Dáil debates

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 13, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the accession by Ireland to the terms of the agreement for co-operation in dealing with pollution of the North Sea by oil and other harmful substances, back from committee; Nos. 14 to 27, motions re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of taxation agreements, back from committee; No. 27a, motion re re-appointment of the Ombudsman for Children; No. 27b, motion re appointment of ordinary member to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission; No. 6, Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2009 - Order for Second Stage, Second and Remaining Stages; No. 40, Companies (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2009 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 41, Communications Regulation (Premium Rate Services) Bill 2009 - Report and Final Stages (resumed); and No. 1, Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad] - Second and Remaining Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. today and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of Question Time today, which shall be taken for 75 minutes at 4.30 p.m., and in the event of a Private Notice Question being allowed, it shall be taken after 45 minutes, and the order shall not resume thereafter; (2) Nos. 13, 14 to 27, inclusive, 27a and 27b shall be decided without debate, and in the case of Nos. 14 to 27 shall be moved together and decided by one question, which shall be put from the Chair; (3) the Second and Remaining Stages of No. 6 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the proceedings on the Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1 p.m. today; the opening speeches of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael and the Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; (ii) the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 1.45 p.m. today by one question, which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; (4) the Report and Final Stages of No. 40 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 2.30 p.m. today by one question, which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment; (5) the resumed Report and Final Stages of No. 41 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 3 p.m. today by one question, which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; (6) the Second and Remaining Stages of No. 1 shall be taken today and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the proceedings on the Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.05 p.m. today; the opening speeches of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fine Gael and the Labour Party, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case, the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case, Members may share time, and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed five minutes; (ii) the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.30 p.m. today by one question, which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in regard to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance; and (7) the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 January 2010.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are seven proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. agreed to?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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This is not agreed. I wish to propose an amendment to the Order of Business. I move amendment No. 1:

To delete the words "that the Dáil, on its rising today, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 January 2010" and substitute "that the Dáil, on its rising today, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 13 January 2010".

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kenny there are seven proposals to be dealt with.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I understand but I am telling you, a Cheann Comhairle, why I do not agree with the Order of Business. The most important element of today's business is the last proposal.

The original calendar of Dáil sittings circulated by the Chief Whip proposed the Dáil should meet on 13 January. While the calendar states it is subject to change, there is no reason that the Dáil should wait until 19 January to return. The British Government, for instance, will meet on 5 January.

On Leaders' Questions yesterday, Deputy Eamon Gilmore raised the recent comments by the Governor of the Central Bank, Professor Patrick Honohan, that an inquiry be established to look into the reasons behind the catastrophic banking failure in this country. This is not a request from a Member but from the Governor of the Central Bank to an Oireachtas committee.

It is important the reasons and the underlying causes of that failure be known, dealt with and a system put in place to ensure that it does not happen again. I inquired from the chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, Deputy Bernard Allen, as to whether his committee has the resources and the capacity to conduct such an inquiry. He informed me it does not and neither does the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. Such an inquiry will require special legislation. It is of critical importance to everyone as a consequence and, therefore, must be debated fully in the Dáil. We would have an opportunity to do so if the Dáil were to meet on 13 January.

Anglo Irish Bank is continuing with the forbearance of the Financial Regulator under licence. It has skewed the market with the aggressive way it is pursuing deposits. It appears from reports that the Government may have to recapitalise Anglo Irish Bank with between €4 billion and €6 billion.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy have a question on the proposals 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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Are we seriously contemplating putting that kind of money into a failed bank without even a Dáil debate? This is another reason the Dáil should have ample opportunity to discuss these matters.

Every business in the State believes energy costs are way too high. It is time to address the elephant in the corner of the room and discuss the break-up of the ESB. While keeping the transmission systems in national ownership, we must open power generation to competition so that prices can drop and business can again become competitive. If the Taoiseach wants evidence of that, he can ask any company trading abroad about Irish energy costs.

These are some reasons that the Dáil should meet on 13 January 2010. I do not agree with the proposed Order of Business and will vote against it.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I, too, wish to oppose the Order of Business. There are serious matters that this House needs to discuss immediately after Christmas. It is unacceptable that we should have to wait until 19 January to do so.

The original schedule for the sittings of the House provided that it would be back on 13 January 2010. I welcomed that the House was coming back earlier than was previously the case. Deputy Kenny mentioned that we need to debate a proposal to establish an inquiry as to what happened to our banking system. I invite the Taoiseach to say if he has such a proposal yet.

We know the banks will be back in the new year with the lámh amach arís for more money. We will also be dealing with the consequences of the budget. The issue of those hit with social welfare cuts will impact at the beginning of January. We need to be in a position for the House to come back quickly and deal with the fall-out of that. The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Bill 2009, passed yesterday by the House, will give rise to serious anomalies in public servants' payments. For example, the definition of "public service" used in the Bill is the same as that used for the pension levy. There was a logic in using it for the pension levy because it was designed to provide for a situation that people who did not have access to a pension would not be hit with it. The definition used in the Bill yesterday will give rise to all kinds of anomalies in the new year as to who will be impacted. The Dáil needs clarification on this earlier than 19 January.

It is somewhat ironic, a Cheann Comhairle, that the Taoiseach and the Government collapsed the pay talks with the trade unions over a proposal for additional leave and then come in here to propose an additional week's leave for themselves after Christmas.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Essentially, the Order of Business is about the running order for today's business. While the last item, No. 7, is to do with the return of the Dáil in the new year, we need to deal with several other issues in sequence. We can deal with Deputy Kenny's amendment when we come to No. 7. The first proposal-----

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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A Cheann Comhairle, you should stick to the sequence of Opposition voices.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Gabh mo leithscéal.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The Taoiseach does not need to be worried.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Deputy Ó Caoláin is well able to tell them.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I say good morning to the Taoiseach. He is welcome, having joined us.

