Dáil debates

Thursday, 8 July 2010

10:30 am

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is proposed to take No. a11, motion re membership of committees; No. 11, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the ratification by Ireland of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, back from committee; No. 11a, motion re referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the borrowing agreement between Ireland and the International Monetary Fund; No. 11b, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the draft Commission of Investigation (Banking Sector) Order 2010; No. 11c, motion re referral to joint committee of macroeconomic policy lessons as set out in the report by Klaus Regling and Max Watson, entitled A Preliminary Report on The Sources of Ireland's Banking Crisis; No. 19, Dog Breeding Establishments Bill 2009 [Seanad] - Second and Remaining Stages (resumed); No. 20, Criminal Procedure Bill 2009 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 22, Multi-Unit Developments Bill 2009 [Seanad] - Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted on the conclusion of Question Time, which shall be taken for 75 minutes on the conclusion of No. 22, 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. a11, 11 and 11a shall be decided without debate; (3) Nos. 11b and 11c shall be debated together and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 1 hour ten minutes and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the speeches shall be confined to a Minister or Minister of State and to the main spokespersons for Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Sinn Féin, who shall be called upon in that order, who may share their time, and shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case; (ii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a speech in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; (4) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 19: (i) the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 30 minutes; (ii) the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 4.10 p.m. today by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government; (5) the Report and Final Stages of No. 20 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 6.10 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform; (6) the proceedings on the resumed Second Stage of No. 22 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. tonight; and in the event a division is called, it shall be postponed until immediately after the Order of Business on Wednesday, 29 September 2010; and (7) the Dáil on its rising today shall adjourn until 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 29 September 2010.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I must object.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please, there are seven items to be put to the House and I will call the Deputy at the appropriate time.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I understand that, but may I just make one comment?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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At the appropriate time, please not at this time.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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This is all strung together by a common theme, namely, that the Government wants to run away for three months while the rest of the country must face the reality of 452,000 people unemployed, people without respite for their loved ones for the whole of the summer and the rest of this year-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy may make his point later when we progress the items which I have to put to the House.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----bankers running amok pulling the wool over the eyes of the Minister for Finance.

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Well, it is entirely out of order for the House to rise for three months in the face of an economic crisis and huge and unprecedented unemployment.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should allow the Chair to put the proposals to the House and then he can deal with them as we go along.

Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 4.45 p.m. tonight agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. a11, 11 and 11a, motions re membership of committees, proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the ratification by Ireland of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and referral to select committee of proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the borrowing agreement between Ireland and the International Monetary Fund, without debate, agreed to? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 11b and 11c, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the draft Commission of Investigation (Banking Sector) Order 2010 and referral to joint committee of macro-economic policy lessons as set out in the report by Klaus Regling and Max Watson, entitled A Preliminary Report on The Sources of Ireland's Banking Crisis, agreed to?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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It is not agreed. Once again the guillotine is being applied to motions. Fine Gael intends to oppose every guillotine. Not alone that, the motion before us, the proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the draft commission of investigation very conveniently leaves out any hand, act or part of the Ministers or the Department of Finance in this. That is totally unacceptable to this side of the House. It is very clear now that the Minister for Finance had the wool pulled over his eyes. Plainly and simply, he was conned by the banks. It appears that the only people left now to pick up the tab are the taxpayers, who are decreasing in number daily as more and more people lose their jobs.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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We need to see real action and a commitment from the Government side of the House that section 7 of the NAMA Act, which provides for jail terms of five years and fines of up to €5 million for an individual and €20 million for a bank who have been found to mislead NAMA and the Government, will be acted upon. Action must be taken. People must be held accountable and people must go to jail. That is what people want to see. People found guilty have committed an offence and must pay the penalty, or else this commission is just more window dressing by the Government.

