Dáil debates

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

10:30 am

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I seek the guidance of the Ceann Comhairle on a very serious matter that has come to a head. There are effectively no proper Taoiseach's questions.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are several questions to the Taoiseach on the parliamentary questions paper.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Yesterday, as the Ceann Comhairle knows, there was an exchange about the Taoiseach and his staff and how they have been seeking systematically to have questions transferred, disallowed or grouped in such a way as to deny us the opportunity to ask, for example, what Standing Order applies to this area. The relevant Standing Order refers to public affairs connected with the Taoiseach's Department or to matters of administration for which he is officially responsible.

There is a major concern because my office sought to appeal a series of disallowances and transfers but was informed it could not do so. In most cases, there had been contact between the Department of the Taoiseach and the questions office but Deputies asking questions had no right to express their opinion. With regard to disallowed questions, the Taoiseach has the final say, which I acknowledge, but it is often the Taoiseach's staff who suggest the grounds for disallowing a question.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is incorrect.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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In some cases, the decision is plain wrong.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot have a debate here.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I do not want a debate but want to seek the guidance of the Ceann Comhairle on this very important issue.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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With respect, I suggest to the Deputy that he ask his Whip to deal with this matter through the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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There was a question disallowed on Lorenzo Bini Smaghi on the grounds that it was repetitious.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are not having a debate.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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This is an important point. It was on the grounds of repetition on 6 July.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I know it is important but the Deputy is totally out of order.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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There was no question tabled about this individual on 6 July, yet my question was disallowed because of repetition. There was no question asked about Lorenzo Bini Smaghi. I have checked the record for 6 July.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Any time there is a question disallowed owing to repetition, a copy of the question is enclosed with the letter.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Yes, but a mistake was made. I have checked it.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy would like to contact my office, I would be only too delighted to deal with him, but not in the Chamber.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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This man is a central figure regarding Ireland's burden-sharing. The abuse of transfers is completely out of hand. The matter is 100% the responsibility of the Taoiseach's office.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is totally out of order. I ask him to resume his seat.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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This is a very serious issue. What is occurring is not on. What is happening is that the accountability of the Head of Government, who is accountable to the Dáil, is being undermined systematically.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy is making allegations that cannot be dealt with-----

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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They are not allegations. I have signalled the matter to the Ceann Comhairle and am asking him for his guidance as defender of all Members in this House and their entitlements.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I have told the Deputy what to do. He can either come to my office, where I will only be too delighted to discuss any individual question with him, or he can ask his Whip to have this matter dealt with by the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I will be taking the matter further.