Dáil debates

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

5:55 pm

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is proposed to take No. 39, statements on flooding. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. tonight and shall adjourn on the conclusion of No. 39; the proceedings on No. 39 shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion not later than 11 p.m. tonight and the following arrangements shall apply: the statement of the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and 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 ten minutes in each case and such Members may share time; the statement of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share time; the statement of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Defence and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called in that order, shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share time; the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed ten minutes in each case and such Members may share time; and a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; Private Members' business shall not be taken today, shall be taken tomorrow at 10.45 a.m. and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after three hours on that day; and tomorrow's business after Oral Questions shall be No. 218, motion re hospital emergency departments.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are three proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with the late sitting agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 39, statements on flooding, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business tomorrow agreed to? Agreed.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to raise three issues. On the business before the House, will the Taoiseach confirm that no legislation will come before the House today or tomorrow and that the Dáil, on its return, has no legislative proposals before it? I understand the House will deal with the Constitutional Convention tomorrow. That Members will debate three reports in one day and at the 11th hour, in other words, at the end of this Dáil, speaks volumes about the degree of commitment and respect the Government has shown to the Constitutional Convention whose reports were allowed to languish, without debate, for a long time after its work had been completed.

A significant number of the Bills on the Order Paper are on Second Stage, Committee Stage or Report Stage. Will the Taoiseach confirm that the House will sit for three days next week? Will legislation come before the House for debate next week? Is it the Government's intention to bring some of the Bills on the Order Paper before the House next week? I refer to legislation such as the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill, which are on Committee Stage in the Seanad. Will the Taoiseach give some indication of what legislation we can expect next week?

Before Christmas, I discussed with the Taoiseach a ground-breaking drug on the market for cystic fibrosis, Orkambi. Given that time is being provided for statements on many issues, it is important to debate the issue of frontier drugs and new technologies in medicine that can make a fundamental difference to people's lives. I disagree with the Government's policy approach on this issue. Orkambi has been described as a game-changer for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, yet many patients cannot avail of it. I ask the Taoiseach to provide time next week for a debate on this drug and the wider issue of the availability of drugs of this nature.

I had to highlight drugs such as Soliris and others on Leaders' Questions a number of times in the past year. The impact of these drugs on the people concerned was dramatic but they met official resistance until we raised the issues on the floor of the House. As the country with the highest prevalence of cystic fibrosis and where the various strains are of the greatest severity, it is incumbent on us to be at the forefront of developing new drugs in partnership with industry and to have them on the market and available to patients as quickly as possible. Will the Government consider providing time to discuss this issue?

The third issue relates to correspondence the Taoiseach sent to me late last evening concerning the commission of investigation into Irish Bank Resolution Corporation. This follows on from the meeting just before Christmas between the Taoiseach and leaders of the Opposition as well as Deputy Catherine Murphy and others. The documentation outlines potential heads of a Bill. This would be new, bespoke and separate legislation rather than a simple amendment to the Commissions of Investigation Act and would be for the specific purposes of the investigation into IBRC, the sale of Siteserv and Topaz and other transactions that occurred. The Taoiseach, in his correspondence, states that he would be grateful if we could treat this paper in a confidential manner. This statement creates a difficulty for us in that this is a matter for transparent public debate. Will the Taoiseach indicate the reasons he believes the subject matter of this documentation should be confidential given that it relates to potential legislation? As the Chief Whip was unable to do so on "Morning Ireland" earlier, will the Taoiseach indicate whether it is the Government's intention to submit a Bill or heads of a Bill to a committee before the Dáil is dissolved or will this be done after the general election? Will it fall to a new Dáil or Government to do this or does the Government intend to have the heads of a Bill discussed by a committee before the end of this Oireachtas term?

This is an important issue and serious public concern has arisen regarding the issues covered by the commission of investigation, which has been dragging on for one and a half years. It began with parliamentary questions that were not answered properly or to which full answers were not given.

