Dáil debates

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

4:00 pm

Photo of Seán ArdaghSeán Ardagh (Dublin South Central, Fianna Fail)
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We proceed to Leaders' Questions under Standing Order 27. The standing order allows for a brief question on a matter of topical public importance from the leader of the Fine Gael and Labour parties.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I wondered for a moment if the Deputy had been appointed to the job of Ceann Comhairle. I wish to raise a matter that is of topical importance and of public interest, that is, the fact that in recent weeks we have seen the Taoiseach do a number of deals on behalf of the Government with a number of Independent Members in return for supporting him as Taoiseach. A number of these Deputies have said that these deals have cost hundreds of millions of euro. The Taoiseach is well aware that we have an established procedure here for the disbursement of public funds. Estimates are introduced, debated, discussed and passed. This is public knowledge. The taxpayer is entitled to know how every euro of taxpayer's money is spent. The taxpayer is entitled to know the decisions that underlie that process in the public interest and is entitled to know any agreement that is reached in respect of the use of public money for any such deal. One of the Deputies involved, Deputy Finian McGrath, has said that pressure is on him from Fianna Fáil sources not to publish the details——

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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I never said that.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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He said he was under pressure not to publish the details of his deal which, I understand, involve international changes and are of international significance.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Deputy Kenny is misrepresenting my views.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Roubles.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Healy-Rae has said that his deal involves changes to the national development programme. Deputy Lowry has said that his deal involves access and very substantial moneys. Following an extraordinary statement by the Taoiseach, in advance of a court case that is being taken about another Independent Deputy, he has given what I understand amounts to a verbal commitment of very significant value.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy may be aware that he has exceeded his time in respect of his question.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Jackie would like that.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I remind the House that Standing Order 27 allows for a brief question on a matter of topical public importance from the leaders of the Fine Gael and Labour parties.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Did I indicate at any stage——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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If I may finish, the situation is quite clear. The Standing Order provides that the question from the leader of Fine Gael may last two minutes, that the reply by the Taoiseach may last three minutes, that the supplementary question from the leader of Fine Gael may last one minute and that the final reply by the Taoiseach will be of one minute's duration. The same facility and courtesy will be extended to the leader of Fine Gael. That is the Standing Order and it is only fair to other Members of the House that the Standing Orders should be enforced.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I am sure you, a Cheann Comhairle, will also want to know what Deputy Healy-Rae got.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I remind the Deputy——

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Quiet now, you are new in the job.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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You will not say "quiet" to me, Sir.

(Interruptions).

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I remind the Deputy that he may not under any circumstances——

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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This is Dáil Éireann.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will be seated when the Chair is standing.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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He should show that much courtesy.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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Zero tolerance.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I remind the Deputy and all other Deputies in accordance with the dignity of this House that they may not under any circumstances involve the Chair in public controversy on the floor of the House.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Very good.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is a long-standing precedent. I am not here to make up the rules as we go along. These are the rules of the House and they are long established.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is a long speech.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am asking Deputy Kenny to obey the rules of the House.

Deputies:

It is the first sign of zero tolerance.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Obviously——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I again ask the Deputy——

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I was about to ask my question.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I again ask the Deputy to understand that we cannot under any circumstances breach the rules or dignity of the House in this manner. Every Deputy in this House, irrespective of which side of the House he comes from, will be treated fairly from this Chair.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The perception in Kerry, a Cheann Comhairle, is that you now have no power down there and you want to use your power up here.

Photo of Johnny BradyJohnny Brady (Meath West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy is a disgrace.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is not entitled——

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I am entitled.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will not tolerate it, Sir. The Deputy is not entitled to——

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I am. If the Ceann Comhairle wants to continue this——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should be seated while the Chair is standing. The Deputy is not entitled to drag the Chair onto the floor of the House in matters of public controversy and he is not entitled to breach Standing Orders. That is all I am saying.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I recall your own previous life.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy may not mention whatever happened previously either.

(Interruptions).

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am merely enforcing the rules of the House. The rules of the House will be enforced.

Photo of Willie PenroseWillie Penrose (Longford-Westmeath, Labour)
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We will get an old tent and go outside.

Deputies:

You are getting off to a bad start.

Deputies:

Is that of the Old Testament?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will remain seated while the Chair is speaking. I am saying that the rules of the House will be applied fairly and in accordance with Standing Orders. If it is the wish of Members of this House to change Standing Orders, there are methods and ways of doing so.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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After all that, I will now ask my question.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has asked a question.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I would like the Ceann Comhairle to clarify what he has just said, that it is not possible to raise matters in this House about events which occurred in previous times. Is that what he said?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is not possible in this House to involve the Chair in relation to events that occurred prior to his election as An Ceann Comhairle because it is a long-standing precedent and in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House that a Deputy may not drag the Chair into matters of public controversy. I will insist on that point.

