Dáil debates

Thursday, 16 November 2006

10:30 am

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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It is proposed to take No. 1, Europol (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Second Stage; and No. 4, Industrial Development Bill 2006 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are no proposals to put to the House on the Order of Business.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Yesterday, the Tánaiste viewed with disbelief the information provided by Opposition Members on the closing down of nursing homes. It seems the Government is terrified of the truth of these matters emerging. I understand the HSE announced this morning that no patients should be accepted by four further nursing homes.

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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When these are added to the exposé by Deputy O'Dowd last night of a further case, which made a mockery of the Minister's statement yesterday, it appears this matter is very serious.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate on the matter. As the Deputy knows, it was discussed for three hours over the last two nights and was the subject of Leaders' Questions on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is no provision for Leader's Questions on Thursday.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is a sad day when the Opposition as distinct from the Government has to deal with this. When will the legislation governing the independent nursing homes inspections be introduced?

Over the past few weekends Deputy O'Donnell and Senator Minihan have been far more active than the Tánaiste in respect of his tax policy on stamp duty. Does the Tánaiste still believe the Government does not require €2.5 billion in stamp duty revenue?

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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We will give the Government a shopping list.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest Deputy Kenny submits a question to the line Minister. There is no provision for Leaders' Questions on Thursday.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste has spoken publicly on it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Is the Tánaiste proposing to include this in the Finance Bill next year? When will the Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill be published? It was promised in 2004 and is on the list of promised legislation.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Regarding the health Bill, the Taoiseach has indicated three times over the past few days that it is being drafted. It was the subject of extensive consultation, the heads of the Bill were published last March and it will be dealt with when the Dáil resumes in the new year. The extensive consultation process elicited a large number of public submissions on the draft heads of the Bill. While I appreciate that the Deputies opposite have other things to do, no input was received from any political party in the course of the valuable public consultation.

Photo of Olivia MitchellOlivia Mitchell (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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We are the representatives here.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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In respect of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Bill——

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Typical.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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——it is expected next year.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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We were not asked. This is the forum we must use because of the secret way the Government does business.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Kenny was caught out.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste has opinions on everything.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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The Tánaiste is now taking on the Taoiseach's practice of blaming the Opposition. We are Members of this House and legislators. The Government embarked on a lengthy consultation process. As a result there is no legislation in place to protect the elderly from institutional abuse. That is the legacy of the Government for which the Tánaiste must take responsibility.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Whose fault is that?

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

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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I have not finished.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy McManus is out of order.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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I am not order of order.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Chair has ruled. We cannot have an omnibus question time, nor can we have Second Stage speeches.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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I am not out of order. I have two questions on promised legislation and I intend to ask them. We were promised the health Bill in 2006 to protect elderly people from institutional abuse. Will that legislation not appear until 2007? In the meantime, can we not have a short emergency Bill to at least give the authority that is in place, HIQA, some power to protect elderly residents of nursing homes? The Tánaiste might remember that the House was recalled to pass emergency legislation to bail out Mr. Larry Goodman. Are we not in a position to protect our elderly by introducing emergency legislation?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Does the Cabinet have the courage to deal with patient safety in respect of fertility clinics? The High Court decision has opened a door that enables the Government to introduce promised legislation to regulate assisted human reproduction, in vitro fertilisation. There are no regulations, protections or safeguards at present, which is a most serious lacuna in our legislation. Will the Tánaiste assure us that promised legislation will be fast-tracked so that the Bill will be published in early 2007?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The legislation I mentioned will be published this session and debated as soon as the Dáil resumes after Christmas. It is not a good idea to put aside this Bill and pass emergency legislation.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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I am not saying that.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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The Tánaiste can do two things at once.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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When Deputy McManus's party was in power, no progress was made.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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These parties have been ten years in government.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Which party was that? Deputy McManus was in many parties, including the Workers Party, Democratic Left, New Agenda and now the Labour Party.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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The Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, should not forget about the trees in north Dublin.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste was in Fine Gael then.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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On the High Court decision on frozen embryos, the Tánaiste has instructed officials in her Department to commence——

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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You are the Tánaiste.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Sorry, the former Tánaiste.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste is having a bad hair day. His memory serves him correctly.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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I am glad that my innate humility comes out yet again on this occasion.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste should stop before he puts both feet in it.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Minister for Health and Children has instructed her officials to commence drafting the legislation to deal with this matter. A commission examined the matter, as did an Oireachtas committee, a sub-committee of which produced a draft report. Legislation will be put in place. It is not a question of political cowardice, this is a delicate issue in which there are a variety of interests. Many people will be dissatisfied with the outcome of whatever legislation is put in place.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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This is about patient safety.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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It is about more than patient safety, it is about ethical issues to deal with embryos, and that is not a patient safety issue alone.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Patients cannot be put at risk because of the Government's irresponsibility, and that is what we are talking about.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate now. Allow the Tánaiste to continue.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Minister for Health and Children is determined to deal with the regulation of fertility clinics.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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What about the Cabinet? Will the Tánaiste assure us the Cabinet will not delay this?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The entire Cabinet is so determined. There is no political reluctance to deal with this issue.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Why has it not been done before now?

