Business of Dáil

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the following business shall be transacted today: No. 4, statements on mental health services. The proceedings on No. 4 shall, if not previously concluded, be adjourned at 6.30 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: the statements of a Minister or a Minister of State and the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, the AAA-PBP, Independents 4 Change, the Social Democrats, the Green Party or a Member nominated in their stead and a non-party Deputy who shall be called upon in that order shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share their time; the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes and such Members may share their time; and a Minister or a Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply that shall not exceed five minutes. The Dáil, on its rising today, shall adjourn until 10.30 a.m. tomorrow, when there shall be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 28 and, accordingly, the only business to be transacted shall be by order agreed on that day.

There are two proposals to be put to the House. Are the proposals for dealing with No. 4, statements on mental health services, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal regarding the adjournment of the House tonight agreed to?

Not agreed. I attended the Whips' meeting last week. We pressed at that meeting and the previous meeting for a debate on water charges. There was an interesting choreography between the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael representatives at the meeting, at which they looked for every excuse under the sun to explain why there was no time to discuss water charges, even though everyone in the country was discussing the issue. It is being cited, supposedly, as the major stumbling block in the formation of a Government, yet it is incredible that a topic of such importance cannot be discussed in the House. Frankly, it smacks of cynical collusion between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to try to prevent the House from discussing the topic as they engage in backroom deals on an issue on which the House has a clear mandate following the general election.

We must have a debate on the issue the whole country is talking about. In what I understand to be a fairly significant departure from protocol, there are issues now on the Dáil schedule that were never even mentioned at the Whips' meeting. That is not to take away from the importance of some of those issues; they are very important and deserve discussion but if this is the new politics or the politics of Dáil reform and of listening to the Opposition, it is, quite frankly, a joke. It is a bad joke. The leopards have not changed their spots one bit when it comes to respecting this House and those therein who have a democratic mandate. Irrespective of how the debate is to be fitted in, either by extending the Dáil sitting tonight or on Thursday, we have to discuss the issue that is driving the whole country mad and which has featured for weeks, namely, that of water charges and whether and how it should relate to the discussions on Government formation.

We also object to the proposition to close this evening’s discourse at an earlier than usual hour. It is beyond our comprehension why the issues of Irish Water and water charges cannot be substantially addressed on the floor of this Chamber. It is the case that a motion, signed by a significant number of Deputies across parties and including non-party representatives, has been submitted. Those of us who have appended our names to this proposal are equally entitled to have this matter properly addressed in this House. We understand - or, at least, the electorate was given to understand - that a majority of Members elected to this House on 26 February were of the same mind in regard to this issue. However, some significant doubt seems to have arisen over it in the intervening period. I am putting it to the Taoiseach and the Chief Whip that it is imperative that this matter be dealt with urgently. It is the single most important issue in the conversation of ordinary people throughout this country. It is at least at the same level as the long-awaited formation of a Government. It is absolutely a requirement that this matter be brought before this House, and without any further delay. All that is required is that Deputy Kehoe propose the facilitation of the addressing of the issue in the House this evening.

Comments have been made about our Whip, who hails from Kiskeam. Those from that part of the country, and particularly our Whip, do not do choreography very well. He does not do choreography at all.

He was doing a good job last week.

In other words, we reject the charge and assertion that has been made by Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett. There is no choreography. In the interregnum between the election and the formation of a Government, there have been calls for various debates on a range of issues. Today we are to debate mental health, and rightly so because universally across the country, there has been an overwhelming call for action in this regard by Oireachtas legislators.

Fianna Fáil, as a political party, has been very committed to assisting and being constructive in the formation of a Government. Other parties have stood back from that process for the past 60 days, and others just did not engage or did not involve themselves in it. The formation of a Government is important in terms of resolving the issues of Irish Water and water charges. Of course, Executive action and legislative action comprise the most effective way to deal with the issues that arise from that, irrespective of one’s views on it.

Then let us debate it.

The Government has the power to allow a debate.

My final point is that motions, on their own, do not resolve this issue. We are not opposed on this side of the House to a debate on Irish Water. No charge could stand that we are somehow choreographing or involved in choreography; we are not.

Will the Deputy vote for the proposal then?

No. What we are simply saying is this: today there are statements on mental health, but at some stage-----

-----and we are not opposed to this and we will work with everybody in the House-----

After the Deputy has done a deal.

No, not necessarily.

At what stage will the Deputy-----

Deputy Martin has the floor; can the other Members restrain themselves?

There is an obligation on everybody here to decide whether they want a government of some form or not. We have been straight all along. We will facilitate the formation of a government. We obviously sought a sufficient majority of votes for ourselves to form a government and we had a position on water but many people opposed to water charges decided not to support my nomination for Taoiseach and they did not abstain either. That said, we are at a stage where there is one set of negotiations going on. There are Independents who, to be fair to them, have engaged in the process for quite some time as well in the formation of a government. Either that succeeds or it does not and we can go back to the ballot box if that is what people want to do in regard to it.

