Dáil debates

Thursday, 13 January 2011

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. 1, Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2010 [Seanad] - Second Stage. Private Members' Business shall be No. 84, motion re water utilities (resumed), to be taken after the Order of Business, and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are no proposals to put to the House today.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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To raise a brief point, while there no proposals the Tánaiste has nevertheless indicated the ordering of business for today in respect of the Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Bill 2010. Sinn Féin Deputies object to the facilitation of this proposal. This legislation will spell the unravelling of our postal services and An Post, threaten the existing service to rural Ireland and put jobs at risk. We strongly object to the proposition, even if I cannot-----

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----call a vote on it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In respect of the communications legislation on today's Order Paper, I assume the Taoiseach has communicated to the Tánaiste the position arising from the question Deputy Ó Caoláin asked yesterday about attendance at a function in Druid's Glen. I ask her whether the Taoiseach gave her a full account of the matter and if she is happy to accept what he has said.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We spent a considerable amount of time on this matter yesterday.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Perhaps we will return to it next week as well.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I listened to what the Deputy had to say on yesterday's "Six One News". The Taoiseach dealt with all these issues in the House yesterday, I fully support his version of what happened and, moreover, others outside of politics have indicated what discussions took place on that occasion. If the Deputy does not believe the truth, that is a sad reflection on a man who purports to be the next Taoiseach.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I thank the Tánaiste for her comments. We now know that she, at least, accepts what she heard in this Chamber. However, the position appears to be that Mr. Gray, who was referred to as attending that function, was invited for another reason, about which he was very clear.

He was invited formally to discuss opportunities and potential for small business, job creation and other aspects of the economy. The Taoiseach said he was there to have a chat with friends.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If Deputy Kenny wishes to pursue this matter, we will have to find a recognised procedure for doing that.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Every time I stand up, the Ceann Comhairle is off his mark within ten seconds.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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No. It is a matter of-----

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Yesterday he allowed the Taoiseach to respond for 11 minutes without interruption-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I extend the same-----

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----after he read out the rules.

My point is that Mr. Alan Gray has a very different view from what was said in this House yesterday. The Taoiseach said he was shooting the breeze, having a chat with people and that it was purely a social evening. Mr. Gray was invited to what appeared to be a formal meeting to give his views on job creation, small business, the economy and incentives for employment, which would be a very worthwhile discussion in its own right. However, Mr. FitzPatrick said publicly on a number of occasions that his favourite source of investment advice was the Financial Times website and The Economist but that for the real McCoy-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If Deputy Kenny is going to pursue this matter, we will have to find another way-----

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----one cannot beat the 19th hole on the golf course.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is entirely inappropriate for 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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Is the Tánaiste satisfied there is now a direct contradiction between what the Taoiseach said yesterday and what Mr. Gray said last night?

Photo of Kathleen LynchKathleen Lynch (Cork North Central, Labour)
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As a woman, does she feel she should take up golf? It is clearly where the power is.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will not allow a discussion to develop on this matter on the Order of Business. I call the Tánaiste for a brief reply.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach dealt with this matter yesterday and I will not add to it.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is fine.

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

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I wish to raise a number of issues relating to the Order of Business. The Order of Business before us is pathetic. What is going on in this Chamber this morning is frankly surreal. People in this country are struggling to survive, want to get back to work and have been hit with a big whack of an increase in Vhi premiums on top of the damage done to their pay packets and incomes this month. More than anything else people want to get things moving again and to see some recovery and hope.

Before Christmas the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, said:

.....we have now reached a point where the Irish people needed political certainty to take them beyond the coming two months. So, we believe it is time to fix a date for a general election in the second half of January 2011.

We were told we were coming back yesterday to deal with the Finance Bill but when we came back we were told it was not only the Finance Bill but that there were four Bills. There are now 21 Bills. Even this morning the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has found another straw at which to clutch to try to prolong the life of the Government. He wants to send the leaders of the Opposition away somewhere on St. Patrick's Day - any excuse to delay the recovery this country needs.

