Order of Business

The Order of Business is No. 24, National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Bill 2014 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 25, the Forestry Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members' business, which shall be No. 154, motion re free travel scheme, Standing Order 121(3) shall not apply and Private Members’ business shall adjourn after 90 minutes; tomorrow’s business after Oral Questions shall be No. 26, Friendly Societies and Industrial and Provident Societies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 27, State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill 2014 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 25, Forestry Bill 2013 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed? Agreed. I call Deputy Martin on the Order of Business.

I extend my congratulations to the new Tánaiste, Deputy Joan Burton, on her elevation. She clearly received an overwhelming endorsement from Labour Party activists across the country. It is the pinnacle of a long career and she has enjoyed very good support from her family and friends. I wish her the very best in her portfolio and in her role as Tánaiste, giving very strong support to the Taoiseach no doubt in the months ahead. In that context, will the Taoiseach ever take other Ministers out of their prolonged misery? It is very disconcerting and discomforting-----

He cannot do it on the Order of Business.

-----for members of the Opposition to have to watch on a daily basis the very pained look on certain individuals coming into the House who are living in a kind of limbo-land in terms of whether they will survive. We are very concerned-----

The Deputy might tell us how to do it. He did a good job on that.

It has been heartening to see almost the full complement of the Labour Party members come into the House for the first time in a long time-----

Do the Deputy's colleagues present comprise the full complement of the Fianna Fáil Party?

-----to witness the elevation of the Tánaiste.

We are on the Order of Business.


Our day will come too, Ruairí.


Let us quieten down and get back to business.

To stay within the parameters of the Order of Business-----

I would appreciate that very much.

-----to which I am leading, the Taoiseach might indicate when he intends to bring resolutions before the House to give effect to the long speculated Cabinet reshuffle. Will the Opposition be given due new notice in terms of the timelines for debate and contributions on what will be a substantive debate on the issues surrounding that Cabinet reshuffle? We have some idea who will be coming in. Deputy Quinn has resigned and I wish him the best.

This is not really relevant to the Order of Business.

The Minister of State, Deputy Kelly, has already announced unilaterally that he is going into Cabinet.

A Deputy

He did that about a month ago.

He did that on the day he got elected here.

Deputy Martin has had his say.

The Minister, Deputy Reilly, is ringing all round him. I do not know who among those who have been talked out will talk themselves back in but in any event it would be useful if the Taoiseach could bring that to a conclusion and let us know when we can expect to hear that.

On a need to know basis.

In a more serious vein, although my first issue is a serious one, the second issue I wish to raise-----

Seeing as the first two were out of order, the Deputy might be in order on his third one.

The first one was in order; it was about promised resolutions to come before the House in regard to the Cabinet.

My second matter relates to the fact that legislation has been brought forward by Deputy Timmy Dooley on creating a system of appeals to the licensing laws in regard to concerts. This is in the context of the five Garth Brooks concerts being cancelled officially, which represents approximately a €50 million loss to the Dublin economy-----

We cannot debate that issue now.

-----and very significant reputational damage to the country in terms of the importance of Ireland and Dublin as its capital city-----

The Deputy should remember my guidelines.

-----in attracting such significant events to the country, which create employment and activity for a range of interests.

Deputy Dooley's Bill is available. It may not be perfect so if the Government wishes to amend or change it we are open to that. Is the Taoiseach prepared to accept Deputy Dooley's Bill in Government time over the next two days with a view to trying to bring about a resolution to this issue? The Bill provides for an appeals mechanism to the decisions taken by the Dublin City Manager in this instance. It is a realistic, reasonable response to a situation which I am sure everybody in the House will agree is not a sustainable or tenable position for Ireland Inc. Will Government time be given for consideration of this legislation?

I am sure that Deputy Martin has taken note of the economic figures that have emerged during the past few days. I am glad to note that all of the commentators who were very strident in their views in that regard have now focused on the requirement of the Government and Minister for Finance to meet our target of 3% by 2015. We are in a different space. Obviously, in recent times things have been very difficult for many people. It is hoped that during the lifetime of this Government the benefits arising from their sacrifices can be fed back to them. The Tánaiste, whom I congratulate on her appointment, and I have not yet concluded our deliberations on the economic policy agenda for the remainder of the lifetime of this Government.

I am aware of Deputy Dooley's interest in the matter that is quite controversial. This appears to have been very badly handled all round.

I understand that all of the concerts have been cancelled and that the singer involved, Garth Brooks, is not now coming to Ireland, an implication of which is the loss to the economy and city of €250 million. However, there is a planning process in place which is the law. That planning process allows for only three concerts to be held this year. I understand that this will not now happen. Even if Deputy Dooley's Bill were accepted, it is now too late in that the singer involved, Garth Brooks, in terms of his integrity and credibility as a performer and artist, has stated that he will perform five concerts or none. I am sure this is a great disappointment to his many hundreds of thousands of fans here. It is a shock to the system in terms of the economy of this city and the reputation of our country. I hope that on the next occasion these kinds of issues arise they will be more efficiently handled. That is not to decry Deputy Dooley's Bill, which I have not yet had sight of. Obviously, consideration will be given to it and how relevant it might be.

