Dáil debates

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

12:00 pm

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. 18, Finance Bill 2010 - Report and Final Stages (Resumed); and No. 19, Road Traffic Bill 2009 - Second Stage (Resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10.30 p.m. The resumed Report and Final Stages of No. 18 shall be taken today and, notwithstanding the proceedings yesterday, shall resume on amendment No. 3 and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10.30 p.m. tonight by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in respect of amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Finance.

Private Members' business shall be No. 36, Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Review of Rent in Certain Cases) (Amendment) Bill 2010 – Second Stage (Resumed) – to conclude at 8.30 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are two proposals to be put to the House today. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will the Taoiseach indicate if there will be an opportunity for the House to address the scandalous situation vis-À-vis the 57,000 X-rays at Tallaght hospital? When will the Minister for Health and Children present before this Chamber, or a Minister of State in her Department in her absence, take the opportunity to address this issue substantively in this House? There are many serious questions to be addressed. Contradictory information has been provided in various commentaries regarding this scandalous situation in terms of awareness, knowledge of and action regarding same and that must be addressed in the House. We need to know with certainty that what has been exposed in respect of Tallaght hospital, where a consultant radiologist did not have or did not avail of the opportunity to scrutinise some 57,000 X-rays, that a similar situation does not pertain at other hospital sites throughout the jurisdiction as well. This is a very important matter and I call on the Taoiseach to clarify at this point when the Minister, or a Minister of State on her behalf, will present in the Chamber, preferably today.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is a matter for the procedures of the House as to how that matter can be taken forward.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will the Taoiseach intervene? It is well within his gift, given the importance and seriousness of the matter, to intervene to accommodate an opportunity for it. I do not know when the Minister is due to return to Ireland. I realise she is currently out of the country but that should not prevent the House addressing this matter from an informed and definitely focused basis. Will the Taoiseach ensure at least, in the absence of the Minister, that a Minister of State from her Department would come before the House with the full information and take questions of members of the Opposition?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The questions we have relate to the late sitting and the Finance Bill. It is important to try to deal with those and then we can move on to other matters.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I have tabled a private notice question. Will the Ceann Comhairle clarify if he would be prepared to accommodate that request?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will leave that matter rest for the moment.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I wish to address the issue raised by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. It was clear this morning when the Minister spoke from New Zealand that she is muddled and mixed up. This is a Minister who does not know the difference between meddling and management. She should come home immediately.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are talking about getting the Order of Business for today agreed to.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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There are approximately 20,000 people around the Tallaght area waiting to know if their X-rays were read properly.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am not in any disagreement on that matter.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach needs to address this. He is the leader of the country. This morning, he stated he has absolute confidence in the Minister. He must be one of the few left who does. In my view, this Minister should resign.

An Ceann Comhairle: We must get the Order of Business agreed to.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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This is one scandal too many. I refer to relevant legislation. Where is the whistleblowers legislation?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am not asking the Deputy for that at this point and I call on him to resume his seat until we deal with the Order of Business.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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HIQA was called in back in June. Where is HIQA's report?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. agreed to?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Is the Taoiseach not prepared to give us an indication of an accommodation? Surely he should accept the need for this matter to be addressed.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the question agreed to? Agreed,

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As I have indicated, this is a matter for the procedure of the House. As I understand it, the Ceann Comhairle is on notice of any private notice questions that may have been submitted. The Report and Final Stages of the Finance Bill are to be completed today. That is a very important matter that must be dealt with as well.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Again, money is more important than people.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Can we not seek an accommodation tomorrow?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I realise Deputy Reilly is not long in this place.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will the Taoiseach allow this issue to be addressed?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is a matter for the Whips to consider for tomorrow's business.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will the Taoiseach encourage the Chief Whip to be positively disposed to such a proposition?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The first question has been agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18 agreed to?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach may state continuously that this is a matter to be sorted out by the Whips but the Government orders the business here. Some 65 amendments to the Finance Bill remain; four have been dealt with. These range from issues related to NAMA, to the consolidation of taxes, head shops and a whole range of other issues. The time allocated for today will not allow Members to get into any constructive or detailed discussion about a number of these very important amendments. There is no reason that the Dáil could not sit for a longer period tomorrow to deal with the details of the amendments to the Finance Bill tabled by Deputies. I object to the Bill being guillotined today. It is not good enough.

