Dáil debates

Thursday, 8 March 2007

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. 14, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of a proposal that section 17A of the Diseases of Animals Act 1966 shall continue in force for the period ending on 8 March 2008, back from committee; No. 20, Prisons Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Report Stage (resumed) and Final Stage; and No. 4 — Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2007 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 14 shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on the resumed Report and Final Stages of No. 20 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 12.30 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in respect of amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform; and the Second Stage of No. 4 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3.30 p.m.

Pursuant to Standing Order 80(3), the Dáil shall waive its instruction that not more than two select committees shall meet to consider a Bill on any given day in the case of the proposed meeting of the Select Committee on Enterprise and Small Business to consider the Consumer Protection Bill 2007 [Seanad] on Tuesday, 13 March 2007. Parliamentary questions next for answer by the Taoiseach on EU matters shall be taken on the same day as the statements on the EU Council meeting in Brussels, scheduled to be taken on Wednesday, 21 March 2007, and shall be moved to be taken first as ordinary oral questions to the Taoiseach on that day. The Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 March 2007.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are six proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 14 without debate agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20 agreed?

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

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 20, the Prisons Bill 2006 [Seanad] — Report and Final Stages (Resumed), be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 4 agreed?

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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It is not agreed, for the following reason. It does not address the central issue, which is spending between elections.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That would not be a reason for objecting to the particular motion.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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It is a very good reason.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is purely a procedural motion on whether we take it.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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As with the last proposal I object to the guillotine on the Second Stage debate.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 4 be agreed to", put and declared carried.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with Standing Order 80(3), the waiving of instruction to committee, agreed to?

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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This Standing Order exists for a very good reason, namely to prevent the Executive forcing legislation through the committee system of the House. Committees exist to examine Bills in great detail and, as a result, the House has decided there should not be more than two Bills on any day in any committee. The proposal sets that aside so as to rush Bills, not just through Second Stage, as we see every day, but Committee Stage and that is not acceptable. We have seen the result of such decisions recently.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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I agree with Deputy Stagg on this matter. One of the advantages of committees is that Deputies who are not members of a particular committee can take part. If two committees deal with two separate Bills on the same day it is nearly impossible for such Deputies to take part. There are free days next week when committees can sit and, if the Bills are urgent, they could be dealt with in the following week.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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I appreciate the points Deputies Stagg and Ó Snodaigh make but we must remember that, subject to the next proposal, the Dáil will not be sitting on the day in question.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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Will it ever sit again?

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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The Dáil is dying on its feet.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Three events take place in the Dáil on that day.

Deputies:

Cheltenham, Cheltenham and Cheltenham.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste will have to try to get tickets for Cheltenham.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The normal procedure is for no more than two committees to function while the House is not sitting but this will allow the Deputies who are not attending plenary sessions of the Dáil to attend all the committee meetings in question.

Question, "That the proposal regarding Standing Order 80(3) 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. 5, dealing with the Taoiseach's questions on Wednesday, 21 March 2007, agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal that the Dáil, on rising today, should adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 March agreed to?

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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We should be grateful there will be no emergency legislation next week.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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We do not know that.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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There might not be a quorum on the Government side. I will raise a serious issue. In the week we resume the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform proposes to hold a five-hour debate on Second Stage of a criminal justice Bill that is not even on the list. It is a major piece of legislation which will deal with the right to silence, detention, bail and sentencing. The Dáil has learned to its cost in recent weeks the folly of rushing through legislation and having to reconsider at length to fill loopholes created by a lack of attention to detail.

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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It will probably be as faulty as the last Bill.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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While everyone wants an effective response to the issues thrown up by a series of killings and other gangland activity, there is a huge onus on the Dáil to consider the matters in a mature way, rather than rushing into 11th hour action. This Government said two or three years ago that the killing of certain individuals was a watershed and that things would have to change. Now, at five minutes to midnight in terms of this Dáil session, the Minister comes forward with his proposals. There is no point pretending to give cover to a Minister who has been inactive in some of these areas.

Photo of Dick RocheDick Roche (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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That is the first time he has been accused of that.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Does the Deputy find this funny?

