Dáil debates

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

10:30 am

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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It is proposed to take No. 20, Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2004 — Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage; No. 22, Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Bill 2005 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 1, Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill 2004 — amendments from the Seanad.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m.

Private Members' business shall be No. 51, motion re licensing for café bars (resumed) to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed.

11:00 am

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Day after sitting day, week after sitting week, Deputy after Deputy raises issues of concern under Standing Order 31. I cannot recall when you, a Cheann Comhairle, in your wisdom allowed one of these previously, although a few were allowed during the past 30 years. When will Deputies of all parties and none have a facility to raise matters of concern that can be dealt with adequately by Government? I realise it is part of the proposals by the Whip. When will something be done about this farcical situation where week after week a list of issues is read out which you, in your wisdom, consider are not appropriate to raise in the House even though they may be of great concern locally, regionally or nationally?

In respect of the legislation governing the Health Service Executive, when are we likely to have a chief executive? There are reports that the person who was offered the job and refused it may be reconsidering it.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Longford-Roscommon, Fine Gael)
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Third time lucky, maybe.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Government is anxious to implement Dáil reform. Clearly it would not be desirable to do it on a unilateral basis and we would welcome the support of the Opposition. I understand the Chief Whip is to begin discussions with the Opposition in regard to specific proposals.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Will the Tánaiste issue a press statement?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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In particular most Deputies would like an earlier discussion during the day of topical issues rather than post Private Members' time or late in the evening which is not satisfactory from anybody's point of view. Hopefully during the next couple of weeks agreement can be reached on that matter.

Specifically on the Health Service Executive we do not have legislation promised. We have enacted the legislation. Today the transition takes place from the old health boards to the Health Service Executive. The board of the Health Service Executive is meeting this evening. Clearly it is urgent that we have a chief executive. I hope it is in a position to make a decision very quickly.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I support the remarks of Deputy Kenny. It is particularly hard on Independent Deputies elected to the House to be reduced for the duration of their stay here to merely reading out a request under Standing Order 31 when, in most cases, it is fair to say, other than in the case of Northern Ireland taking over Cavan-Monaghan, the Ceann Comhairle has no intention of acceding to the request.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Chair will apply Standing Order 31 in accordance with the order laid down by the Members of this House.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I do not think there is any prospect of Northern Ireland taking over Cavan-Monaghan. The Ceann Comhairle can relax.

Six years ago today, on behalf of the Labour Party, I introduced the Whistleblowers Bill which the Government of the day accepted and it was passed on Second Stage. At that time the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, told the House that much of his time was preoccupied with considering whether he would bring forward an amendment on Committee Stage. What is the position of the Bill now?

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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The Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Parlon, when replying yesterday said it would have to be progressive.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I have already answered the question on Standing Order 31 motions.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, was actively progressing the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell's going down.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I saw the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, wearing a band on his arm. I will not speculate as to what that meant. I will leave that to others.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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As I told the Deputy previously the whistleblowers legislation that was proposed ran into serious constitutional and other issues. It was decided, I think, to pursue the matter by way of sectoral whistleblowing provisions. We did that in the Competition Act and it was followed in other legislation since. That is the most desirable way to pursue this issue.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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There is much interest outside the House in this issue. Can I take it from that statement that it is not the intention of the Government to introduce a whistleblowers Bill?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I told the Deputy it ran into serious constitutional and legal difficulties which I think I have explained to him before.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Who told the Tánaiste that? Was it the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell?

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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We have never seen any explication of that in the House.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy resume his seat and allow the Tánaiste to respond?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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It was decided that it would be dealt with. For example, the Competition Act made provision for it and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Bill and the child abuse legislation made provision for it. Certainly I am looking at it in the context of the HIQA legislation but there are real issues when it comes to saying that somebody who works for a company in Ireland can report about matters that happen elsewhere in the world and vice versa. There is a whole host of issues around that which led to the problems with the legislation.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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On the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill yesterday, an amendment to this effect was ruled out by the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, on the basis that——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy cannot debate that issue on the Order of Business. I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the Minister.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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——a Bill on whistleblowing was due.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry Deputy, we cannot have a debate——