Will Government time be given to consideration of it? Approximately 200,000 hotel bookings have been disrupted as a result of this decision and 70,000 people are inward bound in about ten days.

Mr. Brooks has already confirmed that he is not coming.

The Taoiseach can change that.

There are to be no concerts.

There is still time.

I congratulate Deputy Burton on her election as Leader of the Labour Party and her appointment as Tánaiste. It is a great honour for her and her family. I also wish the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, well in his retirement.

Deputy Adams is welcome to join me.

No, there is too much work to do.

That is what I am afraid of.

I realised something was about to happen when I looked up from my work and saw all of the Labour Party Members coming into the House.

We have not gone away.

Not too far off.

Not yet. What would be helpful of the Labour Party would be if it returned to the party founded by James Connolly----

We never left it.

-----and cut its alliance with the conservative party with which it is in power.

I have given the Deputy some latitude and must now ask him to put a question.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his indulgence. I have three questions for the Taoiseach. On the 1961 Vienna Convention, does the Government intend to upgrade the Palestinian mission to an embassy, which status it deserves under the 1961 Vienna Convention? Given current difficulties in the Middle East this would send a strong signal to the beleaguered people of Palestine.

When does the Government expect to introduce legislation in respect the establishment of the Garda authority, when does the Taoiseach expect advertising in respect of the appointment of the Garda Commissioner to commence and how quickly will the successful candidate be in place?

In June 2013, the Minister for State with responsibility for planning, Deputy Jan O'Sullivan, initiated a review of planning issues in respect of six of seven planning authorities that were previously the subject of a review by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. When will the report of this review be published?

I will have to come back to the Deputy on the second question. On the Garda authority and the process for the appointment of a Garda Commissioner, the advertisement for the post of Garda Commissioner will be placed in July and the legislation regarding the establishment of a committee to deal with the provision of an independent statutory Garda authority will be introduced in the autumn. It is intended that both processes will overlap. In other words, the process of the appointment will overlap with the development of the independent statutory authority.

On the expert planning group, it is due to report shortly.

Can the Taoiseach respond to my first question in relation to the Palestinian mission?

Is the Deputy seeking that it be upgraded to a full embassy?

I have written a number of times to the former Tánaiste about the matter. Perhaps the current Tánaiste will deal with it.

The Deputy might seek to have the matter responded to in a different way.

I will retrieve the Deputy's letter and have a look at it.

The Taoiseach will be aware that Greyhound Recycling has decided unilaterally to cut the wages of its staff by 35%. The company has effectively locked its staff out of work. I am sure that like me the Taoiseach will find it unacceptable that this has happened, particularly considering that the workers and the representatives are fully engaged with the industrial relations mechanism.

What is the relevant legislation?

I am speaking about the workplace relations Bill, which was supposed to be in place prior to the end of this term. Will the Taoiseach ensure that it is in place before the end of the next term? Despite that the workers and representatives are fully engaged with the industrial relations process the employer has thrashed their wages.

This matter was discussed during Leaders' Questions.

The Bill was cleared at Cabinet today and will be published by the weekend. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, has agreed to meet with the President of SIPTU about this matter. This is an industrial dispute and there are well tried mechanisms in place to help resolve it. It is hoped that will happen soon.

It is not working.

On the matter raised earlier by my party Leader in relation to the planning and development (amendment) Bill-----

I beg the indulgence of the Chair.

No, we have dealt with that issue.

The Taoiseach indicated to the House that as the concerts in their entirety have been cancelled the passage of legislation was a moot point. It is my understanding that if there was an appropriate appeals mechanism-----

We cannot debate that issue now.

-----put in place over the next couple of days there would still be time to have these concerts go ahead.

There is still two or three days during which the Taoiseach can act. I am not particularly hung up about the Bill as drafted and am open to the Government amending it if the Attorney General has some views on it.

You have made your point.

It could provide a mechanism to attract the individual concerned back to Ireland to participate in the concerts and ensure the economic life of this city is protected at a vulnerable time-----

I am sorry, Deputy. You have made your point. Please resume your seat. You know you are out of order.

------when tourism is under extreme pressure. I appeal to the Taoiseach to give appropriate consideration to the proposed draft legislation.

I am sorry Deputy.

I appreciate the chair's indulgence.

Please do not ignore the chair.

It is time wasting.

It is not time wasting.

We have dealt with the issue. The Taoiseach has answered the question. There is no point-----

I will have a look at the legislation drafted by Deputy Dooley.

However, I understand that the artist has said he is not coming.

While there was a licence for the first three, there was none for the next two. That is the crux of the matter which is quite complex. I will look at the Deputy's legislation, but I believe that on the basis of the artist having said he is not coming, it is too late for this one.

On promised legislation, what is the current status of the health (transport support) Bill to allow for the making of payments to persons with severe disabilities who cannot gain access to public transport?

It will be published later this year.