Deputies:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Government proposal is for a commission of investigation, for which the Minister has set aside a budget of €1.8 million to be spent by the end of this year. That is a significant amount of money for an international expert who will come and tell us why the banks failed. That is important. The Government has accepted the extension of the terms of reference, as proposed by the Labour Party, to cover the period to 15 January. However, the commission of inquiry will not look at the role of the Taoiseach or of Ministers for Finance or the role of the current Taoiseach when he was Minister for Finance. They are all carefully excluded from the terms of reference of this investigation and of the other two investigations. There is to be a private benchmarking inquiry into the Department of Finance and its failures and there is to be a Dáil committee to look at the macro-economic lessons we can learn.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is no permission for a debate at this time. We can have brief comments, but not a debate.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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No, this country is going to drown in inquiries, but that will not result in an extra euro of credit getting out to businesses in the country that are hanging on by their fingernails and letting employees go. This inquiry will take into account the actions of banks that have, clearly, lied to NAMA. The Government accepted those lies uncritically and told us the Irish banks were fine because stress testing showed they were fine. It is proposed that we deal with this matter in one hour and ten minutes and that the debate will be guillotined. That time will allow approximately only one person from each of the parties, including the Government, to speak briefly. In terms of parliamentary democracy, that is completely inadequate. The guillotine is not appropriate to this particular motion. It used to be the case that before the summer recess there would be a two to three-day Adjournment debate on the performance of the Government, the situation of the economy and the plight of the unemployed. This Government is running away from telling people how it proposes to recover the economy, rebuild the country and get people back to work.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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These proposals relate to motions, not legislation, and ordinarily we would understand in the circumstances of the last day of the session that they must be timeframed. However, the import of the motions cannot be addressed in an hour and ten minutes. That is an absolutely inadequate timeframe to address what is of huge importance. What is contained in all of this is absolutely at the core of everything that has gone wrong in terms of our economy and its impact on the daily living conditions of so many ordinary people the length and breadth of this State.

It is important to be balanced in one's contribution on this. We welcome the extension of the period, up to January of last year, that the commission of inquiry will investigate; that is an important step forward. However, there are many other matters that must be addressed. While the joint committee will consider the matter, it should be also debated in plenary session. This Dáil Chamber needs to devote more time to this very important issue which, as I said, is at the core of all our economic difficulties. We oppose the time allotment in this case.

Question put:

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 74 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Bobby Aylward, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Tom McEllistrim, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, Micheál Martin, 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, Seán Power, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 69 (James Bannon, 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, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

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 No. 19 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 20 agreed to?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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This is another Bill to be guillotined and this will not allow enough time for people to make a contribution. I realise the Minister for Justice and Law Reform is across the way. The amount of crime continuing in our country, including serious gun crime, has not been ameliorated by the statutes brought in to date.

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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We need a proper and full debate on this matter. This side of the House has been opposed to guillotines. I realise we will come to the matter later but this House will rise for three months. Why not sit until the end of July and hold a proper debate on these issues?

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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These issues are of serious concern to the people and to the many victims of crime in the country.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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The dogs are more important.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I will help Deputy Ahern look up those trees.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Can we have Deputy Ó Caoláin without interruption, please?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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To stand up on each of the individual tranches of legislation, namely, Nos. 19, 20 and 22, would be repetitious and inappropriate given the business we must address here today. I take this opportunity to indicate that we oppose the guillotine being imposed on each of these tranches of legislation, including No. 19, to which the Ceann Comhairle referred one moment ago and which had not been objected to at that time. For each of the three tranches of legislation, that is, the Dog Breeding Establishments Bill, the Criminal Procedure Bill and the Multi-Unit Developments Bill, the guillotines applied are inappropriate and unnecessary.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I have objected to the use of the guillotine throughout this week and last week. However, on this occasion I must acknowledge that the Government has acceded to a request from the Labour Party that the Multi-Unit Developments Bill would be passed on Second Stage before the summer recess to allow it to go on Committee Stage. This is legislation the Labour Party has sought for some considerable time. There are significant problems in various apartment blocks with the operation of management companies and their functioning and this area has been unregulated for a long period.

Some time ago we moved proposals and we pressed Government to introduce and pass legislation dealing with multi-unit developments, management companies and everything that goes with that. I acknowledge that the Government has included Second Stage of the Multi-Unit Developments Bill in today's Order Paper, the conclusion of which will allow it to go on Committee Stage during recess. However, I very much regret that it will be three months before the Bill can come back into the House for Report and Final Stages and be enacted. That is something I will deal with when I contribute on proposal No. 7. I should acknowledge, in fairness, that the Government has acknowledged to the Labour Party that this Bill be taken today.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with No. 20 be agreed to".