I take the point made by Deputy Reilly in respect of the catastrophe that has befallen certain people and the concern that exists for those whose X-rays have not been read. They have not been informed about whether they are at a high risk. This is unsatisfactory and I object to it. I will vote against the Order of Business unless the Government Whip indicates to me that extra time will be given to these amendments to the Finance Bill tomorrow.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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There is a perfectly agreeable way of addressing this issue. The Finance Bill is probably one of the most important tranches of legislation that comes before the House each year. Attempting to guillotine the Bill is an insult to the work of the House. We could find two hours tomorrow easily without seriously discommoding anyone. As has been done on several occasions in recent times, question time could be pushed back until later in the afternoon tomorrow and we could hold a sufficiency of debate. Several serious matters arise here and we must hold a discussion with the Minister for Finance on what he proposes. Happily, he accepted a Labour Party amendment to the Finance Bill last night in respect of an evaluation of the cost of tax expenditures and tax breaks. That was helpful and it may indicate a new spirit of bipartisanship in this House.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We really cannot get into a Second Stage contribution on the Finance Bill at this point. We are on the Order of Business.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Given that spirit of bipartisanship, it is important to allow sufficient time and respect for the House rather than simply having a guillotine and a jack boot approach to finishing off the legislation in the manner proposed.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The Sinn Féin Deputies reject absolutely the proposition that a guillotine should be applied to the Finance Bill at any stage, let alone on Report and Final Stages. The situation is that only four amendments from approximately 70 tabled were addressed in yesterday's discussions in the Chamber. There is inadequate time to address the import of all the amendments tabled. I recognise that this Bill accommodates the removal of the VAT exemption from local authorities that will result in a 13.5% increase in respect of charges covering a whole raft of services at that level.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is really into a Second Stage contribution on the Finance Bill.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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This is not a Bill that should be passed through on any nod. This requires full address in this Chamber and that is not being accommodated by the Government's ordering of today's work.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We require a decision on this matter.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 18 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, Pat Carey, Niall Collins, Margaret Conlon, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, Brian Cowen, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Jim McDaid, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, John Moloney, Michael Moynihan, Michael Mulcahy, M J Nolan, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, Darragh O'Brien, Charlie O'Connor, John O'Donoghue, Noel O'Flynn, Rory O'Hanlon, Batt 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: 70 (Bernard Allen, James Bannon, Seán Barrett, Joe Behan, Pat Breen, Tommy Broughan, Richard Bruton, Ulick Burke, Joan Burton, Catherine Byrne, Joe Carey, Deirdre Clune, Paul Connaughton, Noel Coonan, Joe Costello, Simon Coveney, Seymour Crawford, Michael Creed, Lucinda Creighton, Michael D'Arcy, John Deasy, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Martin Ferris, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Enda Kenny, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Finian McGrath, Joe McHugh, Liz McManus, 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, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Róisín Shortall, 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 Taoiseach consider again the statement made by the Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, that the Lost at Sea scheme began as maladministration and ended up as bad governance? The Ombudsman, appointed by the Government, has said it is not tolerable that the objective and independent report she produced will not be allowed to be discussed at the appropriate Oireachtas committee.

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Creed has raised this matter on several occasions.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is the Order of Business.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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It is about the accountability of the Dáil.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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A motion was put before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to deal with this but was voted down by the Government members.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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A decision has already been made on this matter.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In the interests of everyone, including Deputies mentioned in the report, it is right and proper-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Private Members' business is available to Deputy Kenny if he wishes to initiate a debate on the matter.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----that they should have the opportunity to answer questions at the relevant committee. All I want from the Taoiseach is that he has no objection to a committee dealing with this. The other day when answering a parliamentary question, the Minister for Transport said the Government will not give any more time in the Chamber to this report. That was a clear statement from the Minister. I want an equally clear statement from the Taoiseach saying that on account of what the Ombudsman has said officially in public that the appropriate Oireachtas committee, comprising Members from all parties, should be entitled to consider her report on the Lost at Sea scheme. Deputy Fahey, who is present in the Chamber, has been mentioned in the report. He should be entitled to give his say in detail at the committee.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If Deputy Kenny wants a more detailed debate on this matter, he can utilise Private Members' time to do so.