Photo of John MoloneyJohn Moloney (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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We are not worried.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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How is it going?

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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We hope to see him every Thursday.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I am sure he was asleep up to this point.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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No, I was not. I was just not listening.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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That is the Taoiseach's problem. He does not listen too much.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am taking hold. I call on Deputy Ó Caoláin.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Over the past several weeks, we have had an example of anti-government. These past few weeks have been a dictatorship from Merrion Street. There were some 17 divisions in the Chamber yesterday. Measures have been rammed through the Camber continually-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Are we talking about today's Order of Business?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Yes, because today we are being asked to guillotine four more Bills. This is a ramrod approach.

Photo of John CreganJohn Cregan (Limerick West, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Ó Caoláin would know all about that.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The Government has no respect for this Chamber, its Opposition voices or the normal debate that should be part and parcel of the democratic institution of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The Government is pressing ahead with guillotining four more Bills, following on everything it has rammed down the people's throats these past few weeks. It is an outrageous approach. The House will rise today when community development projects across this State are in absolute turmoil because the Government has given notice they are to cease operation from the end of this month.

That is a wonderful Christmas message for the people at the coalface of dealing with the most marginalised and needy in society. Not only has the Government cut social welfare payments and taken from public service workers, the buffer of community development projects, built up over many years, and the supports they provide, which will be needed more than ever, will be undermined. Deputy Ó Snodaigh's request under Standing Order 32 was giving voice to the countless organisations that will be affected up and down the country. What sort of message goes out that the Dáil will not debate the impact of these cuts. It is not about coming back on 13 January 2010. We should not be rising for Christmas but be back in business next week to deal with this urgent matter the Taoiseach does not want to address in the House.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with the late sitting be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 75 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry 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, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 66 (James Bannon, Joe Behan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, George Lee, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried.

11:00 am

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 13, 14 to 27, inclusive, 27a and 27b, without debate agreed to?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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It is a missed opportunity to take these matters without debate or the opportunity to reflect, particularly in the case of No. 27a in respect of the re-appointment of the Ombudsman for Children. It would have been appropriate for Members of the House to have had the opportunity to pay tribute to the Ombudsman for Children, Ms Emily Logan, and the staff at that office. It is unfortunate that we are being asked to agree it without making any reference to the excellent work over the past six years that has been performed by both the Ombudsman for Children and her staff.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 6 agreed to?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It might be agreed on the other side of the House, but at least we have been consistent in objecting to Bills being guillotined through here. If business had been better regulated by the House, these matters could have been separated and dealt with thoroughly and comprehensively, as they should be. For that reason, I object to it again.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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The Bill allows Coillte to increase its requirement significantly. In that light, the amount of time designated for the Bill is far too short. We need a proper and lengthy debate on the nature and workings of Coillte.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The Sinn Féin Deputies also object to the imposition of a guillotine on the passage of the Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2009, as we will in each of the others where the Government is seeking to have the debate on the measures contained in them curtailed.

I also wish to reflect that it is objectionable to my party that the ordering of each of these Bills, including the Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2009, is purely to facilitate both the Fine Gael Party and the Labour Party, and my party, Sinn Féin, is excluded from the ordering in terms of opening positions.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 6 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 75 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry 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, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 64 (James Bannon, Joe Behan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, George Lee, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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There will be four common or garden Bills guillotined today. There is no great emergency with any of them and we could have taken any of them any time since last September.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Or next week.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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However, guillotines have now become a management tool applied by the Government to the work of this Chamber. The purpose of the Chamber is to examine legislation and to hold the Government to account. Large sections of the legislation, especially important legislation, that goes through the Chamber is not debated at all because it is guillotined by the Government. It is not only guillotined on one Stage but on every Stage, even Committee Stage. Many amendments tabled by the Government, never mind Opposition amendments, are never examined or reached. The legislation is simply passed on the nod. The Parliament is becoming a rubber stamp for Government executive decisions.

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

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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We should change the rules. The Government sets them aside every morning by stating that regardless of what is in Standing Orders it will do what it wishes because it has a majority.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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There is a total disregard.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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We should change the rules to prevent that happening, except for an emergency. That is what the guillotine was intended for and nothing else. However, it is now being used here every morning as a management tool to get the opinions and legislation of the Executive through without debate in this Chamber.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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Hear, hear.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Take it easy. Christmas will come if the Deputies are lucky.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I remind Deputy Durkan we are on the Order of Business.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I have also raised that issue before in this House. There has been a creeping development whereby on a daily and weekly basis there has been an increasing erosion of the rights and procedures already established in the House. It is being done by stealth.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Durkan, please.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I fully support the point raised by Deputy Stagg. This is something that should be done and it does not require Dáil reform.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should resume his seat, please.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It does not require anything new.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should resume his seat, please.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It simply requires that we go back to the way we used to do business. It is as simple as that.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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If the Ministers will not answer questions, no one will answer questions. Government Deputies will have plenty of time - all the time in the world - when they come to this side of the House. Half them will be here and the other half will be stuck at home.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 40 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 76 (Bertie Ahern, 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, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 66 (James Bannon, Joe Behan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, George Lee, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 41 agreed to?

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 push it to a full vote.

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with No. 41 be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 1 agreed to?