Question put:

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 75 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Bobby Aylward, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Martin Mansergh, Micheál Martin, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, 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, Seán Power, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 70 (James Bannon, 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, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Phil Hogan, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, Pat Rabbitte, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 22 agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for the adjournment of the Dáil agreed to?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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No. It is the Government's intention to rise and not return until the final days of September.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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It gave into RISE yesterday.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach let this slip yesterday. The Green Party has fully colluded in this. When its Members were on this side of the House, they were the most vociferous objectors to such proposals.

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is not a revolution; it is a coalition.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Green Party is the stag's head.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Reilly, without interruption. He should not take too long before I put the question to the House.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I will wait until the Ceann Comhairle restores order. I hope he will afford this side of the House the same protection he affords the Government.

Yesterday, we debated the imposition of prescription charges on the most vulnerable in the country, yet not a single member of the Government parties was present for the debate. Deputy Harney, an independent, was the only Government representative present. People are outraged by this. That is an interesting point.

Deputies:

That would be a first.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask Members to restrain themselves because we have much business to transact.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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We should have a bit of order for God's sake and a bit of respect.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please, Deputies, there is much work to be done.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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We are not talking about stags and dogs now, we are talking about people. You have no understanding about people.

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

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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You are worried about the stags and the dogs but you do not care about the people.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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You sold half of rural Ireland.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Allow Deputy Reilly to proceed without interruption.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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You have the stag's head over there.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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You paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Ring, allow the Deputy to proceed.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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If they had their way, they would close it down until Christmas. Will we be back for Christmas Eve?

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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We are talking about two weeks.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I am glad there is such mirth on the other side of the House. They obviously look forward to their break of three months. They do not have much time or regard for the 452,000 people who have no job and will get no respite or break from the mistakes of this Government. They do not have regard for the people who have no respite care for the summer or the rest of the year. Galway might have been given a reprieve but the people of Limerick, Dublin and elsewhere will get none. These are the people we are supposed to serve. However, this Government has become increasingly self-serving. We are facing an economic crisis with rising unemployment. If this House were a company, it would be laughed out of court for taking holidays at such a time. The people are outraged and aghast at what is happening. They cannot fathom how the House can be so detached from the realities of the lives of ordinary people.

We utterly oppose this recession, or should I say recess.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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This is what I call serendipity.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I certainly utterly oppose those who created the recession and continue to preside over the recession, and who preside over the amount of unemployment we have and the hardship they have inflicted on our people.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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They think it is funny.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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They continue to protect bankers. Where is section 7 of the National Asset Management Agency Act? Will it be acted upon or is it just window dressing? Will people who misled the Government and the Minister for Finance go to jail if they are found guilty of such offences? That is what people want to see. They will then believe there is some fairness in this country. At present, there is no fairness.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should get back on track.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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We utterly oppose this long break. The Government shames us all by doing this.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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The proposal before us from the Fianna Fáil and Green Party Government is to close down the Dáil until 29 September.

Photo of Mary O'RourkeMary O'Rourke (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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That is a safer word.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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You are a fair woman to talk.

Photo of James BannonJames Bannon (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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Puss in boots.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Gilmore without interruption.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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Even by the standards of this Government, closing down the Dáil until 29 September is exceptional. We must go back to 2003 to find a later date for the resumption of the Dáil than the Government is proposing for this year. Undoubtedly, when the Government uses its majority shortly to get this proposal passed, and it will be opposed by the Labour Party, it will inevitably be reported that the Deputies are taking holidays for three months. That misses the point. This is not about holidays, but about politics. The reason the Government is doing this is that it will have three months in which it will not run the risk of being defeated in a vote in this House. It will be three months of the period of time it is serving out its notice in which it will not be challenged or questioned in the House about any of its proposals.

The Government will have three months to carry out openings, launches, events and news management in the hope-----

Photo of Jackie Healy-RaeJackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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What about Puck Fair?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Gilmore without interruption.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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It would be a disaster if the Taoiseach opened it.

Photo of Jackie Healy-RaeJackie Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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And Sam Maguire.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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We will see about that, Jackie.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Could we have some ciúnas?

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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If I were Deputy Healy-Rae, I would keep well clear of Killorglin in mid-August. I hear they do strange things to old bucks.

