Order of Business

Is é gnó na Máirt na Uimh. 8, tairiscint maidir leis an 18ú Tuarascáil ón gCoiste Roghnóireachta; Uimh. 29, an Bille Sláinte Poiblí (Alcól), 2015 [Seanad] - an Dara Céim (atógáil); agus Uimh. 30, ráitis maidir leis an nGaeilge. Is é Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha Uimh. 180, tairiscint maidir le tithíocht phoiblí ar cíos costais, arna roghnú ag Grúpa na nDaonlathaithe Sóisialta agus an Chomhaontais Ghlais; agus Uimh. 52, an Bille um Chosaint Tomhaltóirí (Gnólachta Seirbhísithe Creidmheasa a Rialáil) (Leasú), 2018 - Dara Céim.

Is é gnó na Céadaoin ná Uimh. 29, an Bille Sláinte Poiblí (Alcól), 2015 [Seanad] - an Dara Céim, atógáil, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin; Uimh. 31, ráitis maidir leis an Tríú Tuarascáil Eatramhach ón gCoimisiún Imscrúdúcháin um Árais Mháithreacha agus Naíonán (atógáil); Uimh. 29, an Bille Sláinte Poiblí (Alcól), 2015 [Seanad] - an Dara Céim, atógáil, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin; Uimh. 30, ráitis maidir leis an nGaeilge, atógáil, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin; Uimh. 31, ráitis maidir leis an Tríú Tuarascáil Eatramhach ón gCoimisiún Imscrúdúcháin i dtaobh Árais Mháithreacha agus Naíonán (atógáil); Uimh. 9, tairiscint maidir le hÉire do dhaingniú Choinbhinsiún na Náisiún Aontaithe ar Chearta Daoine faoi Mhíchumas; agus Uimh. 32, ráitis maidir le Tuaisceart Éireann. Is é Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha Uimh. 181, tairiscint maidir le cearta bainte feamainne a chaomhnú, arna roghnú ag Neamhspleáigh ar son an Athraithe.

Is é gnó an Déardaoin Uimh. a5, an Bille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht, 2018 - an tOrdú don Dara Céim agus an Dara Céim.

I dtaobh chraoladh na socruithe atá beartaithe do ghnó na seachtaine seo, tagraím don dara tuarascáil athbhreithnithe ón gCoiste Gnó dar dáta an 5 Márta 2018. Maidir le gnó na Máirt, beartaítear:

(1) Go dtógfar an tairiscint maidir leis an 18ú Tuarascáil ón gCoiste Roghnóireachta gan díospóireacht agus go ndéanfar aon vótáil a éileofar ar an gcéanna a thógáil láithreach;

(2) Nach mbeidh aon cheisteanna ó bhéal ann faoi Bhuan-Ordú 38(1)(b) an tseachtain seo, nach dtógfar ceisteanna i scríbhinn Dé Céadaoin agus go dtógfar saincheisteanna tráthúla tar éis na gceisteanna chun an Taoisigh faoi Bhuan-Ordú 39(1)(a);

(3) Nach faide ná deich nóiméad gach ráiteas maidir leis an nGaeilge ó Aire nó Aire Stáit agus ó phríomhurlabhraithe páirtithe agus grúpaí, nó ó Chomhalta arna ainmniú nó arna hainmniú ina n-ionad; agus

(4) Go dtógfar Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha ó ghrúpa na nDaonlathaithe Sóisialta agus an Chomhaontais Ghlais ar 6 p.m. ar feadh dhá uair an chloig agus go ndéanfar an Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha ó Pháirtí Fhianna Fáil, a raibh sé beartaithe é a thógáil Dé Céadaoin seo caite, 28 Feabhra 2018, a thógáil tráth nach déanaí ná 8 p.m. ar feadh dhá uair an chloig agus go rachaidh an Dáil ar athló ar an gcéanna a chríochnú.

Maidir le gnó na Céadaoin, beartaítear:

(1) Má tá an gnó roimh mheán lae críochnaithe roimh an am sin, go mbeidh an Dáil ar fionraí go dtí meán lae;

(2) Go dtosóidh an tairiscint maidir le hÉire do Dhaingniú Choinbhinsiún na Náisiún Aontaithe ar Chearta Daoine faoi Mhíchumas ar 6.40 p.m. agus go gcríochnóidh sí laistigh de 90 nóiméad, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin; ní dhéanfaidh ach Aire nó Aire Stáit agus príomhurlabhraithe páirtithe agus grúpaí, nó Comhalta arna ainmniú nó arna hainmniú ina n-ionad, óráidí a thabhairt, is óráidí nach faide ná deich nóiméad an ceann, agus beidh freagra deich nóiméad ann ó Aire nó Aire Stáit; agus féadfaidh na Comhaltaí go léir am a roinnt eatarthu féin; agus

(3) Go dtosóidh na ráitis maidir le Tuaisceart Éireann tráth nach déanaí ná 8.10 p.m. agus go gcríochnóidh siad laistigh de dhá uair an chloig agus cúig nóiméad, mura mbeidh siad críochnaithe roimhe sin; ní dhéanfaidh ach Aire nó Aire Stáit agus príomhurlabhraithe páirtithe agus grúpaí, nó Comhalta arna ainmniú nó arna hainmniú ina n-ionad, ráitis, is ráitis nach faide ná 15 nóiméad an ceann, agus beidh freagra cúig nóiméad ann ó Aire nó Aire Stáit; agus féadfaidh na Comhaltaí go léir am a roinnt eatarthu féin agus ní atógfar an t-ordú ina dhiaidh sin.