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I might remind you that I already broke that rule on the formation of Government when I quoted you speaking about Green Party Members as whacky people who ate munchies and cereals and wore sandals. As that is your own quotation, I have already breached that.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I again ask the Deputy to show due deference to the House and the Chair and act with an appropriate amount of dignity.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Ceann Comhairle made a judgment.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Chair has made a judgment in accordance with the Standing Orders.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In view of the arrangements that have been made between the Taoiseach, either as head of Fianna Fáil or on behalf of the Government, with a number of Deputies in the House — including Deputies Finian McGrath, Lowry, Healy-Rae and Flynn — and given that these involve substantial amounts of public money, changes to the national development plan, details of international significance and unknown verbal commitments, will the Taoiseach see to it that these arrangements are published in the public interest?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I confirm that as leader of Fianna Fáil I entered into political arrangements with Deputies Lowry, Healy-Rae and Finian McGrath. I have no arrangement with Deputy Flynn.

The issues discussed, as is normal and appropriate, are covered in the national development plan, Transport 21 and the multi-annual capital programmes for public expenditure. I have committed myself through my best endeavours to implement priorities for these Deputies over the next five years. The projects are not outside planned current or capital expenditure in the years ahead. I have endeavoured over the past ten years in good faith and as best I can to deliver on political commitments I have made during the lifetime of the Government. The issues are not outside what we are trying to do. Several times I have tried to bring forward initiatives more quickly and efficiently and I intend to honour these political commitments to the three Deputies.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Can I take it from the Taoiseach's reply that he has allocated sections of the national development plan that might be geographically based to individual Deputies who are or were Independent? If so, will he publish and indicate the sections of the NDP allocated to Deputies Healy-Rae, Lowry and Finian McGrath? Will he confirm that he has no agreement whatsoever with Deputy Flynn in view of the fact that it has been announced that he gave a verbal commitment to the good Deputy after making a truly extraordinary statement? It appears as if what the Taoiseach has announced is nothing more than regurgitated sections of the NDP and the deals or arrangements with these Members are political and nothing extraordinary. Will he confirm that none of the deals involves direct access to him or Ministers without hindrance? If that is not the case, Fianna Fáil backbenchers, including the Ceann Comhairle, will find that access to Ministers has been given to these Members to prioritise sections of the NDP and the Ceann Comhairle might be concerned about this in view of events in Kerry. Will the Taoiseach clarify the position?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am glad to clarify it. I have entered into political commitments that concern priority issues for the three Members concerned. I have made political commitments to three Members, not four. The issues are covered by the programme for Government, the NDP, Transport 21 and other Government documents. These Members have issues they want progressed, delivered and implemented and, as I have done for the past decade, I will do my utmost to do that. Sections of the NDP will not be allocated. Members have a particular interest in issues in their own constituencies or on a wider basis, such as Deputy Finian McGrath who has a special and long-standing interest in disabilities. He wants issues progressed and delivered and he will be able to do that.

With regard to contact, the Members concerned will have direct contact with the Whip's office, as has been the case for the past decade.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Are the commitments in writing?

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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They will be delivered.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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It is with some trepidation that I rise to speak. Is there a record of these agreements? Is it the Taoiseach's intention to publish them and, if so, when will they be published? I have a sheaf of papers, which the former lenient occupant of the Chair might have given me time to read out, but I will rush through one or two of them. Deputy Healy-Rae stated he had secured commitments worth tens of millions of euros for his constituency and Deputy Finian McGrath said what he had agreed was worth hundreds of millions of euro nationally, including €300 million for services for people with disabilities. Deputy Healy-Rae stated it is a private, personal document and that there is no hope in the wide earthly world of us seeing it. This is all taxpayers' money and I would like the Taoiseach to indicate whether these will be published.

We have a number of Independent Deputies running around the House waving bits of paper, admittedly fairly opaquely. We know Deputy Healy-Rae seems to be ferrying around a piece of paper like the third secret of Fatima and all one can see is that the deal is with Fianna Fáil. We seem to have an extraordinary situation where there are four Independent Deputies in the House who think they have written deals with the Taoiseach and the Progressive Democrats, a party in Government, has no deal at all. The Taoiseach will not publish the four deals these Deputies have said are worth hundreds of millions of euro.