Photo of Frank FaheyFrank Fahey (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I offered Deputy Kenny an opportunity to do so but he did not take it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Ceann Comhairle would like me to raise it through Private Members' time and then be accused of wasting time. This is a case where the appropriate committee can deal with it.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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A decision has already been made on this.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I can see no reason why the Government will not allow this to happen. It is clearly a case of where, on the one hand, the Government considered the Ombudsman's report and, on the other, that one of its Members was mentioned in it. The Government has come down in favour of a Government Deputy.

Photo of Frank FaheyFrank Fahey (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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I personally offered Deputy Kenny an opportunity to do so but he wanted to make it a political football.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Fahey is trying to hide something.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Fahey can go before the committee and make his case. I am sure he is more than eloquent to argue his case.

Photo of Frank FaheyFrank Fahey (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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We have already debated it here in the Chamber.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kenny is out of order.

Photo of Frank FaheyFrank Fahey (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach recommended it be dealt with in the Dáil but Deputy Kenny refused to take it up.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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There is something to hide.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Me thinks the lady doth protest too much.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I want to make this clear.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kenny, you are contributing to disorder in the House 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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I have not accused Deputy Fahey of anything. Instead, I am giving him the opportunity to go to the appropriate committee and deal with questions that need to be answered in respect of the Ombudsman's report. It is not a report from a political party.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Noel TreacyNoel Treacy (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Kenny is paddling around the place.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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A decision has already been made on this.

He is shuffling the goalposts.

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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A Cheann Comhairle, this is the Order of Business.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kenny, it is not promised legislation. We are on the Order of Business and there are other ways to deal with these matters.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Of what is the Government afraid? If there is nothing to hide, then there is nothing of which to be afraid.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kenny, there are other ways of dealing with this matter. We have suggested Private Members' time if you so wish. I call Deputy Gilmore.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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You have suggested Private Members' time, a Cheann Comhairle. I am asking the Taoiseach a straight question. Will the report be considered by the appropriate committee?

Photo of Paul Connaughton  SnrPaul Connaughton Snr (Galway East, Fine Gael)
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No.

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Will I get a response from the Taoiseach?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am sure we will have a response. There are several other Members offering.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Is the Ceann Comhairle offering me a guarantee that there will be a response from the Taoiseach?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am not guaranteeing you anything. Deputy Gilmore has indicated he wants a brief word on the same issue.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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A Cheann Comhairle, if you are sure you will have a response, are you guaranteeing me a response?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call on Deputy Gilmore. We have been over this ground several times in recent weeks and there are options in place.

Photo of Noel O'FlynnNoel O'Flynn (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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The matter has been decided.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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It certainly was for Fianna Fáil.

A Deputy:

We will all be back up on it again in a year's time.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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It is a cover-up.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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They are using it as a political football.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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There is only one way to sort it out.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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It is unusual for a Department to reject a finding of the Ombudsman. It is also unusual for the Ombudsman to refer the matter to the Oireachtas for it to decide upon. The arrangement made for statements on it did not satisfy that requirement. The Labour Party spokesperson, Deputy Sherlock, has tabled a motion to have the issue referred to the appropriate Dáil committee. That is the only way to deal with this. The longer this matter continues, the more politicised and more partisan it will become.