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

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Freedom of information requests suddenly revealed serious concern among Department of Finance officials about the sale of Siteserv and other transactions. All of this led to the establishment of the commission of investigation. The Government was aware of major difficulties a long time ago and did not act on them. This culminated in an 11th hour meeting before Christmas which was to cover consultation with the Opposition. This correspondence, which we are told we have to keep secret, is further evidence of this. There is a need for a comprehensive, transparent presentation of all of the issues surrounding this matter. I ask the Taoiseach to consider having this documentation placed in the Oireachtas Library for other Deputies to weigh up because, as Members of the House, it concerns them.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Dáil is due to sit for three days next week. Some 19 of the 34 Bills on the autumn 2015 list have been published along with six other Bills.

The reason for not having legislation today is the demand from Deputies for statements to deal with the flooding issue, which continues to be of critical importance and a great priority. I understand the legislation taken next week will be the Credit Guarantee (Amendment) Bill, Horse Racing Bill Ireland 2015 and Public Sector Standards Bill. A Whips' meeting will take place this evening and the position may change depending on requests made by the Whips. While I understand this is the legislation that it is intended to take next week, if Members want to change this at the Whips' meeting, it will be a different matter.

In respect of the cystic fibrosis drug, this is not a singular issue. New drugs regularly come through for clearance, some of which are exceptionally expensive, as the Deputy is aware. It is very difficult to balance life-saving new drugs - "frontier medicines" as the Deputy described them - against the costs involved. There is a process to be gone through in that regard.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I asked for a debate.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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For instance, a drug in respect of hepatitis C, which cures rather than treats the condition, came through a facility in Sligo and is extraordinary in terms of the quality of life it can bring about for people. The Minister for Health is pursuing this matter through the proper channels. The changes made and investments made in facilities for cystic fibrosis patients speak for themselves. I refer to isolation units and the increased quality of life that patients have. That is a matter that is proceeding.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Will the Government provide time for a debate on the issue?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I am sure the Fianna Fáil Party Whip will raise that issue at this evening's meeting.

6:05 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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But I am asking the Taoiseach on the Order of Business.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Martin is asking me. That is what his Whip is for. The Whip makes the requests on behalf of Deputy Martin's party, I assume.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary South, Independent)
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It is a derogation of duty.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is not really suitable for the Order of Business.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I do not determine every issue that is discussed in the Dáil.

In regard to the commission of investigation on the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, I wrote to Deputy Martin and the other leaders with a proposition for a possible approach to legislation to address issues relating to the work of the IBRC commission. This followed a request and a set of propositions from Mr. Justice Cregan. One of those propositions was to extend of the timeframe of the commission until the end of April 2016. I have granted the judge that in so far as the relevant section of the Act is concerned. I wrote to Deputy Martin and said I was sending him the letter in a confidential manner. The same letter went to Deputy Adams and the other leaders of the different groups. However, it is different in that the Government has actually sent Deputy Martin and the others a proposition in respect of the type of heads of Bill that we would propose to consider, given the proposition that the justice put to us in order that his commission would be able to do its duty. Some of these things are quite complex. I have asked Deputy Martin to respond to that. This is not by any means a secret mission, because once the Government approves the heads, they go to an Oireachtas committee.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Government has not approved them.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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If Deputy Martin read it-----

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Deputy Martin did not read it. Section 1 referred to a possible approach.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Exactly. It was "possible", and therefore the Government has not approved it.

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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If Deputy Martin read it-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are now 12 minutes into the Order of Business.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I said I would welcome their views in response to the attached paper.

(Interruptions).

