Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Order of Business
It is proposed to take No. 1, Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2009 [Seanad] - Second Stage, to adjourn at 7 p.m. tonight, if not previously concluded; No. 18, statements re Minister for Finance's announcement on banking of 30 September 2010 (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the DÃ¡il shall sit later than 8.30 p.m. tonight and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m. Private Members' business shall be No. 73, motion re health service cutbacks.
Would the Taoiseach like to comment on the information available to him consequent on the bomb in Derry, an issue of serious concern? The House has discussed the security issue over the past 18 months or so and clearly the threat, which was referred to by the Garda Commissioner, the Chief of the PSNI and the head of MI5, has now become a reality. I assure the Taoiseach of the full and total support of the Fine Gael Party, as has always been the case, for the efforts of Government to continue a high level of vigilance in order that this threat can be dealt with and the consequences of the Good Friday Agreement can continue, namely peace and harmony among communities and people being allowed to get on with their lives. I assure the Taoiseach of our support on that. Perhaps the Taoiseach will either make arrangements to convey the information to us or make a statement about the information available to him as to whether these persons can be apprehended or what is the story.
Second, what is the position regarding the Attorney General's examination of the wording produced by the all-party committee last February, which was agreed following legal advice, on the question of a referendum on children's rights? He has been examining this for some time. Will the Taoiseach report to the House on what progress the Attorney General has made in his examination and when it will conclude? Has the Government considered when the referendum will be held?
I cannot anticipate of the outcome of that work, which is ongoing. The Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Barry Andrews, is in charge of it and he will report to the Government in due course. Many issues arise, which I have mentioned on Question Time previously, and they are being worked through at the moment. I cannot anticipate the outcome.
With regard to the bombing last night, I condemn and deplore this wanton act of violence in Derry. It served no purpose, only the destruction of property. Thankfully, no lives were lost. It was an appalling incident, which serves no political purpose and which will have no effect. Co-operation between the Garda and the PSNI on these issues is good and unprecedentedly close in every way and they will continue to work together to see in what way they can identify the perpetrators and make sure they are brought to justice.
I join the Taoiseach and Deputy Kenny in expressing serious concern about what happened in Derry last night and I hope the Garda and PSNI are successful in finding out who was responsible, dealing with them and bringing them to justice. A significant amount of this type of activity has been building up for some time and it needs to be dealt with before it gets serious.
I refer to the local government (Dublin mayor and regional authority) Bill in the Government's legislative programme. When will the it be published? When does the Taoiseach intend that the House will deal with it? What is the estimated annual cost of this measure?
I understand we should see publication of that Bill in the next few weeks. I hope it can be taken this session. I do not anticipate any additional costs, as will be outlined on publication of the legislation. That is not the purpose of the measure.
Are the rate payers of Dublin city and county to pay for this then? How will there not be additional costs? This is a new office. The McCarthy report recommended the abolition of regional authorities while it is proposed to legislate for regional authority for Dublin in this Bill. I do not understand how there cannot be costs attached to it. How will it be financed?
Yes, but it is a normal feature of any Bill for us to be informed of its estimated cost in the explanatory memorandum circulated with it. The Taoiseach seems to have indicated that the memorandum that will circulate with this Bill will indicate there will be no cost. If that is the case, how will that happen?
I do not anticipate additional costs. I believe that we will be able to come forward with a proposal which will ensure that the mayoralty will be accommodated within the considerable moneys allocated to and expended by local authorities in the Dublin area.
I once again confirm that the House is unanimous in roundly rejecting what happened in Derry last night and I take the opportunity once again on behalf of Sinn FÃ©in to appeal to those responsible to desist in their actions and to review how they could play a constructive role in the pursuit of their stated objectives.
With regard to promised legislation, the State has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and one of the essential steps in bringing us to that point is the passage of the mental capacity Bill. At what stage is preparation of the Bill? When will it be published?
The revised programme for Government promised an independent electoral commission but going through the legislative programme for the current session, there is no reference to this promised legislation. When will such legislation be published?
I understand the mental capacity Bill will be published this session. Ireland has signed the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and there will not be an undue delay in following up on that. It is the Government's intention to do so as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary requirements under the convention are being met.
We have to take that into account the need for all the necessary requirements under the convention to be met. We hold to the legal tradition of not ratifying treaties until it is considered that domestic law in general is in conformity with them. While Ireland has not ratified the convention, that does not mean progress is not being made in meeting the requirements. It means that when we ratify it, the process of implementing its provisions will be enhanced. That is the way in which we will proceed.
That was the answer to the question but one has to put it in a certain way.
I am a little concerned about another issue. A number of Bills are awaiting Committee Stage, including the Spent Convictions Bill 2007, Student Support Bill 2008, Employment Law Compliance Bill 2008, Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2009, Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2010, Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010 and Nurses and Midwives Bill 2010. Some of the Bills have been awaiting Committee Stage for a considerable time. Why? Will the Taoiseach indicate the degree of urgency, if any, that will be attributed to their early process through the committee system?