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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He will not find it funny after the election.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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We must deal with this issue in a proper way and the Dáil needs to use time, either next week or another week, to deal with these issues.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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A raft of legislation is being guillotined because the Government is coming to the end of its term of office. It is not allowing proper scrutiny of legislation, nor is it allowing this Parliament to function effectively. We already know to our cost what happened when the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform rushed legislation through the House and had to return this week with emergency legislation, because the Labour Party pointed out the flaw in the original. There is a real danger we will end up in the same situation with regard to another area of law.

There have been seven guillotines this week. Because the Government proposes not sitting next week, eight guillotines are proposed for the week we return. It is not correct parliamentary activity to continually cut off the work in which we engage, which is to ensure legislation is robust and fair.

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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Who is playing Ceaucescu now?

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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The reason given for the Dáil not sitting is that St. Patrick's Day is next week, but that is not until next Saturday.

Photo of Pádraic McCormackPádraic McCormack (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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The Government might change it.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Do not forget the ministerial gallivanting — it will be their last chance.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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It does not take a week to travel anywhere in the world today. I am not aware that it takes a week for Ministers to do their packing. They are packing the timetable with legislation which deserves to be properly analysed and scrutinised. We propose we do not adjourn until 20 March but continue our business to ensure we do not end up with the unholy mess for which the Tánaiste was responsible in respect of providing safeguards for our children.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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A brief comment is allowed, Deputy.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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We need to sit next week to do the business we were elected to this House to do.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Surely some Ministers will be present next week.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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We are opposed to this proposal, as we have been in previous years. It is wrong to conduct the business of the House in this way. My colleague, Deputy Boyle, has put forward proposals for reforming the House and has pointed out on numerous occasions that, as a Parliament, we are unproductive and sit fewer days than other parliaments in Europe. That needs to be rectified.

This is, ironically, business as usual in that we do what we do every year, namely facilitate people who want to attend horse race meetings, though some do important work. It is not acceptable because we suffer a build-up of legislation. Currently we have built up a mound of it which will have to be guillotined. At this time, when people are very busy, it is impossible for Deputies to attend all the sessions. I was surprised the Taoiseach promised even more legislation yesterday because I do not know how he will get it through. The only way is by use of the guillotine so we oppose the proposal.

Photo of Dick RocheDick Roche (Minister, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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It can be dealt with in committee.

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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Along with other Deputies, I object to this proposal. There is a range of legislation which deserves and requires our full attention. Some needs to be passed prior to the election and would be welcomed by the electorate. However, its passage will be facilitated by guillotine, rather than by a proper, measured debate. There are also many reports to which this House needs to give consideration by debating them, which could happen with a full sitting next week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

We should sit next week to debate the legislation to which I referred. Following that, there could be committee meetings to deal with the relevant Bills in a proper way, but not more than two per day, as determined by the previous proposal.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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As the House is aware, it has been the case for many year's that the State takes advantage of the fact that the St. Patrick's Day festival is celebrated across the globe in order to project the good aspects of Ireland, avail of goodwill towards this country——

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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——and represent Irish interests at events organised abroad.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It would not be right to let the day pass without celebrating it.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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There is an undoubted and major dividend to the economy, the State and the Irish community overseas as a result of the Government taking the St. Patrick's Day festival seriously. The Deputies opposite will appreciate that although St. Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year, most Ministers will be obliged to attend a number of events in the days beforehand at the locations to which they are travelling.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The poor things. Their itinerary is too strenuous.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Tánaiste should be allowed to continue without interruption.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Will any Ministers be attending the race meeting at Cheltenham?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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If Deputy Ring interrupts again, I will not call him in respect of other issues. The Minister to continue without interruption.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Government should resign en bloc.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Durkan has made enough contributions for today.

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

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 surprised that Deputy Gormley opposes the international celebration of the wearing of the green.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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That could have two meanings.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Deputy Gormley referred earlier to the moneys spent between elections. I understand he could not afford to pay the relevant fees in order to have Al Gore address his party's conference. I understand Mr. Gore charges $140,000.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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He charges $170,000.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Mr. Gore's fees are nearly as bad as those charged by senior counsel.