Photo of Conor LenihanConor Lenihan (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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You are the master of the hunt.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The stags will be back in Meath.

Photo of Martin ManserghMartin Mansergh (Minister of State with special responsibility for the Arts, Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism; Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Department of Finance; Tipperary South, Fianna Fail)
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Not according to the Labour Party.

Photo of Shane McEnteeShane McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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The stags will be back in Meath.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy McEntee, stop engaging across the floor and allow the Deputy in possession to speak.

Photo of Noel DempseyNoel Dempsey (Minister, Department of Transport; Meath West, Fianna Fail)
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The Labour Party has three months to develop policy.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I have a suggestion for the Government if it insists on a recess until 29 September. Will it reconvene the House for one day at the beginning of September to introduce the Bill to hold the referendum on children as well as table a motion to move the writ for the three by-elections for the three vacancies in the House? We could at least use the month of September to put the referendum on children before the people, have it adopted and hold the three by-elections. The last time the writ was moved in the House the Government said it did not wish to interrupt Dáil business by holding the by-elections. It can now hold them in September if it reconvenes the House for one day at the beginning of that month to move the writ, as well as introduce the Bill to hold the referendum on children. These could be held at the end of September and, at least, have some political business carried out in September if the Government insists that the Dáil cannot be back in session until 29 September. The Labour Party is absolutely opposed to the proposal that the Dáil be closed down until 29 September.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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We do not agree to a recess until 29 September. This is, of course, almost a ritual on the last sitting day of each pre-summer term. From our point of view the date the Dáil will reconvene is not an issue. This is not about a recess. We do not want the Government back, but a dissolution of this Dáil. The problem is not the length of time the Dáil will go into recess for the summer, but the Government that holds office over the State. That it would not return is the best answer we could get today. It should agree to a dissolution because it has no mandate.

Photo of Paul GogartyPaul Gogarty (Dublin Mid West, Green Party)
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The 2007 general election.

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade and Commerce, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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There are only four in the Deputy's party.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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It has no mandate for what it has rammed through the House over the past 12 months in particular - severe budget cuts, NAMA and a €22.5 billion deposit into a black hole called the Anglo Irish Bank. The list is endless and the record of this Government is shameless. What we want is not a proposal to recess until 29 September but this Government to face the fact that it has no mandate to continue in office. We want a decision on its part to go before the people not only in three by-elections, an Údarás election and a Dublin city election, although there is a question about that, but in a general election so the people can decide who they will trust to continue to govern the affairs of this State into the future. They do not trust this crowd here, Fianna Fáil and the Greens. The point was lost here. Deputy James Reilly made a very valid observation and it was lost in the melee of laughter. The fact of the matter is that legislation went through this House last evening, shoved through this House, the prescription charges Bill. Deputy Mary Harney, as Minister, sat there from the beginning to the end. There was not a single Fianna Fáil or Green Party Minister, Minister of State or backbencher present while that matter was being rammed across the 1.3 million people who depend on medical cards, at 50 cent per prescription item and €10 per month, but leaving the Minister and the Minister for Finance the opportunity to raise that at their behest and without any further reference to this House. There is no end of shameful decisions and failures on the part of this Government-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made his point and we must move on.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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So, recess be damned. Let us have this Dáil dissolved and let the people decide.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is an injustice to every Member of this House that on the occasion of deciding when the summer recess will happen, that we create a presumption in the public mind that Members of this House will not be working when in fact, each Member of this House will be working during July, part of August and September. They will be participating in their normal duties as Members of this House and all of the committees, which have done a considerable amount of work this year, will continue in that vein.

During this session we have participated in discussions in the provision of 23 pieces of legislation and I think it appropriate we have that recess to allow time for every Member of this House to take a justifiable occasion of at least two weeks off. I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone well during this recess. We will continue to do our work in hand which is very important. Therefore, the Government, proposes the date I will put to the House.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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On a point of order. What the Tánaiste seems to miss is that this Chamber does not sit, there are no plenary sessions-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not a point of order. I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----we cannot vote, we cannot pass legislation. The Tánaiste wants us to rise when people with disability will not have any respite care-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am putting the question.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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She wants us to rise when 452,000 people are unemployed-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made those points already.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----and facing total uncertainty.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am now putting the question.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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It is not good enough. People outside are trying to stay on a-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The only person who takes as many holidays as the Government does is Kathryn Thomas but she gets paid for it.

