Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Vol. 878 No. 2

Order of Business

A Cheann Comhairle-----

I am sorry, but I am calling the Taoiseach on the Order of Business.

On a point of order-----

Will the Deputy please resume her seat?

I am asking the Taoiseach to withdraw the disrespectful comment he made to Deputy Ruth Coppinger.

I am not in a position to comment because I did not hear it.

The rest of us heard it.

The microphones were turned off and I am not in a position to comment.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked a simple question, "What is the point of Leaders' Questions?"

Will the Deputy please resume her seat? Otherwise, I will have to suspend the sitting again. It is as simple as that.

The Taoiseach said, "To tell you where to go".

The Deputy is not getting away with it and, with the greatest of respect to her, it is none of her business. Deputy Paul Murphy was on his feet.

Everybody in this House should be treated with respect.

Will the Deputy please resume her seat?

The Taoiseach was out of order.

I am suspending the sitting for a further ten minutes.

Sitting suspended at 12.50 p.m. and resumed at 1 p.m.

A Cheann Comhairle-----

I call the Taoiseach to announce the Order of Business.

-----on a point of order, will you ask the Taoiseach to clarify-----

There is no point of order on Leaders' Questions. You were not involved with Leaders' Questions so therefore there is no point of order about Leaders' Questions.

There was a remark directed at us.

Will you please resume your seat? Thank you very much.

I am just asking if the Ceann Comhairle will ask the Taoiseach to clarify or withdraw it?

I did not hear the remark. I suggest that you read the record to establish what the Taoiseach replied to.

I can clarify it.

If Deputy Coppinger has a difficulty, she may formally write to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges and the matter will be dealt with. Please resume your seat.

So some Deputies are more important than others in this House.

That comment should be withdrawn.

So I have to withdraw the comment.

That is hilarious.

It accuses the Chair of bias.

This is a farce, an absolute farce.

The Deputy should learn some manners as well as the Standing Orders.

You are not interested in it.

We are sick of it.

As the business listed for today has already been brought to a conclusion,-----

-----the sitting shall be suspended immediately after Topical Issues until 7.30 p.m., whereupon Private Members' business, which shall be No. 187 - motion re planning regulation (resumed), shall be taken and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes.

Tomorrow's business after Oral Questions shall be No. 34, Statute Law Revision Bill 2015 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 35, statements on the implementation of the national dementia strategy. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the following arrangements shall apply to No. 35: the statement of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share time; the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply that shall not exceed ten minutes.

There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 35 agreed?

No. The Taoiseach announced something about suspending the Dáil.

Sorry, but I am dealing with a proposal being put to the House.

I am opposing it.

It relates to the statements on the dementia strategy. The Deputy is opposing it.

Yes. With the greatest respect, we have just heard an announcement that the Dáil is to be suspended and it is reasonable-----

That is a separate issue. You can deal with it separately.

There is only one issue being put to the House.

This must be put to the House.

This proposal is the only mechanism I have to raise the issue.

It concerns tomorrow's business.

The Taoiseach is proposing that the House be suspended.

The Deputy is out of order. I am putting a proposal-----

I am opposing it.

-----to the House. Will the Deputy speak to the proposal?

Yes. I am opposing it because the House was suspended prior to Leaders' Questions this morning.

That was for the want of business.

It has nothing to do with the proposal.

Let me speak, a Cheann Comhairle.

The proposal is that the arrangements for the statements on the implementation of the national dementia strategy tomorrow be agreed.

This is to deal with the order of the House.

If you wish to speak to the proposal, you are entitled to do so. You are not entitled to start talking in general.

With the greatest respect, a Cheann Comhairle, I am the leader of the Fianna Fáil Party-----

With the greatest respect, it is my duty-----

-----and I would like to know the timetable for today. The Taoiseach has just said the Dáil is to be suspended.

It is a different issue.

It is not a different issue.

You can deal with it after I have dealt with this item.

This is impossible. A bit of civility would sort this out very quickly, a Cheann Comhairle.

I have to put this proposal to the House.

