Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 March 2009

10:30 am

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 9b, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; No. 3, Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2009 — Committee and Remaining Stages; and No. 13, Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008 — Second Stage (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 9b shall be decided without debate; the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages of No. 3 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.30 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; and the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 March 2009.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are three proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9b without debate agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 3 agreed to?

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I do not want to divide the House over the guillotine on this Bill, but the Labour Party Members are anxious that the House debate amendment No. 3 in the names of Deputies Ciarán Lynch and Joanna Tuffy. The purpose of the amendment is to give effect to the promises made by the Taoiseach at the Fianna Fáil Ard-Fheis and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, who is taking this Bill, at the Green Party conference last weekend that the maximum amount that can be donated to a political party will be reduced and that there will also be a reduction in the level at which contributions must be publicly declared. The Labour Party is anxious that the House has the opportunity to debate this amendment so we can put into law the commitments given by the Taoiseach and the Minister and which the Labour Party supports. Perhaps the Tánaiste will be able to give the House some comfort by assuring it there will be time to debate this amendment.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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If we can get our business completed as soon as possible we will have adequate time. It should not be beyond our ability to get to amendment No. 3.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 3 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal that the Dáil upon its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 March 2009 agreed?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I do not wish to be disruptive. I am not sure how long it takes to fly back from Dallas but there is no reason that the Dáil should not sit next Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. I acknowledge that our national festivities are important. This is one of the few countries that have national days and I recognise that some Ministers have important responsibilities in international affairs, but the people want this House to be seen to be working effectively. There is no reason that the Dáil should not meet next Wednesday and Thursday and, accordingly, I disagree with the proposal.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I object to the proposed recess. The proposal is that the Dáil will not meet again until 24 March, which is in 12 days time. St. Patrick's Day comprises one day, not 12. There is no justification for putting the Dáil into recess for 12 days. I am aware that historically it was difficult to arrange Government business during that week because virtually the entire Cabinet and every Minister of State went abroad on St. Patrick's Day. However, we are led to believe that such is not the case this year and that a considerably reduced number of Ministers is travelling to St. Patrick's Day events abroad. It should be possible, therefore, to organise the business of the House around the Ministers who will be in the country.

The Government's proposal on the recess is not unrelated to the fact that it is coming up appallingly short in terms of bringing legislation before the House. The number of Bills enacted by this House last year was the smallest in a decade.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot go into that.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I am setting out my reasons for objecting to the recess. Business remains to be done. Only four items of legislation have been enacted thus far this year. Of the 18 Bills promised by the Government in this session, only one has been produced.

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

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, who is in the Chamber, promised five Bills last session but none was produced. Six Bills have been on the Government legislative programme since 2003. With the limited resources available to us, the Labour Party has published 16 Private Members' Bills whereas the Government, despite all the State resources on which it can draw, cannot produce the legislation it has promised. If the Government has no business for next week, we can deal with some of the 16 Bills the Labour Party has produced.

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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They are rubbish.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Sinn Féin would welcome the scheduling of business on Wednesday and Thursday of next week if that is achievable.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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In regard to legislation, eight Bills have been enacted thus far this year. We are all aware that we are in unprecedented times and we have to deal with difficult and complex legislation. Spokespersons on finance will be particularly familiar with the work involved in that regard.

The Leader of the Opposition has noted that we are unique in having a particular day on which we can access several people of repute. The Taoiseach will have an opportunity to meet the President of the United States following which he will attend the spring Council meeting. If ever we had the need to deal with our international reputation and trade, it is certainly this year.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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That is for sure.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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That is the focus for everyone who will travel abroad. On that basis, I am not in a position to accept the Opposition's proposals.

Question put: "That the Dáil upon its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 24 March 2009."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 67 (Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Seán Ardagh, Bobby Aylward, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Niall Collins, Margaret Conlon, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, Timmy Dooley, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Pat Gallagher, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Séamus Kirk, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, John McGuinness, Micheál Martin, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Darragh O'Brien, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 53 (Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, James Reilly, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, Emmet Stagg, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton)

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I was going to ask the Tánaiste to ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to send out an all points bulletin for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, but I see he appeared for the vote. I am glad he has graced us with his presence.