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, 29 September 2010, agreed?

Question put:

The Dail Divided:

For the motion: 74 (Bertie Ahern, Dermot Ahern, Michael Ahern, Noel Ahern, Barry Andrews, Chris Andrews, Bobby Aylward, Niall Blaney, Áine Brady, Cyprian Brady, Johnny Brady, John Browne, Thomas Byrne, Dara Calleary, Pat Carey, Seán Connick, Mary Coughlan, John Cregan, Ciarán Cuffe, John Curran, Noel Dempsey, Jimmy Devins, Timmy Dooley, Frank Fahey, Michael Finneran, Michael Fitzpatrick, Seán Fleming, Beverley Flynn, Paul Gogarty, John Gormley, Noel Grealish, Mary Hanafin, Mary Harney, Seán Haughey, Jackie Healy-Rae, Máire Hoctor, Billy Kelleher, Peter Kelly, Brendan Kenneally, Michael Kennedy, Tony Killeen, Michael Kitt, Tom Kitt, Brian Lenihan Jnr, Conor Lenihan, Michael Lowry, Tom McEllistrim, Mattie McGrath, Michael McGrath, John McGuinness, Martin Mansergh, Micheál Martin, 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, Mary O'Rourke, Christy O'Sullivan, Seán Power, Eamon Ryan, Trevor Sargent, Eamon Scanlon, Brendan Smith, Mary Wallace, Mary White, Michael Woods)

Against the motion: 68 (James Bannon, 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, John Deasy, Jimmy Deenihan, Andrew Doyle, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Olwyn Enright, Frank Feighan, Martin Ferris, Charles Flanagan, Terence Flanagan, Eamon Gilmore, Brian Hayes, Tom Hayes, Michael D Higgins, Brendan Howlin, Paul Kehoe, Ciarán Lynch, Kathleen Lynch, Pádraic McCormack, Shane McEntee, Dinny McGinley, Finian McGrath, Liz McManus, Olivia Mitchell, Arthur Morgan, Dan Neville, Michael Noonan, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Jim O'Keeffe, John O'Mahony, Brian O'Shea, Jan O'Sullivan, Maureen O'Sullivan, Willie Penrose, John Perry, Ruairi Quinn, James Reilly, Michael Ring, Tom Sheahan, P J Sheehan, Seán Sherlock, Emmet Stagg, David Stanton, Billy Timmins, Joanna Tuffy, Mary Upton, Leo Varadkar, Jack Wall)

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

Question declared carried

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Before concluding on the Order of Business, I wish all Members a pleasant and restful holiday in August. While the plenary session has concluded, work on the committees will continue for the rest of this month and will recommence in early September.

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and the panel of Acting Chairmen. It would be difficult to maintain and progress the work of the House without their assistance and co-operation. I thank the Clerk of the Dáil, Kieran Coughlan, the staff of the Houses and the political staff for their work, sometimes over very long hours.

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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I echo the sentiments of the Ceann Comhairle. I wish all sides of the House a safe and good summer holiday. I thank the staff of the House who have worked so hard to make the workings of this House run more smoothly than it otherwise would. Many people work very hard here.

I refer to the reference pricing for drugs Bill. We were told last night by the Minister for Health and Children that it might be introduced in September but it has been long-fingered so often that I would like to know there is a commitment from the Government side to introduce it this year. This Bill could save hundreds of millions of euro in drug costs. We know we pay ten to 20 times the amount paid for generic drugs in Northern Ireland. That has not been addressed by the Government. Only the Government can address this, it is not a matter for pharmacists or manufacturers of mainstream drugs that remain under patent. It is an issue for generic manufacturers and providers. It puts into stark contrast the savings that may be made on the Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill. I would welcome an indication on this point.