Out of the blue, the Taoiseach has come in here to do this. I just want to get some clarity. The Ceann Comhairle is putting me in a very difficult position. I do not want to be having a row with the Chair.

You can raise the issue after I put this formally to the House.

I want to find out what the order of the House-----

Resume your seat until we deal with this proposal.

Are we dealing with the Order of Business now?

No, I am dealing with the proposal regarding the statements tomorrow.

I understand that. Has the Taoiseach suspended the Order of Business?

Any issues can be raised on the Order of Business after we deal with this proposal.

He is proposing a suspension.

Look at the Order Paper.

This is the proposal for No. 35, statements on the implementation of the national dementia strategy tomorrow.

Is that agreed? This is the issue.

A Cheann Comhairle, the problem is-----

The Taoiseach announced that the House would be suspended.

That is a separate matter.

Will the Taoiseach repeat-----

What does that mean?

I call Deputy Adams.

It is simple. Will the Taoiseach repeat what he said earlier? What exactly is being suspended?

This shows how weak the Opposition is.

What was said earlier is nothing to do with the proposal being put to the House now.

I understand that.

We can deal with that in a moment.

We will get to it.

That is the point. We will not.

We are dealing with tomorrow before today.

This is unbelievable.

Is the proposal regarding the statements tomorrow agreed? Agreed.

What about today?

On the Order of Business, I call Deputy Martin.

This is unsatisfactory.

Hold on, what is unsatisfactory about me putting a proposal about statements tomorrow?

Does the Ceann Comhairle consider this is satisfactory? It is okay if he thinks the House is happy.

What is unsatisfactory about it?

Do not be-----

Is it not reasonable-----

The Taoiseach made an announcement about the suspension and that has nothing to do with me as Ceann Comhairle. The Taoiseach has announced that the Dáil will stand suspended-----

-----until 7.30 p.m.

Does the Taoiseach not think it is significant?

It is not for me to comment.

May we not comment?

I want to make the point on the Order of Business.

The Deputy should resume his seat, as somebody else is speaking.

I put it to the Taoiseach-----

The Opposition was not here.

Where were the Fianna Fáil Members this morning for the Workplace Relations Bill?

They did not turn up.

We have been here all morning.

They would not turn up.

We have been here all morning. It is the first I-----

They were not here.

I have been here since Leaders' Questions.

What about before that?

The party's spokesperson did not turn up.

There was nobody from Fianna Fáil here.

There was no-----

It is a matter of an announcement by the Taoiseach that the Dáil will be suspended until 7.30 p.m.

I will tell Deputies where I am coming from.

Unless the Deputy has a matter he wishes to raise in the normal way on the Order of Business, I will have to move on.

This relates to how the business of the House is ordered. After the May bank holiday weekend, we had business for one and a half days in that week. There seems to be a pattern emerging in the past while of inactivity and a lack of legislation in the House.

There has been much legislation.

It was dealt with in the absence of Fianna Fáil.

Where were they this morning?

May I not speak?

Deputies, please. I will deal with this.

The fascists are having their time now.

They were all-----

Keep interrupting.

I will deal with the issue of procedure.

Thank you. What is the matter being raised by Deputy Martin on the Order of Business?

So you are going to silence me now, is that it?

I am not going to silence you.

May I put a point to the Taoiseach?

All I am saying is that the Taoiseach has made an announcement. That is all.

I am raising an issue on the Order of Business.

Thank you. I have been heckled and you would be far better off if you told Deputy Stagg not to be heckling and interrupting.

I will not take that sort of a lecture from you.

I have been heckled around the place.

I will not take a lecture from you.

I am not giving a lecture. It is unacceptable that I cannot get out a sentence but people are heckling left, right and centre.

That is tolerated.

It is not tolerated.

I have been here for the past 25 minutes-----

It is heckling.

-----trying to get issues raised on the Order of Business.

You can blame other Deputies for that.

Fair enough. These issues can be dealt with.

Please proceed with what you want to raise on the Order of Business.