Two weeks ago, the Tánaiste said the public finances were under control. Yesterday, the Taoiseach told us the budget would be introduced on 7 April. What date does the Minister propose for the introduction of the Finance Bill that will give legal effect to the changes in the budget on 7 April? Does the Tánaiste agree the reason for having a budget and a finance Bill is that the public finances are not under control?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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As the Deputy well knows, what the Tánaiste agrees or disagrees with is irrelevant 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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Okay, I have said my piece on that. I knew the Ceann Comhairle was waiting on the sidelines for that.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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But not in the long grass.

11:00 am

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I welcome yesterday's interesting announcement of an amalgamation between TCD and UCD in the area of innovation. It is a futuristic step and one we must certainly examine. Arising from that, both university authorities have said they will be looking to the Government for changes in tax legislation dealing with relief for private equity to be put into research at third level, and in respect of adjustments for PhD personnel who remain in Ireland after graduating. Has the Government contemplated what such legislation would mean? Does the Tánaiste have any idea when it might come before the House?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call the Tánaiste on the finance Bill and legislation on universities.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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There will be financial resolutions on budget day. The finance Bill will be introduced in keeping with the traditions of this House. I will not revert to an interview I did on RTE, but if the Deputy listened to the entire interview he might come to a different conclusion.

As regards the issue concerning Trinity College and UCD, it is not an amalgamation, it is an alliance. That alliance is based on the smart economy vision which was launched before Christmas to look at new opportunities for the economy and how this alliance has been formed through research and development co-operation. A number of initiatives have been proposed by the university sector, which can be considered in the context of any budgetary decisions to be made. I am sure the Minister for Finance will be more than happy to consider the Deputy's own budgetary proposals in due course.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will deal with the legislative provisions now.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I asked the Tánaiste if she knew the date of the introduction of the finance Bill. Obviously, if the budget is on 7 April, I assume there will be two or three days of discussion in the House. The Minister for Finance will then have to introduce a Finance Bill at the end of April or in May. The year is moving on and every hour that is wasted makes the situation more difficult, so when does the Government propose to introduce the Finance Bill?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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If there are financial resolutions they can be dealt with on the day, and the finance Bill can then be introduced.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is what I am asking. Does the Tánaiste know the date?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill will then go through the necessary procedures in both Houses.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is not what I am asking.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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There is no date at this moment in time, but I will be forthcoming to the Leader of the Opposition in due course when I have that date.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Right. There will be a date. I call Deputy Gilmore.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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There will be a date. That is well put.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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There will be blood.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Last night the Government voted down, by a margin of three votes, a Labour Party motion setting out eight specific proposals for dealing with the problems of people who are currently unemployed, with particular emphasis on the need for education and training services to be enhanced. When the Government met the social partners in January, it promised that a jobs and skills summit would be convened in March. Since the Tánaiste has line responsibility for this matter, may I ask her when——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy could do so if this was Question Time, but it is not. We have the same problem every week. We cannot have Leaders' Questions on Thursday mornings for the simple reason that there is no provision in Standing Orders for them. Questions must comply with Standing Orders. I have to implement them because the Members made them.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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This question is in order because I also want the Tánaiste to tell us in what way the House will be involved in the jobs and skills summit she has promised for this month.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The question is creative but it is still not in order.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Now that the House has decided that it will only sit from 24 March, which leaves only one sitting week for the remainder of this month, I want to know when the summit will be held. Such a summit is obviously important, but when will it be convened? How will the House be involved?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy knows I cannot deal with items that are not in order because then every other Deputy would do the same.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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What opportunity will the House have to debate it?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I cannot allow it.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is out of order.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I am perfectly in order to ask how the House will debate the jobs and skills summit.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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If a debate is promised, the Deputy is in order.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The Government says it will be in March, yet we only have one sitting week left this month. They promised it to the social partners.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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If legislation was promised and the Deputy asked about that, he would be in order but as of now he is not.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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They promised it to the social partners.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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In any event, if the Tánaiste wishes to be helpful concerning the possibility of a debate on this matter perhaps she might do so, at her own discretion.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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There was a good debate last night and the night before, and some good ideas were put forward by Members. The jobs and skills summit arose on the basis of the framework document, which did not progress unfortunately.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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It was agreed.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It may have been agreed but the matter did not move on. However, there has been intensive work on this matter.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Is the Tánaiste not going to do the summit?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The NESC has indicated that it wishes to have a jobs and skills summit. The Government is working with the NESC to seek the best opportunity without having any overlap.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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No date.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The Tánaiste has line responsibility for this area.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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She has, but not on the Order of Business.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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A specific promise was made that a jobs and skills summit would be convened. The idea was that all the great minds dealing with employment and retraining would be assembled by the Tánaiste.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will have to find another way of raising the matter. I have given him latitude which I should not have given.

