Thursday, 10 July 2014
Order of Business
It is proposed to take No. 12, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) (Exclusion of Workers in the Fishing and Shipping Sectors) Regulations 2014 [Considered by the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on 8 July 2014]; No. 4, Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed) and Subsequent Stages; and No. 25, Forestry Bill 2013 - Report and Final Stages (resumed). It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 5.30 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 7 p.m.; that No. 12 shall be decided without debate; that the Dáil shall sit tomorrow at 10 a.m. and shall adjourn not later than 8 p.m. and there shall be no Order of Business within the meaning of Standing Order 26 and, accordingly, the business to be transacted shall be as follows: No. 6, Electoral (Amendment) (No. 4) Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage, Second and Subsequent Stages, and the proceedings on the Second Stage of No. 6 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 65 minutes on the day and shall be confined to an opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, which shall not exceed 15 minutes in each case, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, and to a speech in reply by a Minister or Minister of State, which shall not exceed five minutes, and the proceedings on the Committee and Remaining Stages shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 15 minutes on the day by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government; No. a1, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Bill 2014 - amendments from the Seanad; No. 30, Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages, to adjourn after one hour if not previously concluded; and No. 5, Court of Appeal Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to adjourn at 8 p.m. if not previously concluded.
I have a question on it. In the light of the statements the Tánaiste and her party made on entering Government with Fine Gael and her desire to try to have the business of the House more appropriately dealt with, is it not ironic that in the latter days of the term we are rushing through such a phenomenal amount of legislation in the next two days? In her new role, the Tánaiste might try to manage the ordering of legislation in a more appropriate way.
Yesterday we objected to the rushing through of the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland Bill 2014, which is to be guillotined. It is wrong. We have waited a very long time for the legislation, which was signalled in the programme for Government. I reiterate the objection.
I refer to the business on the schedule for tomorrow. The Electoral (Amendment) (No. 4) Bill 2014 is technical legislation. It will be interesting to see whether people will require all the time allocated.
One would have expected that legislation would be required and follow from the Taoiseach's statement. When is it intended to bring the legislation before the House?
Are draft heads of a Bill available? Is it something that has emanated from the discussions between the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach in the past few days and was there a rush by him to get the good news out ahead of publication of the document on which they are working?
Ultimately, this is reflected in the fact that there have been very fruitful discussions between the Taoiseach and me on the roll-out of GP visit card access.
The Taoiseach mentioned it yesterday in relation to the over-70s. We are also ambitious to extend it to children. We have legislation under way addressing the issue of under six year olds and I would like to see the next phase deal with primary schoolchildren and the phase after that with children in secondary school.
I am also delighted that one of the senior officials in the HSE was able to confirm to the committee earlier this morning that she understood 10,000 medical cards would be returned by tomorrow.
I understand that on Thursday next there are to be statements on the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes. Will the Tánaiste confirm for the House that the terms of reference of the commission of investigation will be brought to the House on Thursday? Will she confirm that they will be comprehensive and that no institution, victim or survivor will be left out and indicate whether the scope of the investigation will be all-Ireland in nature?
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and his predecessor have done a huge amount of work recently on the terms of reference. Very good progress is being made, but I do not have a timeline I can provide for the Deputy. With many others, I have met the Minister and had very positive discussions. He has completed a great deal of work, but I cannot provide the precise timeline at this stage, except to say very good progress has been made. I compliment him on the progress he has made.
The public health (standardised packaging of tobacco) Bill has been in the House in recent weeks. Will the Tánaiste provide a timeline for Committee Stage and when the Bill will be enacted? I have been contacted by a cigar company in Ballaghaderreen about the implications for a company which is exporting and providing hundreds of jobs.
I understand the tobacco legislation is going through the House, but I am not clear on when it will be finalised. The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Bill 2014 was enacted in April.
The geothermal energy development Bill is promised for publication in 2015. In view of the importance of the energy sector, in particular, the geothermal energy sector, would it be possible to publish the legislation somewhat earlier to ensure it is passed on the earliest possible date?
We have had the initial stages of the Children First Bill in the House. When will Remaining Stages take place? Recently and in the context of the review of the Westmeath county development plan, the Minister intervened on wind energy policy in County Westmeath, citing publication of national wind energy guidelines. When will the national guidelines be published and when will the report on the review of the Westmeath county development plan be published?
The Children First Bill is before the committee. I cannot say what the exact timeline will be. On the development issue, I understand it will happen later this year.
The Valuation (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill has been awaiting Committee Stage in the Seanad for a considerable period. Is there a planned date by which the Department will bring amendments back to the Seanad to allow Committee Stage to be ordered there? The Bill has been awaiting Committee Stage in the Seanad for almost two years.
I congratulate the Tánaiste on her recent elevation and wish her well. The criminal justice (victims rights) Bill is intended to strengthen the rights of victims of crime and their families and give effect to an EU directive. Will the Tánaiste request the new Minister for Justice and Equality to meet the Omagh victims' families? The last Minister refused to meet them and I hope it will happen as it is a very serious issue. If we are going to be serious about the victims of crime, it is necessary.
Ba mhaith liom gach rath a ghuí ar an Tánaiste fosta. The Moriarty tribunal reported to the House over three years ago, but its recommendations have not been implemented. I am told in reply to a parliamentary question that some of the recommendations were included in a Bill which was introduced in 2007 and is still before the House. Other recommendations are still being dealt with by Departments. When are the recommendations of the Moriarty tribunal to be given legislative effect?
A series of recommendations were made by the Moriarty tribunal, some of which have been addressed. I will come back to the Deputy with a further report on where any outstanding recommendation stands and obtain an update.
I congratulate the Tánaiste on her appointment. When is the children (amendment) Bill expected to be brought forward? Is it intended to legislate early in the next session on the guardian ad litemissue? Funding is due to run out tomorrow week at the largest community crèche in Ireland, the Jigsaw crèche in Darndale.
Some complex legal issues have arisen as a result of a High Court judgment and it is necessary to develop a new policy regime and legal provisions on remission in children's detention schools. This has required a very detailed policy review and legislative drafting. In addition to the remission issue, work is ongoing on other legal issues which have been identified. Publication of the children (amendment) Bill is now expected in the next session.
Has the Government, or the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, sought an emergency meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the escalating Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the terrible loss of life?