Tuesday, 30 March 2004
Enda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
The Taoiseach has gone considerably outside the scope of what is a so-called political adviser in this instance. He stated that Mr. Deegan monitors what is going on. Are we not paying €20 million of public money for a communications unit which monitors what is going on and provides information in that regard to members of the Government? Does Mr. Deegan, in his capacity as political adviser to the Attorney General, possess or have access to the information gathered by the communications unit? The unit monitors what is going on and the public pays for that service. Why should Mr. Deegan have to sit in the Office of the Attorney General wearing a set of headphones and monitoring what is going on?
If he is the critical element in the legislative programme, Mr. Deegan would have known that the Taoiseach was assuming the high office of the Presidency of the European Union. The Taoiseach has made good progress in that regard and I congratulate him. However, would Mr. Deegan not be aware that Committee Stage of the terrorism Bill introduced here two years ago has not yet been taken? The Bill to which I refer deals with the funding of terrorism, the taking of hostages etc. How does he monitor what is going on? Does he have access to the communications unit? Does he relay the information provided by that unit to the Attorney General and does he then liaise with the Taoiseach in respect of what the Attorney General says? Does Mr. Deegan have a political value, given that the Attorney General, Mr. Brady, has considerable political and legal experience? What element of assistance does Mr. Deegan offer in terms of the smoother running of Government?