12.50 p.m. and we still are on the Order of Business.

I am sure the Taoiseach has some idea. Will it simply be raised through the imposition of higher charges and interest rates——

Is there promised legislation in this regard?

——on the consumer?

All right. I call Deputy Broughan.

The Taoiseach wanted to answer that question.

I also have indicated my desire to contribute.

While the Taoiseach has been busy in recent days trying to avert his political demise, I refer to the current industrial relations problem in Aer Lingus.

What does it feel like?

I suppose he has achieved this for a while. In respect of the current industrial relations problem in Aer Lingus, does the Minister for Transport intend to report to the House as soon as possible or to take steps to intervene urgently? As the Taoiseach is aware, it was referred by the trade union to the Labour Court. There is no need for this dispute and I note the tourism industry is highly fragile. Could the Minister for Transport, Deputy Dempsey, who is serving in his final few months——

Deputy, there are so many other ways in the House to raise this matter but it is not appropriate for the Order of Business.

I tried to raise this issue with a private notice question, which I believe the Ceann Comhairle will find in his office. Can the Taoiseach take steps to bring this matter to an end given that we urgently need——

Deputy, we must move on. It is 12.55 p.m. and we are still on the Order of Business. Please, it is out of order. I call Deputy Howlin.

Last week, the Minister of State with responsibility for children circulated an alternative wording for a proposed children's referendum. It was alternative to the wording that was carefully crafted by an all-party committee and was proposed unanimously to the Government. In an effort to ascertain how this could be advanced, will the Taoiseach consider reconstituting on a temporary basis the all-party Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children and referring the wording to it? If all-party agreement can be reached and if there are good legal reasons for the changes, the joint committee could debate them in public session, hear the views of interested parties and have an all-party commitment on the wording in advance of the general election.

I welcome Deputy Howlin's suggestion. I believe the Minister of State may have in mind the possibility of this happening. He has been engaged in some informal discussions with spokespersons thus far and will report back to the Government next week. The Government will seek to facilitate a constructive dialogue on this issue as a matter of priority.

Before coming to promised legislation, may I congratulate the Taoiseach on his victory last night? He knows I did my best to help out.

Deputy Rabbitte always is generous.

The Taoiseach has the Deputy's full support.

We know how accurate Mayo forwards are.

And corner backs.

As a result, if I have any brownie points, I wish to intervene on behalf of my constituency colleague——

Deputy O'Connor?

Perhaps that is him on the telephone now.

—— and ask the Taoiseach not to go too hard on him. He now is known in the constituency as Dead Man Talking. The Taoiseach should not go too hard on him, as he had a rush of blood to the head and it should be overlooked.

Has the corporate donations Bill been approved by the Cabinet and when will it be published?

The heads of the Bill were approved in December and it is being drafted at present. It has not yet come before the Government but I expect it to so do within this session.

Given the importance of cybercrime at present, which may be of particular importance in the climate in which we live, when is it proposed to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and transpose the European Union framework decision on attacks against information systems into Irish law? Is this intended or from a security point of view regarding financial services and other associated services——

Not in the immediate future, no.