Photo of Michael AhernMichael Ahern (Cork East, Fianna Fail)
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They are all very partisan over on that side of the House.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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This week the Ombudsman made a public comment on the matter.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Private Members' time is an ideal opportunity to raise this matter.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I do not believe the Ombudsman should be put in the position to have to make public comments on her reports. She referred the matter to the Oireachtas and it should be dealt with here.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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The Ombudsman accepted it was a matter for the Department in question.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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She did not. Deputy Aylward should read the report.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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She did not. I suggest Deputy Aylward might read her report.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, please make your remarks through the Chair.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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That is the whole point. The Department rejected the recommendation. There is a precedent for dealing with this matter, as there was a previous occasion where something similar arose and it was dealt with by the appropriate Oireachtas committee.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We must move on as we have spent too much time on it already.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The longer it goes on, the more of a political controversy it will become.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is being generated as a controversy.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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As I said yesterday, the sooner it is referred to the committee and dealt with on an all-party basis the better. I do not understand why the Government will not agree to have this dealt with by the appropriate committee. That is all we are asking for.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It is already there.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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There is a motion in the House. If the Government accepts it, we do not even have to debate it in the Chamber. It can be referred to the committee and dealt with there.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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We must recognise the Ombudsman is a politically independent officer of the State. We must treat seriously matters she refers to the Dáil and Seanad as she has done in this instance. It is only the second time a report of the Ombudsman's office has been rejected by a Department. It is very important that we do not find ourselves in the situation she described in her remarks yesterday, with the Dáil having been sidelined and the Opposition failing to hold the Executive to account.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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That contribution might be appropriate if we had a motion on Private Members' time.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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We have a responsibility to hold the Government to account-----

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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It is our responsibility-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy, this is the Order of Business and not Private Members' time.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----and obligation and we are pressing that this matter be addressed. I agree with Deputy Gilmore that it is beyond understanding why there is such a concerted resistance to having-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate on this now.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----the matter substantively addressed in a committee of the-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I do not mind brief remarks but not on the Order of Business.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Why does the Ceann Comhairle keep talking over me?

Photo of Dick RocheDick Roche (Minister of State with special responsibility for European Affairs, Department of Foreign Affairs; Minister of State, Department of An Taoiseach; Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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It is the other way around.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Ó Caoláin is out of order, and that is why.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Government is out of order. It is trying to muzzle the Ombudsman.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Surely when I have been called to speak-----

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Government is looking after the big boys and trampling on small people.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The Ceann Comhairle called me to speak and I presumed in that situation I had the right to address the House.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Ó Caoláin has broken into a Second Stage speech on the matter.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I have done no such thing.

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I have done no such thing. I am asking the Taoiseach to take this issue seriously immediately. There can be no question but that the Government has blocked address of this issue in this Chamber, in the Seanad and in the committee. It is beyond the understanding of any reasonable opinion and should be addressed immediately. What else will put the matter to bed? What else will address the concerns expressed by the Ombudsman? There can be no other way of dealing with this and I urge the Taoiseach and the Government to accede to the collective request of the Opposition to have this matter addressed as a substantive issue by the committee.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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As I have told other Deputies, Private Members' time is available to deal with this matter.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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No, that is not the way to deal with this. It should be dealt with in Government time and should be dealt with in committee.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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On a point of order-----

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

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Ceann Comhairle repeatedly requests the Opposition to have the matter dealt with in Private Members' time. That is not the appropriate way to deal with it because we need a forensic investigation and interviews with various parties, including Deputy Fahey whom the Taoiseach is intent on protecting and around whom he is circling the Government wagons. We are offering Deputy Fahey, the Ombudsman and the complainant an opportunity to come before the committee. That is what true and effective parliamentary democracy is about, not a charade and a whitewash, which is what the Ceann Comhairle is asking the Opposition to participate in.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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All these points can be made in other ways.

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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One of the issues raised by the Ombudsman is the ability of the Oireachtas to hold the Government to account. The Order of Business is exactly where one should discuss whether a report is debated or not.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I do not have the latitude to allow Members to hold people to-----

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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What exactly is the Order of Business?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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What is allowed on the Order of Business is quite narrow.

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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I want to make the point-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am only implementing Standing Orders.

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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Can I just finish my sentence? I believe we hold the Government to account in the Oireachtas but we are being put in a straitjacket in terms of what we can raise on the Order of Business. We should be able to raise whether a report should be debated on the Order of Business.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have mechanisms in the House for all parties to visit this area.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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On a point of order-----

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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On a point of order-----