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

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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What views has Deputy Martin given me? He has given me none. I said I was also copying the letter to Mr. Justice Cregan following his recommendations.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach would not have done this only for the fact that we forced him to.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Please, through the Chair.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am asking the Taoiseach if he will confirm whether it will be this session, before the House is dissolved. If it is not, we will have to wait for the next Government.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, you will not ask anything that is out of order. Thank you. Deputy Adams is entitled to his time and a number of other Deputies have also indicated that they wish to speak.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Let me repeat it for Deputy Martin. If he wants to listen, I might be able to give him some information. I said to Deputy Martin that I requested his views on the paper that I circulated. I said they were possible heads for consideration.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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That is neither here nor there.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I met the leaders of the parties and I asked them for their views. I have now set out the consequence of that in nine heads and I have asked the leaders for their views on the document. Deputy Martin does not seem to want to give me his views. I would appreciate if he would forward them to me.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach got them last night.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Government will consider the responses from the leaders of the groups and make its decision in approving the heads of a Bill which will then be sent to the Oireachtas committee in the normal fashion. That is a process that was not there before.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Dáil is up in two weeks.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I sent the leaders the possible heads before we approved them at Cabinet level. Thereafter, of course, it is not in any way confidential. It will be public knowledge and everyone here who wants to can find an answer to those questions.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Tá trí cheist agam, ceann amháin faoin IBRC, ceann eile faoi oideachas agus páistí agus an ceann deireannach faoi na seirbhísí sláinte. I, too, was taken by the use of the Taoiseach's word "confidential," particularly given that the morning after our meeting a former member of the Taoiseach's party, trying to make herself relevant, told the world of what had happened at the meeting. I imagine the Taoiseach will reflect and recollect that the meeting was marked by juvenile squabbling between him and the Fianna Fáil leader. It was of the kind that we have become used to seeing here.

Anyway, I will move on to the more important business at hand. It is very clear that the Government has made a mess of this issue of a commission dealing with the IBRC from the very beginning.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It was just a bit of juvenile kneecapping.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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It was clear that the Government would not listen to the Opposition and, in particular, that it would not listen to Sinn Féin. In fact, when it got to the point of the terms of reference, we voted against it. I believe that the Government, by its actions, has prevented a full and proper commission of investigation from getting on with its work. I believe the Government has pushed this back to beyond the election. I think perhaps that was the objective all along. Anyway, when does the Taoiseach expect a Bill to be published?

I have some other questions. The Government made clear commitments on promoting the best outcomes for children and families, particularly in respect of investing in early childhood education for disadvantaged children. I imagine all of us would support that objective. In my constituency, representatives of the Louth-Meath branch of Down Syndrome Ireland have just been told that early intervention home teacher programmes for preschool children will no longer be funded.

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

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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I am coming to my point.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is the Order of Business. Thank you.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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The point is that 53 Down's syndrome children will be denied what is a very small sum of money, some €25,000. The families raised €50,000 themselves. Does the Taoiseach accept that this is at odds with his commitment? Will he reverse it?

A Cheann Comhairle, you will notice how short I am in my questions. The Government's five-point plan has now been destroyed by the current Minister for Health. Prior to Christmas, he said that there would be and should be no more than 70 patients a day on trolleys. He said he had zero tolerance of patients waiting more than nine hours on trolleys. Yesterday, there were 200 patients on trolleys for longer than nine hours. Today, there are 424 patients on trolleys. Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, once again, has among the highest numbers. Last year, there were 93,000 patients on trolleys, the highest figure since records began. Does the Taoiseach accept that the Government has created absolute chaos within our hospital system and that there is no stability whatsoever?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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What legislation are you talking about?

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Does the Government intend to bring forward a new health policy before this term ends?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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In respect of the last question, it is not satisfactory that the numbers are the way they are. They are better than they were last year. Investment is increasing again. We were left with a position in which 2,000 beds were taken out of circulation by the previous Administration. That is not easy to deal with. In so far as that is concerned, I am glad that the INMO and management have agreed on a set of protocols to deal with emergency departments and patients on trolleys. This should show the seriousness of intent of management in making the changes that will allow for better work facilities for nurses, particularly those who work in emergency departments in hospitals throughout the country, including Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. I hope that the protocol now in place, which is very strict and mandatory in a number of respects when numbers rise in emergency departments, can be implemented in the best interests of every patient who has to go to an emergency department, including those who have to spend time on trolleys.

Deputy Adams will be aware of the increased expenditure of €117 million for the opening of beds that were closed and for the opening of new beds this month. There has been a reduction in the numbers. While still not satisfactory, we need more investment and personnel. Clearly, we can only have those facilities when we have a growing economy that provides the resources to deal with the demand. That means more and better employment and a situation in which work is clearly seen to pay.

I commend all those who spent long hours over the weekend putting together an agreement to a protocol to deal with emergency departments. I hope that can deal with the situation from here on. I hope those in the management measure up to the challenges, which are different in every hospital.