Deputies:

No.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 1 be agreed to."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 77 (Bertie Ahern, 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, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 65 (James Bannon, Joe Behan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, George Lee, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal that the Dáil, on its rising today, shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 January 2010 agreed to?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I disagree with this proposal and propose that the Dáil would resume on 13 January 2010 as was the original intention in the list of sessions circulated by the Government Whip. I repeat that it provides an opportunity for serious discussion here about serious issues. We are expected to have a situation where, possibly in the first quarter of next year, the Government, through the taxpayer's pocket, will fork out another €4 billion, €5 billion or €6 billion to Anglo Irish Bank, which is continuing to trade under licence with the forbearance of the regulator. We must take very seriously the statement made by the Governor of the Central Bank that there should be an inquiry into the underlying causes of the catastrophic failure of the banking system in Ireland. As the Taoiseach is well aware, that will require special legislation to be introduced and passed by the Oireachtas. It will also mean that the committee chosen to do that will have to have extended powers and the implications of the Abbeylara decision some years ago in respect of committees and their powers will need to be thoroughly discussed before that matter can be addressed.

I would like the Dáil to have the opportunity to discuss the implications of the publication of the lost at sea report before referral to a committee for detailed analysis, and there is a range of other reports and issues that need to be addressed by the Oireachtas. There is no reason the Dáil should not resume on 13 January and I respectfully suggest to the Taoiseach that he should decide now to come back on 13 January as originally intended to resume the debate on serious matters on behalf of the people.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Whatever about previous years there is no justification for the House adjourning until 19 January this year. These are not normal times and this should not be treated as business as usual. Unemployment figures released yesterday show that approximately 185,000 more people were unemployed last year than in the previous year - 142,000 men and 42,000 women. We had figures yesterday showing that emigration is back to the levels of decades ago, with 60,000 emigrating last year. We have had information this morning that the country's GNP was down 11.3% this year. We are in an economic crisis and we should not be adjourning until 19 January. At the very least the House should be back on the date originally agreed, which was 13 January.

The Taoiseach has a reputation as a man who does a lot of reading. I would like to recommend something to him to read over the Christmas period.

Deputies:

One of the Deputy's own print-outs.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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It is a work of fiction, namely, the Green Party election manifesto which states that it would more than double the Dáil sitting time, with Dáil sittings running-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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-----45 weeks per year from Monday afternoon until lunchtime on Friday, from 9.30 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Whatever about the resumption date proposed in January it is important to note that many Members here on all sides of the House will be back working on committee business on 13 January in any event. I am aware Deputy O'Rourke, who has taken the initiative with the children's referendum committee, will be working here the week prior to the proposition and I see no reason why everybody cannot be back. I have empathy with that proposal but to go back to the point I made earlier, we have not had an opportunity to address the devastating effect of the Government's decision on community development projects throughout the country.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is stretching the Order of Business at this point.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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My proposition is an amendment to what the Government is suggesting. We should be addressing that most important area as of next Tuesday, 22 December. The House should sit for the two days, 22 and 23 December. It is time enough to return after that. As constituency Deputies on all sides from my own constituency of Cavan and Monaghan must be aware, this is having a hugely negative impact on people who have invested substantial parts of their adult life in developing community support mechanisms. I speak of Castleblayney Blades as just one example-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have long Second Stage speeches on the Order of Business.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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It is a disgrace that we are not having an opportunity to address this huge issue that has been relegated by this Government. It would prefer if we did not talk about it at all. I propose an amendment that the House would return next Tuesday, 22 December.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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What about Christmas Day?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is Deputy Kenny pressing his amendment?

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

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 77 (Bertie Ahern, 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, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 65 (James Bannon, Joe Behan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, George Lee, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried.

Amendment declared lost.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The amendment in the name of Deputy Ó Caoláin is out of order as it constitutes a direct negative under Standing Order 53.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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There is no Christmas spirit around here at all.

Photo of Martin CullenMartin Cullen (Waterford, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy is like Scrooge.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal that the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 19 January 2010 agreed?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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No.

Question put: "That the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 19 January 2010."

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 78 (Bertie Ahern, 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, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Martin Cullen, John Curran, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Charlie O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt O'Keeffe, Ned O'Keeffe, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Peter Power, Seán Power, Dick Roche, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Noel Treacy, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 65 (James Bannon, Joe Behan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, Jimmy Deenihan, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, George Lee, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Denis Naughten, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Alan Shatter, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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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Will the Government have to recapitalise Anglo Irish Bank by some €6 billion in the spring? Has the Government considered the comment made by the Governor of the Central Bank that there should be an inquiry into the reasons for the failure of the banking system? Has it considered the fact that legislation will have to be introduced to give effect to such an enquiry? In that context, has it given consideration to the consequences of the Supreme Court decision on the Abbeylara case a number of years ago?

I wish to raise a matter relevant to a decision taken in the budget, namely, the reduction in excise duties. It was welcomed by the sector but the measure does not seem to have been thought through in the context of wholesalers who have purchased substantial amounts of spirits and so on and will now find themselves in a desperate situation whereby they are expected to take the hit as a consequence of the reduction in excise duty. I remind the Taoiseach that when a similar situation arose in the 1980s, when there were none of the digital communications systems we have now, off-licences and wholesalers brought their stock to bonded warehouse where it was re-issued at the lower rate. I know there is a meeting today with the Minister of State, Deputy Kelleher, about this issue.

