Dáil debates

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

5:50 pm

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is proposed to take No. 15, motion re by-election for Dublin South-West; No. 16, motion re by-election for Roscommon-South Leitrim; No. 30, Forestry Bill 2013 - Report Stage (resumed); and No. 31, Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage (resumed).

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that in the event a division is in progress at the time fixed for taking Private Members’ Business, the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight, and that Private Members’ Business shall be No. 55, Water Services (Exempt Charges) Bill 2014 - Second Stage, which shall, if not previously concluded, adjourn after 90 minutes and shall also take place after the Order of Business tomorrow and, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day; the proceedings on Nos. 15 and 16, which shall be debated together, shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 25 minutes, whereupon the separate questions thereon shall be put from the Chair, and the following arrangements shall apply: the speeches of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Leaders of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, or a person nominated in their stead, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed five minutes in each case, and such Members may share their time; all divisions demanded in the House this week shall be taken manually; for the purposes of the fortnightly Friday sitting under Standing Order 21(1) on 3 October 2014, the deadline for the submission of Bills and committee reports to be included in the lottery shall be Friday, 19 September at 11 a.m., and related Standing Orders shall apply accordingly.

Tomorrow’s Business after Oral Questions shall be No. 30, Forestry Bill 2013 - Report Stage (resumed); and No. 31, Merchant Shipping (Registration of Ships) Bill 2013 [Seanad] - Second Stage (resumed).

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are four proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting tonight and in respect of Private Members' Business today and tomorrow agreed?

Photo of Joe HigginsJoe Higgins (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
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No.

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
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It is not agreed. I oppose the proposal that the Dáil shall rise tonight following Private Members' Business. I believe the House should sit later to discuss the horrific ordeal of the suicidal migrant rape victim who was denied an early abortion in this country over the course of the summer, which has drawn international opprobrium and has horrified ordinary people throughout this country. Amazingly, no time has been provided by the Government to discuss this case or to allow Deputies to question two Ministers who had knowledge of these events when being questioned by the United Nations during the summer. Clearly, this anti-woman law which was voted through the Dáil has failed. We need to table time to discuss when a referendum can be held to repeal the Eighth Amendment of our Constitution, which is a medieval amendment inserted into our Constitution 31 years ago.

I propose that the Dáil not rise until this matter has been discussed and until such time as the Tánaiste, in particular, who made her reputation on women's rights-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has made her point.

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
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-----brings forward a date for discussion of this matter and of the holding of a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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This is a very sensitive and personal matter. Arising from the circumstances involved, a report is being prepared for the Minister for Health. That report is due shortly. I cannot give a definite date for it but I can assure the House that the young woman involved is receiving the very best level of care and attention possible. The Minister for Health intends to publish the regulations regarding terminations on, I think, Friday of this week.

Photo of Ruth CoppingerRuth Coppinger (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
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When will we have an opportunity to discuss the issue and question Ministers about it?

Question, "That the proposal for dealing with the late sitting today and Private Members' Business today and tomorrow be agreed to," put and declared carried.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. 15 and 16 agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with divisions in the House this week agreed? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the sitting and business of the Dáil on Friday, 3 October 2014 agreed? Agreed.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It would appear from the schedule of legislation published today that the Minister for Health, Deputy Varadkar, has won the day. The Government promised in January last to introduce the health reform Bill, whose stated aim was "to put in place the new structures for the health service as set out in Future Care and the disestablishment of the HSE". According to the new schedule, however, the Government intends to introduce only the Health (General Practitioners Service) (No. 2) Bill and the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill. Where stands the health reform Bill and when can we expect it to be published?

In addition, the programme for Government promises the introduction of at least nine pieces of legislation in the area of health to underpin the introduction of universal health insurance. This legislation was meant to be introduced during the lifetime of this Government. Perhaps the Taoiseach would indicate when the universal primary care Bill will be published. On universal health insurance, the programme for Government states that the legislative basis for universal health insurance will be established by the universal health insurance legislation. When can we expect that legislation to be published?