Maidir le gnó an Déardaoin, beartaítear go rachaidh an Dáil, ar éirí di, ar athló go dtí 2 p.m. Dé Céadaoin, an 21 Márta 2018.

Léiríonn sé sin go bhfuil trí mholadh le cur os comhair an Tí. An bhfuil an moladh i gcomhair gnó an lae inniu aontaithe? Aontaithe. An bhfuil an moladh i gcomhair gnó na Céadaoine aontaithe?

Níl an Teachta sásta le gnó na Céadaoine.

Tá brón orm nach bhfuil mé líofa a dhóthain le mo argóint a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge. I am worried about the referendum on the eighth amendment and getting the legislation through the Houses on time. We have consistently made the argument that we need to ensure that we get an early referendum and I know the Taoiseach agrees with me on that. We have been delayed because of the awaited outcome of the Supreme Court case. Indeed staff in the business office told me that the barristers were delayed because of the snow. If we are going to rise on Thursday evening and not return until 21 March, what guarantees do we have that we have enough time to get this over the line in order that we can have an early referendum so that students and young people can cast their votes, which is the consistent argument that we have made? In the event that there is no guarantee of that and we are pressed for time, I would like to ask the House to sit on Friday, to sit late if necessary and to come back next week, if required. After all, we have been off since last Wednesday and we will have an Easter break shortly. We owe it to the people of Ireland to ensure that we have an early referendum. We owe it, in particular, to the young people of Ireland who have been campaigning extremely hard for it.

I quite agree with Deputy Bríd Smith on this matter. The Supreme Court will deliver its judgment in Limerick tomorrow and the Business Committee will meet at 4.30 p.m. today. As a result of that, we will be requesting that the Dáil meets on Friday. We would like to have a Cabinet meeting on Thursday to approve the wording of the referendum and the policy paper associated with it in order that we can have it in the Dáil on Friday and establish the referendum commission formally on that day. If we do not do that, we will lose around ten days and that does jeopardise our ambition to have a referendum before the end of May. I ask for the co-operation of all parties in this House to allow us to meet on Friday for that purpose. I also ask parties to work together to make sure that there is a quorum.

I know it is the norm that the Government is supposed to provide the quorum but this does arise in the context of an all-party committee report. I ask, therefore, that all parties be willing to help provide a quorum for Friday.

It is the Government's job.

That is good news from the Taoiseach. He has thought to hold a sitting on Friday and I am sure people will co-operate with that. I share the concern that we are on a very tight timeline in any event. We cannot afford any slippage. That is probably a concern across the House.

If I understand the Order Paper correctly, however, the Taoiseach is asking us to vote for an order on Thursday even though it seems that there is some doubt regarding the matter to be dealt with on Thursday. The Ceann Comhairle might clarify the position. The Taoiseach is now saying there is some question in respect of a verdict from the courts and what might or might not be brought forward. I am saying this in an absolutely supportive spirit because we want the legislation before the Houses. This is a critical debate and time is very tight. Can the Taoiseach clarify the intention of the House as regards Thursday and how the Friday sitting will be facilitated?

The Taoiseach said that the Business Committee will meet later to make a decision on that. I call Deputy Howlin.

I am very supportive of any mechanism that we need to employ to ensure there is adequate debate on this matter and that we have the referendum before the people so that the maximum possible level of participation, particularly among young people, can be facilitated. That means holding the referendum before the end of May. From a technical point of view, when will the Taoiseach be in a position to lay out the step-by-step approach to referendum day so that we will actually be able to see what will be involved? In terms of logistics, we are now agreeing the Order of Business for the week. From an administrative perspective, we have just heard from the Taoiseach that it is proposed to sit on Friday. When will that matter be put to the House? Should we be agreeing it at this point as well?

No, the Business Committee has to meet in order to consider it. The matter has not yet been formally agreed.

Will a separate Business Committee report be brought forth?

The Business Committee will be meeting at 4 p.m. or shortly thereafter.

In terms of the Taoiseach's ambition to hold the referendum by the end of May, I certainly pledge the support of the Labour Party to facilitating that objective.