I will come back to Deputy Adams in respect of the question he asked about early childhood.

The Deputy also asked a question in respect of IBRC. Having met the leaders, I wrote to them and said that arising from the discussion I agreed to circulate draft heads of possible legislation to them in January for their views. That is what they have got. I also said, following consultation with the Opposition Members, that one viable approach had been identified. This would be to draft bespoke legislation to provide a new legal basis for the Cregan commission while also amending the terms of reference to provide for a modular and more focused approach. That was certainly one element identified as being possible. The questions raised at our meeting, such as the restoration of Siteserv to the register of companies and the provision of resources, have already been resolved. The discussion paper on the possible heads sets out an approach on these lines for consultation purposes, and some of the risks are identified.

It should be noted that it is still technically possible to consider other options, including amending the Commissions of Investigation Act and referring matters raised in the determinations by the commissions to the High Court to obtain legal clarity in the public interest or the establishment of a tribunal of inquiry. As the Deputy knows, they are pretty serious matters. I wanted to give the leaders of the different groups an opportunity to respond to possible heads of legislation which are identified as one way of dealing with the propositions and requests that Mr. Justice Cregan made. As the Deputy knows, he requested an extension of time to the end of April and, in accordance with the relevant section of the Act, I have granted him that extension.

6:15 pm

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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The Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill was published, I understand, in 2012. In the intervening period it has gone through various Stages in the House. Committee Stage has been dealt with and it is currently on Report Stage. We all realise the importance of the Bill to people who have made mistakes, received convictions and want to restart their lives. Given the importance of the Bill, which I have raised on many occasions in the House, can the Taoiseach give us a commitment that he will prioritise it and that it will complete its journey through the House before it rises?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is a valid question. The Bill is on Report Stage and is on the Dáil Order Paper. There are ten or 12 Bills on the list. I am not sure, following Committee Stage, whether there is any further work to be done on the Bill. I will ask the Minister for Justice and Equality about whether this is an issue Members feel should be dealt with. It is due to be taken in the Dáil, if not next week then the week after. If it is a priority that Members feel should be dealt with, I will have the Deputy revert to the Fianna Fáil Whip as a matter of some urgency. It is an important Bill and I would like to see it passed.

Photo of Arthur SpringArthur Spring (Kerry North-West Limerick, Labour)
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I refer to the Technological Universities Bill, which came before the House before Christmas. Given the relevance it has for a town such as Tralee, will it be passed by the House before the election? It would provide financial, institutional and educational benefits.

Deputy Martin referred to the cystic fibrosis drug Orkambi. If we cannot have a debate on it in the House, I suggest the Joint Committee on Health and Children debate the issue over the next couple of weeks. It has the potential to save a lot of lives and is of enormous importance to the nation.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I understand Committee Stage of the Technological Universities Bill will be taken tomorrow. The House might move through that quickly. I cannot speak for the Deputies who will attend the debate.

In respect of the cystic fibrosis drug to which the Deputy referred, Deputy Ó Fearghaíl will raise the issue today. If it is not possible to fit such a debate into the Dáil schedule, we will consult with the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health and Children to determine whether it could debate the matter.

Photo of Arthur SpringArthur Spring (Kerry North-West Limerick, Labour)
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Can we deal with the Technological Universities Bill?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is on Committee Stage. If the committee is prepared to finalise it quickly, I do not see any objection to it being moved through. Some people may find complications with it, as often happens in here.

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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I refer to wind energy guidelines. It was promised that they would be published in advance of the local elections. We are now in advance of the general election. Will the Taoiseach and Government publish them?

I refer to two items relating to children. In 2012, the children's referendum, which was supported by all political parties in the House, was passed. We are still waiting on legislation to give effect to those in long-term foster care to be eligible for adoption. Will that legislation be brought before the House before the general election? Will the legislation to give effect to the information and tracing procedures, something we all support, come before the Dáil before the election? Can we expect the interim report on the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes before the general election?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will have to come back to the Deputy on his last question. The Adoption (Amendment) Bill and the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill are priority Bills for publication. In respect of wind energy guidelines, there will be enough wind around the country generated from human resources. There might be a need for guidelines.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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It is a serious matter.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I will discuss the matter with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Alex White, and come back to the Deputy.