When can we expect the patient safety authority legislation to come before the House? The Taoiseach might also indicate when the legislation to give public hospitals autonomy from the HSE will be brought before the House. When will the legislation to give the HSE function of purchasing power for uninsured patients to a hospital care purchase agency and the establishment of that agency be brought before the House? A treatment purchase fund to purchase care for the uninsured over the transition period is to be established. When will the relevant legislation come before the House? According to the programme for Government, an integrated care agency is to be established. Perhaps the Taoiseach will indicate when the necessary legislation in that regard will be introduced. It is three and a half years or more since this Government was formed. All of the aforementioned legislation was promised in the programme for Government. I have asked the Taoiseach about it on previous occasions. I would appreciate if he could give me a precise answer now in regard to whether we can expect publication of this legislation during this session or beyond that, as promised by the Government.

In addition, when can we expect the establishment of the commission of inquiry following the publication of the Guerin report? It is four months since the Taoiseach committed in the House to such a commission to deal with the serious allegations made in that report, which also recommended the establishment of a commission of inquiry to specifically deal with those allegations. The Taoiseach committed in the House to doing that. For some reason unknown to most people, that has not happened. I would appreciate some clarity in that regard.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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On the latter matter, the Minister for Justice and Equality, when ready, will bring proposals to Cabinet in respect of the terms of reference for the commission of investigation arising out of the Guerin report. A number of difficult cases were brought to my attention, some of them by the Deputy in this House, as well as others that were sent directly to GSOC and others by the Justice for All group. These have been assessed in respect of the work that may have been carried out on them and the difficulties associated with them. That work is ongoing. The Minister is anxious that there be an analysis of those cases before the making of a decision on the terms of reference for the commission of investigation. The Government has no intention of holding that up unduly. It is important to get it right, because it is a sensitive matter. The Deputy will also be aware that there is a High Court case pending in respect of a number of the findings of the Guerin report.

The Deputy also asked about ten questions regarding the health area.

The A list is the indicative list of Bills we expect to be published this session. In 2015 there will be two legislative sessions which will deal with a raft of other legislation.

6:00 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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What about the health reform Bill?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I have pointed out to Deputy Gerry Adams the steps that need to be and are being taken by the Minister for Health-----

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The health reform Bill provides for the dissolution of the HSE.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----in the setting up of universal health insurance. These are important steps.

The Deputy asked me about ten questions.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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What about the health reform Bill?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will respond to the Deputy on each point made and get it right.

As indicated by the Minister of State, Deputy Paul Kehoe, in the three and a half years since the Government – the Fine Gael-Labour Party Government – was appointed, it has published 191 Bills.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Answer the question, for God's sake.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It has enacted 170.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I have asked about promised legislation that the Government has not published.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Hold on one minute; we will get to it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In the three and a half years the Fianna Fáil Government had after 2007, it published fewer than 150 Bills and passed just over 120.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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What about the health reform Bill?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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There has been a raft of difficult and complex legislation. The Minister for Health has set out a number of Bills to be dealt with and published in this session.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Two.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy should note that there are a number of other areas in which a great deal of work has occurred on Bills that are not on the A list, some of which may come through also. For now, however, the A list represents a clear statement by the Government of the Bills to be published this session, before the end of the year.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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This is very serious because it concerns the programme for Government. Should it not be scrapped? It is fantasy. The Government is treating the public and the Dáil with contempt. None of this is going to happen. The Minister, Deputy Leo Varadkar, has said it is not going to happen.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will the Deputy, please, resume his seat?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Department of Health officials said it was not going to happen. I have spent 12 months asking the Taoiseach about each of these Bills, but he keeps on talking nonsense and avoiding answering the questions. It is fantasy.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to, please, resume his seat.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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A more honest approach would be to withdraw the part of the programme for Government on health, as there is no substance to it.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy has had his say.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach should be honest with the people. It is a fantasy. In January he said he would deal with the health reform Bill. It is now September.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to, please, respect the chair.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In July we published a revised statement for the remaining period of the Government.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is a joke. That is why the Minister, Deputy Leo Varadkar, said what he said.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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There are 94 issues therein that have now been-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will deal with all of that later.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Maidir le Riar na hOibre, ba mhaith liom dhá rud a ardú - an Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill agus an Water Services (Exempt Charges) Bill. Tá an Rialtas seo tiomanta do reachtaíocht a thabhairt isteach chun Údarás Garda Síochána neamhspleách a bhunú. Regarding the Garda Síochána (Amendment) Bill, the Garda Inspectorate, in its 2014 report, recommended that all petitions for the cancellation of penalty points be handled centrally by the fixed charge processing office in Thurles. That was the only point of authority in regard to penalty points. The latest revelations suggest the recommendation has not been implemented. Therefore, will the Government now move to ensure the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate are fully implemented?