The public health (sunbeds) Bill is due to come before the House. There is an indication that it will include a prohibition on individuals using sunbeds. We need to see the heads of this Bill in order to see precisely what is in it. Reports in the newspapers suggest those with type 1 fair skin will be prohibited from using them. This seems unconstitutional. People must take responsibility for their health but no more than we can stop people smoking, we cannot stop people using sunbeds if they are over 18 years of age. They have a constitutional right to do as they see fit, notwithstanding medical advice. Finally, I wish the media a good summer.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister indicated legislation on the reference pricing of drugs will be published later this year. Approval was given by the Government to prepare draft heads of the Bill on sunbeds. I will try to find out the updated position and when we expect publication.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I echo the good wishes of the Ceann Comhairle to all who work in this House - members, staff and media. I return to the issues I raised with the Tánaiste when we were debating the date for the resumption. I refer to the Government's plans for the children's referendum and the three by-elections. What is the Government's intention with regard to these matters? Will the Government consider recalling the Dáil for one day in early September to pass legislation to allow the referendum to be held and to pass the required motions to move the writs for three by-elections? From a democratic point of view it is unacceptable that three constituencies - Dublin South, Donegal South-West and Waterford - are without representation in this House. Over the course of the past week we have seen votes where the margin by which matters were decided was less than three. People in those constituencies are entitled to their full representation in the Dáil. What are the Government's plans regarding the by-elections in the referendum?

It has been decided the Dáil will not be back until 29 September and it would be sensible to hold the children's referendum and three Dáil by-elections in September. It would have the advantage of not disrupting Dáil business later in the year and would achieve what has been agreed on an all-party basis, that the rights of children are written into the Constitution by referendum. This can be put to the people and the people of Dublin South, Donegal South-West and Waterford will be fully represented in the House.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I join with each of the colleagues who have spoken in wishing everyone a deserved short break over the period ahead. I emphasise that because I concur with the point made by the Tánaiste. I know the limited opportunity for a break in real terms that I will enjoy. Across this House, we will all be working throughout the rest of this month and for much of the period until the Dáil resumes. I wish everyone in the Houses of the Oireachtas, the media, who were missed out so far, and everyone who contributes to the smooth running of this institution a pleasant and restful holiday.

I support Deputy Gilmore's proposal and I reiterate it now. A formula should be adopted to avoid having to come back on 29 September, as has been agreed by the House, and face the constant haranguing that is part of the daily performance with regard to matters not yet decided or progressed by the Government. We are speaking specifically about the promised referendum enshrining children's rights in the Constitution and the three outstanding by-elections in Donegal South-West, Dublin South and Waterford. We should recognise that much time has been taken up on these matters. No clarity has been provided and the Taoiseach's response on this point gives no certainty that these important excursions for the electorate will happen this year. It is the view of Sinn Féin that they should all happen.

The most important of those four opportunities to consult the electorate is the referendum on enshrining children's rights in the Constitution. An all-party committee recommendation was made on wording and this was not only a construction of elected representatives with varying degrees of legal abilities, it was backed up by the support of four counsel engaged by the committee over the period. There is considerable legal scrutiny of the work of the committee and the content of the third report and its recommendations, including the specific wording offered and signed off on by all parties. The Taoiseach made the point that he must go through this with a fine-tooth comb. Much work was done over 62 meetings and it was not a vague notion pulled out of the sky. The scrutiny employed by the elected representatives and the counsel engaged by the committee was considerable. It will be difficult to replicate even in the Office of the Attorney General. We hope there will be an early indication that these matters will be progressed. Deputy Gilmore's proposal that this be done and dusted before we resume on 29 September makes eminent sense and I formally support it.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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Briefly, I understand that last week, the Taoiseach articulated that the Attorney General and a number of Ministers and Departments are working through the issue of the referendum on children, arising from the work that was carried out by the committee. As the Government wishes to avoid unintended circumstances, this work is ongoing. Clearly, however, the Government intends to have a referendum. With regard to the by-elections, nothing has been decided.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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While the Ceann Comhairle probably thinks that I am like a dog with a bone, I ask for a minute or two be to made available for the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy John Moloney, to update the House regarding progress on opening the respite home in Limerick. I do not believe Members should leave this House today without ensuring that those people also get a break. I only seek a minute or two because he has been having meetings.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Minister of State will have a meeting at approximately 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. this evening and I will ask him to inform personally the Deputy of matters arising from that discussion himself.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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The Tánaiste will inform me.