I have first hand evidence that there will be a substantial number of job losses if some mechanism to give a rebate on the duty paid cannot be given to the wholesalers concerned. Some people have been caught for €50,000, €300,000 and, in one case, up to €1 million. There is evidence the Revenue Commissioners have written to at least one of the people concerned stating a mechanism would be put in place for a rebate of the duty involved. It is a matter which the Government should immediately address because the money is due to be paid very shortly and many people will not be able to continue in business if they have to take a hit of that order. The decision to reduce excise duty may not have been fully thought through. It is an issue which deserves the Taoiseach's attention before he leaves for Copenhagen.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The recapitalisation policy was outlined by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, on a number of occasions. Until such time as he comes to the Government again for consideration of these matters, it will be not be dealt with until then.

On the matter raised by the Governor of the Central Bank at a committee meeting a number of days ago, I have made the point that what he said will have to be carefully considered. The immediate priority of Government is to ensure we establish financial stability and effective restructuring of the banking system during the course of the financial crisis, all of which will have to be considered carefully in that context. I mentioned the fact that the priority of the resources of the State in terms of the personnel who work in these areas is to establish such stability and provide for restructuring. I would not like to see that priority diverted at any time in the immediate period ahead.

On the issue of excise duty, it is something which would have to be taken up with the Minister for Finance, Deputy Lenihan, and the Revenue Commissioners. I am not in a position to make any comment on it. I note the Deputy's remarks.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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On the proposal from the Governor of the Central Bank that there should be an inquiry into what happened in our banking system, it is not a complex issue which requires a great deal of consideration. The Taoiseach will agree or disagree with the proposal. All of the indications are that he is trying to find every and any excuse not to agree to it. It is something which the Labour Party intends to press when we return in the new year.

I agree with Deputy Kenny on the manner in which the excise duty increase is affecting people, some of whom bought in Christmas stock. To some extent, the issue is related to the time of year because of the timing of the budget. Perhaps the measure was not thought through. Some people assembled Christmas stock before the budget and are now required to pass on the reduction in excise duty to their customers and are caught for the full amount. The issue needs to be examined.

Another issue I want to raise is the proposal that there will be an election next summer for a mayor of Dublin. We are at the end of the year. There is a proposal that there were be an election next June for a directly-elected mayor of Dublin. We do not yet know what this job will involve; what the office will entail; what the costs associated with it will be; how it will relate to the existing local government structure; and whether the mayor will be elected in addition to the mayor of the city of Dublin, which is elected by Dublin City Council, and to the cathaoirligh elected by the three Dublin county councils. We do not know what its functions will be-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Could the Deputy bring this up with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy John Gormley?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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He is in Copenhagen.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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There are two issues. One is a political issue. If we are going to have an election next June, the very least we are entitled to know is what it is we are electing.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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That is a good point.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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We still do not know what this office will mean. Is the Taoiseach serious about proceeding with an election next June for something which has not yet been legislated for or discussed here? Whether it has been discussed by the Government is another day's work. As this is the last sitting day before the turn of the year, the very least we need to know is if the election is going ahead, what the mayor will do and what the powers and functions of the office will be. If there is an election next June, from a political point of view, people need to decide if they want to be candidates and political parties need to decide who they might nominate.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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You are not going yourself.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The primaries-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is there promised legislation in this area?

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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We need time to have the primaries for this high office.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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You need to write an autobiography.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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These things are associated with cold winters in new Hampshire.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We should reflect on this over Christmas.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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There could be cold winters in Swords and Shankill as the prospective candidates for this office are trudging the ground to try to drum up support.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will we park it for the moment?

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I would like an answer.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Legislation will be required and it will have to be published next year.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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We need a scientific analysis.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Will we have the legislation before or after the election of the mayor?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I will have it for the Deputy before it.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Minister is required to explain how this will work.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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I wish to refer to two pieces of promised legislation. The first, No. 76, is the low income families (reform) Bill. Officials in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food have told families around the country that disadvantaged area payments cannot be made because the funding is not available. The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith, made a statement to the House last night that €3 million would be made available this week for the outstanding payments.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is there a question on promised legislation?

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Will everyone who has been cleared for payment be issued with them?

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy Dermot Ahern, has given a commitment to introduce legislation to make it an offence for a person in a position of trust and authority to have sex with a child under the age of 18 in exchange for money or some other consideration. When will that Bill be published?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I understand it will be published next year and there was a detailed response to the first question the Deputy raised on the Adjournment last night. Over 90% of the people concerned will be paid.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Everyone is clear when they will be paid.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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Yes.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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On Tuesday last my colleague, Deputy Kenny, speaking on the Order of Business, raised the fact that, for only the second time in the history of the Office of the Ombudsman, it had taken the step of laying before the Houses of the Oireachtas the report of inquiry into the operation and administration of the lost at sea scheme. In his headlong rush to defend his friend and colleague, Deputy Fahey, the Taoiseach-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We had this-----