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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It is very complex.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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A commission on assisted reproduction reported——

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Why did the Government not do its business?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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——a committee of this House prepared a report on the issue and legislation will be published. I do not see the problem Deputies have with this matter.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Does the Tánaiste expect the legislation to be published before the election?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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I do.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Let us not hold our breath.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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Given the horrific problems in our nursing homes, does the Tánaiste intend to reconsider legislation in respect of tax relief for the owners of nursing homes? It is the Government's profit before people philosophy that is the root cause of this.

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

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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People are cutting corners in nursing homes to make money at the expense of the most vulnerable people in Irish society. The philosophy of the Government has led to this problem.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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As the Chair has pointed out, this matter was discussed for three hours over the past two nights and it was the subject of Leaders' Questions. There is no provision for Leaders' Questions on Thursday. Tánaiste, is legislation promised?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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No legislation is promised. Yet again, ideology is blinding Deputy Gormley to the reality.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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Whose ideology? The Tánaiste is sponsoring bad practice.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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Your right wing ideology is leading to this problem.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Let me answer. There is no point in behaving like a fascist over there.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Tánaiste addresses his remarks through the Chair it might be easier to control the disorderly Deputies.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Legislation is not required because the public and private sectors are putting unprecedented resources into nursing homes, and anything that encourages more money to be invested is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath, Fine Gael)
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It is taxpayers' money.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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Patients are lying in their own urine.

Photo of Olivia MitchellOlivia Mitchell (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste is aware that traffic conditions around the city are deteriorating at present. The metro Bill was promised last year for publication this year. Although it was to streamline procedures and reduce costs, it appears to have disappeared from the agenda. Is it to be published or will it ever be dealt with? It was to be published this year, but 2006 is now drawing to a close.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Dublin transportation authority legislation is due for publication this session. The Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 overtook the particular Bill to which the Deputy referred.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Although Ruhama and the Tánaiste's Department have highlighted the incidence of trafficking of human beings across Europe and from other quarters, there is no legislation on the Statute Book here. Moreover, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, agreed by the Council of Europe two years ago, has not been signed off by the Tánaiste's Department. Is Ireland likely to sign that convention? Is the Tánaiste likely to induce the Government to sign it? This has been waiting for signature for two years. Is the Tánaiste likely to introduce legislation that would deal with and combat trafficking in human beings?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The legislation in question is at an advanced stage of drafting and will be introduced early next year. This will enable Ireland to sign all the relevant conventions.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Given that the Government is embarking on one of the most far-reaching developments ever in the health service, namely, the co-location of ten private hospitals at public hospital sites, and that there is no mandate or legislation for this——

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Yes. I want——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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He should come directly to the question.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Specifically, in respect of this important matter, will the Government facilitate a proper debate in this Chamber?

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

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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A debate is not promised on that issue.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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If a debate is not promised, it is a matter for the Whips. I call Deputy McCormack.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will a debate be provided for it? It is of great importance and——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, Deputy, unless a debate is promised it is not appropriate to raise it on the Order of Business.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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——it must be recognised by the Government that this is of such import that it deserves——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy McCormack.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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——such address in this Chamber.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy knows how to go about it. I call Deputy McCormack.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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On promised legislation, is the Tánaiste aware of the difficulties being experienced by many pharmacists because of the delayed introduction of the pharmacy Bill? Some non-Irish trained pharmacists are having their rights of supply and contracts with the Health Service Executive withdrawn because of the Government's delay in introducing the Bill. Will it be introduced this session?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The answer is "Yes".

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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In view of the absence from the Order Paper of the postal services Bill, is it intended to re-introduce the Bill? Perhaps the Tánaiste will share his vision for the future development of the postal services. He usually shares his views on most matters.

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

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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While I would be glad to share my views on this matter with the Deputy, I will do so afterwards.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste should be brave.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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No legislation is promised.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Gormley.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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I did not indicate.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle was referring to me.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, I call Deputy Gogarty.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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Deputy Gormley and I are quite alike. We could be twins.