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I know you are sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, but let me make this point.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate at this stage.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I am not looking for a debate. I am making the point that——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy, it is not appropriate to debate the matter at this stage.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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——the Tánaiste, on behalf of the Government, said there is no intention of introducing a whistleblowing Bill.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask Deputy Rabbitte to resume his seat.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I will, Sir, but I want to make this point. The Tánaiste, on behalf of the Government, has just said there is no intention of bringing in a whistleblowers Bill. Yesterday, when an amendment was put to that effect to the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The first part of the Deputy's question is in order. It is not appropriate to discuss what happened in the House yesterday at this stage.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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——the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, said he was ruling out the amendment because there was a whistleblowers Bill coming.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will have an opportunity to make his comments when the Bill comes before the House shortly on Fifth Stage.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I will not have an opportunity on it, Sir.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will have an opportunity. I am trying to facilitate the Deputy.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I am trying to clarify the Government's position and if there is legal advice to the effect that the Tánaiste says there is — I am not disputing her word — the least we are entitled to is to have that advice.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy resume his seat?

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Is the Tánaiste saying it could be done?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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Perhaps the line Minister — the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment or his Minister of State in this case — can——

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Mr. Joe McGinley.

Deputies:

It is passing the buck.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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No, it is not.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Tit for tat.

Photo of Kathleen LynchKathleen Lynch (Cork North Central, Labour)
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That happened the last time.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please allow the Tánaiste to respond without interruption.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I dealt with this issue before and the reasons it was not pursued. Perhaps we can make that clear to Deputies. That is why we went for the sectoral approach.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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It was promised yesterday.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy, we are not having a debate on that matter. I have called Deputy Sargent. I will call the Deputy again later.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Why was it voted down yesterday in the Civil Service Regulation (Amendment) Bill?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise on the Order of Business. The House made a decision here yesterday. It does not arise on the Order of Business this morning. The Deputy is out of order. I call Deputy Sargent.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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This is promised legislation.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy got a good innings on it. We cannot discuss it.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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This is promised legislation. This is not a sinister question.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is out of order and he knows it. The Chair has ruled on the matter.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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On a point of order, the record of the House shows that the Minister yesterday promised legislation——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not a point of order.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It is a point of order.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is not.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It is a point of order. The Ceann Comhairle is not listening.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy resume his seat?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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The Minister promised legislation yesterday in the House. Surely the leader of the Labour Party is entitled to ask on the Order of Business about legislation that was promised yesterday. That is what we are supposed to do on the Order of Business.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Is it coming Bill by Bill or will there be an over-arching Bill?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Deputy is asking me about a Labour Party Bill, not a Government Bill.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Is there a Government Bill?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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There is no Government Bill coming that I am aware of, unless the law has changed since I——

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Why will the Tánaiste not allow it to be provided for in individual Bills?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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Rather than have a row here, can we ask the line Minister to make the legal advice available.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest the Deputy submit a question to the appropriate Minister.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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What was the Tánaiste's reply?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I said the line Minister would make the legal advice available to the Deputy.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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It might be helpful for the Minister of State, Deputy Parlon, to clarify the matter. I wish to ask about promised legislation but I am interested in seeing the House operate on the basis of promised legislation, even if the promise was made yesterday. Can the Ceann Comhairle facilitate that because I have other promised legislation to raise?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest the Deputy come to the promised legislation because time is moving on and many Deputies are offering.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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Given that the Tánaiste mentions reforming legislation from time to time, does she have legislation in mind that would reform the problem not only in Rostrevor and Leas Cross nursing homes but in all nursing homes?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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I wish to ask about other promised legislation which is definitely listed, the animal health Bill. There was a shed load of GM maize sitting for a long time on the quayside of the port of Greenore.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have a question on the legislation?