The people do not want that.

We either give space to enable that to happen or, alternatively, we can have a debate on this in the House at some stage. I am not stopping a debate in the House and I have no wish to do so-----

Will the Deputy vote for it?

-----but I want, as a first priority, to try to give effect to the formation of a government that can last, that can be sustainable and that can deal with the major issues facing us, in particular the health and housing issues.

Thank you, Deputy. I call Deputy Finian McGrath.

I join my colleagues in strongly objecting to the Order of Business and particularly the fact that the Dáil is concluding this evening at 6.30 p.m. I agree with my colleagues. I attended the Whips' meeting with Deputy Boyd Barrett and I supported him on having a debate on water charges. The whole country is discussing this issue and while it is an important issue there are also other important issues. Let us consider what happened on the streets of Dublin last night. Two people were gunned down on their streets in gangland murders. One happened in the Sunset House pub on the north side of Dublin, which many of us know from going to Croke Park over many years. The other murder took place in Clondalkin. This is a major issue that should also be debated. Action should be taken by the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice with people being gunned down in pubs and houses. This is not acceptable. This feud has gone on for many weeks. We need to focus on this issue. I urge the Government to consider expanding the debate to discuss the horrific nature of gangland murders and crimes.

With respect of other issues such as health and disability services, water charges and housing issues, we need to get on with doing the job and we need to become relevant to the people. The people are hopping mad because this Dáil is not functioning. We need to get on and do the job. That is the reason we were elected, and we need to get on and do it now.

Very briefly, Deputy Healy.

There is a motion on the Order Paper signed by 39 Deputies regarding domestic water charges. Deputy Martin spoke about Deputy Moynihan's choreographic abilities or otherwise. I am not sure about that but I do know that on two occasions Fianna Fáil joined with the Government to stop-----

-----a debate in this Chamber on domestic water charges.

That is not true.

It is not true.

I ask Deputy Martin if he intends to do that again today.

We support the Order of Business.

This is a party which had a pledge to end water charges in its manifesto. It is not good enough that this party should stop 158 elected Deputies to this House discussing the issue.

It has done it twice and I appeal to Deputy Martin not to do it today but to join with those other 39 whose names are on the motion on the Order Paper and ensure a debate on domestic water charges takes place in this Chamber today or tomorrow.

Lastly, I call Deputy Joan Collins.

Many issues have arisen in the past week or so, not only gangland crime but also cancer services, which has been debated on the airwaves all day today and in the past few days, the industrial relations situation regarding Luas and the Tesco workers. Issues are arising and this Dáil is not functioning in the way it should in terms of trying to intervene in them. I appeal to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to extend the sitting time to allow for a discussion on water charges and other issues that have arisen in recent days because the people outside this House can see the game being played.

If Irish Water is such a difficult issue for Fine Gael, which was defeated in the election on this issue, and for Fianna Fáil, which was supported on this issue, it should be taken out of the negotiations and the parties should deal with the other issues regarding supporting a minority Fine Gael government and get the Dáil set up to allow a proper debate. I find it strange that we are all arguing here for time to make statements but none of us can do anything about providing for that. We should be trying to progress to a situation where we have a Dáil in which we can do that.

We must be very sensible about this. I wish to compliment the negotiators for both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and thank them for their efforts to date. However, I sincerely believe that if it would benefit their negotiations for a discussion on Irish Water to take place in this House, we should do that. Why not? If that debate would be helpful in bringing the two parties together, I plead with the Chief Whip and the Taoiseach to consider having it. Why not have it? The whole country is talking about Irish Water so why should we not debate the issue in this House? If I thought that debate would hurt the situation, I would not call for it but I hope it would help the negotiators. While many people might be critical of what is happening currently, I am sincere in my thanks to the individuals involved for their efforts to date. I hope these efforts will bring about a successful outcome.

The topics on the schedule for the coming week are topics that have been requested by Members opposite. They were requested through the Whips' meetings both last week and the week before last. Deputy Eamon Ryan sought statements on finance and on the future of Ireland's stability programme and we have planned that for tomorrow morning. We have rescheduled business to ensure that topic is discussed tomorrow. The Deputy sought that debate about a week and a half ago.

The topics before us are very important and I propose we proceed with the programme we have.

What about the request for a debate on Irish Water?

Question put: "That the proposal for the adjournment tonight be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 83; Níl, 49.

  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Dara.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.
  • Zappone, Katherine.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Michael Moynihan; Níl, Deputies Ruth Coppinger and Aengus Ó Snodaigh.
Question declared carried.