Thursday, 10 September 2020
Report of the Committee of Standing Orders and Dáil Reform: Motion
That, in relation to the report of the Committee of Standing Orders and Dáil Reform dated 8th September, 2020—
(a) notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders— (i) the schedule for the Dáil sitting week as contained in Appendix 1 to the report be adopted with effect until Thursday 22nd October, 2020, when the schedule shall be reviewed by the Committee,
(ii) business on Thursday evenings pursuant to Standing Order 159(2) shall, until 22nd October, 2020, conclude within 75 minutes, and
(iii) written Parliamentary Questions pursuant to Standing Order 50(2) shall continue to be answered on Wednesdays; and (b) the amendments to the Standing Orders of Dáil Éireann relative to Public Business as contained in Appendix 2 to the report be made.
It is not agreed. As the Ceann Comhairle will be aware, we have had some dialogue today and my party has made a submission which would permit all Dáil business to return to Leinster House. The optics of us being in this cavernous space while we are asking hundreds of thousands of workers and students to wear masks and keep 1 m apart if they cannot achieve 2 m are not good.
It is unsustainable. Increasingly, there is agreement around the House on this. This motion is premature in that we need to find a solution to this in the week ahead and get our business back to Leinster House as soon as possible on the same basis that we are asking hundreds of thousands of workers and students to conduct their business. On that basis, we are opposing this motion and pressing it to a vote.
I too am opposed to the motion, on the same basis. I have asked consistently that we go back to Leinster House. We have the medical advice from NPHET but we have to accept the WHO's advice that a distance of 1 m is acceptable. Many of our hospitals operate with that distance. Our schools have been back for ten days. Many are using small prefabs, and many have 13 classrooms. Many businesspeople, the meat factories and many other types of organisations are operating according to the advice to which I refer.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle and the members of the Business Committee for their detailed consideration of the proposals this morning. We in the Rural Independent Group made a submission and it was discussed. I thank the secretariat, which is now going to engage and consider a roadmap. It is all a matter of roadmaps, obviously, but I refer to a roadmap showing the way back to Leinster House so Dáil Éireann can work there safely with a 1 m distance, which we have proposed and which I hope can happen. The motion is premature and we will vote against it.
We all agree that we want to have as many sittings as possible in Leinster House. As a Government, we are going to work with the Opposition and everybody else to try to see that through. I understand there was no agreement on, or conclusion to, the discussion today on the proposals some parties have made. If we can reach an agreement next week, that should supersede what we are voting on today. This motion is simply to give effect to the facilitation of next week's business as an interim solution. As the Taoiseach stated earlier this week, the Government is as anxious as anybody to ensure the Dáil sits in Leinster House. We will work with all Members of the Opposition to see that through. I understand we are not in a position, as a committee, to agree to that yet.
As I understand it, at the meeting of the Business Committee this morning, detailed consideration was given to three specific proposals from the Rural Independent Group, Sinn Féin and the Deputy Chief Whip, Deputy Brendan Griffin. All the matters were carefully considered. Implementing the proposals requires work to be done by the Houses of the Oireachtas Service. It is a matter of seeing how the implementation of the proposals could be reconciled with the full operation of An Seanad and how the more than 20 Oireachtas committees that Members have required to be established could also function. Arising from the debate this morning, the service has begun the work of examining how we might function but it is obviously a matter for the House to decide now on what to do with this motion. As the Chief Whip said, however, it is simply to facilitate the conduct of business next week. Am I correct on that?
Cathal Berry, Colm Brophy, James Browne, Richard Bruton, Colm Burke, Peter Burke, Mary Butler, Thomas Byrne, Jackie Cahill, Dara Calleary, Seán Canney, Ciarán Cannon, Joe Carey, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Jack Chambers, Niall Collins, Patrick Costello, Simon Coveney, Barry Cowen, Michael Creed, Cathal Crowe, Cormac Devlin, Alan Dillon, Stephen Donnelly, Francis Noel Duffy, Bernard Durkan, Damien English, Alan Farrell, Frank Feighan, Peter Fitzpatrick, Joe Flaherty, Charles Flanagan, Seán Fleming, Noel Grealish, Brendan Griffin, Simon Harris, Seán Haughey, Martin Heydon, Emer Higgins, Neasa Hourigan, Brendan Howlin, Heather Humphreys, Paul Kehoe, Alan Kelly, John Lahart, James Lawless, Brian Leddin, Michael Lowry, Josepha Madigan, Catherine Martin, Micheál Martin, Steven Matthews, Paul McAuliffe, Charlie McConalogue, Michael McGrath, Joe McHugh, Aindrias Moynihan, Michael Moynihan, Jennifer Murnane O'Connor, Eoghan Murphy, Verona Murphy, Gerald Nash, Denis Naughten, Hildegarde Naughton, Malcolm Noonan, Darragh O'Brien, Jim O'Callaghan, James O'Connor, Willie O'Dea, Kieran O'Donnell, Fergus O'Dowd, Roderic O'Gorman, Christopher O'Sullivan, Pádraig O'Sullivan, Éamon Ó Cuív, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Neale Richmond, Michael Ring, Eamon Ryan, Seán Sherlock, Brendan Smith, Duncan Smith, Niamh Smyth, Ossian Smyth, David Stanton, Robert Troy, Leo Varadkar.
Chris Andrews, John Brady, Martin Browne, Pat Buckley, Holly Cairns, Matt Carthy, Sorca Clarke, Joan Collins, Michael Collins, Catherine Connolly, Rose Conway-Walsh, Réada Cronin, Seán Crowe, David Cullinane, Pa Daly, Pearse Doherty, Paul Donnelly, Dessie Ellis, Mairead Farrell, Michael Fitzmaurice, Kathleen Funchion, Thomas Gould, Johnny Guirke, Marian Harkin, Danny Healy-Rae, Michael Healy-Rae, Gino Kenny, Martin Kenny, Claire Kerrane, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Mary Lou McDonald, Mattie McGrath, Michael McNamara, Denise Mitchell, Imelda Munster, Catherine Murphy, Paul Murphy, Johnny Mythen, Carol Nolan, Cian O'Callaghan, Richard O'Donoghue, Louise O'Reilly, Darren O'Rourke, Eoin Ó Broin, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Ruairi Ó Murchú, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Thomas Pringle, Maurice Quinlivan, Patricia Ryan, Róisín Shortall, Bríd Smith, Brian Stanley, Peadar Tóibín, Mark Ward, Violet Wynne.