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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This legislation in regard to many different animal diseases is not considered important enough to have a publication date. Will the Government proceed with the legislation and have a date for publication?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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In regard to nursing homes there will be legislation in the autumn but in regard to animal health it is not possible to say at this stage.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Longford-Roscommon, Fine Gael)
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When will the House see the parental leave bill and the Adoptive Leave Bill? In light of the commitment given by the Minister for Agriculture and Food to try to curb the importation of beef from Brazil, chicken from Thailand and pork from Chile being labelled as Irish, when will the House see the country of origin labelling Bill which is to be an amendment to the Health Act 1970 and put forward by the Tánaiste's Department?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The parental leave Bill will be introduced in the next session and the Adoptive Leave Bill has been ordered for Report Stage. I have been having discussions with the Minister for Agriculture and Food regarding country of origin labelling.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Longford-Roscommon, Fine Gael)
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It has been ongoing for a long time.

Joe Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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The Health Service Executive is a statutory body, established in January 2005. If it is the case that the HSE has the statutory power, what provision exists for the HSE to obtain finance from the Department of Finance——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Joe Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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It is a matter of legislation in this respect, if the Department of Finance raises €11 billion, the HSE is responsible for the health services-——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest the Deputy submits a question to the Minister.

Joe Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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Could she not answer the question now?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, Deputy because it would create a very dangerous precedent. Everyone would ask a similar question.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Longford-Roscommon, Fine Gael)
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Answering questions from Deputies is very dangerous in this House.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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With just a little over two weeks remaining before the summer recess, the House has still not seen the legislation relating to the repayments due to residents in long-term residential care facilities. Can the Tánaiste indicate when that legislation will be presented and when will the repayment process commence?

On a final matter, yesterday I inquired from the Taoiseach but he did not know whether legislation was forthcoming. I ask the Tánaiste to clarify her proposals to invite private health care providers onto sites at public hospital facilities.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will legislation arise from this matter, has it been discussed at Cabinet and when will the House have sight of it, if it is the Tánaiste's intention to proceed with the proposal?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The repayments legislation will be introduced in the autumn.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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What about the repayments process?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The repayments process will be introduced in the autumn.

The other matter referred to by the Deputy does not require legislation.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I have received a number of items of correspondence from the Ceann Comhairle. While I am always delighted to receive correspondence from the Ceann Comhairle, I would have preferred them to be in a more positive form. In order to facilitate the Ceann Comhairle and the Minister in future, a number of questions were refused on the basis that the Minister had no responsibility to the House. Two Bills are promised, one of which is to extend the remit of the Commission for Energy Regulation and to require it to comply with general policy directions of the Minister. I thought the Minister was supposed to do that anyway. The electronic communications (miscellaneous provisions) Bill is to provide access to broadcasting networks and delivery of contents services to all end users at retail level. Both Bills are the responsibility of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and are eligible for reply in the House. I ask that these Bills be introduced in the House as a matter of urgency so the Ceann Comhairle is not forced to write to me informing me that my questions are out of order.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Tánaiste on the legislation.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The energy (miscellaneous provisions) Bill will be published this session and the other legislation will be published this year.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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A year is a long time in politics.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; Meath, Fianna Fail)
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If there is any change I will write to the Deputy.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Today is World AIDS Day. Will the Tánaiste as Minister for Health and Children state whether she is satisfied we are doing enough to combat this terrible disease which is devastating parts of the developing world in particular? In view of the fact that in Ireland the budget to combat sexually transmitted diseases was cut last year, will she indicate if she will ensure sufficient funding is provided?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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This does not arise on the Order of Business. I suggest the Deputy submit a question.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Will she include measures under the health information and quality authority Bill to ensure there is proper public health provision in this country to combat this condition?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The contents of the Bill cannot be discussed.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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My question is perfectly in order.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The health information and quality authority legislation will be presented later this year. Every Minister for Health would have serious concerns about the rise in AIDS globally and the issues to do with sexually transmitted infections in this country. I have been in discussions with the authorities. I attended a major event in Dublin a couple of weeks ago. I am not aware that budgetary issues present a difficulty regarding that matter.

Jerry Cowley (Mayo, Independent)
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On a question about legislation, children being driven in school buses and people driving roadworthy cars are being killed due to road conditions and roadworks.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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A question on legislation, Deputy.