12:00 pm

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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This is an important issue. The Taoiseach seemed to misrepresent or misunderstand, deliberately or otherwise, the central tenant of the Ombudsman's findings, namely, that he recommended the family involved receive financial compensation.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will need to find an alternative way of raising the matter.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Given the Ombudsman's request that both Houses of the Oireachtas should consider the matter, will the Taoiseach introduce a proposal to debate the issue in the House early in the new year and to refer the matter onwards to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for further investigation?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have had this extensively in recent days.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Minister of State, Deputy Sargent, might have a comment to make on the matter as he made a submission to the Standards in Public Office Commission about the operation of the scheme and the Deputy involved.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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On the same issue, what credence does this House give to an Ombudsman's report?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I recollect the Deputy raising this matter in recent days.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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If we do not respond to the Ombudsman's report, it would be a dereliction of duty. It is right and proper that this House give some time to debating the issue at least.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has raised the matter. I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Do we take it from the Taoiseach's silence that he will ignore the Ombudsman's report?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I was in the House during the week and I made it clear that the matter could be referred to the relevant committee for discussion.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Will there be statements in this House before it is referred? The Ombudsman requested that it be considered in both Houses. Will there be statements in the House on the matter early in the new year?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is a matter for the Whips.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Will the Taoiseach recommend that Government time be made available to discuss the matter?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Whips will look after it.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach is ignoring the Ombudsman's report because he must have something to fear.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I am not. The Deputy is misrepresenting me.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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I am not misrepresenting the Taoiseach.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, please.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach has not read the report. There are very serious consequences for the taxpayer.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have read it.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach should not be so flippant about it.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have read the statement of Mr. Jim Higgins, MEP on it and he is also incorrect.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Is the Taoiseach defending the scheme? Is it the Government's position-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, we cannot have Question Time on the Order of Business.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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----- that the "lost at sea" scheme was properly administered?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Fine Gael has a guy playing politics with it and he is on the wrong side. That is what is wrong.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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That is the truth.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have Question Time on the Order of Business.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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If the Taoiseach read the letter of the Secretary General of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which is contained in the report-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask Deputy Creed to resume his seat.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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----- he would know that there are serious consequences for the taxpayer because of the liability arising from the maladministration of the scheme.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is holding up the Order of Business.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no maladministration of the scheme. The Deputy should read the report.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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That is the central finding.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is not the central finding.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The central finding is that the fault was in the design of the scheme, which was designed to take into account two constituents in west Galway.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have these exchanges on the Order of Business.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is also incorrect, by the way.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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A Cheann Comhairle-----

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is also the contention of Mr. Jim Higgins, MEP, and it was totally wrong.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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It was not totally wrong.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was totally wrong.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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A Cheann Comhairle-----

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Will the Government make time available in the Chamber so that we can discuss this issue and have the facts of the matter debated on the floor of the House? The Taoiseach is hiding; he does not want to do it. The Taoiseach does not want to have an open debate on the issue.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have nothing to hide at all.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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In that case will he arrange to have a debate in the Chamber on the matter?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have already said it can be referred to the committee and I will not be barracked by the Deputy about it either.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach should not be misrepresenting the Opposition.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, please.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy is misrepresenting it because he is in agreement with the contention of Mr. Jim Higgins, MEP.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach knows there are consequences for the taxpayer.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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On a point of order, can we get a commitment from the Taoiseach-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have discussed this matter extensively in recent days.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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-----to have a debate in this Chamber after Christmas?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I heard the Taoiseach say that the Whips can discuss the matter and we are leaving it at that.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Tánaiste knows as much about it because she was the Minister in charge when the scheme-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, please. I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Can we get a commitment from the Taoiseach that this will be debated with all the Members in the House?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I heard it distinctly said that the Whips can discuss the matter.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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That is not good enough. We need a commitment from the Taoiseach today that this issue will be debated in the House after Christmas.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kehoe, please.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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As a Whip, I want the issue debated and I am seeking a commitment from the Taoiseach.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It has been indicated that the Whips can discuss the matter. I am sure they meet regularly and can discuss these matters.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I am not happy with that indication.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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It would be a slight by the Taoiseach on the Office of the Ombudsman if time was not made available in this Chamber to debate the matter.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Whips can discuss the matter. I call Deputy Timmins. Deputy Kehoe must resume his seat.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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On a point of order, we have been given such an indication on numerous occasions. I want a commitment from the Taoiseach this morning that we will have that debate in the House after Christmas. Can we get that from him? This is a House of Parliament.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kehoe-----

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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It is a very important report from the Ombudsman and we should get a commitment from the Taoiseach this morning.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has the option of Private Members' time when we resume.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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This is beyond Private Members' time.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It can be discussed with the Whips.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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This is more important.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am sure it is. Most things that go through the House are important.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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This is a report from the Ombudsman and we should get a commitment from the Taoiseach this morning.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to leave it and discuss it with the Whips. The Deputy has the option of using Private Members' time. I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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It is an outrageous slight on the Office of the Ombudsman for the Taoiseach not to make time available.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, please. I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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On legislation-----

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Creed is misrepresenting me again.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach should read the report over Christmas.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, please.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I refer the Deputy to the record of the House during the week and the Deputy was not even here.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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I was here.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Why did the Deputy ask me a question on it?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Timmins.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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It is because the Taoiseach did not say there would be a debate on the matter.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach is interrupting me and I cannot get to speak. On promised legislation, when will the Road Traffic Bill appear before the House? The Bill has been published. While he is in the mood for clarification, could he clarify whether the statement by the spokesperson for the Minister for Transport that the proposed opening of the €300 million bypass of Kilcullen and Castledermot has been postponed following a request from local Deputies?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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A parliamentary question will elicit that information for the Deputy.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I asked about promised legislation, the Road Traffic Bill, but the Taoiseach might like to clarify if that is true.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill is already published.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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On the postponement of the €300 million road-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will need to raise that with Wicklow County Council, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government or whatever other appropriate body.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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If it is true, it is outrageous.

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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Does the Taoiseach intend to introduce legislation in the new year to amend the redress board legislation to extend it to those who suffered barbaric cruelty in the Magdalen laundries? The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform now has irrefutable evidence that this State and the courts colluded in sending young women to what were then known as the Magdalen asylums. They ended up in the Magdalen laundries and were treated appallingly. Some of them have never recovered from the manner in which they were treated and their lives have been permanently blighted. Initially in this House the Minister for Education and Science denied that the State had any involvement in this. There is now absolutely irrefutable evidence as a consequence of court records and files that have been examined in the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform that the State was directly complicit in many women being placed in these totally inappropriate circumstances.