It is the legislative programme that the Government has put before the House and the Government's proposals for the House. Over the past while there has been a pattern of inactivity and meeting as few times as possible. The proposal from the Government Chief Whip for next week is to meet on one day, next Tuesday. The week following the June bank holiday is to be taken off.

There is a clear pattern. The Government is shutting down the Dáil for its political and electoral reasons. We have more of that today as well. It is a key issue. It is not good enough for the Taoiseach to come here and tell us we are adjourning everything until 7.30 p.m.

We are getting a half-day.

There are other issues pertaining to the Order of Business and we could discuss them today. For example, on Monday, The Irish Times revealed the HSE submission on health funding and what it wants for the health budget this year.

We cannot discuss that.

On the Order of Business, I asked time and again leading up to the budget and afterwards for that submission. I kept saying "Will you give me the HSE submission?" so we could have a proper and honest debate about the health budget. The Taoiseach refused.

It was only by order of the information officer that The Irish Times received the HSE's submission on the budget. We have the Minister for self-importance, Deputy Brendan Howlin, announcing freedom of information legislation and saying the Government will give all of the information we want, but it gives nothing. Information on health funding has to be dragged out of the Government all the time. It is only this week that we read about it.

We cannot have a long debate on this issue.

I ask for Dáil time to discuss the health budget. It is clear from HIQA's report that the Government starved Portlaoise hospital of the funding it needed and should have received in accordance with the announcement made by the former Minister for Health, Deputy James Reilly, at the joint committee to the effect that it was a band 3 hospital. HIQA stated it had never received the funding required to be a band 3 hospital. The Government gave €500 million to the health service at the end of last year, having left it €500 million short throughout the entire year. In two months of this year and three months after the budget, the Government added €70 million. We are not given any opportunity to discuss the health budget, nor do we receive any information on it. Instead of inactivity, I ask for Dáil time to discuss this very important issue.

Perhaps Fianna Fáil's spokesperson might turn up.

Deputy Micheál Martin should look behind him before expressing his usual outrage.

There is so little work being done in the Dáil that next we will have summer statements.

The Whips' meeting took place last Wednesday evening and Fianna Fáil's Whip was in attendance. A number of points were raised at that meeting. First, the Workplace Relations Bill was listed for debate this week. As there had been 238 amendments made to the Bill which was back from the Seanad, it was agreed by all of the Whips that it should be listed to be dealt with all week. As backup to the Bill, the Customs Bill was listed as a secondary element in the week's business. Fianna Fáil's spokesperson was not present this morning. The only person in attendance for the debate which lasted one hour and 15 minutes was Deputy Peadar Tóibín of Sinn Féin. What Fianna Fáil proposed last week in respect of the Workplace Relations Bill was agreed to by the Government Whip. It was to have that Bill listed for discussion to deal with the 238 amendments which had been made to it during the course of this week. The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, was present this morning and the discussion lasted for one hour and 15 minutes. Second, the Customs Bill which had been listed as a potential second item at the Whips' meeting last week was taken in just a few minutes. Again, Fianna Fáil's spokespeople were not present.

As far as next week's sitting is concerned, the Whips' meeting last Wednesday dealt with a request from Fianna Fáil that the Dáil sit one day next week on Tuesday. That was consented to by the Government Whip because it is the week of the referendum.

No, we received a note this morning indicating there was no Whips' meeting tonight.

There is no point in the Deputy coming into the House and expressing his exasperation when his own spokesperson did not bother to turn up for a debate to which Fianna Fáil had agreed and in which 238 amendments to the Workplace Relations Bill had been listed to be discussed all week. The Deputy's intervention is off the mark. He should be discussing where the Fianna Fáil spokesperson was this morning.

I call Deputy Gerry Adams on the Order of Business.

Deputy Micheál Martin's spokesperson did not turn up.

There is a backup for every Bill.

That is not the issue. We were told this morning by the Government Chief Whip, Deputy Paul Kehoe, that there would be no Whips' meeting tonight.

There is no Private Members' business next week.