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 a pity the Green Party could not pay to have Mr. Gore appear.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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As far as the Government is concerned, there is a great deal of legislation with which the House must deal.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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The Government has had ten years in which to deal with it.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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I carried out some research——

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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That is always a dangerous thing to do.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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——and discovered that in one week last July the House spent between three and four hours debating the Order of Business on various days. That was a considerable amount of time to spend——

Paddy McHugh (Galway East, Independent)
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Democracy is at risk, particularly if mistakes are made in legislation.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Minister to continue without interruption.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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This would never have happened in Romania.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Government has an appetite for getting on with its work

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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My constituency colleague, Deputy Quinn, will feel somewhat like a baby who has thrown his or her rattle out of the pram when the Building Control Bill is finally passed.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste knows all about throwing rattles out of prams.

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 has been mentioned on each day the House has met.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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We are getting on with the business of the House. We are also getting on with Ireland's business.

Paddy McHugh (Galway East, Independent)
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It is "Ireland's Call".

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Government is jackbooting legislation through the House.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The people appreciate what we are doing and like to see us working hard.

Question put: "That the proposal that the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 20 March 2007 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 61 (Dermot Ahern, Noel Ahern, Seán Ardagh, Niall Blaney, Johnny Brady, Martin Brady, James Breen, Joe Callanan, John Carty, Michael J Collins, Paudge Connolly, Beverley Flynn, Mary Coughlan, Martin Cullen, Noel Davern, John Dennehy, Jimmy Devins, John Ellis, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Joe Jacob, Cecilia Keaveney, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Tony Killeen, Séamus Kirk, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Michael McDowell, John McGuinness, Paddy McHugh, Micheál Martin, John Moloney, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Liz O'Donnell, Denis O'Donovan, Noel O'Flynn, Batt O'Keeffe, Tim O'Malley, Tom Parlon, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Mae Sexton, Brendan Smith, Michael Smith, Dan Wallace, Mary Wallace, Ollie Wilkinson, Michael Woods, G V Wright)

Against the motion: 34 (Bernard Allen, Pat Breen, Richard Bruton, Joe Costello, Bernard Durkan, John Gormley, Tom Hayes, Séamus Healy, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Finian McGrath, Liz McManus, Arthur Morgan, Breeda Moynihan-Cronin, Gerard Murphy, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Séamus Pattison, Ruairi Quinn, Michael Ring, Eamon Ryan, Seán Ryan, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, Billy Timmins, Liam Twomey, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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As today is international day of women's rights, many will be amazed to see that an advertising campaign by Trócaire highlighting problems of abuse of women in certain countries is being pulled by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland. It is important that the Tánaiste comments on this. It certainly seems an extraordinary level of political correctness.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That issue was dealt with in the House yesterday.

11:00 am

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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Another issue on which I ask the Tánaiste to comment is the Government's intention to sign up to the international treaties on human trafficking, another source of abuse of women's rights, a matter on which we have fallen behind and which seems to have slipped down our agenda.

The health insurance situation seems to be getting "Curiouser and curiouser!", as in Alice in Wonderland, with Mr. Quinn having offered to buy VHI before the introduction of emergency legislation. What progress has been made by the Government in resolving the twin issues, the first of which is insurance and the reserves which must be set aside by VHI, a provision which is being challenged.

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

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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Legislation has most certainly been promised. The second issue concerns the obligations of insurers to contribute through existing arrangements to the costs of VHI. There is an unsatisfactory legal position which needs to be clarified urgently.

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 VHI matter, as Deputy Bruton will be aware, the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, proposes to publish health insurance legislation this session. Deputy Bruton will also be aware that there is a group, under Mr. Colm Barrington, studying some of the fundamental issues which lie at the heart of current controversies. The Government awaits its report this month.

The Criminal Justice (Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Offences) Bill is being worked on in my Department and expected in early summer. On the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland, all I can say is that it is an independent body which makes independent judgments.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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The Tánaiste could amend the legislation and solve the problem.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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To interfere with it.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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Not to interfere with it but to stop the censorship.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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I want to return to an issue in the Tánaiste's Department, as raised by Deputy Bruton. A new criminal justice Bill has been promised, the debate on which will be guillotined on Second Stage the week the Dáil resumes. As this Bill has not yet been published, I have questions for the Ceann Comhairle and the Tánaiste.