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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With all due respect, I indicated on this issue. There is a motion before the House and all the Labour Party wants is to provide the Ombudsman with an opportunity to present the findings of her report before a designated committee, preferably the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. That is on the Order Paper and we are asking that there be some degree of common sense in terms of how this is approached. We do not want further statements in the Dáil on this matter and, as Deputy Gilmore said, it can be done without debate if we facilitate the person in question. That is all we are asking.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are ways and means.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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It is a very reasonable request and it is all we are asking.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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On the point of order, I and other Members have raised repeatedly the question of accountability to the House. The Ceann Comhairle finds himself in a difficult position and I am not being critical of him. The Ceann Comhairle says there are ways and means of dealing with this issue without any change to protocol. It is a fact of life. Does the Opposition have to bring the business of the House to a halt in order to get the Government to accept the principle of accountability to Parliament?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Can I reply? There is a much misrepresentation.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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How often have I raised this matter in the House along with Members on both sides of the House? What advice can the Ceann Comhairle give us?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will hear An Taoiseach.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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On a point of order, when we are discussing the ordering of Government business, the Ceann Comhairle has got into the habit of giving us helpful advice to kick it to touch into Private Members' time. That is not what we are talking about.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have had statements in the House on this matter.

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

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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That is not the business we are dealing with on the Order of Business, which concerns Government time and how it should be allocated. There is a proposal from the Government and we are entitled to raise questions.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are dealing with issues raised by individual Members.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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The advice of the Ceann Comhairle is to refer it to Private Members' time and this is not in order.

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

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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A number of misrepresentations have been made by the Opposition and I want to clear up the factual situation. The Ombudsman Act is entirely silent on how the Houses of the Oireachtas should deal with a special report laid before each House. The Ombudsman presented a special report to each House of the Oireachtas at which time she invited them to consider the report and "take whatever action they deem appropriate". It is a matter for the Oireachtas to order its business. The Dáil and Seanad have dealt with the Ombudsman's report by way of statements on 4 February and 18 February respectively.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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What actions have we taken?

Photo of Michael MulcahyMichael Mulcahy (Dublin South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Creed should listen.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I am explaining the situation.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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It is a whitewash.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I just heard from Deputy Gilmore about the need to avoid partisanship in respect of this matter. He wanted to have this matter dealt with by the committee to avoid all partisanship. Deputy Creed has been involved in a game of partisanship for months.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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That is not true.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Every time I get to speak on this, Deputy Creed keeps interrupting me. I read his statement yesterday. He has a statement on this every day. Again, it is Deputy Creed seeking to introduce a degree of partisanship into this matter.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach's party voted it down.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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What is the story here? Does everyone have a right to keep talking while I am talking even though I listened in silence while they were speaking?

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach should answer the question and deal with the matter rather than attacking people.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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If Deputy Creed did not interrupt me, I would have answered by now if Deputy Timmins is interested in an answer but he is not interested in an answer.

There is no prescribed issue in respect of the Ombudsman Act that the House dealt with.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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There is precedent.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is a matter for the Houses of Oireachtas.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, the Taoiseach should be allowed to speak without interruption.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As the Ombudsman accepts, any Department is free in law to decide whether it will accept the recommendation. In many cases they are accepted but there have been occasions in which they had not been accepted. It is out of respect for the Ombudsman's office that we do not reject every recommendation.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Just the ones the Government does not like.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister of State, Deputy Killeen, outlined the Government's position in respect of this matter in the House. I do not accept some of the suggestions made about this. The Department's reason for taking that position is on the record of the House. It is entitled in law to take that position.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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Where is the opportunity for the House to take a position on this?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I am sorry Deputy-----

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

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Ombudsman Act is silent on how that can be dealt with. We dealt with it by way of statements in the House. It has been dealt with as far as the Government is concerned. The Department is entitled in law to take a position and this is accepted by the Ombudsman.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin North Central, Fine Gael)
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The Parliament is entitled to take a position.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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I asked the Taoiseach to address the precedent that exists in this House. On the one previous occasion in 25 years when the Ombudsman laid a report before the House of the Oireachtas, it was referred to the Oireachtas committee on finance for investigation. That is all the Houses ask, that the matter be investigated by a committee of the House.