On the Water Services (Exempt Charges) Bill, Sinn Féin is against water charges, as the Taoiseach knows, but I will not deal with that issue today. However, there is a basic unfairness in charging people for water they cannot drink. Therefore, will the Taoiseach consider providing for an exemption in the Bill for affected citizens?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot discuss the content of the legislation, just its publication.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Water Services (Exempt Charges) Bill, a Private Members' Bill, is listed for discussion this evening. I have already answered the question on the flexibility that currently is available. I have indicated to the Deputy that the regulator has already made comments in the draft statement where boil water notices or undrinkable or contaminated water is concerned.

Did the Deputy mention the Garda authority?

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Yes, the Taoiseach was talking to the Tánaiste at the time.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Obviously, a great deal of work has been done on this issue. The legislation is not on the A list, but I expect that it will come in before the end of the year.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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The question was on the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate that do not appear to have been acted on. Will the Government ensure they will be acted on?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I expect the Minister will respond to that question. I gave detail on the implementation of the recommendations in the inspector's report.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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I want to raise an issue concerning Standing Orders. There appears to be a change to Standing Order 120. It means that the Technical Group will be expanded. I acknowledge the point the Ceann Comhairle makes on the importance of respecting the mandate of everybody elected-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Let me interrupt the Deputy. There is be no change to Standing Order 120. I wrote to the Deputy this afternoon. I hope she received the letter before she came into the House.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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I did.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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It explains the exact position. The Chair has no role in the matter.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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That is the direct opposite of what the Ceann Comhairle told us last year.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I did not tell the Deputy anything of the sort.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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I have it here.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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We have a recording.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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We have a recording of it.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is not the place in which to raise the issue.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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This has to be the place in which to raise it.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Deputy comes to my office afterwards, I will be only too pleased to speak to her. It will be no problem.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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This has to be the place in which to raise it.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Committee on Procedure and Privileges is the place in which to raise it, not here.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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The Chair did not have the courtesy to tell us that in the first place.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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If Deputy Catherine Murphy wishes to come to my office, I will deal with it. However, as far as I am concerned, what appeared in the newspapers today was totally and utterly incorrect. First, I had no hand, act or part in two new Members applying for membership of the Technical Group; that is not my role. The Standing Order sets out how a technical group can or cannot be formed. Any change is a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges; it is then a matter for the Dáil to decide on.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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Therefore, there has been no change.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There has been no change.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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I will take up the invitation to go to the Ceann Comhairle's office afterwards.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Certainly.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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Will the footprint of the local development companies be respected when delivering social inclusion community activation and rural development programmes?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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What legislation is the Deputy talking about?

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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The local government (miscellaneous provisions) Bill.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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When is the local government (miscellaneous provisions) Bill being dealt with?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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There is no legislation in that regard, but this is a question of realigning services to deliver a better service. Obviously, the Minister of State with direct responsibility for rural development has been appointed. I am quite sure the Minister of State, Deputy Phelan, and the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government will have a particular focus on this issue.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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On promised legislation, is it intended to bring the Sale of Loan Books to Unregulated Third Parties Bill which it has been promised will have priority before the House at the earliest possible opportunity in view of the necessity to ensure sales to unregulated third parties will take cognisance of the need to recognise the rights of the individuals affected?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is down for this session. It is an important matter.

