Thursday, 30 March 2006
Order of Business (Resumed).
I wish to raise two issues. One relates to the offer from the Minister for the Environment, Heritage, and Local Government, through the Minister for Finance, to have a full briefing on the issue of Sellafield, which I welcome. I ask that such a briefing include the significant details of the information given to the Irish Government on foot of the last serious incident in Sellafield. The information that was given to the Government, or certainly the information that was in the public domain, was misleading. I am deeply concerned about that. As an Opposition spokesperson, I would like to examine fully the complete response of the Government and the RPII to the information that was given.
Second, the circulars regarding the Irish language issued by the Minister for Finance are not being adhered to by other Departments. Does he have a system of accountability in his Department to ensure that other Departments adhere to the circulars, regardless of their contents? Is he satisfied that he should issue such circulars or should he amend them if they are not being adhered to by Departments such as the Department of Education and Science?
On the first matter, I indicated that a briefing from the RPII could be made available for Opposition spokespersons on this matter if they so wish. Clearly, if there are briefings beyond that or information is sought by the Deputy, I am sure direct contact with the Minister will result in his making whatever arrangements he can to provide all the information he can in order that everyone is up to speed on the current position.
On the second matter, the Irish language criterion comes into play in promotions and interdepartmental competitions but different arrangements apply for internal promotions depending on the Department concerned. I have asked the principal officer in the department of public service under my aegis to engage in a consultative process with his respective colleagues in all Departments to assess what is the current position, report to me thereon and then I will see what, if anything, I should do at that stage.