Photo of Frank FaheyFrank Fahey (Galway West, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Creed broke that precedent by bringing the matter into the Dáil.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The recommendations are not legally binding and the Department is entitled in law-----

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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There is precedent.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Members have asked for clarification and I am providing it.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Creed, resume your seat.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy continues with that-----

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach is a disgrace.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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-----as his predecessor continued with it.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As Deputy Killeen stated in his Dáil statement the scheme once decided upon was properly and fairly administered by the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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What about the report?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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He also pointed out that the Ombudsman has expressly acknowledged that she found no evidence to suggest that the scheme once launched was not applied equitably.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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Has Deputy Creed nothing to say now?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is the situation, which does not fit Deputy Creed's little conspiracy theory with which he will keep on anyway.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Let us have a debate then.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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White wash. The Taoiseach is circling the wagons.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Sherlock on a brief question. We have spent too much time on this matter.

Photo of Seán SherlockSeán Sherlock (Cork East, Labour)
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I note what the Taoiseach has said about the Ombudsman's Act being silent on the matter. Again, we respectfully ask that the Taoiseach allow the Ombudsman an opportunity to present her findings. I believe that is a reasonable approach. This can be done in a non-partisan way. I am sure this House could facilitate such a process.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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The Ombudsman is being muzzled.

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

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Ombudsman has presented her special report to the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas how it wishes to deal with it. We have had statements in both Houses on the matter.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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Statements are meaningless.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have explained the situation in terms of what the Department is legally entitled to do, which is accepted by the Ombudsman in any event.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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What does the Taoiseach have to hide?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kehoe, please. We must have one speaker at a time.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The report speaks for itself.

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)
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If the Taoiseach thinks this issue is going to go away he has another thing coming.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have just outlined-----

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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What then does the Taoiseach have to hide?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I have nothing to hide. That is the reason the report is being dealt with in this manner.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Let it go to committee.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy probably has not even read the report.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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What is the Deputy's motivation?

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach should let it go to committee if he has nothing to hide.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Kehoe, please. We must move on. I call Deputy Phil Hogan.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The following may not be silent in law. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority Bill is listed on the Order Paper. We have all read in recent times of the massive splurge of expenditure on travel and entertainment. There is precedence in this regard. The Ceann Comhairle's Office has been the subject of precedent in respect of this matter. The Director General of FÁS, an agency of the Tánaiste's Department, has been the subject of adjudication on these matters. When will the Taoiseach bring forth an amendment to the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act to allow the Comptroller and Auditor General to deal with these matters as per the Bill on the Order Paper?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is no legislation promised by Government in that respect. Obviously, there are reports to be considered by the Minister and they will be brought forward in due course.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Does the Taoiseach not regard these matters as serious?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has received an answer. There is no promised legislation on the matter.

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach's Green Party colleagues in government thought the matters relating to the former Ceann Comhairle and Mr. Molloy were serious. Is the Taoiseach suggesting these issues are not serious enough to be discussed or to warrant a change in the legislation?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy tables a parliamentary question-----

Photo of Phil HoganPhil Hogan (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fine Gael)
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Perhaps the Government will consider accepting the Fine Gael Bill which seeks to amend the Act to bring forward legislation to allow a proper investigation of these matters.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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-----it should get to the core of the matter for him. I call Deputy Broughan.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There has been no comment by me suggesting matters are not serious or otherwise. I am merely making the point that the report should be considered by the Minister taking the advice he is taking and will be published in due course.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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When will they be published?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Will he develop a legal problem too?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is the situation.

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

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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I have four brief questions for the Taoiseach. I understand the competition Bill includes a section to deal with the situation whereby a company can effectively own a large shareholding in its direct competitor, as is happening in aviation. When will that Bill come before the House?

I understand the globalisation fund extra information for the SRT workers was on the desk of Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, last week. Has that information been sent back to Brussels? There was massive disruption yesterday by the taxi industry. The Taoiseach will be aware the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy must confine his questions to promised legislation.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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I understand the taxi workers want to discuss with the Minister the report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport on taxis. Perhaps a meeting in this regard could be arranged as soon as possible.

Perhaps the Taoiseach will when in Chicago next week visit Northfields to meet the chief executive of Kraft in respect of workers at Cadburys.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Taoiseach, on promised legislation.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Tánaiste will meet with the chief executive of Kraft in due course. On the question in respect of the competition Bill, it is proposed to introduce it by the end of this year. The information in relation to SRT has been returned to Brussels.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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What is the position with the stabilisation fund?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The information has been sent to Brussels.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I wish to raise three issues with the Taoiseach. Members continue to receive from the HSE correspondence and information on health issues that is not up to date or relevant. When will-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Has legislation been promised in this general area?