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North, Sinn Fein)
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Is the Tánaiste aware of a joint operational plan between 9 and 20 February, regarding HMS Severn and the LE Aoife? On 17 February, HMS Severn conducted patrols in Irish territorial waters, made inspections on board Irish-registered vessels — the Catherine Alice, EA47 and Argo K, SO897 — and continued to stay in territorial waters during that period.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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This does not sound like a question on legislation to me.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister, Department of Finance; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy is on the high seas.

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North, Sinn Fein)
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Given your history, a Cheann Comhairle, the last thing you would want to see are royal marines drinking in the "Claudia" in Cahirciveen or boarding ships in Dingle or Portmagee.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Having a drink with the royal marines is not in order on the Order of Business, as the Deputy well knows. We must move on. The Deputy is out of order and must find another way of raising that matter, unfortunately.

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North, Sinn Fein)
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Does the Minister intend to bring legislation before the House amalgamating the royal navy and the Irish Naval Service?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised to amalgamate Deputy Ferris with the royal navy? No. I call Deputy Durkan.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The Deputy is a naval officer himself.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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He is an experienced navigator.

Publication has been expected, and is eagerly anticipated, of legislation to amend the National Oil Reserves Agency Act 2007 to provide for the establishment of a national bio-fuels obligation scheme. It is also to provide for amendments to the Act in light of developments to facilitate NORA's ongoing activities. If the Minister were in the House I am sure he would be willing to enlighten us further. In the absence of the Minister, however, can the Tánaiste indicate when NORA might appear in the House? Has the necessary preparatory work been done? This is important legislation which is part and parcel of the programme for Government. I am seeking some clarification on that matter.

I also wish to raise the estate management company legislation, about which there has been much confusion. The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have previously given information to the House in this regard, but I am as confused now as before on where the legislation now stands. Have the heads of the Bill been approved? Will one Minister take total responsibility for it, or will a number of Ministers be involved?

The last matter I wish to raise relates to the transposition into Irish law of the third money laundering directive. Some considerable concerns have been expressed about money laundering recently. It might be a good idea if the Tánaiste could give the House an indication when this will be finalised.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The first Bill will be introduced this year. The second will be introduced in the next session and the third will be in this session.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste is very informative. She is a font of information.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is a pleasure. I do my best.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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May I remind the Tánaiste that the recession has caused grievous problems for the financial situation of a sizeable group of vulnerable people whose funds are lodged in court and they can neither access nor manage them. Following a Law Reform Commission report on vulnerable adults, legislation was promised in this area. Will the Tánaiste address this matter urgently with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to bring forward this legislation? Hundreds of people, perhaps more, are in a financial situation where they have lost all their money in investments due to the current financial crisis. In response to a parliamentary question on the matter, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform informed me he has no function in the matter, which is most regrettable. The courts are independent in the performance of their duties but this is a financial——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a speech about it now. The Deputy has made his point.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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It is a most important issue. I have been refused by your office, a Cheann Comhairle, an opportunity to raise this matter in the Dáil.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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There must have been a good reason for that.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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The situation could be resolved if the promised legislation, the mental capacity Bill, were introduced as a matter of urgency. Will the Tánaiste ensure it is expedited at the earliest opportunity?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The mental capacity Bill will be published this year. As I understand, the matter to which the Deputy referred will not come under the Bill's remit. If it is a matter of concern, perhaps the Deputy could discuss it with the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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This Bill should not be delayed for another year. The legislation has already been drafted by the Law Reform Commission. It is no big deal for the legislative process but a huge one for those involved who have no control over their funds which have been dissipated due to the manner of their investments.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made his point.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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It should not take another year.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill will be published this year.