I have called Deputy Gerry Adams on the Order of Business.

We were told this morning that there would be no Whips' meeting tonight.

I have called Deputy Gerry Adams. I ask Deputies to show some respect for the Chair.

Whatever about Fianna Fáil's slightly abstentionist approach to this issue, there are deep underlying problems in getting a legislative programme through the House and having Opposition Deputies dealt with in accordance with their mandates and the respect due to everyone in the Chamber. That includes the issues we invariably raise on the Order of Business which are related to legislation or programme for Government commitments which have not been honoured or acted on by the Government. An example is the request I have consistently made for a debate on the North. Is it not important? Is it not serious? The Taoiseach acknowledged the last time I raised this the series of incidents that had occurred. Some issues have been made worse by the election of a Tory Government in London. The Taoiseach said we needed to do this. On health services, the Taoiseach cannot blame the media. Media coverage is likely to be of the little debacle we have had for the past hour as opposed to the serious issues raised during Leaders' Questions.

They would never do that.

During Taoiseach's questions, we deal with issues and events five months after they had occurred. Yesterday we had 81 questions to the Taoiseach which were taken together. In the spirit of trying to work with the Government and other parties we must look at how our business is conducted. It is not good enough for the Taoiseach to come into the House and unilaterally make an announcement on specific questions which I wanted to ask and ask now.

In January the Minister for Health, Deputy Leo Varadkar, outlined health priorities. He promised new legislation to deal with a range of issues, including reducing the number of delayed discharges. Today 391 citizens are on trolleys, including 42 in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Yesterday 447 were on trolleys. That is as bad as it was during the winter. Where is the legislation the Minister promised?

We were also told that the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill 2014 and the independent policing authority would be up and running by December 2014. They are not. We were then told that it would be done by the end of this year, but the scheme of the policing authority Bill was only published in November 2014 and the legislation has not been published. It is potentially one of the most important items of justice and policing legislation since the establishment of the State. Famously, it arose from management accountability practices within An Garda Síochána which saw a Minister and a Commissioner resign. The independent policing authority is a very important and essential part of all of this. Has the Government agreed a date for publication of the Bill?

In fairness to other Deputies, I will not raise the other matters I wanted to discuss. I ask for replies on the two important items of business - health priorities on the day that is in it and the establishment of an independent policing authority. Can we be given publication dates for the legislation on these matters that is due to be brought before the Dáil?

The Deputy raises a number of points about a debate on Northern Ireland. I have prepared a motion to be circulated to party leaders opposite in respect of what happened at Ballymurphy.

I gave the Deputy my word previously that if we could get agreement on it, or if people wanted to make arrangements for an adjustment, I was very happy to have a comprehensive debate on the North. I expect to receive the replies of Deputies Gerry Adams and Micheál Martin and others shortly.

On health services, we had Leaders' Questions yesterday. The Minister for Health was present yesterday and HIQA representatives are due to attend the joint committee at 4 p.m.

I asked about legislation.

Obviously, health issues are of concern to everybody and are raised in the House frequently. The Deputy mentioned parliamentary questions yesterday. As I pointed out before, I answered those questions. In respect of European Council meetings, we have had pre-Council statements in the Dáil, as well as post-Council statements when many of the matters raised yesterday were discussed, although I appreciate the new information some Deputies brought to light. The Government has looked at the issues of patients on trolleys and the fair deal scheme and the extra €75 million granted in that regard. Clearly, the capacity to bring the waiting period for approval of a fair deal scheme application down from 18 weeks to four or five has been important. I take the point that the issue of patients on trolleys is one that is monitored on a daily basis.

Specifically, Deputy Gerry Adams referred to the independent policing authority. The Government cleared the Bill at the Cabinet meeting this week and it will be published either tomorrow or on Friday and will be taken in the Seanad first.

May I raise a point of information?

No, there is no point of information.

The Taoiseach made a comment on Deputy Dara Calleary's absence this morning. The Deputy apologised to the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, last night. He attended the session last night. He indicated to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Richard Bruton, that-----

I call Deputy Bannon.

