Dáil debates

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

4:00 pm

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 14, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and the Republic of Albania; No. 15, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and the Republic of Tajikistan;and No. 1, Communications Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2007 [Seanad] — Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m.; Nos. 14 and 15 shall be decided without debate; and the proceedings on Second Stage of No. 1 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. Private Members' business shall be No. 64, motion re domestic violence.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for the late sitting agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 14 and 15 without debate agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 1 agreed?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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No.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 1 be agreed ", put and declared carried.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Ba mhaith liom mo chomhbhrón a dhéanamh le muintir Gharda Brian Kelleher agus fear dóiteáin Michael Liston a fuair bás Dé Domhnaigh seo caite i dtimpiste bhóthair i gContae Luimnigh. Bhíodar ag déanamh a chuid oibre nuair a fuaireadar bás. Go ndéanfaidh Dia trócaire ar a n-anamacha dílse.

When can we expect to see publication of the minerals development Bill, which is due in 2007 and will update the legislation in line with reform proposals to deliver better government? While I am on my feet, perhaps the Taoiseach might be able to indicate why the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs is not prepared to publish the detailed results of the survey into spoken Irish in Gaeltacht areas.

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 Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is a report commissioned by the Government and the Minister will not publish the results.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We can only discuss a debate promised in the House on a report.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Are you going to knock me down?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made his point.

5:00 pm

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In that case I will ask another question. Does the Taoiseach intend to take any further initiative with the British Prime Minister in advance of elections in Northern Ireland with a view to reassuring the communities there of the commitment of the British and Irish Governments to proceeding with the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement?

The Progressive Democrats members of the Government seem to be absent. Will the Taoiseach comment on the statement by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform that the St. Andrews Agreement would not have happened were it not for the fact that he was in Government? I am sure the body language around the Cabinet table was very interesting on that matter. Even the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, shuffles his feet at that because it is recognition of the fact that members of Fianna Fáil know he did not have it all his own way on that business.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Or did he?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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On the first matter raised by Deputy Kenny, on behalf of the Government I extend our deepest sympathy to the families and friends of Garda Brian Kelleher and fireman, Michael Liston, who died so tragically in the early hours of Sunday morning, both of whom were killed in the line of duty while attending at the scene of another crash. I extend our sympathy to their colleagues in the Garda Síochána and the Limerick fire station.

The heads of the minerals development Bill have been approved. The Bill is gone for drafting and is due later in the year. I do not think it will be ready by the summer so it will be into the autumn session before it is ready.

I shall raise the report on the Irish language with the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Deputy Ó Cuív, but if a question were tabled, he would give a comprehensive report.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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He said he would not publish the report.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Tánaiste did work on and assist me in negotiating the St. Andrews Agreement.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It did not happen because of him.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Does the Government intend to take any steps to put in place a more formal and humane system to have victims of abuse and rape victims advised of the imminent release of perpetrators of these crimes, having regard to the pain and traumas inflicted on so many by the case currently in the news? What is the Government's position on whether it intends to proceed with a referendum on the protection of children or on the protection of children and the rights of children? We put to the Government two weeks ago the option of going to the people quickly on the protection of children while allowing for a proper national debate on the rights of children. Can the Taoiseach tell the House whether we can anticipate either kind of referendum or an omnibus referendum in the immediate weeks ahead?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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On the release of prisoners who have served their time there is a procedure for dealing with the issue. In this case it was well known because for some weeks people were talking about the imminent release. I do not think it was——

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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That is the point. There is no formal system in place to advise victims of these kinds of crimes of the release of the perpetrators.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy allow the Taoiseach to reply without interruption?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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As I understand it, the matter of the release of the individual was brought to my attention by a Member some time ago. The Deputy thought it was an early release but when I checked the matter I found it was the completion of the sentence served. It was known in the community that this was happening. When an individual has served his or her sentence I do not see what procedure one can lay down——

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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To tell the victim.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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In this case there were a number of victims.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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All of them should be told.