The Taoiseach does not have credibility. He was at a dinner with people from Anglo Irish Bank and they did not discuss the bank. He played golf with the chairman of Anglo Irish Bank and they did not discuss the bank and they had dinner afterwards and discussed lending to small business.

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

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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It reminds me of what Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh said about hurling in Fermanagh and the Fiji Islands. Anglo Irish Bank was hardly noted for lending to small business. We have a Taoiseach who lacks credibility, a Government, many of whose members are not standing for re-election-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If Deputy Gilmore is going to pursue this vein of contribution, we will have find a way-----

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I want to know from the Tánaiste the Government's timetable for the legislation we were told would be taken. We need to have some certainty and clarity about the timetable for the completion of the legislation that arises from the budget. We also need an assurance from the Government that it will not find one excuse after the other to delay the inevitable, that is, the fresh start, people getting back to work and getting the country working again which can happen only with the election of a new Government.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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This matter was outlined by the Taoiseach yesterday. He indicated that once the Finance Bill was completed in the spring of this year, the dissolution of the House would occur.

I refer the Deputy to the EUROSTAT figures this morning which show Irish growth is the fastest among eurozone members.

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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It is not growth in jobs.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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Stabilising Exchequer returns, strong export performance, high levels of foreign direct investment and improving competitiveness are all helping Ireland to create high quality jobs and return to sustainable growth-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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One speaker at a time.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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-----with huge increases. Therefore, it is important to reiterate to the people that, as a consequence of the decisions made by this Government, the domestic economy is showing strong signs of return to growth and the four year plan is a credible way in which we can move forward.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Despite everything.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I asked a question about the Order of Business. Yesterday the Chief Whip published a list of legislation, some of which is legislation about which the Government has been distinctly unenthusiastic for the past three years. Suddenly it is very important and must be enacted before the general election.

Will the Tánaiste answer the following question clearly? Will she list the legislation the Government intends, or wishes, to enact before the dissolution of the Dáil and set out a timetable for the handling of that legislation? It is not a difficult question and it is perfectly in order on the Order of Business. It is particularly relevant given the commitment from Government before Christmas that there would be a dissolution of the Dáil before the end of January.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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Four pieces of legislation are pertinent to the budget, namely, the Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme) Bill, the Betting (Amendment) Bill, the Social Welfare Bill and the Finance Bill. Those pieces of legislation will give legislative effect to the budgetary decisions.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Why are they not in the Finance Bill like always?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Social Welfare Bill is introduced on its own.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It is not a miscellaneous Bill.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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If Deputy Stagg, as a whip, wants to show disregard to the legislative process, that is a matter for him. Those are the pieces of legislation pertinent to the budget. Other pieces of legislation, which are important, will be considered by both Houses while these pieces of legislation are going through the normal process. That legislation has been outlined by the Chief Whip. It will depend on how long it takes the other pieces of legislation to be considered.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I am just looking for clarity. Am I to understand from that answer that the only legislation the Government intends to enact before the dissolution of the Dáil are the four pieces the Tánaiste outlined and that the other legislation referred to will be stuck in here, there or wherever to fill the order but that it is not necessarily the Government's intention to have them enacted before the dissolution of the Dáil?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy knows well that is not the situation. There is legislation before the House today which will be enacted before the budgetary legislation is completed. Many other pieces of legislation are on Committee and Report Stages in this House and they will be dealt with as well.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I am sorry-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We need to move on.

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I am just looking for clarity. I will keep this simple. We were told the House would come back after Christmas to deal with the legislation which arose from the budget. We expected that to be one piece of legislation, namely, the Finance Bill. The Government has now widened that. We have been told four pieces of legislation must be enacted arising from the budget.