This is important. He is a diligent Deputy and he does not normally miss things. He apologised to the Minister, Deputy Bruton, last week that he would not be in a position to be here.

He should have put in a substitute.

He should have sent someone.

I should have put that on the record, because the Taoiseach should not be playing that kind of sleeveen, smart aleck politics.

Deputy Martin brought up the matter.

Deputy Martin should have put in a sub. Who is his sub? Who is his junior?

I did not even know that he was not here.

Deputy Martin dug the hole.

I call Deputy Bannon.

The Taoiseach saw-----

They were all technical amendments. Every one of them was technical.

I have called Deputy Bannon.

Deputy Martin was the one giving out about the fact that it was done too quickly.

They were all technical amendments. It is disingenuous------

Sorry. Please, please.

Deputy Martin has only himself to blame and no else.

He apologised and he made it clear to the Minister that he could not make it.

Will Deputy Martin please show some respect to the Chair?

It is only fair that the record should reflect the reality.

He is a leader of a party and I expect him, in particular, to show some example. Deputy Bannon is on his feet.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle. The Taoiseach saw first-hand the great work undertaken by the traditional skills project in Longford which delivered trainees with skills related to the protection of our heritage and the refurbishment of St. Mel's Cathedral in Longford, which is due to be rededicated this Sunday.

What Bill is the Deputy talking about?

St. Mel's is a flagship for achievements. We should be continuing to encourage people to upskilll. When will the apprenticeship Bill come before the House? It is a very important Bill on training people in new skills.

I expect the Bill to be brought to Cabinet before the summer recess. The Minister of State, Deputy English, received some 90 responses following the public consultation for apprenticeship upskilling and training. Deputy Bannon's point is valid and the Minister is reflecting on it and that will be reflected in the Bill.

There are two Bills on the A list dealing with industrial relations. I understand that there is another Bill to come before the House dealing with a superannuation scheme for supervisors in community employment schemes. These schemes have already lost a number of members. The supervisors, through the trade union movement, have made a strong case for a superannuation scheme. Some of these people have worked as supervisors for 20 years. They have been driving employment in communities, particularly in rural Ireland, as the Taoiseach probably knows. I would like to think the Government could bring forward the legislation or use this existing legislation to allow for a superannuation scheme for those supervisors.

The two Bills referred to by Deputy Kitt will be taken as one Bill. They have been cleared and will be published this week. I will advise Deputy Kitt in respect of the matter regarding superannuation for supervisors.

Reflecting for a moment and we are not under pressure because we have had a couple of suspensions and we have had the opportunity to stall business until later in the day, now is the time as a Parliament to think about what we are doing.

Hold on, this is the Order of Business.

Exactly. The Ceann Comhairle has hit the nail on the head.

I can only rule what is in order on the Order of Business and what is not. One of the things that is not in order is having discussions about reflections.

Perhaps if the Ceann Comhairle allowed me to develop an idea, there might be a fresh view rather than the uniform view----

We do not need a survey.

-----taken by majority parties resulting in the control of this Parliament by a few parties and in Independents having no voice. I ask the leaders-----

Deputy Mathews will have to raise the matter some other way but not during the Order of Business.

This is about proposed legislation.

This is the Order of Business.

It is not itemised. I am not giving it a label. I am speaking under the general umbrella of proposed legislation, in the omnibus sense.

What is Deputy Mathews' question?

We are making a mess of it because there are Private Members' Bills and the contributions to debate and fresh ideas-----

Deputy Mathews will appreciate that I have to stick to certain rules and regulations of which he is in breach.

I implore the Ceann Comhairle. I do not often get an opportunity.

Deputy Mathews cannot make a chance on the Order of Business.

We are not under pressure.

What does the Deputy mean when he says we are not under pressure?

We have two hours.

I am under pressure to adhere to the rules of the House.

Given the schedule of the day, we are not under pressure.

I call Deputy Durkan. Will Deputy Mathews please resume his seat?

Let us have a few fresh ideas.

We are not having a debate now.