Photo of Tom KittTom Kitt (Dublin South, Fianna Fail)
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I support the views expressed by Deputy Shatter that the Government should look again at the need for a distinct redress scheme for the Magdalen laundries. The Minister outlined his position when he stated: "The State did not refer individuals to Magdalen laundries nor was it complicit in referring individuals to them." Professor James Smith from Boston came here on Tuesday and I facilitated a meeting with him of an all-party group of Oireachtas Members. He has presented very strong evidence that the young women were routinely referred to various Magdalen asylums via the Irish court system. The Garda actually returned women who escaped from these laundry institutions even though these women should have been perfectly free to leave. Professor Smith met officials from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and got a very positive response. On the basis of this new evidence I ask the Taoiseach to look again at the need to address the case of the Magdalen laundries. The Government is following up on the recommendations of the Ryan report, but these people are being excluded. It is a matter of justice and principle. While I accept there are financial implications, not many women are involved and many of them have been looked after. We claim to cherish all of our children equally and the case is very strong for those who were in the Magdalen laundries. It is new evidence and the Government would be right to look at it again.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Burton on the same issue.

Photo of Michael KennedyMichael Kennedy (Dublin North, Fianna Fail)
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I support-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will come back to Deputy Kennedy.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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On the same issue, I also met Professor Smith as did Deputy Quinn, our education spokesperson. Following the Ryan report this House passed an all-party resolution, in which we all agreed on certain actions. The Labour Party followed that up with a Bill that dealt in detail with the matters arising from the Ryan report. The Bill was widely praised on both sides of the House. It included-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Details should be avoided at this stage.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I ask the Ceann Comhairle to bear with me. It included a provision to extend the relevant age to the then age of majority, 21, which would deal with a significant number of cases and be helpful to women, many of whom are now very elderly, very poor and in greatly reduced circumstances in Ireland, the UK and the United States. I have asked that the issue be discussed in the Adjournment debate and I hope it will be granted. The fact that officials from the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform met Professor Smith represents a very welcome sea change from the previous approach. Obviously our public service is learning from the Ryan and Murphy reports.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have allowed considerable latitude on the matter.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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This is one of the "hidden Irelands" that the country needs to come to terms with. We are coming up to Christmas.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy, please.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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There was a Magdalene laundry attached to the school I attended. I remember it and other people in this House remember it, but most people under the age of 40 do not even know that these prison-like places existed. Christmas is coming and there are poor old women in distressed circumstances-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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A matter will be raised on the Adjournment debate on this topic and the Deputy is anticipating it.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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We can agree to do something that follows on the very positive steps already taken. Will the Taoiseach agree to revisit the all-party commitment given after the Ryan report and the Labour Party Bill, which is not partisan, early in the new year? This would be a coming to terms with parts of our sad history. We have much to be proud of, but there are other matters we must address.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Kennedy to speak briefly on this issue because we have given it a very good airing.

Photo of Michael KennedyMichael Kennedy (Dublin North, Fianna Fail)
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I strongly support the call for the extension of the redress scheme. In addition, it is not too much for the State to provide records to siblings of these unfortunate women and to adopted children who do not know their birth mothers. It is not too difficult to remove the word "penitent" from headstones in graveyards all over Dublin and throughout the country. That is very simple. There is total cross-party support for this issue. I hope that in the new year we can address this redress scheme.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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I fully support what has been said about the Magdalene women. We must find a means to address the situation, whether by extending the Residential Institutions Redress Board, or by a new mechanism. This is a live issue. For example, there are ten women in the Magdalene convent in Seán McDermott Street who will be moved against their will by 1 January to new accommodation. They have been there for between 30 and 50 years. These are extremely elderly women and we have done nothing as a nation to deal with them. It is about time that we did. It is an important issue to debate in this House. On this last day of the session before Christmas, it would be great to get a commitment from the Taoiseach that something substantial would be done by way of legislation to deal with this matter.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I note what Deputies have said about the matter and I will refer it to the relevant Ministers and see what is the position. I am not up to date on this matter.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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This year, I and other Members have asked several times about the Multi-Unit Developments Bill which has been abandoned somewhere in the Seanad. At the time we were told that discussions had taken place between the Attorney General and various other Ministers and their legal representatives. What progress has been made to bring that Bill urgently to this House because thousands of residents on estates all over the country have been paying fees, or have not paid because they do not yet know their eventual entitlements and liabilities? Is it intended to introduce it here as a matter of urgency?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Work is continuing on drafting necessary Committee Stage amendments. Stakeholders and interested parties have made several submissions about provisions in the Bill and work is ongoing.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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This legislation is before the Seanad.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It is not. The Seanad has abandoned it. Theoretically, it is there and I know the Ceann Comhairle means well when he says that, but I am concerned that it has been on the Order Paper for approximately five years, in various shapes and forms.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Seanad is deliberating on the Bill, it will take time before it arrives here.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It is not deliberating on it. No debate is taking place. It has been abandoned. It is frozen in time. The Members of this House know that too. It is going nowhere.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If that is where it is at the moment, the Members of that House will be applying their minds to it.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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It is resting in the Seanad.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is Christmas time.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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One could say that the legislation is reclining in the Seanad but it is not. It has been abandoned. With no disrespect to the Taoiseach or to the Ceann Comhairle-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should not be slighting the Members of the other House.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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There are people who want to abandon the Seanad.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy should talk to the Leader of that House.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I am not in any way slighting them. Will the Taoiseach instruct somebody to do something about it and bring all the threads together, given the number of people who are dependent on the early introduction of this legislation? It is simple.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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This Bill was published in May of this year.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It was promised five years ago.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It has existed since May of this year.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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It has been in limbo all that time.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It still is not-----

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no point-----

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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There is no point because-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy please hear the Taoiseach out?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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What is the point in answering if the Deputy does not want to hear the answer?