Will the student support Bill be published before Christmas? If so, in the Tánaiste's estimation, will all Stages of the Bill be passed before next June?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The commitment is to publish the Bill this session so that it can be debated by the House in the coming session.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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Before Christmas.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Are there are any guidelines in place to advise Ministers as to the events or launches in which they should participate?

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

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Does the Tánaiste have any view on the decision of the Minister for Defence to attend a book launch about the late Seán South——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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This does not arise. I call Deputy McEntee.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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——from which he withdrew following advice from his officials? Has the Tánaiste any comment?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy McEntee. Deputy Timmins must find another way to raise this matter.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Had the Tánaiste any input into the advice given? This was another gaffe by the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea. He suggested a different approach to the taxi drivers of Limerick than would apply in Dublin. Perhaps he takes different approaches to launching books in Limerick and Dublin.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Timmins is being disorderly. I ask the Deputy to allow his colleague, Deputy McEntee, to speak.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste is raring to go.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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He is a multifaceted Minister in a multifaceted Government. Had the Tánaiste an input into the decision to induce him to pull out?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Minister, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Kerry South, Fianna Fail)
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I believe he is a Garryowen man.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will be obliged to move on to the next business——

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Had the Tánaiste no input?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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——unless he allows his colleague, Deputy McEntee, to speak.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste is always quick to comment on such matters. Did he advise the Minister for Defence, Deputy O'Dea, to pull out?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Timmins, please resume your seat.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Did the Tánaiste advise him?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy McEntee.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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This is the first time I have ever silenced——

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste wishes to talk.

Photo of Olivia MitchellOlivia Mitchell (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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He definitely wants to say something.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy McEntee.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath, Fine Gael)
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On the road safety Bill, Deputies are contacted on a daily basis in respect of road safety outside schools, particularly those on major roads. This is a serious issue. Will the Government consider handing the matter over to the Road Safety Authority, to ensure that our children, both inside and outside schools, will be safe?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It does not arise. I suggest the Deputy submits a question to the line Minister. I call Deputy Boyle.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath, Fine Gael)
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I did. This issue pertains to the road safety Bill.

Photo of Martin CullenMartin Cullen (Minister, Department of Transport; Waterford, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy should induce the county councils of which his party has control to do their work.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath, Fine Gael)
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Children risk their lives on a daily basis.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The question should be raised under the Bill, or raised directly with the line Minister by way of a question.

Photo of Dan BoyleDan Boyle (Cork South Central, Green Party)
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I refer to a number of court cases taken by people seeking to buy local authority accommodation and apartments in particular, most recently including some of the Tánaiste's own constituents in Ringsend. What priority is being given to the proposed housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill? Will the Government present the Bill before the House rises next year?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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That legislation will be published next year.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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At the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis, the Taoiseach promised a constitutional referendum to enshrine the rights of the child in clear form in the Constitution. Since the Taoiseach set a deadline of March, when will the enabling legislation be introduced? What consultation process is envisaged between now and then regarding the amendment's wording?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Taoiseach has indicated his willingness to promote such a referendum, if there is a wording that attracts general support.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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If.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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He will also engage in a widespread process of consultation. His commitment to address this issue was welcomed by all parties, including that of the Deputy.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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To clarify, there was a wide welcome for the Taoiseach's proposal. A qualification has now been introduced by the Tánaiste. Does the Government intend and has the Government decided to introduce legislation to enable a referendum to take place to enshrine the rights of the child?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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While the Taoiseach has indicated he is prepared to amend the Constitution, he wishes to engage in a process of consultation. On a matter of constitutional importance, one does not simply state that something will be put into the constitution, no matter——

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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That is what he said.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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No, one does not. He stated he would engage in a process of consultation. If, having welcomed his announcement, the Deputies opposite have some input on this matter, the Government would be glad to have it.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Can Members see details of his proposals?

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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This is a step backwards.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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In last year's budget, the Minister for Finance abolished the levy on bank profits and instead promised Members the development of a social fund for social capital. Nothing has been heard about this, although the Minister has promised action on it——

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

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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No.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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——on several occasions.

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

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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This year, the banks have announced even greater record profits. They received a present last year of an extra €300 million.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Burton——

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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What is the Government's position? This was promised.

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

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I refer to two items of legislation. When will legislation be introduced to establish the national consumer agency on a statutory footing, in light of the recent 34% increase in gas prices?

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

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I refer to the revelation that there will also be an 8% increase in gas supply charges and a 20% increase in electricity charges in the new year.

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

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Moreover, there has been much blunder and bluster by the Government in respect of the sale of alcohol to young people and underage drinking. When will the proposed sale of alcohol Bill be introduced?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are moving on.