In terms of the commitment made before Christmas by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, and the Taoiseach that the recall of the Dáil after Christmas would be to deal with the legislation arising from the budget, if those four pieces of legislation are enacted, is that it? I understand what the Tánaiste said, that the Government will shove in other legislation here and there, but are they the only four pieces of legislation the Government intends to enact? Can we have a timetable for those four Bills? Last week we were given a draft or indicative timetable for the Finance Bill, which showed that Bill, as I understood it, concluding in the Seanad at the end of February. What is the timetable for the other Bills? The game being played is that we are back dealing with the legislation arising from the budget. Before Christmas it was due to be done by the end of January. When we got the timetable the end of January became the end of February. Then people were told that it would be the end of March and now I understand it is April, so this is being dragged out. It is not just that the general election is being delayed by the Government; the recovery of the country is being delayed by this crowd staying in office well past its sell-by date.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I have indicated to the Deputy the facts of the situation. It is a matter for and the prerogative of the Taoiseach to decide the date of a general election. The dissolution of the House will take place on the completion of consideration by both Houses of the Oireachtas of the finance legislation that must be introduced to give legislative effect to budgetary matters. It is completely disingenuous and disrespectful not only to Members on this side of the house but to Opposition Members who are very anxious that other legislation is not just slotted in as the Deputy says,-----

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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We will do it ourselves, if the Tánaiste and her colleagues get out of the way.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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-----but is enacted appropriately on the basis that we need it.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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They are like bed blockers.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I have nothing further to add to this matter. It has been outlined by the Taoiseach and by me and, I might say, done outside the parameters of what is purported to be the Order of Business.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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When the Taoiseach hears the first cuckoo he will call the general election.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Is that before or after he has gone cuckoo?

Photo of Jim O'KeeffeJim O'Keeffe (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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He is waiting for a letter to The Irish Times.

A Deputy:

Could there be a stretch in the evenings?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Does the Tánaiste still have unreserved confidence in her Taoiseach?

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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Does she still maintain-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We spent considerable time on this matter yesterday.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----as she has done in recent days-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is inappropriate to raise it in this fashion. There are other ways if the Deputy so wishes to raise it in the House, but not in this way and not on the Order of Business.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I have a context, which is critical. Does the Tánaiste still maintain, as she has done in recent days, that he met "nobody in particular" at Druid's Glen? None of that is credible.

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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After the further revelations yesterday, surely-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We went over this territory yesterday for a considerable length of time and we need to move on. Does the Deputy have an inquiry about promised business or legislation?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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----even her staunch adherence to and support for the Taoiseach cannot maintain. When will the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance come to the House to make final, and full and frank statements on all that was known in the months leading up to the bank guarantee in September 2008? That has never been done and we are still in an exercise of extracting in a drip-feed way-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Deputy promise us some brevity after this?

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----critical, salient and important information. Will the Tánaiste ensure that the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance will, if not today then in the coming week, come before the Dáil and make a clean breast of all that they knew-----

Photo of Seán PowerSeán Power (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy could do that himself.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----including the date-by-date sequence of all the information brought to their attention in the lead-up to the bank guarantee in September 2008?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will need to pursue this matter in another way. A substantive motion is the way to do it and not on the hoof on the Order of Business in such a fashion.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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The critical point is that the Government cannot continue to treat the people as fools.

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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Without any question-----

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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-----the complete fools in all of this-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I request that the Deputy co-operates with the Chair the odd time.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----are those who had the opportunity for formal engagement with Anglo Irish Bank and the other financial institutions and clearly had a very special opportunity in informal and social engagements with these same players-----

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----that they would not have known-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to give way to the next speaker.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----more than they claimed in terms of a liquidity situation as was put before the House.

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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For heaven's sake, treat the representatives of the people and the people with some respect and regard.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy wishes to pursue this matter, a process needs to be followed.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I ask the Tánaiste to respond to my questions and-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should table a substantive motion if he wishes to pursue the matter, but not in this fashion.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----give us a clear indication of when we will have the full truth-----

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----exposed on the floor of the Chamber.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Kenny with a query on legislation.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Excuse me, a Cheann Comhairle, I will have a response from the Tánaiste.

