Dáil debates

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

5:00 pm

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Order of Business shall be No. 13, proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the National Economic and Social Development Office Act 2006 (Establishment Day) Order 2006; No. 14, referral to joint committee of the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Bovine Diseases (Levies) Regulations 2006; No. 15, the Official Languages Act 2003 (Section 9) Regulations 2006; No. 25, the Industrial Development Bill 2006 — Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 1, the Patents (Amendment) Bill, amendments from the Seanad; No. 26, the Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Bill 2006 — Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage; and No. 2, the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Second and Subsequent Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight. Business shall be interrupted not later than 11 p.m. Nos. 13, 14 and 15 shall be decided without debate. The Report and Final Stages of No. 25 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 30 minutes by one question to be put from the Chair which shall, relating to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Proceedings on No. 1 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.30 p.m. Any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question to be put from the Chair. We shall, in regard to amendments, include only those amendments set down or accepted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question that will be put from the Chair who shall, in regard to amendments to the Seanad amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment; the proceedings on the resumed Report Stage and Final Stage of the Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Bill 2006 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 9 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair who shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Health and Children; Second and Subsequent Stages of the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Bill 2006 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply, the proceedings on Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes, the speech of the Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for the Fine Gael Party, the Labour Party and the Technical Group, to be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time and the Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes, the proceedings on Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 11 p.m. by one question that will be put from the Chair and shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Private Members' business shall be No. 68, motion re An Post, which shall also take place tomorrow at 12 noon and proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are seven proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal on the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the following motions, Nos. 13, 14 and 15 without debate, agreed?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Motion No. 15 relates to the Official Languages Act 2003. The note given to the Whips states that this refers to the fact that prerecorded oral announcements made, stationery used or signage, except road traffic signage, will be in Irish or in Irish and English. Is the motion to refer these regulations for discussion in the Dáil at some future time? Will the Taoiseach indicate what is happening to the decision of the people of Dingle in respect of road signage outside the Gaeltacht area being in Irish and in English, which is their preference? That is a decision that must be made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The question does not arise at this stage. It may arise if there is a debate at some stage but it does not arise now.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It arises in Dingle.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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It arises at this stage.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is a hot issue down there. The Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, has promptly reversed role, probably under direction from the Taoiseach, which may be a good thing. Is the motion to refer this to the House for discussion at some future time? I am not clear about what is intended from the Chief Whip's note. He stated that the Minister wishes to give Deputies and Senators an opportunity to debate the regulations in draft form and make suggestions for changes, if they so wish, before he signs them. It is considered appropriate that they will be debated in both Houses. Is that likely to take place in the new year or before the House rises for Christmas?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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As I understand it, the intention is to give more time for these issues to be debated in committee, not in the House.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Will the matter come back to the House then?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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Subject to correction, as I understand it, the matter will have to come back to the House.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Let us wait until they get to the longer town names.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Effectively, it will be in the new year.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Wait until they get to Newtownmountkennedy.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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Measaim go bhfuil sé as ord go mbeidh muid ag aontú an rúin seo, a deireann "14 Nollaig", de bharr go bhfuil i bhfad níos mó ag teastáil sna rialacháin seo ná an méid atá molta ag an Aire. Ba cheart diúltú dó seo agus a rá go mbeidh dáta i mí Eanáir ar a laghad i gceist, mar ní tharlóidh morán athruithe má ghlacaimid leis seo inniu.

I will say this to the Taoiseach in English also. We are talking about regulations that have a date of 2026 included. I question why the regulation must be signed by 14 December 2006 when the Minister has indicated there is no great hurry before 2026. This suggests a double standard.