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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Yes. I will come to it if the Ceann Comhairle's allows me to at least start my question.

Photo of Bobby AylwardBobby Aylward (Carlow-Kilkenny, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy should start at the beginning.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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When will the health information Bill, which should legalise and force these people to tell us the truth once and for all, be introduced?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am advised it will be introduced in the middle of the year.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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When will the landlord and tenants Bill come before the House given the extremely serious situation in particular in Border areas, in respect of rent?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is not possible at this stage to indicate when that Bill will come before the House.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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We are continually advised of the great work being done by the Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney. We are told that big is great and big is perfect. Members will be aware of the current situation at Tallaght Hospital. When will the eligibility for health and personal social services Bill be brought before the House to allow us an opportunity to discuss the complete utter chaos of our health system?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am advised no date has yet been fixed for that Bill. I call Deputy Terence Flanagan.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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The multi-unit developments Bill is long overdue legislation. I accept an update on the matters has been received from the Whips' office. While the multi-unit developments Bill is complex legislation its introduction has been dragging on now for eight years. Meanwhile there is no redress for the 400,000 apartment owners. These people have nobody to turn to in respect of disputes and problems that arise. Perhaps the Taoiseach will expedite this legislation and provide the House with an update in this regard.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Bill is currently on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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When is it expected to come before the Dáil?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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When it is finished in the Seanad.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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When does the Taoiseach anticipate that will be?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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As soon as possible.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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That is not an answer. That is not fair.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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As Deputy Broughan stated, the Taoiseach-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Flanagan is spokesperson on the matter and deserves a proper answer.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please allow Deputy Flanagan to continue.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I gave the Deputy a proper answer.

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

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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That is not a proper answer. The Taoiseach knows that it is not on Committee Stage in the Seanad.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
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It is held up because of a dispute.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Committee Stage of the Bill is being taken today in the Seanad.

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

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Broughan mentioned the Taoiseach will next week be in Chicago where the headquarters of Kraft management is based. Perhaps he will make it his business to ensure the 1,200 jobs at Cadburys in Dublin are retained. The last thing we need in this country is more people joining the dole queues.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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There is full-scale engagement with the company on the matter.

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

Photo of Joe CareyJoe Carey (Clare, Fine Gael)
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Will the Taoiseach confirm to the House if the mid-west task force is working towards producing its final report and, if so, when is it expected the chairman will report on the matter? Also, will the Taoiseach facilitate a debate on the report when concluded?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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We will deal with the report when it is brought forward.

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Given the Taoiseach has stated he has confidence in the Minister for Health and Children, perhaps he will tell us the reason the Health Information and Quality Authority, HIQA, did not inform her in June of the situation at Tallaght Hospital. How is it possible that the word of the CEO that there were only 4,000 cases involved when it transpires that there are 58,000 cases involved, was accepted? This is the worst scandal yet we have had in this country.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I wish to be of assistance to the Deputy on the matter.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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It is not credible that HIQA did not inform the Minister-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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A special notice question on the matter has been tabled-----

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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That may be so but-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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------for this afternoon-----

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----the Minister needs to come back immediately-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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-----and the intention is that it will be allowed.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I put it to the Ceann Comhairle that if a whistleblower had not given this story to Mr. Fergal Bowers and he had not broken it, we still would not know about it.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will have time to debate the matter this afternoon.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The reality is that the Minister needs to come back to the House to address this question.

Photo of Brian Lenihan JnrBrian Lenihan Jnr (Minister, Department of Finance; Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy should send his helicopter.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach of this country said he has confidence in the Minister for Health and Children. I say the remainder of the country does not and that she should resign.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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This is one scandal too many.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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Yes, it is one too many.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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How many people have suffered?