Another part of the question which is relevant at the moment relates to the collective investment (consolidation) Bill which has been on the Order Paper for a considerable time. I am sure everyone agrees it is pertinent and urgently required and that a debate should be facilitated in the House as soon as possible. Publication is not expected at this stage. Why is this the case?
No, a Cheann Comhairle, this relates to something that has been brought before the House in the last few days. With regard to the use of the word, "ongoing", we need to know what is the conclusion and we need to know the end line. It took two years to give some indication as to what was the true position with regard to other issues before this House. This is an urgent issue. I again ask the Taoiseach if there is any intention to have discussions with the relevant line Department to bring the information before the House and to bring the Bill before the House as soon as possible in these very important times.
The Ceann Comhairle is only interested in interrupting me. This is important legislation which is pertinent at this time. It has been the subject of discussion in this House for the past two years. I am again asking the Taoiseach whether he attaches any importance to the introduction of that legislation.
The Ceann Comhairle allowed Deputy Durkan speak for nearly ten minutes. I will explain what my inquiry is. In the statement delivered to the House about the financial disaster the Taoiseach made reference to exploring with the Attorney General the issue of legislation dealing with bank resolution. Is this contemplated in the context of AIB?
Second, the Minister for Finance wrote to me stating he was exploring whether legislation was required regarding the Government's proposal in respect of Anglo Irish Bank on a funding bank and an asset recovery bank. Will the House be given clarification? The sums involved are very considerable-----
As the Minister for Finance set out clearly in his banking statement last week, his Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General, is working on resolution and reorganisation legislation which will enable the implementation of reorganisation measures specific to Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Society, which will address the issue of burden sharing. In order to achieve the Government's objective of securing appropriate burden by holders of debt in Anglo and INBS, the legislation will be consistent with the requirement for the legislative measures to be recognised as a reorganisation under the relevant EU directive in other EU member states. While no specific issues have been identified to date, work on the legislation will also consider the requirement for any other legislative measures to support restructuring of Anglo and INBS. When this work is completed, the necessary legislation will be tabled in the House. The precise timeframe for preparing this legislation is currently being examined and I am confident it can be completed reasonably quickly.
I am asking about legislation which I hope will be forthcoming and which would address the appalling state of the taxi industry, the high rate of suicides among taxi drivers and the failure of the taxi regulator to deal with the issue to date. The Minister has refused to meet with delegations from the various taxi representative associations. Is the Taoiseach aware of the circumstances? Is there any intention to introduce a taxi regulator (amendment) Bill which, hopefully, would deal with some of the shortfalls in the industry and the way it is regulated?
-----I met some of the taxi leaders last night. These men and women are so desperate as a result of the Government's regulation of the taxi industry that they are prepared to go on hunger strike outside these gates and they may even have begun that strike in the past hour.
The mind boggles.
One of the matters raised by Deputy Durkan related to the Spent Convictions Bill. It is a minor item of legislation that began life as a Private Members' Bill. It is important to many people and I ask the Taoiseach to use his influence to expedite its conclusion.
On the statement read out by the Taoiseach about AIB, I notice he is sending in PricewaterhouseCoopers to manage the place. That company received â¬5 million in fees-----
The proposal to publish the postal services Bill this session is welcome. Liberalisation must take place on 1 January 2011. Since the Minister for Communication, Energy and Natural Resources and the Chief Whip are present, can the Taoiseach ensure the convention that is supposed to be applied in this House - where there are two weeks between publication of the Bill and the taking of the Bill - will be honoured for what is a significant item of legislation in terms of the future of our postal services?
I cannot give a blanket assurance of that kind. It is a matter for the ordering of the DÃ¡il business by the Whips on the proposition of the Government Whip. We will try to ensure we can provide adequate time but I cannot give that commitment.
Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle or the Taoiseach can assist me with an item on the Order Paper that was laid before the Oireachtas last week. It concerns secondary legislation and the manner in which this House is treated. This concerns the treaty amending, with regard to Greenland, the treaties establishing the European Communities and protocol done at Brussels on 13 March 1984. Ireland's instrument of ratification was deposited with the Italian foreign Ministry on 24 January 1985 and entered into force with respect to Ireland on 1 February 1985. It was laid before the House on 1 September 2010, 25 years after it was signed by the Minister. I hope the Taoiseach or the Ceann Comhairle can explain this matter. It seems we have Government by decree in this State and the Government can sign a statutory instrument or adopt a particular matter-----
On a point of order, Deputy Varadkar is entitled to ask a question about secondary legislation. If the answer is not available on the day, it is up to the Government to provide the answer separately. Standing Orders provide for this and the Deputy is quite in order to ask a question on secondary legislation.
I do not know the reason without notice and no one else would know the reason for the inordinate delay without notice. It is surprising the Government of the day did not lay it before the Houses of the Oireachtas.