Tuesday, 27 February 2007
Order of Business
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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——
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——
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?