Ar a laghad, ba cheart go mbeadh dáta i mí Eanáir ann sa treo is go mbeidh seans againn díospóireacht cheart a bheith againn agus leasuithe a mholadh agus a dhéanamh. Sin an chúis go bhfuil mé ag cur i gcoinne 14 Nollaig.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is to extend the time for discussion in committee.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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It should be further extended.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Dúirt an tAire sa choiste nach raibh aon deifir orainn maidir leis na rialacháin seo agus nár ghá dóibh a bheith rite chomh tapaidh is atá i gceist leis an rún os ár gcomhair. Iarraim ar an Aire an rún a athrú ionas go dtiocfaimid ar ais, mar a dúirt an Teachta Sargent, am éigin i mí Eanáir nó mí Feabhra. Thabharfadh sé sin go leor ama dúinn déileáil leis sa choiste. Más gá, is féidir linn déileáil leis sa Dáil, mar a lorg mé i dtosach báire, nuair a ritheadh an rún chun é a chur go dtí an coiste.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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In so far as I understand it, the Minister believes that more time is required for discussion and he is seeking to extend the time. He is open to proposals at the committee, which will meet next week. The Minister is not pressing a particular closing date and if Members wish to make points to him at the committee, he will deal with them.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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I agree with the Taoiseach. We need more time, but why are we saying it has to be dealt with before the Dáil rises when time is to be provided for discussion in January?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister is prepared to examine the issue. The point should be made to him in the committee.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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We did and that is why we are surprised by the motion.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The meeting will be held next week. If Members consider sufficient time has not been provided, they can discuss the issue with the Minister next week. He is open to dialogue.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the issue being pressed?

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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It is.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 13, 14 and 15 without debate be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is proposal No. 3 re No. 25, Report and Final Stages of the Industrial Development Bill 2006 agreed? Agreed. Is proposal No. 4, for dealing with No. 1, Patents (Amendment) Bill 1999, amendments from the Seanad agreed? Agreed. Is proposal No. 5 relating to the Health (Nursing Homes) (Amendment) Bill 2006, resumed, agreed?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It is not agreed.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I wish to record opposition to the taking of this matter, and with a guillotine applying. It is apparent to me from recent engagements by Members of all sides with representatives of the HSE that even on the Government benches there is clear opposition to one of the real effects of the implementation of this legislation, which will see the family home immediately brought into the whole assessment of subvention, which will leave vulnerable people at a significant disadvantage with all the residual and resulting pain that will be visited on them and their families. This is an absolutely objectionable element within this legislation.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputies cannot discuss the issue because——

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I will oppose it, as I have indicated repeatedly to the Minister of State, who is hosting its passage through the House. I cannot support the proposal in relation to No. 26. I call on all Deputies, including Members on the Government benches, who have voiced very strong opinions in regard to this matter——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That does not arise at this stage. The Deputy is opposed to the issue.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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——to join us in opposing the Bill now and later.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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This Bill will give the State, through the HSE, the power to sell the homes of old people who have income of more than €9,000 a year if they are in a nursing home. We are opposed to the Bill and we are opposed to any guillotining that would hasten passage of the Bill. Therefore, we are opposed to the measure before the House. We have an interest in delaying passage of the Bill for as long as possible.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Deputy's party brought in this law.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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What did the Minister, Deputy Harney, say?

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Deputy's party brought in this measure in 1993.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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We did not.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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Yes, it did.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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We did not bring in the measure in 1993.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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It was done the time means testing was introduced.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It was the Minister and her minion from south Kildare who brought it in.

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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This measure has been in operation since 1993.

Photo of Dan NevilleDan Neville (Limerick West, Fine Gael)
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The difference between this Bill and the regulation is that the regulation provided for discretion.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Allow Deputy Neville to speak without interruption.

Photo of Dan NevilleDan Neville (Limerick West, Fine Gael)
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Until now there was discretion in regard to the family home but the Bill clearly states that a financial assessment of an applicant's means shall be made. This removes totally the discretion that existed for each of the executives.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy return to the proposal before the House?

