Wednesday, 2 April 2003
Order of Business.
Brendan Ryan (Labour)
Ten minutes all around is better. Many have strong feelings on the issue. I have moved beyond beating Members on the other side of the House over the head about it because it is far too serious an issue to be discussed in that manner.
A report in The Irish Times yesterday contained comments from Ms Justice Laffoy that there had been "no real engagement by the Department of Education and Science with the Commission of Inquiry into Child Abuse." I find this entirely astonishing. The Minister for Education and Science should be accountable to one or other House of the Oireachtas. How can it be that Ms Justice Laffoy is forced to say this in public? I ask the Leader to invite the Minister to come here some time this week or next week to explain the reason the Department has had "no real engagement" with a commission of inquiry. We are all concerned about how long inquiries seem to take but the Department is central to an inquiry which is in many ways probing into matters infinitely more sensitive than the issues getting so much publicity in Dublin Castle. If it is hindering the work of the inquiry through incompetence or worse, the Houses of the Oireachtas, through which the inquiry was set up, are entitled to know the reason. I request that the Leader ask the Minister for Education and Science to issue a statement or come into the House to explain.
At the last count, 15 Bills passed in this House are before the other House. We seem to be able to do our business efficiently. I ask the Leader to ask her counterpart in the other House – the Taoiseach, I suppose – the reason it cannot do its business equally efficiently. It is ridiculous. One of those Bills—