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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I am asking for a reply as is my entitlement.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is inappropriate for the Deputy to raise this matter in such a fashion on the Order of Business.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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This is the Order of Business.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy so wishes to pursue it, there are a procedure and process to be followed.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I am fully compliant.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will advise the Deputy if he requires information on that matter. I ask him to resume his seat.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Let me assure you of this, a Cheann Comhairle-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Chair is on his feet, resume your seat, please.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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A Cheann Comhairle, with respect, take whatever action suits you best. You will not stand up to the Labour Party in quite the same way that your vitriol against Sinn Féin-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Labour Party query this morning was on promised legislation, on which it is entitled to ask a question.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----clearly seems to entitle you to do. I have made one contribution and I want a response.

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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I have not sought to make four.

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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Will you insist on a reply, a Cheann Comhairle?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Tánaiste have a brief comment?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is out of order; there is no proposal.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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There is a question regarding the Taoiseach and the Minister coming before this House-----

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----either today or in the coming week.

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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I am asking you, a Cheann Comhairle, that I get that reply.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am asking you to resume your seat and show some respect for the Chamber and its Members. I call Deputy Kenny.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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You have a duty to ensure that I get a response.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have a duty and I fulfil that duty.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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We are entitled to a response.

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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When will we see the wedding photographs?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The first duty is to ensure there is order in the House. I call Deputy Kenny.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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With respect to Deputy Kenny, I do not want to be in conflict with any other Member seeking to speak. In terms of ordering the business, I have asked when the Taoiseach and the Minister for Finance will come before the House to give a clear, full, frank and final account of all they knew.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have no promised business in that area. I call Deputy Kenny.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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We have been misled repeatedly.

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 more than in order that I demand-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to resume his seat; I do not wish to have to ask him to leave the House, but if I have to, I will.

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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-----that the truth and the facts are established.

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

Photo of Caoimhghín Ó CaoláinCaoimhghín Ó Caoláin (Cavan-Monaghan, Sinn Fein)
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You do no honour to your position, a Cheann Comhairle, in taking that line.

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

Photo of Pat RabbittePat Rabbitte (Dublin South West, Labour)
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Are there any photographs?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Leader of the Opposition; Opposition Spokesperson on Northern Ireland; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I ask the Tánaiste to report to the House on the current position regarding the sale of EBS. Does the Government intend to have an input into a report that there are to be discussions next week at the ECOFIN meeting about the possibility of a reduction in the IMF level of interest that Ireland is paying? When is a systemic plan for the Irish banking sector expected to be produced?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call the Tánaiste.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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On the same issue, does the Government propose to set aside time for a debate on the developments in the European Union? It is clear that there is now an acceptance among many member states that the rates of interest negotiated by the Government as a sovereign regarding the IMF-EU deal are penal and that nothing in the EU treaties makes provision for a three-percentage-point facilitation fee penalty to be charged to a country like Ireland.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will need to bring this up directly with the line Minister, which would be much more appropriate than on the Order of Business.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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This is really important. As an Opposition party-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a full-scale debate on the Order of Business of what I accept is a very important matter. It is not appropriate on the Order of Business.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The taxpayers cannot pay for this deal; does the Ceann Comhairle understand that?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy will need to find another way to raise it and have it discussed at greater length.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Yesterday-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Raising it in such a fashion on the Order of Business does not do it justice.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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With respect, yesterday there was a new development. There was a very clear chink of light from the President of the Commission and from representatives of the 27 member states assembled with whom the incoming Government will negotiate a new rate. I am asking this Government while it remains in office, why it is not grasping the opportunity to reduce the cost to our citizens?

11:00 am

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are other ways to raise the matter, which is certainly an important matter, and I ask the Deputy to avail of them. I ask the Deputy to allow the Tánaiste to reply to Deputy Kenny's question.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I am asking for a debate time to be set aside-----

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

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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-----by the Government to provide a basis for renegotiating this very bad and costly deal for Irish citizens.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are other ways of raising it in the House and please avail of them. The Tánaiste, on Deputy Kenny's query.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Could the Tánaiste say that she will provide a debate?

