Thursday, 11 November 2010
Requests to move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 32
Ba mhaith liom an Dáil a chur ar athló chun déileáil le gné rí-thabhachtach, namely, the urgent need for the Government to listen to the children of Ireland and respond to the Christmas Wish campaign organised by Protest Against Child Unfriendly Budget by offering a public guarantee that child benefit will not be cut, taxed or means-tested in the coming budget and to instead pursue an alternative route to economic recovery as advocated by Sinn Féin, the trade unions and the community and voluntary pillar on foot of which social spending on children and families could act as a much-needed stimulus for growth in the local economy and the unspent riches of the wealthy would be appropriately taxed in order to lift the disproportionate burden of recovery that is to be unfairly placed on the small shoulders of Ireland's children in budget 2011.
I seek the adjournment of the Dáil under Standing Order 32 to raise a matter of public interest requiring urgent attention, namely, the report published yesterday by the European Court of Auditors stating the closure of the Greencore sugar factory in Mallow in 2006 with the loss of over 300 jobs may not have been necessary. I ask for a debate on the report in this House so the Tánaiste can give an account of the night of 20 February 2006 when the factory-----
I seek the adjournment of the Dáil under Standing Order 32 to debate the report from the European Court of Auditors which found that there was no need to close the Mallow sugar factory and that Greencore misled its workforce and the then Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in its reasons for the closure, and the fact that proposals to keep both the Mallow and Carlow plants open were rejected in order that Greencore could use the sites to engage in property speculation.
I seek the adjournment of the Dáil under Standing Order 32 to raise a matter of public interest requiring urgent attention, namely, the implications of the European Court of Auditors' report that determined that the Mallow sugar plant need not have been closed. I intend to raise this in a special notice question and under Standing Order 21.
I seek the adjournment of the Dáil under Standing Order 32 to debate a matter of urgent national importance, namely, the finding of the European Court of Auditors that out-of-date information was used when decisions were taken to shut down the national sugar beet industry, leading to a circumstances in which we are totally dependent on imported sugar, which was valued at almost €100 million in 2009.
On a point of order, there is plenty of time available today for statements on this matter to be taken by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It is most unusual that four or five Opposition Deputies would raise the same issue.
That highlights the importance of the issue. I ask the Tánaiste and the Chief Whip to provide time - perhaps one hour, with 15 minutes devoted to questions and answers - for a debate on the report published yesterday. That is a fair proposition.
I would like a reply from the Tánaiste or the Chief Whip in respect of the matter I have raised. This is a very important report and a number of Opposition Deputies are seeking to have it discussed. I ask the Ceann Comhairle to give the matter due consideration.
Yes. We have received notification in respect of a private notice question and a number of items have also been tabled in respect of the Adjournment. Between the two, we will endeavour to accommodate Deputies.
On a point of order, with respect I suggest that this is an appropriate occasion on which Standing Orders should be suspended in order to accommodate a debate on an issue which relates to a major industry that was extinguished as a result of-----
I have not finished my point of order. The point I am making relates to the suspension of Standing Orders to discuss an issue of major national importance. In fairness, the Ceann Comhairle is stating that Members will be accommodated in some other way. That is not the issue; the issue is that this is the appropriate mechanism to deal with the matter in question.
The Ceann Comhairle is closing down democracy. He was part of the Government that was in power when the Greencore factory was closed. The Tánaiste is present and all we need is time to be made available in order that a debate might take place.
Standing Orders provide for exactly the type of situation with which we are dealing. I refer to the motions to suspend Standing Orders in order to allow a debate such as that being requested to take place. Standing Order 32 exists for a reason and this is exactly the type of situation in respect of which it applies. It is quite rare that there would be a request to discuss a matter such as that raised by Deputy Sherlock and others this morning. I do not wish to have an argument with the Ceann Comhairle.
That will be done under two possible headings, namely, a private notice question - one of which has been submitted - and on the Adjournment. A submission has also been received in respect of the latter. We will endeavour to provide adequate time under either or both of those headings.
This matter is entirely in the Ceann Comhairle's hands; it is not a matter for the Whips. We have given the Ceann Comhairle power, under the Standing Orders of the House, to deal with special situations that arise. This is one such situation and the Ceann Comhairle should use the Standing Order in respect of it.
-----has been received and that an application to raise the matter on the Adjournment has also been submitted. Accommodating a question-and-answer session in respect of the private notice question seems to be the best way to elicit the information Members require.
If I could have some silence, I will proceed. We could accommodate the debate that is urgently required if the sitting were suspended for a minute or two so that the Order of Business might be changed. The debate being requested could be held at noon. I am trying to be of assistance.
I do not believe it is possible to point to an example where a matter taken on the Adjournment has been addressed by the responding Minister. The Adjournment will not deal with a matter of fundamental importance wherein, on the basis of an indigenous product, 250 manufacturing jobs were being provided-----
I do not want to be disorderly and I know the Ceann Comhairle does not want me to be disorderly. It is not in the interests of any Member to be disorderly in respect of this matter. As Deputies Stagg and Kehoe pointed out, Standing Order 32 is in place to deal with specific situations such as that which has arisen. If it is seen outside the House that the Ceann Comhairle does not believe this matter to be sufficiently serious in nature to allow a debate on it to take place under Standing Order 32, that will reflect badly on the House.
Applications have been made under three headings, namely, Standing Order 32, private notice questions and the Adjournment. We are endeavouring to accommodate it under private notice questions later today in order to provide Members with ample opportunity to pursue the different aspects of the matter.
The Ceann Comhairle and I have been in this House a long time. I cannot remember five Members of the House asking for the same item to be raised and for Standing Orders to be suspended. He should respect the totality of this House and accede to what is-----
A private notice question does not deal with it either because it will be addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith. We need to hear from the Tánaiste, who was the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at the time and who was at the Council of Ministers. We have a report from the EU Court of Auditors that states very clearly that the factory did not have to be closed, it was a profitable business, it had enormous potential and was a modern operation. The issue which Deputies and the Labour Party want to get to the bottom of is why it ended up being closed down. What role did the Tánaiste-----
This House is entitled to have that accountability and the mechanism which the Ceann Comhairle proposed does not deal with it. If the Tánaiste is willing to come into the House, address the issue, tell the House how she handled it when she was Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, why the factory was closed and is prepared to answer questions about her role at the time, that will address the issue.