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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This is March. The Bill could be passed in a matter of weeks.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Tánaiste said it will be published this year. I call on Deputy Crawford.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Given that many on low incomes are paying levies and will have to pay extra tax soon, promises were made that the legal costs in tribunals of inquiry and elsewhere will be dealt with. When will the legal costs Bill be brought before the House? Has the €200 charge on a second homes to be introduced in the local government Bill been dropped? The Tánaiste is well aware that many UK suppliers charge much more for produce and products south of the Border than north of it. When will the consumer and competition Bill be introduced?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The legal costs Bill will be published this year while the legislation covering the €200 charge on second homes will be introduced in the next several weeks. Work on the consumer and competition legislation has not yet been completed. I have asked the Competition Authority to investigate the matter anyway.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Labour)
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The Director of Corporate Enforcement, Paul Appleby, made a formal request to the Government for additional powers to assist him in his investigation of Anglo Irish Bank. Has the Government decided to accede to the request? In view of the important and urgent nature of the investigation, when will legislation covering this request be introduced?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I intend to amend the Companies Act and will be bringing proposals in this regard to the Government shortly. The director has indicated he has adequate resources, both legislative and otherwise, in his office to deal with the present investigations.

Photo of Dinny McGinleyDinny McGinley (Donegal South West, Fine Gael)
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Tá ceist agam maidir le reachtaíocht atá geallta le fada an lá. Tá suim phearsanta ag an Tánaiste féin sa reachtaíocht seo agus ó tharla go mbeidh sí i gceannas an Rialtais agus na tíre an tseachtain seo chugainn, b'fhéidir go bhféadfadh sí í a chur chun tosaigh — reachtaíocht a bhaineann le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta.

Ceist eile agam ar an Tánaiste ná cén áit a mbeidh sí féin ag ceiliúradh Lá Fhéile Pádraig?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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Beidh mé in éineacht leis an Teachta McGinley. Níl dáta againn don Bhille maidir le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta. Pléadh an cheist sin ag an Teachta, ag Páirtí an Lucht Oibre agus ag an Aire ach níl sé socraithe go fóill cathain a bheidh sé os ár gcomhair.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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On two occasions Fianna Fáil-led Governments voted down a Labour Party Bill to allow for civil unions with the promise of its own civil partnership legislation. Heads of a Bill were published last summer and the Bill has been on the legislative list since. When will the civil partnership Bill be published and introduced into the House?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The civil partnership Bill is on the A list and is with the Parliamentary Counsel with a view to being published as quickly as possible.

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)
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Will it be published this session?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is expected to be published late this session or early in the next session but I cannot guarantee that.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Taoiseach very graciously gave the Opposition an invitation to submit questions on material for the forthcoming budget to the Department of Finance. We submitted our questions last Friday but have heard nothing since and the Government is going away for ten days. Is the information in the post? Is there any timeline on when we might get it?