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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On the same issue-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I advised Deputy Burton that the Order of Business is not the time to raise this matter.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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I know the Ceann Comhairle did.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is an important subject. Please find another way. There are other ways.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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The Ceann Comhairle's advices are generally good. On the same subject, I suggest to the Tánaiste that there are very serious matters here. We need some information from the Government on the renegotiation of the excessive interest rate that is being applied to this bailout loan from the EU institutions.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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To deal with this, such a weighty subject, in such a fashion on the Order of Business is simply inappropriate.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Can the Tánaiste advise if the Minister for Finance would come in here-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Even try the Adjournment.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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-----and perhaps allow us to give him some advice in a negotiation strategy in terms of how to achieve this rather than a roll-over which is has been the case with the Government to date?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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It is not promised legislation. The Tánaiste, on Deputy Kenny's query.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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What we are dealing with are issues that were raised by the media. There were media reports of which I am aware to the effect that the EU was considering the question of reduction in interest rates charged to Ireland, but this is based on speculation. At the December Council, the Finance Ministers were asked to work on a proposal to come forward by March of this year to finalise work on the intergovernmental arrangement setting up the proposed European stability mechanism. That work is ongoing, it is confidential and it would be inappropriate to speculate on it.

It is also true to say that in the negotiations between the Government, the EU and the IMF, it is manageable to deal with the interest rates that are currently available to us. However, at the same time, we would welcome any developments which would give effect to the lowering of rates to Ireland.

It is also important to say that this matter was raised by the media at a press conference yesterday where Commissioner Rehn was asked the question about interest rates being charged to Ireland. The Commissioner pointed out that the interest rates being charged to Ireland are in line with the Council decision last year on the euro area loan facility to Greece and following intensive discussions with member states. There is nothing further that the Government wants to comment on those considerations.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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They should not be widening the initiative. They should be taking initiative.

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

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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A Cheann Comhairle,-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, we are not going to pursue it in such a fashion.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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A Cheann Comhairle,-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Burton will have to find another way. It is an important subject but there are other ways.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I have just received-----

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

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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-----a notice-----

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

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I have just received a notice from the Department of Finance. It is pertinent to this discussion. I have just received a notice right now.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is the point. We are not going to allow the discussion to develop.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I want to ask the Ceann Comhairle about this. It states that the Government is now proposing - this is what one of the officials has sent to me - to have the Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill, which is one of the pieces of legislation listed, taken next week on 19 and 20 January. Can I ask the Tánaiste if by then she would find out who from Ireland attended yesterday's discussion and represented the Irish people, and can she come in-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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That query can be raised next week when the legislation comes in.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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-----at the Bretton Woods Agreement (Amendment) Bill-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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That query can be raised next week when we are having a debate on the Bill. We are on the Order of Business which is about queries about promised business and promised debates in the House, but we do not have promised business.

Photo of Michael D HigginsMichael D Higgins (Galway West, Labour)
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It is in the area of legislation.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I just got a notice from the Department of Finance asking me if I agree to take the Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill next week on 19 and 20 January. I advise the Ceann Comhairle and the Tánaiste that the Labour Party agrees. However, we want whoever is coming in then to be ready to discuss the chink of light that has opened in the discussions in the European Union on renegotiating this deal.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Burton will be able to raise those points next week. I am sure she will be leading for her party on the debate on the legislation.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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No, sorry, I want to know from the Tánaiste-----

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

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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-----does she accept the Labour Party's agreement to take the Bretton Woods Agreements (Amendment) Bill.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have a Whip system in the House. Deputy Burton's party has a very experienced Whip and I am sure he can raise the matter with the Government Whip.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Department of Finance contacted me. Perhaps they are contacting the Whip as well, which is fine, but it contacted me.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Burton, just resume your seat. I call Deputy Reilly.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Does the Government Whip know about it?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy Burton is spreading disorder in the House.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Can I ask the Tánaiste what is the Government's position? The Whip is meeting now. He must be checking this.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will Deputy Burton resume her seat? I call Deputy Reilly.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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The Whip has gone out to check his e-mail.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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A Cheann Comhairle,-----

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I appreciate the enthusiasm of Deputy Burton-----