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The point is that this legislation has been urgently required for the past five years.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is out of order. He can come back to this issue in January.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Does the Ceann Comhairle mean come back to it in January 2010 or 2011 or 2020? The Taoiseach should not insult my intelligence. He knows full well that this legislation is urgently required.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will hear the Deputy on the Order of Business in January.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It was raised in this House five years ago.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy please resume his seat?

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I will resume my seat but what about the legislation?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I will answer the Deputy if he resumes his seat.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Right. Let me hear it.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The Bill is in Limbo.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Multi-Unit Developments Bill came into the House in May of this year. It completed Second Stage in the Seanad before the summer recess. Since the publication of the Bill, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has received a significant number of submissions from stakeholders and interested parties regarding the provisions contained in the Bill. Following receipt of those submissions, the Department held consultations regarding this complex Bill with many of the relevant stakeholders and other Departments. Work is continuing on the drafting of necessary Committee Stage amendments in the Department. That was the position as of 15 December.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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I wish the Taoiseach a happy Christmas.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I offer my best wishes to Deputy Durkan.

Photo of Tom SheahanTom Sheahan (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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Tax deductible expenses are defined as "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" incurred in the operation of a business-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Order of Business was never intended to raise such an issue. There are many other ways to do so, through parliamentary questions, matters on the Adjournment, Private Member's business-----

Photo of Tom SheahanTom Sheahan (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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We were promised legislation on this in the finance Bill.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is anticipating the debate on the finance Bill.

Photo of Tom SheahanTom Sheahan (Kerry South, Fine Gael)
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These are expenses incurred in the operation of a business. I am talking about the €200 tax on a second home for people in the holiday home sector. Is that €200 not a "wholly, exclusively, and necessarily" incurred expense in the operation of a business? It should be tax deductible. Can this be addressed in the finance Bill? Has a date been set for the customary April budget?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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These are matters for a parliamentary question. If the Deputy wishes to raise specific issues, a telephone call to an accountant's office might provide an answer.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy could ring Deputy Burton's office. She is an accountant.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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She will give free advice.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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She is very expensive.

Deputies:

Will the Deputy take her advice? She is offering free advice to the country.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Is Deputy Burton available?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I could save the Deputy a fortune. I will be expecting a Christmas present.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Will the Deputy vote for Deputy Sheahan?

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Further to the issue raised this morning about the robberies from bank tills, etc., can the Taoiseach ensure that the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill is brought-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is not appropriate to raise this matter on the Order of Business.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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We need more security in the Border areas and we need some way to discuss that here.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy could send a letter to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, put down a parliamentary question or table a matter for the Adjournment.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The barracks in Clones and Cootehill are closed except for a few hours and ATMs are being robbed.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will have to bring that up with the line Minister.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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What is happening to the legal costs Bill that was promised five years ago? When will it be brought before the House and when will it save this Government and State a great deal of money?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I told the Deputy a few weeks ago that Bill will come be brought in next year.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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The Chief Whip has been working hard to bring forward procedures to reform the operation of Dáil Éireann and I am sure the Taoiseach agrees that this is badly needed. Procedures have to be brought forward to reform the operations of Dáil Éireann. I am sure the Taoiseach agrees that this is badly needed. Perhaps the Taoiseach, if he has a moment over the holiday period, could support the Chief Whip in this work so that we may get the procedures up to date and more effective. After this morning, I am sure he will agree in this regard.

I asked, last week, about the reform of Seanad Éireann. I understand the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, promised legislation before Christmas to reform the Upper House. Will the Taoiseach outline the situation in that regard?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Chief Whip will continue, I am sure, with the work he is pursuing at the moment in terms of reforms here.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Has he the Taoiseach's support?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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He has my full support - my absolute full support.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is what the Taoiseach's predecessor said as well.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As to reform of the Seanad, I shall have to come back to the Deputy on that.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I have a one-liner for------

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We must move on to seasonal good wishes, Deputy.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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When will the chairperson and the board of NAMA be appointed? In the business plan it was proposed that something like €30 billion of assets would be dealt with by NAMA before the end of the year, but we still have no information about the board and the chair. When will the announcement be made? The Minister for Finance indicated previously that it would be before Christmas, and certainly before the new year, because NAMA was supposed to have about one sixth of its total work done before the end of December.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I do not believe the Minister for Finance's position has changed in any way. As the Deputy knows he is temporarily indisposed at present.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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At this stage party leaders might wish to avail of the opportunity to exchange some seasonal good wishes. I call on the Taoiseach.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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On my own and the Government's behalf I want to wish the Ceann Comhairle and the staff of the Houses, the media who cover our proceedings and all the Members of the House the season's greetings and a happy Christmas. This is an opportunity after a hectic year and a challenging session for Members to get back to their families, take some time off and have an opportunity, perhaps, to recharge the batteries. I wish everyone here a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Ba mhaith liom mo chomhghairdeas a ghlacadh le chuile dhuine atá ag obair sa Teach seo as ucht an obair atá siad á dhéanamh. I should like to join with the Taoiseach at this time of seasonal goodwill to extend, on behalf of my party, my thanks to the all the staff of this House for the work they do, bolstering our democratic system, the ushers, the editorial staff and the gardaí. I want to mention, in particular, the Clerk of the Dáil and his staff for their objective assistance to the Ceann Comhairle.