Photo of Derek KeatingDerek Keating (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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What is the current status of the spent convictions legislation, an issue I have raised before? It sets out to deal with what are often very minor misdemeanours in which people might have engaged a very long time ago but which can have consequences today when travelling, etc.?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will revert to the Deputy on that issue. The Bill is awaiting Report Stage and there were a number of amendments being considered during the course of the summer. I will advise the Deputy on the current state of play.

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
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Before the former Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, left office, he indicated that legislation might be needed under the planning and development code to change how events licensing was handled. The recent Garth Brooks concerts fiasco has shown that the system in place is not fit for purpose. Will the Taoiseach outline if legislation is being considered? Has it even been considered or discussed by the Cabinet? Has the new Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Alan Kelly, picked up on it?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Garth Brooks non-concert is an issue the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government is examining; he has already commented publicly on it. I will update the Deputy on the work that is under way.

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
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Is there legislation being considered?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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There will have to be, yes.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I have a number of issues to raise with the Taoiseach. The legislative programme lists the redress for women who were in certain institutions Bill.

That refers to the Magdalen women, of course. Can the Taoiseach give a date for the introduction of that legislation? Will he also say when we will see the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes? As he is aware, we were due to see them before the recess, but they did not materialise, and there has now been a change of Minister. Everybody concerned, including the victims, survivors and their advocacy groups, has urged that the terms of reference be inclusive and that the Government get them right. When will the terms of reference be available? Will the Taoiseach give an assurance that he has listened to all of the concerned voices?

Finally, I have raised on a number of occasions the overdue Government responses to, and the Dáil debates on, Constitutional Convention reports. The Taoiseach made much of the establishment of the convention. Tom Arnold stewarded the process with great effort and citizens partook in the debates and took decisions. Why is the Taoiseach dragging his heels on these matters? The Constitutional Convention's fourth report on Dáil electoral reform, for example-----

6:10 pm

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy cannot go into detail.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I am just citing this example.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Many other Deputies wish to speak and there are only nine minutes left.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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That report was due last December. The Taoiseach is dragging his heels on the outstanding six reports and six debates. It is an insult to the people who took part and does no justice to the issues raised when the Taoiseach drags his heels in this way. When will we receive the reports and have the debates? When will there be referendums on the issues concerned, not least in respect of votes for the many thousands of citizens who are emigrants living overseas?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy met some of them recently.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I did. They were asking for the Taoiseach.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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They seem to have paid for the Deputy's trip as well.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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We paid for it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Two of the reports are ready to go, and the Whip will update the Deputy after a meeting he is due to have this evening on when the debates can be held in the House. It is for the Government to decide on what referendums will be held. A number of referendums are to be held next year. Obviously, the reports of the Constitutional Convention are important. They are the citizens' views and they deserve discussion in the House. A number of the reports were delayed because of clarifications and discussions relative to Departments arising from the recommendations made by the Constitutional Convention. It is not a case of deliberately wishing to drag heels in this regard. The Whip will report to the Deputy later.

In respect of redress for women in certain institutions, the Department of Social Protection has already commenced payment in many of these areas. The interdepartmental committee on this produced a very detailed report for the Minister. The details of that interdepartmental report are being worked on currently.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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What about the mother and baby home inquiry?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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That is the interdepartmental report.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I am seeking the terms of reference for the commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy cannot have them because they are not ready yet. There is a very detailed report on what is known about all of this. That must be assessed.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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We were led to understand that work had-----

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That must be assessed properly before one can define terms of reference. The Deputy is aware of that.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy Sean Fleming.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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Dragging heels again.

