Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 November 2013

11:10 am

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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I move:

That notwithstanding in Standing Orders the proceedings on No. 21 shall be interrupted at 11.30 a.m. to allow statements from the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and statements in reply from the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order but who shall not exceed five minutes in each case and the Order shall resume at 12.15 p.m. with Leaders' Questions and the Order of Business.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I oppose the motion in terms of the timing involved. It is a very shambolic way of treating Parliament regarding this important issue. We have no objection to facilitating a statement from the Government on the issue at hand, although we have been seeking over the past number of weeks a fuller debate on the issues relating to the exit strategy from the troika programme. To come in at 11.15 a.m. and propose a change to the order to provide for a debate in 15 minutes of a half hour duration with five minutes each without any time for consideration of the issues and without any knowledge of what the Government statement will contain is not acceptable in the context of the Government's relationship with the Dáil. It is typical and follows a pattern regarding how the Government treats the Dáil. There cannot be a more fundamental or important issue than this but the Opposition has not been apprised or consulted, good, bad or indifferent. The Government has summoned the Dáil to tell Members it will amend the schedule in 15 minutes and give a number of them five minutes each with nobody else getting an opportunity to speak on this. It is disgraceful and wrong.

We had a great deal of debate over the past month or six weeks in the context of the referendum on Dáil reform. I attended a Constitutional Convention meeting last night to observe what was going on. There were many interested citizens discussing the role of Government and Parliament and so on. I ask the Chief Whip to bear my comments in mind and to change the order.

Photo of Paudie CoffeyPaudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)
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There was no consultation when the troika came in. The Deputy denied they were coming.

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Please allow the Deputy to conclude.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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There was wider debate on the issues.

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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There was in the media.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Sorry, I am entitled to speak without interruption. The Deputies opposite want to suppress speech. That is their attitude.

Photo of Paudie CoffeyPaudie Coffey (Waterford, Fine Gael)
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Fianna Fáil was in denial.

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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What about Fianna Fáil Ministers outside Dublin Castle?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy O'Donovan does not run the Dáil.

Will the Chief Whip agree to resume proceedings at 12 noon to give Members reasonable time to prepare for the debate in an informed manner? It is almost 11.20 a.m. and he has proposed that we return to the House in ten minutes to debate something about which we have not been apprised. The Cabinet has met and, therefore, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste clearly have an idea. Otherwise, this is just a PR stunt from the Government. That is fair enough if that is what it wants to do. However, we want to be constructive. Why not amend the proposal to suspend the House now until 12 noon when the Taoiseach can come to the House and we will follow the same sequence the Chief Whip outlined with a commitment to a full debate subsequently at an agreed time?

Photo of Martin FerrisMartin Ferris (Kerry North-West Limerick, Sinn Fein)
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This is a terrible way to do business. In ten minutes, an announcement will be made with five minutes allocated to Opposition parties to respond without even knowing what is the announcement. It is disgraceful and the Government is treating the House with contempt given it can come in here and do this without accountability. It is a bad way to do business and it sets a bad example. This undermines the credibility of the House.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Other Members wish to make a point of order.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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On a point of order-----

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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I call the Minister of State. Only party leaders can contribute.

11:20 am

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Can I be helpful to the Opposition? The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste want to make a statement. The Cabinet meeting finished at 11 a.m. They will come straight to the Chamber to inform the people of the decision made by Cabinet. The Order of Business will be taken directly after Leaders' Questions. I assure Members that whatever request they may put forward will be dealt with accordingly.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Obviously, the Government has made a decision. We have no difficulty in facilitating the Government in making a statement to the House but can it not start at 12 p.m.? It is now 11.20 a.m. and we have had absolutely no notice of this.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am trying to be reasonable, constructive and to give the outside world some sense that this House and Parliament matter. I am simply asking that we start at 12 p.m. instead of 11.30 a.m., which is reasonable so that people can make an informed contribution to whatever announcement is made.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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That is fair.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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The Chief Whip is happy with that. Are the Members opposite happy with it?

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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On a point of order-----

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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I hope it is in order.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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Will the Chief Whip outline what the change in the order actually is? Will he inform us of what his intention is? Will the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste come to the House to make their statements followed by at least half an hour for reflection so that the leaders of the parties have time to absorb what is stated? Can we get clarity on that?

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste will come to the House for brief statements, which will finish within 20 minutes. Leaders' Question will be taken at 12.15 p.m.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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That is not what I am proposing.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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If a request is put forward by the Opposition, it will be dealt with on the Order of Business.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Chief Whip gave the impression that he wanted to-----

Photo of Michael KittMichael Kitt (Galway East, Fianna Fail)
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Is the question agreed to?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is not agreed.

Question put:

The Dáil divided: Tá, 77; Níl, 41.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Michael Moynihan and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Níl

Question declared carried.