Deputy Kirk is a new person in that office. Many might have assumed we would be addressing a different figurehead, who since departed the Chair, for other reasons. I should like to pay tribute to members of the Fourth Estate, who have a job to do. Sometimes, those who read what they write might not like what they have written, but be that as it may I have the utmost respect for the democratic requirement as regards the publication of their views about what we say here.

It should also be noted that a number of people have retired from the service of the House in the past period. I am thinking of Padraig Ó hAilín, Eoin Faherty, Garda Tony Brophy and others who were here for many years. As it is close to Christmas, I remember being on a delegation, not a junket, to Israel many years ago in the village of Nazareth. I said to Mr. Ó hAilín, who was the commander of that delegation, that I should like to go to Cana to see where the wedding took place. He put a prohibition order on me immediately.

To the Members of the House, my party, Fine Gael and the Labour Party as well as to the Independents who support us I want to wish the very best. Finally, I extend seasonal greetings to the Taoiseach and members of the Fianna Fáil Party and the Green Party, as well as the Independents who support them. We have had considerable jousting in this Chamber and outside over the past 12 months. We will have more, but for now the Taoiseach may go to Copenhagen with my blessing. Tell the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government that work is proceeding on the incinerator at Ringsend in his absence. He should come home with the climate change agreement in his back pocket and be the man who has lifted Ireland onto the international stage, taking on those other people who are arriving tonight and assuring them that we are going to lead from the front.

Seriously, the Taoiseach should take a few days off. He needs to do that. If he is looking for me he shall find me deep in the recesses of the Nephin Beag range, clearing out my mind for the next period ahead when I look forward to good political debate and robust activity in this Chamber in the interests of our people. I conclude by wishing everybody the very best at this time of difficulty. Bearing that in mind, we should made the best of the Christmas. I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Ba mhaith liomsa, chomh maith, thar chionn Pháirtí an Lucht Oibre Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise a ghuí ortsa, a Cheann Comhairle, ar an dTaoiseach, na ceannairí eile agus le chuile dhuine a oibríonn anseo i dTeach Laighean. I join with the Taoiseach and the other party leaders in wishing a happy Christmas to the Ceann Comhairle, to all the staff of the House, the Taoiseach and members of the Government, all the Members of the House, the political parties, and all the staff who work for them, the press and indeed to the retired Members and staff of the Oireachtas.

I thought the Taoiseach was pushing it somewhat when he wished us a prosperous new year after the budget we have just had. However, in the spirit that he offered us the greeting of a prosperous new year, I should like to return the compliment to himself and the Government.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy could not pass up the opportunity - goodwill to all men.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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In the Bill we passed yesterday I see that if the Taoiseach retires in 2010, his pension will be calculated on the pre-cut salary. I should like to suggest that for the new year he does himself and his Ministers - and indeed the country - a favour by retiring in 2010 and give us the opportunity of a general election. Then it would be an even happier Christmas next year, and an even more prosperous year after that.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Ba mhaith liom Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise a ghabháil do chuile dhuine anseo. I should like to join other Deputies in extending seasonal greetings to the Ceann Comhairle, Members of the House from all parties and none and their families, who are oftentimes not seen or associated with the difficulties elected representatives have to contend with so much. Therefore I should particularly like to pay tribute to the families at this time of Christmas. I should like also to extend seasonal greetings and every blessing for the new year to the Clerk of the Dáil and the staff here in the Houses of the Oireachtas, to the ushers and all the support staff who make Leinster House work on a daily basis.

I should also like to include all the members of the press, without exception, even though they have not always included me and my colleagues in the course of the year and hope that in 2010 we might occasionally enjoy a little more attention. I am conscious as we all are, that while I extend seasonal greetings at this time, there is very little real joy out there in society. There is very little sense of a pre-Christmas atmosphere, so much of it has been lost because of the difficult economic times in which we live. I do not mean this politically, but this has been compounded by decisions and measures taken by Government and passed through these Houses over recent weeks. These are sad times and we in Sinn Féin have endeavoured to play our part in helping to point to alternative ways to address the difficulties we all face. We have a shared responsibility to try to overcome those difficulties. My hope is that when next we rise, if indeed we are to rise in these respective positions in 12 months time, they will be happier and more prosperous times for all our people.

Photo of Mary WhiteMary White (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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On behalf of the Green Party, I would like to wish everybody in this House a peaceful Christmas. It has been a roller-coaster for those of us who have been in government for the past couple of months, which have been difficult times. Deputy Gilmore's wishes for the Government in the next year are delusional.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I am writing to Santa about it.

Photo of Mary WhiteMary White (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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The last couple of months have shown a strength of character-----

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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She may get over it.

Photo of Mary WhiteMary White (Carlow-Kilkenny, Green Party)
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-----in the Green Party and in our coalition partners in Government. I wish the Ceann Comhairle a happy Christmas, as well as all the ushers for their kindness and courtesy, and all the other staff throughout Leinster House. I also thank the press for reporting on all our activities in the House. In addition, I wish each and every Member of all parties a peaceful Christmas and a peaceful 2010.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I want to express the best wishes of the season to An Taoiseach and other party leaders, as well as all other Members of the House. I also extend those wishes to the Clerk of the Dáil and all the excellent staff of the House, as well as to members of the media who regularly attend Leinster House. I hope they will have a peaceful and happy Christmas. We look forward to reconvening in January.