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Over a year ago, the Taoiseach personally promised what he called a game-changer approach in terms of legislation for the retrospective recapitalisation of Irish banks. Will he introduce legislation to deal with the retrospective recapitalisation? Some legislation is promised on this, but will it deal with the public commitment the Taoiseach gave and which he called a game changer? Second, the Government has agreed to introduce legislation regarding the sale of loan books and family home mortgages by regulated financial institutions to unregulated financial institutions. Will the Taoiseach wait until all the loan books have been sold before the legislation is put in place, or will the legislation be passed as a matter of urgency, even though it is too late for some of them?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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A number of loan books have been sold and those who have bought them are voluntarily complying with the Central Bank's code of conduct. In respect of recapitalisation, the decision was made by the European Council in 2012. A number of discussions and detailed negotiations have taken place to put all the pieces of the jigsaw together. The option is open to the Government to consider this towards the end of this year. The supervisory mechanism and the other elements of that have now been put in place, principally driven by Ireland as the country that was mainly the focus in this regard. That work proceeded during the early part of this year and is now practically complete. The Government will consider towards the end of the year whether it wishes to pursue its claim in that regard. It is an option that remains on the table.

I would have thought the Deputy would have welcomed the decision arrived at by ECOFIN and the Eurogroup in respect of approval for Ireland to buy out IMF loans that were borrowed at much higher interest rates than we can currently secure on borrowings. The process is that the individual parliaments give their approval, and we hope that will be forthcoming following the agreement of ECOFIN and the Eurogroup. It is very much in the interest of our country.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call Deputy O'Dea.

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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So what the Taoiseach described as a game changer regarding retrospective recapitalisation has now been relegated by the Government to an option for consideration?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, Deputy; we are not having a debate on this.

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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It was a game changer two years ago and now it is only an option for consideration.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Taoiseach should not reply. We are not having a debate on this issue. I call Deputy O'Dea.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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I think the Taoiseach was trying to explain to the House-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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With the greatest respect to the Taoiseach and you, Deputy, this is the Order of Business and it is my duty to continue. We only have four minutes left and four other Deputies wish to contribute.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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The Fine Gael and Labour Party programme for Government states that a system of universal health insurance will be introduced by 2016. It could not be more definitive. The health reform Bill was an essential part of the process to put that system in place. That Bill was on the A list of the legislative programme in the last session, but it has now been removed from that list. When does the Taoiseach expect the health reform Bill to be published?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will not indicate a date for it. As I have already said, the necessary foundations of the hospital groups, the money follows the patient principle, primary care and other such areas are of absolute priority for the Minister-----

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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Waffle.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----and they must be put in place before we can get to universal health insurance in the second term of government.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach is engaged in unreconstructed waffle.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is the situation.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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How does the Taoiseach know the Government will get a second term?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I should point out to Deputy Fleming that we invested €4 billion in Bank of Ireland and we have taken back €6 billion. We still own 15% of it.

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Minister of State and Government Chief Whip, Department of An Taoiseach; Minister of State, Department of Defence; Wexford, Fine Gael)
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Deputy O'Dea might not be here.

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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Deputy Kehoe might not be either. He should not count his chickens.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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Before the recess, many Members on this side of the House appealed to the Government to take urgent action to deal with the housing and homelessness crisis. Indeed, some of us protested about the summer recess taking place before this issue was addressed. The Taoiseach promised that the Government would come forward with measures to deal with it. Over the summer the situation has deteriorated substantially.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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To what legislation is the Deputy referring? There are two minutes left and four Deputies wish to contribute.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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The Taoiseach made promises.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not on the Order of Business.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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He made promises to publish a social housing strategy-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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You are going to prevent other Deputies from speaking, and you can answer to them. You are not entitled to make speeches.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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You have given me a fraction of the time you gave other speakers. Can I just finish my question? The social housing strategy for this emergency-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are not dealing with social housing; we are dealing with legislation.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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When will the strategy document be published? Will we get ample time to discuss it properly in the House? Is legislation planned on foot of that, particularly to deal with what appear to be the Government's plans for long-term leasing arrangements with the National Asset Management Agency, NAMA, and big property developers?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Minister has responded in some detail already-----

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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When?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----on social housing, direct provision of housing by local authorities, the reconstruction of up to 1,800 units in Dublin, involvement with NAMA in providing opportunities for both finance and sites, and a planning Bill to stimulate the construction sector and to get back to a point at which we can build 20,000 to 25,000 houses per year.