I understand the Ceann Comhairle has made a determination, if not a ruling, that complex legislation should be given space of at least two weeks between publication and the Second Stage debate. This is a fundamental question. The Tánaiste has signalled that significant issues will be captured in this legislation. When will the Bill be published? I ask that the normal protocol of allowing at least a fortnight for proper debate apply, including taking soundings from bodies outside this House which have already expressed interest in the matter. Obviously, detailed responses cannot be made until we see the legislation.

There are only weeks remaining to us, yet it took months for the Criminal Justice Bill 2004 to pass through Committee Stage. Even if we are to conclude Second Stage between now and the cessation of this Dáil, there should be no question of providing inadequate time or putting pressure on us to conclude Committee Stage until all the issues are fully and properly ventilated, given that they cut to the heart of the criminal justice system in this country.

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 my hope that the Bill will be published on Monday of next week.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Four days.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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That will allow the whole of next week and the bulk of the following week, or until Thursday, for Deputies to consider the text and contents of the legislation.

It is proposed that a two-day Second Stage debate will be held on the legislation on Thursday and Friday of the following week. With regard to Committee Stage, I have always been willing to sit lengthy hours and until midnight if necessary to complete the work of the committee.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin South, Green Party)
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Another family friendly day.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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It may not be family friendly but sometimes the families of innocent people who have been shot down must also be considered.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Bad legislation is worse than delayed legislation.

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 is needed. If I did not think that was so, I would not propose it. There is a clamant public demand to make the law as it pertains to bail, detention and questioning of people accused of tiger kidnappings, firearms murders and the like effective. That has to be done. I ask Deputy Howlin to bear in mind that we should not give up our day jobs just because an election is approaching.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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That is a disgraceful suggestion.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Look at the numbers.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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We have a lot of work to do and we owe it to our constituents and the people——

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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We welcome this dedication to duty.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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——to put in place the necessary measures to safeguard the people's welfare and protect the rights of individuals.

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste should come here more often.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Fine Gael Members did not turn up to vote.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The people's constitutional rights are not simply those of an accused in a criminal process. The rights also exist not to be shot or to have to stand at the foot of one's son's coffin.

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste should get off the pulpit.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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An individual has the right not to have his or her family kidnapped in a tiger kidnapping. These are all important constitutional rights and they should be defended with vigour by this House.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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That is not a defence.

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste failed.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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On a point of order, the Tánaiste possibly inadvertently misled the House. The schedule issued to us for the week after next indicates that two Bills will be taken on the Thursday, the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2006, which is important in the context of the discussion we just had, and the criminal justice Bill. On the following half-day, it is proposed to guillotine the pharmacy Bill and the criminal justice Bill. It is wrong, therefore, to claim we will have two days for debate.

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

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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I would like the Tánaiste to acknowledge that he inadvertently misled the House.

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Minister of State (Government Chief Whip), Department of An Taoiseach; Minister of State, Department of Defence; Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill will be debated on both days.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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The Tánaiste said there would be two days of debate but there will not be two days. A bit of Thursday and Friday is proposed.

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

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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We have not seen the legislation.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask Deputy Howlin to resume his seat.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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This is about electioneering on the part of the Tánaiste, who has failed for ten years.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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He has failed.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. I call Deputy Gormley.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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I am sure the Tánaiste is aware that many local authority tenants would like to purchase their houses and flats. The Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Noel Ahern, who is sitting opposite, has repeatedly promised the housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Tánaiste on the housing (miscellaneous provisions) Bill.

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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Will we have the Bill 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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The Bill is scheduled for publication in early summer.

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

Photo of Bernard AllenBernard Allen (Cork North Central, Fine Gael)
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That is good news for the tenants of city councils.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Taoiseach will travel to America next week. I would like them to raise the important issue of illegal Irish. The matter has reached a crucial stage in America and I ask the Minister and the Taoiseach to spell out to the US Government that it cannot be hypocritical——

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

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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——in terms of using this country to make a lot of money when Irish citizens abroad are not being looked after.

