Tuesday, 20 March 2007
Bertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
It is well known that four Independent Deputies continuously supported the last Government. The two remaining Deputies in that category are Deputies Healy-Rae and Fox. Contact with them is as required. In the last Dáil there was regular contact because the Government did not have the numbers between its two parties without their support, so they were kept in touch with on a regular basis. Contact is not as necessary for each Bill as it was but whenever it is necessary to brief them on legislation arising this is done. Members of my office and that of the Chief Whip deal with issues raised by Deputies, not only Independent Deputies. Not a week would go by without some Deputy from some side of the House having a request, whether regarding a visitor or some other issue.
In response to the Deputy's second question, within my Department we endeavour as best we can to deal with correspondence in Irish relevant to the Department and to ensure at least one person in each section is fluent in written Irish. There is no particular service in the House for that purpose. That would be a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.