No matter what we do and no matter who is in government, we still have to put blocks on the ground before we can build houses. That takes a certain amount of time. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has clarified this.

6:20 pm

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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He has not said when.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is an absolute priority to deal with the housing situation.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
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When is the strategy to be published?

Photo of Peter FitzpatrickPeter Fitzpatrick (Louth, Fine Gael)
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It is very important that every child receives-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Just ask about the legislation please Deputy.

Photo of Peter FitzpatrickPeter Fitzpatrick (Louth, Fine Gael)
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It is very important that every child receives a school place. When can we expect the publication of the education (admission to school) Bill which is to make the admission process more inclusive and equitable? The framework also proposes a mechanism to ensure that every child receives a place.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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That is due this session.

Photo of Michelle MulherinMichelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Is there a possibility that we can advance the cause of tackling the crime of petrol stretching under the Finance Bill in order to improve tracing of the movement and the testing of fuel-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is legislation promised?

Photo of Michelle MulherinMichelle Mulherin (Mayo, Fine Gael)
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-----on account of the high incidence of this practice, including an explosion of its incidence in my own county, with several hundred cases in the last few months?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I respectfully suggest to the Deputy that she could usefully put in a Topical Issue on that. It is a matter of concern to the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Finance. While it is obviously difficult to make regulations that cover what goes on, it is a source of concern and interest.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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Will the Taoiseach consider making a statement on the international humanitarian crisis in Iraq - the ISIS crisis?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Thank you.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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That is the first question, which is of international importance. The second is in connection with what was in the discussions in the last few weeks regarding the re-financing of IMF loans, which are part of the troika bailout loans. The counterbalance to that-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Thank you, Deputy. We are over time, as you can see on the clock.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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This is of national importance.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I know it is but you will have to find some other way of raising it. You cannot do it on the Order of Business.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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You are asking me to ask a question in ten seconds.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Promised legislation is what we deal with on the Order of Business.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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There is €25 billion of promissory bonds. If any of them is sold-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Put down a Topical Issue or a parliamentary question and I will certainly try to facilitate you.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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It means that any interest on the re-financing of IMF loans will be severely reduced.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Thank you.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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With five other representatives of the Dáil, I met Governor Honohan-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, I must ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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A Cheann Comhairle, what do I have to do?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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You cannot do it on the Order of Business. I call Deputy Halligan. Deputy Mathews will have to find another way to raise this.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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I had a few simple questions on one page but it took seven weeks and the reply only came to me yesterday. That is not good enough.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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A number of commitments have been made by both Fine Gael and Labour in regard to the excessive alcohol abuse in this country. A number of analyses by various groups in Ireland have come to the fore in recent months indicating that we are apparently at critical levels compared to Europe.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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What legislation is this?

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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The promised legislation I am referring to is the alcohol pricing Bill. Does the Taoiseach accept we need a constructive debate in this House on what has been happening to Irish youth, the effect this is having on the economy and the effect on the health of the nation?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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What is the position of the Bill?

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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We are now beginning to move ahead of other European countries, such as the Nordic countries, with regard to how alcohol is affecting our youth in Ireland. It is now three and a half years since the Government came in-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please, Deputy.

Photo of John HalliganJohn Halligan (Waterford, Independent)
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-----and a critical issue like this has still not been discussed in the Dáil.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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When is the legislation expected?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I expect the heads of the Bill this session. I might add, in respect of Iraq, that Ireland has been proportionately one of the biggest humanitarian donors. It is not the only area in that region where there are humanitarian crises, given the situation in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and the extermination of Christians and so on.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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Iran had 40 executions in one week in August.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade goes to New York next week as part of a round of city visits dealing with the UN General Assembly and issues related to that.

Governor Honohan has been very clear in respect of his responsibilities in so far as the Central Bank is concerned. The Minister, Deputy Noonan's success with his colleagues at ECOFIN and the Eurogroup in respect of the IMF is a separate matter. Obviously, the Governor of the Central Bank is well able to speak for himself.