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I thank the Tánaiste.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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-----but I must say she is losing the run of herself.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Cheeky.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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She indicated that she agrees to the discussion of this legislation on Wednesday next, and I thank her for it. The Whips will decide what time it will be taken.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Here is the Whip now.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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That is the normal way business has gone on in this House since the foundation of the State.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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On an entirely different matter, each time at Order of Business Members raise issues-----

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Will the Minister of State, Deputy Curran, check that?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----and try to investigate or get some information, we are advised by the Ceann Comhairle that there is another route, which is to table a parliamentary question. Often these parliamentary questions are not answered by the Minister but sent off down the line, and in my case usually to the HSE. However, today we reach a new low in the democracy and the running of this Parliament which really makes one wonder if we are in the dying days of a banana republic.

I submitted a question to the Minister for Health and Children for discussion and answer this afternoon and the General Office edited it. I have no problem with editing in consultation. However, the first line of my question relates to people waiting on trolleys in accident and emergency departments which reached an unprecedented high of 569 in January 2011. In their wisdom, they have removed those figures, which changes the nature of the question and denies the right to put that on the public record.

That is utterly unacceptable. I ask that the Ceann Comhairle insist and instruct-----

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

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Sorry, a Cheann Comhairle, let me finish.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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-----I am sure you will be revisiting this matter at Question Time.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The Ceann Comhairle can instruct the General Office that there can be no editing without consultation with those who submit the question. This is utterly undemocratic and totally unacceptable and is further evidence of the Government clawing onto power-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am sure we will have it at Question Time.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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-----using every ruse possible to deprive the people of information. It amounts to censorship.

Photo of Arthur MorganArthur Morgan (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Censorship.

Photo of Seymour CrawfordSeymour Crawford (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I note with interest that two important Bills are listed for discussion over the next week or so, which are the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2010 and the Climate Change Response Bill 2010. Can the Tánaiste explain why neither the legal costs Bill, which would save this country money, nor the health (information) Bill, which might provide us some truth about the health service, have been included in the urgent business, yet the Climate Change Response Bill, which will cost this country a fortune, is included?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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There are differing views in the House now about whether legislation should be taken. We have given an indicative programme of legislation that we hope to take in the Dáil and, unfortunately, those pieces of legislation are not included.

Photo of Kathleen LynchKathleen Lynch (Cork North Central, Labour)
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The Minister of State, Deputy White, promised legislation on gender equality. I ask the Tánaiste, in view of the events of the past number of days, whether it will be compulsory for women to take up golf.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Golf clubs.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick East, Labour)
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Just the nineteenth hole.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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And possibly apportion due incantations as well. One could have to add that into it as well to understand what happened.

On promised legislation and the point raised by Deputy Reilly, an ongoing and increasing practice, as the Ceann Comhairle well knows, is changing the context of Members' questions. It is totally out of order and has never been known to happen until the past year or year and a half, where Members' questions are corrected to give a different meaning to the question altogether. It is totally out of order.

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

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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We cannot have that kind of carry-on either.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are other fora for the purpose.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Ceann Comhairle will be glad to know I am not going to ask about what went on at Druid's Glen. I am somewhat confused about what went on, as are the Tánaiste and other members of the Government. What I am concerned about is what the Taoiseach told me in this House. I note in the list of promised legislation for this session the urgently required Local Government (Mayor and Regional Authority of Dublin) Bill 2010. I do not know that it is urgent or needed at this time. I note the Welfare of Greyhounds Bill 2010 is there as well. The Taoiseach indicated to me before Christmas that the national vetting bureau Bill was an urgently required piece of legislation and I am surprised it has not found its way on to the Order Paper. There are less demanding and compelling of pieces of legislation on it. Will the Tánaiste intercede with the Taoiseach with a view to dropping one of the less-needed pieces of legislation now proposed, such as the Dublin lord mayor Bill or some other Bills?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should speak to his party Whip about the matter.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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This has nothing to do with party Whips but rather a promise made by the Taoiseach to me in this House before Christmas. Where do you get the notion that I should consult with the Whips?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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This concerns changes in the sequence-----

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It does not; it concerns the Order of Business agreed and published by the Government Chief Whip. It has nothing to do with anything else. I would like a reply from the Tánaiste.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The mayoral Bill is on Report Stage and will be taken in due course. The work is ongoing on the vetting legislation and I am not sure if it will be completed in time for consideration by the House.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Government could drop one of the other Bills.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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It is not ready, which is the problem.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Why is it not ready?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Before we proceed, I did not get an answer from the Ceann Comhairle, to whom the questions office is answerable. What undertaking will be given to the House that he will rectify the matter, if any?