The separation of powers in the context of the courts and the Oireachtas is a fundamental plank of the Constitution. When I saw the first agenda that came out for this week, I knew that everybody was too concerned about the Supreme Court and it was all a rush. As a result of an act of God or whatever, the recent bad weather meant that there was nobody here to draft the business, etc. The relevant people were off work, and rightly so. Now the Government wants to rush to put the cart before the horse again. On behalf of the Rural Independent Group, I am objecting to this change but not because we do not want to sit on Friday or anything of that nature. I am objecting to putting the cart before the horse. It is all rush, rush, rush. I have said several times in respect of this issue that there is a need to make haste slowly. Matters are moving with indecent haste as far as I am concerned. This issue needs to be properly debated, discussed and managed. We should wait and see before we decide anything, at least until the Business Committee meets later. In any event, we are objecting and we will call a vote.

We were alerted this morning that the Business Committee may consider a Friday sitting at its meeting this afternoon. Our Front Bench agreed readily to a Friday sitting. I think it is important that the Supreme Court does its own work independently of the Oireachtas. In that context, there is no suggestion of the Oireachtas putting any pressure on the Supreme Court. It should be absolutely independent in its timing and, obviously, it will be independent in its decision-making.

Having been involved in and directed many referendum campaigns, I would caution that what is most important is getting it right. Timing and speed are important but, ultimately, getting it right is the key issue in terms of laying the ground, particularly with regard to the establishment of a referendum commission. It must be given the time, space and proper remit to do its work. In previous referendum campaigns, there have always been tensions over the timing of the commission's appointment and whether it had enough time. There are quite a number of reports in existence, following various referenda that have taken place, in which the various referendum commissions give their evaluations as to the mandate they were given by the Oireachtas and the Government.

It is extremely important that we dot the i's and cross the t's and that the proposition the Oireachtas ultimately puts to the people is correct.

On a point of order, the Ceann Comhairle suggested that I cannot have input on the Order of Business in respect of the decision of the all-party Business Committee.

To explain, normally the leaders raise the issues on the Order of Business.

That is fine but the leaders are finished and I wish to make an observation on the Order of Business being proposed.

The Deputy is on his feet.

I seek clarity about the point to which we are proposing to push the proposed constitutional Bill on Friday, if it is agreed by the Business Committee this afternoon. Are we proposing to complete Second Stage? That has not been clarified and I would appreciate if clarity could be provided.

A Cheann Comhairle, on the same issue-----

The Deputy may proceed.

I am trying to be helpful. I am looking for guidance here. We are being asked to vote that Thursday's business will be a Second Stage debate on the thirty-sixth amendment to the Constitution Bill.

We are still talking about Wednesday.

I am talking about the legislation to be discussed on Thursday.

It is not agreed yet.

We will be discussing this, with respect. We are going to vote on debating a Bill on Second Stage. The Taoiseach has already told us that there will be a special Cabinet meeting on the same day to consider the same Bill. It does not make much sense to vote to debate something that we know is not going to exist on Thursday. Can the Taoiseach give us some further information? Is it possible that the legislation will be published in time for Thursday's debate?

I suggest that we agree the Order of Business for today and tomorrow now, and we can then make a decision after the Business Committee meets this evening as to whether we need to sit on Friday.

I will respond to some of the procedural questions on the process. We have set out a very clearly defined process. We have had the Citizens' Assembly. An Oireachtas committee scrutinised the issue. We had a special Cabinet meeting on 29 January, which published draft wording. We took a decision that we would await the adjudication of the Supreme Court, which is entirely independent in all its functions, and we know that judgment will be delivered tomorrow. The Cabinet will then meet on Thursday, hopefully, to approve the constitutional amendment Bill and to publish a short policy paper outlining how I am progressing with developing the legislation to be put before the House if the people vote "Yes". If the Business Committee so decides, we will have a Dáil sitting on Friday to commence Second Stage. I envisage that it will only sit to commence Second Stage but that is a matter for the Business Committee. My colleague, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, will establish the referendum commission in the coming days in order that it can begin its preparatory work.

Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?

It is not agreed.

The question is: "That the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business be agreed to."

Question put and declared carried.

Is the proposal for dealing with Thursday's business agreed to?

Should that matter be deferred?

That should be deferred.

Is the present proposal, subject to amendment arising from the Business Committee, agreed to?

It is not agreed. Unfortunately, we are just running futa fata here. But for the weather, we would have been discussing this today, tomorrow and late on Thursday night. It did not matter about the Supreme Court decision originally. From what happened last week, I knew what was going to happen today. The Government called an emergency meeting of the Business Committee to deal with the closure of this House due to the red weather alert.

There is indecent haste here, as there has been throughout the debate. If we continue in this way, as Deputy Micheál Martin said, we are going to have shaky foundations.

Deputy Micheál Martin did not say that.

The foundations are shaky already and they will be much shakier. We will end up without a commission. The Minister for Health should not laugh. It is a matter of life and death.

That is outrageous.

We were speaking about red alerts. This is a major red alert. What the Government is doing here is simply disgraceful. It is acting with indecent haste and is pandering to certain elements and groups.

Question put.

Will the Deputies claiming a division please rise?

Deputies Michael Collins, Noel Grealish, Mattie McGrath, Danny Healy-Rae and Michael Healy-Rae rose.

As fewer than ten Members have risen, I declare the question carried. The names of the Deputies dissenting will be recorded in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Dáil.

Question declared carried.