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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People have died and people have suffered because of Portlaoise, the north-east, Galway and Limerick.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy must resume his seat. I have advised him we are allowing a special notice question on the matter this afternoon-----

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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This is one scandal too many.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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-----at which stage he will have an opportunity to make all those points.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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When will the whistleblowers charter be introduced? When will the legislation promised in the programme for Government, which the Taoiseach and Minister for Health and Children appear to be putting on the long finger, be brought before this House? Will the Taoiseach, Minister and HIQA assure this House that this situation does not pertain in other hospitals around the country?

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have advised the Deputy of the position. While I am allowing him a great deal of latitude, he is abusing the Order of Business.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I say to the Ceann Comhairle-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have advised the Deputy that we are allowing a special notice question on the matter this afternoon.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----that thousands of people in this country are being abused by our health service, which is being mismanaged-----

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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------by an incompetent, lethargic, detached Minister for Health and Children who should be gone.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to resume his seat. I call Deputy Jan O'Sullivan.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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I was going to raise the following matter when dealing with the relevant legislation but it is appropriate that I raise it now.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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It is simply not credible that when the Minister was told about this in December by the CEO of Tallaght Hospital, she was not told the extent of it.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have advised the House that we are allowing a special notice question on the matter this afternoon.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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The CEO knew the extent of the problem. He knew that it involved nearly 58,000 patients.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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You will have the opportunity to make these points at that stage.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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This is much broader than the immediate issue. It is a matter of the Minister's competence. The Minister handed over complete responsibility for the health service to the HSE, and because of that, she is now hiding behind the fact-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy O'Sullivan, will you resume your seat please?

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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The Minister needs to take that responsibility for the health service.

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

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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It is a disgrace.

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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It is reported in the newspapers that the Taoiseach is launching the innovation taskforce report tomorrow. This report claims that 120,000 jobs can be created. Does the Taoiseach have any plans to bring the report to the House? We can then have a full debate on it and hear the Government's detailed response to the recommendations of the report.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is a matter for the Whips.

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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It is a matter for the Taoiseach.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I was going to reply. This report will be launched tomorrow by the taskforce that wrote it and it will be considered by the Government. It is a matter for the Whips to decide when this or any other report will be debated.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach will be in the arms of President Obama next week. Will he raise the issue of the undocumented Irish? It is very important. Many of our Irish illegals are caught in limbo over there, and I hope the Taoiseach will raise it with the President next week. We were promised legislation on the issue by the US Government.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It is a difficult issue on the domestic agenda, but it will be raised.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Ireland is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which recognises the right to free movement of people. There is an explicit right in our Constitution to free travel. That explicit right has been denied to people due to the actions of staff at the passport office. Will the Taoiseach get the Minister for Foreign Affairs to do something about it? It is disgraceful that people all over the country are arriving at the office but cannot get their passport. Perhaps the Taoiseach has his own passport in order for next week, but it is unacceptable that people cannot travel abroad. We are a laughing stock abroad and the CPSU is running rings around the Government.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is pure blackguarding where people have had to travel to and from the passport office. It is outrageous. We do not have a passport office in rural Ireland.

Photo of Billy TimminsBilly Timmins (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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How long is the Government going to stand by and let this happen?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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You have made your point.

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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I dealt with this in Leaders' Questions and in parliamentary questions. I will refer the Deputy to the note I already sent on the issue.

Photo of Jack WallJack Wall (Kildare South, Labour)
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I asked the staff of the Oireachtas Library to do some research on local authority loans. They informed me that 43% of such loans across the country were in arrears. When I asked officials at Kildare County Council what could be done about this, they told me that their hands were tied and they could do nothing about it. They said that if the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government gave a ministerial order under section 34 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, it would allow them to negotiate with people who had loans to ensure that proper facilities were put in place to deal with arrears.

The Minister has approved ministerial orders for other sections of that Bill, but I am asking the Taoiseach-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We really have to do this some other way.

Photo of Jack WallJack Wall (Kildare South, Labour)
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I am going to ask the question. When will the ministerial order for section 34 of the Act take place to allow local authorities deal with people who have taken out local authority loans and who are in arrears?

Photo of Brian CowenBrian Cowen (Taoiseach; Acting Minister, Department of Defence; Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is a matter for parliamentary questions, but I will inquire about it.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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On a point of order, we are entitled to ask about secondary legislation on the Order of Business.