I am not asking for a debate.

Where are we going then?

He wants fresh ideas.

Why can we not talk about the gambling control Bill during this void? If a building is empty, one tries to get temporary tenants. Why not have some temporary discussions and debate. Let us start thinking creatively.

I call Deputy Durkan.

The Taoiseach is in charge. He has the biggest majority ever in the history of this State and some legislation that is very important got no discussion, no consideration and no testing.

Will Deputy Mathews please resume his seat?

Other legislation has not even come up for discussion.

Will Deputy Mathews please resume his seat?

May I get back on my feet? This is like line dancing. The whole thing is absurd.

On promised legislation, what are the current whereabouts of the dual thermal energy Bill? It has been around for quite a while and I am wondering if it would be possible to bring it before the House before the end of this session. The National Archives (Amendment) Bill is to amend the transfer records rule from 30 years to 20 years. Many constituents are inquiring about that at the moment. Is it likely to come before the House in the near future?

I do not have a date for the National Archives (Amendment) Bill. The minerals Bill is expected to be published before the end of May. Following the publication of that Bill, the focus will shift to the preparation for the geo-thermal Bill.

When will the heads of the insurance Bill and the heads of the deposit guarantee scheme directive Bill be published? Will it happen before the end of this term?

The heads of those Bills have not come to Government yet.

I can advise the Deputy of the preparatory work that has been done and how far it is advanced.

Is that on both Bills?

The Taoiseach did not reply to Deputy Martin's suggestion to use the free time this evening to debate health. He specifically asked the Taoiseach if he was prepared to do that. Will the Taoiseach confirm if he is willing to do so? When is the Government review of the fair deal scheme going to be concluded? Given that he represents a constituency, as I do, the Taoiseach will be aware that this is going on longer than "The Forsyte Saga". In the meantime, there are 12 to 14 week delays at a cost of more than €1,000 per week for hard-pressed people. When will the review come to a conclusion and what is going to result from it?

I cannot give Deputy O'Dea a precise date for the publication of the review. The Government made extra funding available so that the waiting period for families where a person has to be approved for the fair deal scheme has been reduced substantially from 18 weeks down to four to five weeks-----

That is not the case in Limerick.

-----which is very acceptable in the vast majority of cases given the administration required.

It would be if that was reality.

I am happy to confirm that we can have a further health debate, and perhaps the Whips will make an arrangement as to when an appropriate day for that might be.

Does the Taoiseach share my major concerns and the major concerns of the residents of Clontarf, Clontarf Road, Copeland Avenue and the Malahide Road about the proposed aviation fuel pipeline going from the Dublin docks to the airport? There are major public safety concerns and there is also the issue of loss of jobs to truck drivers in that industry. Will the Taoiseach convey my serious public safety concerns to the relevant authorities, Dublin City Council and the planning authorities? I raise this matter under the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill.

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill was cleared last week. Deputy Bruton has apprised me of some of the concerns in respect of the proposition mentioned by Deputy McGrath, but it is not listed for legislation.

When will the Planning and Development (No. 1) Bill, item no. 15 on the A list, be before the House? The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government made an announcement recently about housing construction. I know that in one case he had no consultation with the local authority. Will the Taoiseach instruct the Minister to go back and agree with the local authority an order of priority on housing constructions? In my constituency, the areas that were selected are way down the list of priority.

In one area no water is supplied to housing. Will the Taoiseach ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to re-examine the list? When will the Planning and Development (No. 1) Bill be before the House?

The Deputy can submit a Topical Issue on that matter.

I have done so for the past two days.

I was not present. I will examine the matter tomorrow.

I suspected that the Ceann Comhairle was not present. I also tabled a parliamentary question on the matter but received an inaccurate response from the Minister. I want to afford him an opportunity to correct it.

That is not a matter for the Order of Business. I cannot help the Deputy now.

For the information of Deputy Billy Timmins, the Planning and Development (No. 1) Bill is known as the urban regeneration and housing Bill and its publication is expected shortly.

Sitting suspended at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.