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

Photo of Kieran O'DonnellKieran O'Donnell (Limerick East, Fine Gael)
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On a related matter, the Minister of State with responsibility for disability, Deputy Moloney, came before the House last night. While Members obviously can be updated individually, if possible, in the interests of complete clarity, the Minister of State, Deputy Moloney, should come before the House at some point this evening to make a brief statement to the effect that the respite services will be restored at the centre run by the Brothers of Charity in Limerick. This would bring great certainty.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy, time appears to be a problem.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I will ask the Minister of State to advise the Deputies in their constituencies.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Can the Tánaiste tell me the reason the Minister for Justice and Law Reform counts himself so precious and above all other members of the Cabinet by refusing to account to this House for the expenditure of public funds? Last week, I tabled a parliamentary question-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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This sounds like material for a parliamentary question.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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I tabled a parliamentary question to all Ministers and I now seek the assistance of the Ceann Comhairle on this matter in respect of the expenditure of taxpayers' money on legal fees by each Department. Every Minister responded by stating the figures involved or by stating they would respond when the figures had been collated. Even the Minister for Health and Children, who is renowned in this House for avoiding questions, responded to me. However, the Minister for Justice and Law Reform refused to account-----

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

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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-----to this House for the expenditure of public funds.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy must revisit this matter later in the year.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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The Ceann Comhairle should wait a moment. How is it that every other Minister in the Cabinet was able to respond positively but the Minister for Justice and Law Reform stated he was not in a position to so do?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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All right. The Deputy should table an item for the Adjournment on 29 September.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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I note that Members cannot debate everything in the first week of October.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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No.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Moreover, Members may not get the chance to do so either.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I suggest the Adjournment.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Second, I tabled a question to the aforementioned Minister for Justice and Law Reform in respect of amending legislation that is urgently required for many women and children. However, I received a letter from the Ceann Comhairle disallowing the question on the basis that a similar question had been tabled by my colleague, Deputy Clune, last week and naturally, he forwarded a copy of those replies to me. In those replies, the Minister stated that he is currently in consultation with the Attorney General following a judgment of the High Court last year in respect of women seeking maintenance orders for themselves and their children.

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

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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I will conclude by asking the Tánaiste-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There is a work programme from now until midnight in front of me and we must make progress.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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-----whether she can clarify matters. The High Court decision was made nearly a year ago and these women and children are only entitled to seek back payments for 14 weeks.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, Deputy.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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This House is going to adjourn for 12 weeks after today, which means the Minister is abandoning them.

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

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Can the Tánaiste assure me that this measure is a matter of urgency or is the Government ignoring these women and children and denying them their rights as granted by the courts of the land?

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

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Can the Tánaiste give me an assurance in this regard?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy must raise this matter when we resume on 29 September. The Tánaiste does not have that information to hand here in the Chamber.

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Members will not return for another three months.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Moreover, the Deputy, as a long-time Member of this House, knows that.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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To be helpful to the long-term Member from Goleen, I will ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform to advise him as to when he anticipates a further response.

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his earlier comments with which I wish to be associated. The people in this House work very long hours and I wish they did the same in the Department of Education and Skills.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy is a wild man.

Photo of Ruairi QuinnRuairi Quinn (Dublin South East, Labour)
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If they did, the legislation for the community national school model would be available. It was to have been debated during this session but, sadly, productivity north of the Liffey does not appear to be the same as south of the Liffey. When will the legislation at least be published?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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This month.

Photo of Michael RingMichael Ring (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I wish to raise two issues with the Tánaiste. First, I refer to legal costs and legal charges. This week, the Taxing Master expressed his outrage in respect of the costs the legal profession was charging. When will the legal costs Bill come before the Dáil? I urge the Tánaiste and the Government to push this forward because the charges that some legal people are charging are outrageous. There is only law in Ireland for the rich, not for the poor.

Second, I note the Tánaiste once had responsibility for this portfolio and as she is aware, the Department of Social Protection issued letters recently in respect of child benefit. Some people did not respond to the letters because of a change of address or different reasons and, consequently, the telephone lines to the child benefit section are inundated with people trying to contact it. People are obliged to wait on the telephone for two or three hours. What will the Department do with regard to people who need their child benefit payments but who cannot get through to the Department?

Photo of P J SheehanP J Sheehan (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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Hear, hear.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The legal costs Bill is coming up next year. As for the issue regarding access to the child benefit section, I will speak to the Minister and ask him whether something can be done to resolve the matter.