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

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I want the Tánaiste to ensure that the Taoiseach raises this issue because it is important to a large number of families in this country.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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He has started.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Our citizens are not being protected.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Chair has no choice but to move on to the next matter if Deputy Ring does not want to allow his colleagues to contribute. I call Deputy McManus.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I want to protect our citizens.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy should be careful that he does not have a heart attack.

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

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Minister never gets too excited himself.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Minister and Deputy Ring to allow Deputy McManus to speak without interruption.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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When he was up the trees, he was too easy going. If I went up a tree, I would look around.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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He is a lumberjack.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Single party Government, no difference.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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What are Deputy Ring's chances with the Labour Party?

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, to allow Deputy McManus to speak.

Photo of Liz McManusLiz McManus (Wicklow, Labour)
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Last October, the Tánaiste loyally decided to stand by his Taoiseach when the latter was in a spot of bother over money. I remind the Tánaiste of the public commitment he made to publish the ethics in public office Bill and bring it before the Oireachtas as a matter of urgency. Where is that Bill?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Bill in question will be brought before the House this session.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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When will it be published?

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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I am sure the Tánaiste is aware of the capacity crowds who attended Croke Park and the enjoyment they derived from recent matches. However, every time the capacity crowd of 82,500 fills Croke Park, life becomes a misery for local residents.

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 Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Two weeks ago, I asked a question of the Tánaiste regarding public urination and the progress on bringing in legislation in this regard. I ask the same question now.

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

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government indicated that he would be bringing in legislation to provide for resident-only parking in the vicinity of Croke Park on major match days. What progress has been made on both of these matters?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Public order legislation is adequate to deal with the first matter raised by Deputy Costello. Any garda who finds somebody engaged in that activity——

Photo of John GormleyJohn Gormley (Dublin South East, Green Party)
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The fines are too low.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Acts, there are plenty of large fines and other solutions. The Victorian nature of legislation is irrelevant to this issue.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Gardaí are not of that view.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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Senior members of an Garda Síochána regard it as disorderly or offensive behaviour sufficient to provoke the provisions of the Acts.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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What about on-the-spot fines?

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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The Criminal Justice Act 2006 makes provision for the application of on-the-spot fines in respect of public order offences.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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I also asked about the legislation promised by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government regarding resident-only parking in the vicinity of Croke Park on match days.

Photo of Michael McDowellMichael McDowell (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Tánaiste; Dublin South East, Progressive Democrats)
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That is primarily a matter for the local authority. I am not aware of any legislative reform.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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The Minister has promised such reform in the House.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I realise the Ceann Comhairle has decided for some reason that he will not allow me to contribute and I am aware of the clamour on the Government benches to close down the Opposition——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not a point of order.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It is. If the Chair waited until I finished——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Chair is obliged to move on with the Order of Business and it is entirely at my discretion whom I call. I call Deputy Eamon Ryan.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I am obliged to raise a point of order if the Chair disallows a valid intervention. It has become increasingly prevalent of late for Ministers to reply to parliamentary questions by way of a non-answer. One of those Ministers is present.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not a point of order. I have called Deputy Eamon Ryan.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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If the Chair does not protect me and other Members, some other means will have to be found to do so.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The first thing every Member has to do is treat this as a national, democratic Parliament, not a crèche.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy is doing so.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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That includes everybody, including Government Members. As long as they——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should resume his seat because Deputy Eamon Ryan has been called to move First Stage of the Restricted Animal Testing Bill.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin South, Green Party)
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I would like to raise an issue on the Order of Business first. The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources said——

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, we have moved on.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin South, Green Party)
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This is promised legislation.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy does not wish to move his Bill, he can wait until Tuesday week.

Photo of Eamon RyanEamon Ryan (Dublin South, Green Party)
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I would like to raise an important issue on the Order of Business.

Photo of Rory O'HanlonRory O'Hanlon (Cavan-Monaghan, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have concluded the Order of Business. It is almost 11.25 a.m. and the House must move on.