Is the Taoiseach stating these Independent Deputies are fools and they got nothing at all, as it was all in the national development plan, the multi-annual programme for the budget or Transport 21? If that is the case, what is the problem? What is it all about?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy's time has expired.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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What did they get?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy's time has expired.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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How can it be positive that the Taoiseach has earned support for five years, if he thinks it so, from these Deputies and they got nothing in return?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy's time has expired.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Did they get anything?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Taoiseach to reply. I have called the Taoiseach.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Is the Taoiseach saying they foolishly pledged their support for five years in return for nothing that was not already in the Fianna Fáil programme?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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An Taoiseach has three minutes to reply.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The three Deputies are very wise.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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They were fooled into it.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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They were offered gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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They want to see the commitments on which they were elected to this House delivered. They want to prioritise those issues and they have made a political agreement with me on them. From the experience of some of those Deputies and other Deputies who have entered into a similar arrangement over the last decade, it can be seen that I do my utmost to deliver on the issues, perhaps not to every last degree, but to a very good extent.

Deputy Rabbitte was right on practically every issue except one. The programme for Government outlines the deal the Green Party, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats entered into. That programme has been published and is well-documented. The political agreements I entered into are not published but I will give my best endeavour to them.

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Are they written?

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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We spend €52 billion on the current programme every year and we are spending €187 billion on the national development plan. Some €34 billion is being spent on transport.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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That is great.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Here and there.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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We are spending billions and there are important initiatives that these three Deputies, not four, have asked me to use my best endeavours, within these programmes, to implement. I intend doing that for them.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Minister, Department of Finance; Tánaiste; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Will the Taoiseach permit time to Deputy Finian McGrath to read into the record of the House his deal, as he told a number of public broadcasting media he will do? In today's newspapers he is quoted as saying he may not be given enough time today to read them all in. Will he be given a second bite in the event that they do not all fit on the first day?

Is the Taoiseach stating that the Government is embarking on a programme for Government which gave the Green Party, by its own admission, nothing? Is he stating that the Progressive Democrats sought and got nothing and that he now has the support of four Independent Deputies who were fooled into believing they got something, when it was already in the national development plan and existing programmes?

Is that the case? It is amazing that one cannot turn on a radio station but Deputy Finian McGrath is insisting he wants to tell us what he got.

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

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I am quite prepared to cede Labour Party time to the Deputy to hear what he got. Apparently it is not just of national consequence but of international consequence. It involves the reform of the United Nations.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Taoiseach to reply.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Does the Secretary General of the United Nations know this?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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An Taoiseach to reply. The Deputy is well over time.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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The Deputy is only jealous.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Is it true, as the Deputy told the Marian Finucane radio programme, that he has changed Government policy as it relates to the landing of US military at Shannon Airport?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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An Taoiseach to reply.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Is that the case? What are the changes and when will we see them?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have called upon the Taoiseach to reply because the Deputy's time has expired.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I am sorry, Sir, I am sorry.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy's time is expired.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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I was merely trying to establish——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The same goes for the Taoiseach when he is making his contribution.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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——whether Members will have access to these documents, including whether Government policy on the use of Shannon Airport by the American military has changed, as Deputy Finian McGrath honestly and clearly believes.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Green Party had a democratic vote on the programme for Government and, as I recall, it voted by 87% in favour of it.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Not too many of them turned up for it.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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Therefore, it is not true that its members did not discuss the programme.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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Some 70% of the electorate voted.

Photo of Bertie AhernBertie Ahern (Taoiseach; Dublin Central, Fianna Fail)
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The reality is that the Deputies from the Independent benches who are supporting the Government want to see their political priorities as laid out in the various Government programmes, the programme for Government, Transport 21, the national development plan and others, implemented. They have highlighted to me the areas that are of particular concern to them and the issues that they want to see addressed. Let us be clear about this. I intend, as I did for the past ten years to the best of my ability, to fulfil all those commitments.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Deputies:

That will not be too hard.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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A Cheann Comhairle, will you allow a point of clarification?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, there is no such thing under Standing Orders as a point of clarification; there is a point of order——

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The Ceann Comhairle indicated in his response to Deputy Kenny that if Standing Orders did not suit the House we could have them changed.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Yes.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I am not allowed to participate in Leaders' Questions for the first time in over five years.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
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That is democracy.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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We submitted four proposals for a matter on the Adjournment this evening, each of which the Ceann Comhairle has disallowed, which proposed addressing changing Standing Orders here on the floor of the House. I ask is that fair?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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All I can tell the Deputy is that if Members want to change Standing Orders of the House there are methodologies for doing so and there are proposals which can be put in order to do it. My function here is to impose Standing Orders as have been agreed.

I understand that prior to the taking of the Order of Business the Taoiseach wishes to make an announcement for the information of the House.