Photo of Dan NevilleDan Neville (Limerick West, Fine Gael)
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It excludes a relative of the applicant in receipt of a contributory old age pension, which is a relative's sole income. Therefore, if he has an occupational pension of €5 his house will be sold.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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That is right, that is the law.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 26 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 75 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Seán Ardagh, Niall Blaney, Johnny Brady, Martin Brady, Séamus Brennan, John Browne, Joe Callanan, Ivor Callely, Pat Carey, John Carty, Beverley Flynn, Mary Coughlan, John Cregan, John Curran, Noel Davern, Síle de Valera, Tony Dempsey, John Dennehy, Jimmy Devins, John Ellis, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Mildred Fox, Pat Gallagher, Jim Glennon, Noel Grealish, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Joe Jacob, Cecilia Keaveney, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael McDowell, John McGuinness, Micheál Martin, John Moloney, Donal Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Liz O'Donnell, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Fiona O'Malley, Tim O'Malley, Peter Power, Seán Power, Mae Sexton, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Joe Walsh, Ollie Wilkinson, Michael Woods, G V Wright)

Against the motion: 55 (Bernard Allen, Dan Boyle, James Breen, Tommy Broughan, Joan Burton, Paul Connaughton, Paudge Connolly, Joe Costello, Jerry Cowley, Seymour Crawford, Seán Crowe, Ciarán Cuffe, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Olwyn Enright, Martin Ferris, John Gormley, Tony Gregory, Séamus Healy, Joe Higgins, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Paul McGrath, Paddy McHugh, Liz McManus, Arthur Morgan, Breeda Moynihan-Cronin, Dan Neville, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Séamus Pattison, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, Eamon Ryan, Seán Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Joe Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Mary Upton, Jack Wall)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Níl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg.

Question declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with the Second and Subsequent Stages of the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Bill 2006 agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business agreed? Agreed.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I note that a platform has been set up for digital terrestrial television and that 1,000 participants are to be chosen for a pilot scheme. When can we expect to see No. 23 on the legislative programme, the broadcasting Bill? It is the time of year when a great deal of voluntary fundraising takes place and the issue always arises of the charities regulation Bill. I know it is a complex Bill with many sections and is listed for early 2007. Is that still the expected date?

I understand this country will be billed for approximately €200 million every year for, literally, hot air from Russia in respect of carbon credits. When can we expect to see No. 28, on the legislative programme, the carbon fund Bill? This will allow us to deal with the Minister, Deputy Roche, and his use of taxpayers' money to pay for hot air from Russia.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I do not have a date for the broadcasting Bill, but the heads of the Bill were approved a few months ago and the Bill has been sent for drafting. The charities Bill is for early in the new year. It has priority drafting and a drafter is working on it. The carbon Bill is also due in the spring.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I ask the Taoiseach about his statement on 10 October. He will remember the press conference on the steps of Government Buildings with the new Tánaiste. The new Tánaiste said at the time "The Ethics in Public Office Act 1995 will, accordingly, be amended. The legislation will be brought before the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency." He then said, if the Taoiseach remembers, "we got away with it, Taoiseach." Does the Taoiseach remember him saying that? When will that legislation come before the House?

Seán Ryan (Dublin North, Labour)
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It is no wonder the Taoiseach is smiling.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Department of Finance is preparing the Bill. I understand it has the scheme of the Bill, but it is also caught up with the budget. However, it will have it fairly shortly.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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When the Taoiseach talks about a carbon Bill, is he talking about anything more than the carbon fund Bill? For example is there a carbon climate security Bill or a climate targets Bill? I am asking because the good people of Crossmolina——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should confine himself to the question because we are moving to the next business.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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Crossmolina is being destroyed by floods.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call the Taoiseach on the legislation.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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This afternoon during Question Time the Taoiseach told me the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should ask a simple question on legislation.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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——would bring forward something substantial.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy cannot make a speech.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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Is there anything substantial, apart from paying——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call the Taoiseach on promised legislation.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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——for emissions? We will need to cut them by more than 50%.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The carbon fund Bill will be due early next year.

Photo of Trevor SargentTrevor Sargent (Dublin North, Green Party)
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That is not the question.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill include entitlement for local communities to acute hospital services such as in Monaghan and elsewhere?

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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When will the Bill be published? When will the health Bill be published? These are both substantive Bills in the health area.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call the Taoiseach on promised legislation.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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When will they be published? Have the heads of both Bills been agreed? Will they come before the House before the general election or would the Government prefer to keep them in storage until afterwards?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The health Bill should be early in the new year and the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill will be ready directly after the Christmas period.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will the people of Monaghan have their case vindicated by it?