The information concerns fundamental issues such as the capital programme. In discussions with the Department of Finance, the Opposition was informed that of the €8 billion in the capital programme for this year——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot go into this now.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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——up to €6 billion is contracted. We need a list of what is committed and contracted.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will allow questions regarding the budget but I cannot allow detailed ones such as this, as Deputy Burton well knows.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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In fairness, a Cheann Comhairle, the Taoiseach asked the Opposition to co-operate. We are co-operating to the best of our ability.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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And so am I.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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We have submitted our questions. When can we expect a reply? The Tánaiste is the deputy head of the Government. Could she tell us the format?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach indicated there would be discussions and availability of Department of Finance officials for the Opposition spokespersons. The Taoiseach received a welcome letter from the Labour Party leader today which will be responded to today. The necessary and prerequisite information that can be made available will be made available to the Deputy and her colleagues in the preparation of the budget.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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How long will it take to send the information about the capital programme? I would have thought this would be readily available as a matter of routine.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will have a chat with them about that later on.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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A first class stamp means the post takes only a day or it could be sent over. When can we expect to get the information?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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I know. I have given enough time for this question.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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On promised legislation, the Minister for Finance informed me the other day that legislation on the banking commission is expected shortly. The Tánaiste said earlier she expects the finance (No. 2) Bill to be introduced some time in April or early May. When will the banking commission legislation be expected to come before the House?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister must bring his proposals to the Government first and they will be available thereafter.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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When does the Tánaiste expect the landlord and tenant Bill and the sale of alcohol Bill to come before the House? Regarding SR Technics and employment law, why are the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and IDA Ireland referring prospective buyers to the company's headquarters in Zurich rather than to local management and union officials. They want to protect these jobs and should not be excluded from the discussions taking place.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should make a request to raise the second matter on the Adjournment.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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On that matter——

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Broughan should try to ensure that his comments are in order in respect of the matter. Deputy Terence Flanagan was not in order in the way he raised it.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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——the Tánaiste indicated that she might, at some point, be in a position to make a statement on the future of SR Technics. Some 30 expressions of interest have been made to her and IDA Ireland in respect of this company. In light of the problem correctly identified by Deputy Terence Flanagan, will the Tánaiste be in a position to make a statement on the future of SR Technics and saving the jobs of its 1,200 employees on Tuesday, 24 March, when the Dáil returns?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That matter is not in order.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The sale of alcohol Bill will be published later in the year. A date is not available with regard to the publication of the landlord and tenant Bill. The other issue to which the Deputies refer was raised in the House last night. I have been more than facilitating in the context of briefing everyone on the matter. As I have stated previously, the agencies involved are supporting people and trying to address their concerns.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The HSE is meeting today in order to discuss detailed plans for significant cuts to health services. Will the Tánaiste indicate if the Government will make time available for the House to scrutinise any revised budget or service plan relating to the HSE, particularly in view of the fact that public moneys are involved and that Members are responsible for the voting of those moneys to that organisation? There must be direct accountability with regard to the delivery of health care in this State. In light of the importance of this issue, will the Tánaiste confirm that Members will be given the opportunity to debate any revised budget or service plan for the HSE?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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That would be a matter for the Whips.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Ceann Comhairle is correct. There was a lengthy debate on this matter on Tuesday last.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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However, the HSE is only meeting today.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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In light of the disastrous experience we had with the digital hub, is it proposed to amend the legislation that governs the universities, the Higher Education Authority or Science Foundation Ireland in order to make provision for the funding of scientific research across the broad spectrum of third level institutions? Reports appear to indicate that the mistake that was made in respect of the digital hub — when significant scientific funding for the third level sector was removed — is possibly about to be repeated. Is it planned to introduce legislation in respect of universities, the Higher Education Authority or Science Foundation Ireland?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised in this regard?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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There is no proposed legislation in respect of any of these matters. The only forthcoming legislation on third level education relates to qualifications.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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So, as happened previously, funding will flow out of the university system by means of an ad hoc arrangement.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The funding is provided by my Department and by the Department of Education and Science under an agreed framework. The system for allocating such funding is completely transparent, is peer reviewed in an international context and is competitive.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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It would be great if it was made transparent to the Dáil.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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Legislation is not required.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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It was felt that legislation was not required in respect of the digital hub and that proved to be a disaster.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Government promised, on a number of occasions, to hold a referendum on children's rights. Will that referendum be held this year or is the Government about to go back on its commitment?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The relevant committee has not yet made a recommendation in respect of that matter.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Government stated that it would hold a referendum on children's rights. Does it intend to proceed with that referendum?

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised in respect of this matter?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The matter was referred to the all-party committee for consideration. I do not wish to pre-empt the findings of that committee.

Photo of John O'DonoghueJohn O'Donoghue (Ceann Comhairle; Kerry South, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot discuss the matter further at this stage.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The committee is not the Government.