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

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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On the second issue raised by Deputy Rabbitte, we did have the debate two weeks ago and on Monday week last the Government published its proposals. I asked last week if the Opposition would respond directly in writing to the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan, who is trying to arrange a meeting. The Government's view is that both issues are necessary and essential and we should do both together. I would like to put them to the people in the short term but if that is not possible I will put them to the people in the long term. Having checked with the NGOs, the idea of two separate referendums finds no favour with anybody.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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We have met the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, twice and there is another meeting tomorrow.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I appreciate that.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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Does the Taoiseach agree that the consultation process being undertaken by the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan, where he is asking young people why they consume such large amounts of alcohol is an exercise in hypocrisy?

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

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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It does.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy has a question appropriate to the Order of Business otherwise——

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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My question relates to promised legislation because the alcohol products Bill has been shelved. I want to know when it will be reinstated because until then the Government is engaging in hypocrisy and dancing to the tune of the alcohol products industry.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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On the legislation, a voluntary agreement has been reached with the industry and the Department is holding off on the introduction of legislation pending the outcome of the voluntary agreement. Our strategy across all the issues and the children's areas since setting up the National Children's Office and appointing a Minister of State with responsibility for children is to consult with young people and listen to their views.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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The young people have said the Government should implement its own test. The young people have been——

Gay Mitchell (Dublin South Central, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach will be aware of the sale of local authority flat complexes being promised to those who live mainly in his constituency and mine. Is it intended to introduce legislation in this area before the dissolution of the Dáil?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I think it was to be covered in a housing Bill but I will check the matter for the Deputy.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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The Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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As the Minister for Education and Science is sitting beside the Taoiseach perhaps he can give me more precise information on the students support Bill, which I have raised a few times. Will it be published soon and is it expected to be enacted for the next academic year?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am informed by the Minister that, hopefully, it will be published in the next two weeks.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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When will the athletes Bill come before the House? On the issue of the sale of alcohol, when will the alcohol products Bill be published? As already stated, a Bill was promised. This is a major issue.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is being repetitive and we cannot have that.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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We cannot be repetitive enough so far as the consumption of alcohol by young people is concerned.

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

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill will be published in 2007.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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In regard to management companies and management agencies, the Government promised they would be regulated under the property services regulatory authority. Will that happen before the general election? Almost 500,000 people living in houses and apartments are subject to management companies and management agencies. The Taoiseach's colleague, the Tánaiste is responsible.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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That matter is listed for this year. I think the Tánaiste is determined to try to do it this year.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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In the next six months.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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When will the control of exports Bill, recently published, come before the House? When will we see the protection of employment (collective redundancies) Bill? When will we see the legislation on over-regulation of the agricultural industry in regard to compliance with certain policies pursued by the Government and applications in abeyance in many instances?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The first two Bills, both of which are linked into the T16, will come before the House in this session. In regard to the third issue I do not know what legislation is involved.

Deputies:

Ask Tom Parlon.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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An appeal system is promised in respect of the over-regulation of various directives and legislation that have an unintended effect of increasing bureaucracy and red tape in industry and agriculture. When will that appeals system be put on a statutory footing?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I suggest the Deputy table a question to the Minister on that matter.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Notwithstanding the Communications Regulation (Amendment) Bill which is before the House, is it intended to introduce a further regulatory communications Bill to combat the type of issue raised by Deputy Kenny on the use of the Internet for pornography purposes? I have raised that issue on numerous occasions during the past two years. It has been refused on numerous occasions on the basis that it was not relevant. It is clearly a matter for the communications sector.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I understand there is already legislation on the Statute Book to deal with these issues. It does not require new legislation.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It does require legislation in the communications sector.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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A firm pledge was given by the Taoiseach at the end of last year that the Ethics in Public Office Act would be amended to change the regime in regard to the receipt of gifts and benefits-in-kind. Is it the Taoiseach's intention to have that enacted before the end of this Dáil?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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It will be published shortly. It is not a very complex Bill so it should be enacted quickly.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Longford-Roscommon, Fine Gael)
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I was contacted by a constituent today about a posting on the Bebo website which was extremely distasteful and defamatory about the individual concerned.

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

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Longford-Roscommon, Fine Gael)
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In light of the fact that when this individual contacted ComReg, he was told it did not even know what Bebo was and that other agencies told the individual to contact Bebo, which could not be contacted, when will Bills Nos. 94 and 99 be put before the House?