Jerry Cowley (Mayo, Independent)
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Is legislation being introduced to ensure local authorities, the HSA and the NRA do their jobs in enforcing the regulations which exist but are not being enforced resulting in people being killed?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is no legislation promised.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The gaming and lotteries (amendment) Bill was discussed in the House earlier in the year. The last time I asked a question about Wexford General Hospital the Ceann Comhairle ejected me from the House. Is an announcement imminent——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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——regarding Wexford General Hospital?

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy should not mention the war.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is in order on the lotteries Bill.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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It is not possible to say at this stage.

(Interruptions).

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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Has the position as outlined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs when he stated that the referendum Bill on the EU constitution would be taken before the summer recess changed, given the statements by Commissioner McCreevy and by her own backbenchers who have stated this is a pointless exercise?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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There is no change. The Heads of Government are meeting tomorrow and Friday and maybe even on Saturday, to deal with the financial perspectives. We will take on board any outcome of that deliberation.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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In light of the fact that 200,000 additional medical cards were promised three years ago to those in need and 100,000 medical cards have been lost, can the Tánaiste give the House any idea when agreement will be reached with the GPs?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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This does not arise on the Order of Business.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Medical Practitioners Bill is on the clár and surely it would allow the House to discuss the issue.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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That legislation will be available either late this year or early next year.

James Breen (Clare, Independent)
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I thank Deputy Rabbitte for his interest in the Independent Members. Hopefully he will not be coming to us to help form the next Government.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Is the Deputy in?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise on the Order of Business.

James Breen (Clare, Independent)
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I know, but I wish to thank him just the same.

In view of the Tánaiste's abysmal failure to tackle the MRSA superbug which is rampant in our hospitals, is she prepared to introduce special legislation to deal with it?

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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She should get scrubbing.

James Breen (Clare, Independent)
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When will she report back to me on her promise to investigate how I was treated when I contracted the superbug in February 2004?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I do not think any individual patient's case was more examined by myself and my Department than the Deputy's.

James Breen (Clare, Independent)
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The Tánaiste promised a report. She is good at promising.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Deputy knows why it has not proceeded but it would not be proper to state the reason in the House.

A hygiene audit is under way in the hospitals because this is a serious issue. It is a question of basic hygiene which should not require legislation but rather the enforcement of high standards. The HSE is currently devising those standards and they will be enforced.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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That is correct, it requires direction.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I have a question relating to No. 62 on the legislative programme, the communications data retention Bill which is necessitated by the terms of the EU telecommunications directive. What is the name of that directive? Has it been agreed and adopted or is it the draft framework decision on the retention of data processed and stored in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications networks for the purpose of prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of crime and criminal offences including terrorism that was recently rejected by the European Parliament?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate on the matter.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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That is the long title of the directive. It was recently rejected by the European Parliament and was considered illegal by——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate on the matter. I ask the Tánaiste for the status of the directive.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I am merely asking whether this is the same directive.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I will not read the full title as the Deputy has done. I know he is particularly interested in this matter. It is not possible to say at this stage. It states that the interim indication provisions have been included in the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Bill 2005.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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The European Parliament found them to be illegal.

Paudge Connolly (Cavan-Monaghan, Independent)
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Further to Deputy Rabbitte's earlier comments about his concerns about an invasion of Cavan-Monaghan, I doubt if even Mike Tyson would try to invade Monaghan or Cavan at the moment.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business?

Paudge Connolly (Cavan-Monaghan, Independent)
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Two issues arose at the council meeting in Clones on Monday. One related to congratulations to Kevin McBride for his win over Mike Tyson. Councillors were also concerned about mobile telephone roaming charges. Will the electronic communications Bill be introduced shortly?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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As I said earlier, the Bill will be introduced later this year.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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When is it proposed to introduce the necessary amending legislation to the Civil Registration Act? I asked this question approximately three weeks ago and was told that no such legislation was required. On subsequent inquiries I found that such necessary amending legislation to enable registration in a parent's name in certain circumstances of children born to the parents before marriage is required.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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I am not familiar with the legislation. I will speak to the Minister of State, Deputy Lenihan, and will revert to the Deputy.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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Which Deputy Lenihan?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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Does the Government plan to introduce legislation to bring into force a European Union directive on strategic environmental assessments, which are supposed to supersede environmental impact assessments?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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Not that I am aware of. However, we will check.