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

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We need notice of the matter.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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You have notice.

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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You have notice now and I am offering you an opportunity to reassure the House that you will act on it and underscore democracy, not undermine it.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am not in a position at this point. If we had notice of the query earlier, I could have responded, but I am not in a position to do so now.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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Will you do so later?

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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Will the Ceann Comhairle respond later?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will check it out.

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Fine Gael)
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Will you respond today?

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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It is a strangulation of democracy.

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has commissioned a report about the Poolbeg incinerator and has had it for a number of months. When will it be published so that we can discuss it?

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

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 about it.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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Is the Tánaiste still speaking to him?

Photo of Joe CostelloJoe Costello (Dublin Central, Labour)
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The Tánaiste will remember that I asked her in the last session a number of times about the publication of the female genital mutilation Bill. She indicated on a number of occasions that it would be published in the last session but it has still not been published. There is a major concern in the new communities in Ireland as female genital mutilation is being practised here. I understood it was a Government priority for the Bill to be published and rapidly enacted. Where is the legislation?

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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I am aware of the Deputy's interest in this and he is quite right in that it is an important issue. This matter was discussed by the Cabinet, if I remember correctly, just before Christmas. One or two minor issues are to be completed but it is our intention to publish the legislation.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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There are two matters I want to ask about. The first is the NAMA amendment Bill, which is to be prioritised by the Government. This important Bill would allow for debts of developer loans under €20 million to be transferred to NAMA. Given that billions of euro of taxpayers' money is involved in this Bill, is it the intention of the Government to publish any kind of White Paper or Green Paper, or even an early copy of this Bill, in order for the Opposition to examine it from a legal perspective?

In the context of this new NAMA Bill, which is for loans under €20 million, before Christmas I asked several questions of the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills about subcontractors. This was in the context of the collapse of Pierse Construction, which was to build schools under public private partnerships for her Department. I am sure the Minister and every Deputy in the House is aware of different firms, individuals and families who were subcontractors and have been left in a terrible state of financial ruin. Is it proposed in the NAMA amendment Bill to deal with that issue? It is really important that we get advance information on the Bill's content so that we can assess and consider it. Its implications will run into billions of euro for taxpayers.

The second issue concerns the Climate Change Response Bill, which I understand is under consideration in the Seanad. This Bill is very important for agriculture, industry and small and medium businesses, as well as individual consumers. Normally, a Bill like this, which is so important for agriculture and industry, would involve-----

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot debate this in such a fashion on the Order of Business.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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I will be very brief.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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A brief inquiry about promised legislation is fine.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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That would give rise to a consultation period with agriculture, industry and consumer interests at the very least.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made her point.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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Does Fianna Fáil propose to provide for a consultation period?

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate like this on the Bill on the Order of Business.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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In the UK there was an 18-month consultation with agriculture.

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Ceann Comhairle; Louth, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should allow the Tánaiste to respond to her inquiry about the two pieces of legislation.

Photo of Mary CoughlanMary Coughlan (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Education and Science; Donegal South West, Fianna Fail)
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The heads of the NAMA legislation were agreed by the Cabinet at our last meeting and the legislation is being drafted. I will advise the Minister that the Deputy is anxious to get a briefing on the matter as quickly as possible. On the Pierce Construction issue, the buildings are going ahead because of a joint venture with Sisk. Senator Quinn's legislation in the Upper House has been accepted by the Government for consideration in this House. The climate change Bill has commenced consideration in the Seanad and the consultation period began in December.