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
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If the Taoiseach makes all the promises he did the last time they will be needed.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy did not open his mouth in Athlone.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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On promised legislation.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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Pardon?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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On promised legislation.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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Yes. I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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It makes a change.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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Just before Christmas, the European Parliament, by an overwhelming majority of over 500 to 11, passed a motion that there were serious transgressions in the case of Ibrahim Halawa, whose case has been again deferred. I appeal to the Taoiseach to save a life, intervene and lift the phone to the Egyptian President. It is not right. I admire-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, Deputy-----

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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I admire Ms Lynn Boylan, MEP, for getting the cross-party support of all Irish MEPs to advocate on his behalf.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Thank you. Does the Taoiseach have any comment to make?

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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The Taoiseach's son is the same age as Ibrahim Halawa. He would not have stood by this long-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Sorry, Deputy. You know yourself that you are out of order. This is not about promised legislation.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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I am not out of order.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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If the Taoiseach wishes to comment, I will allow him to do so, just to satisfy you. Please resume your seat. Thank you. You have made your point.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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There is a life in the balance.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are three minutes left and other Deputies wish to speak. The Deputy has to stick to Standing Orders.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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The leader has had a very good run.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Does the Taoiseach have a comment to make?

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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That is the first thing. I will ask about the second thing in a minute.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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As I have said on many occasions, the objective of the Government is twofold, first to secure the release of Ibrahim Halawa so that he can return to his family in Ireland and second to provide consular support for him while he is in detention. I am disappointed that his case has been postponed until 6 March.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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That is not good enough.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I wish to inform the House that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met the Egyptian ambassador today to discuss this case further.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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My second question concerns the Gambling Control Bill. The advertising intensity over the Christmas period was nothing short of shameful. It is harmful and addictive, and gambling companies are giving people free bets. It is like giving out free cigarettes. It is wrong.

A Deputy:

Deputy Mathews should take a gamble on it.

Photo of Peter MathewsPeter Mathews (Dublin South, Independent)
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That is not funny.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is on the agenda, but I would not bet on it.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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Will the Taoiseach allow time for a debate on Moore Street? I listened to his response to Deputy Adams. Only that I know his form on these matters I would have found his response very shocking. A number of Deputies, including myself, submitted a Topical Issue Matter today on the issue of Moore Street, its proper development and the protection of the national monument. None of us were selected for a Topical Issue Debate-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy should wait for tomorrow.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I propose to resubmit the matter tomorrow and thank the Ceann Comhairle for his advice, which is very helpful. In the absence of that, and given the seriousness of the situation, the year that is in it and the fact that he is the sitting Taoiseach, I would think it is in all of our interests that we have a debate and resolved position of support for the proper development of the revolutionary quarter in Dublin's inner city.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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As an oftentimes forceful representative for her community, I am quite sure Deputy McDonald would agree that it is a right and proper thing for this State to have acquired Nos. 15, 16 and 17 Moore Street and to address the proper restoration of the historic buildings concerned with public moneys in the interests of preserving them in the best way possible for the generations after us.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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With a shopping mall.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I am quite sure that can be done without occupying the building or engaging in that kind of activity. I am not opposed to legitimate protest in our country.

Photo of Dessie EllisDessie Ellis (Dublin North West, Sinn Fein)
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The leaders occupied it.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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Deputy McDonald is in a position to influence communities about the possibilities that are the responsibilities of others in Dublin City Council and the planning process, and also the plan in place for the area around the buildings concerned. She should say that it is important, in the context of 2016 and 1916, that the historic monument, purchased by the State for the people, should be allowed to be restored and sensitively presented for the people for future generations.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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The Taoiseach should allow time on the floor of the Dáil for the matter to be debated. That is what I have asked for.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy's actions and words do not seem to commend this activity and I am disappointed as a senior representative of her party that this is the attitude she has taken.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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So there will be no debate. I am disappointed the Taoiseach cannot answer the questions asked.