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Vol. 605 Tuesday, No. 3 28 June 2005 ´ ´ ´ DIOSPOIREACHTAI PARLAIMINTE PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES ´ ´ DAIL EIREANN ´ TUAIRISC OIFIGIUIL—Neamhcheartaithe (OFFICIAL REPORT—Unrevised) Tuesday, 28 June 2005. Ceisteanna—Questions Taoiseach … … … … … … … … … … … … … 385 Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Priority Questions … … … … … … … … … … … 399 Other Questions … … … … … … … … … … … 414 Adjournment Debate Matters … … … … … … … … … … … 420 Leaders’ Questions … … … … … … … … … … … … 421 ´ Requests to move Adjournment of Dail under Standing Order 31 … … … … … … 436 Order of Business … … … … … … … … … … … … 438 Social Welfare (Consolidation) Bill 2005: First Stage … … … … … … … 451 Defence (Amendment) Act 1993: Motion … … … … … … … … … 451 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: Report Stage (resumed) … … … … … … … 451 Private Members’ Business G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: Motion … … … … … … … 471 Message from Seanad … … … … … … … … … … … … 500 Disability Bill 2004: From the Seanad… … … … … … … … … … 500 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004 [Seanad]: Order for Report Stage … … … … … … … … … … … 509 Report Stage … … … … … … … … … … … … 509 Adjournment Debate Port Development… … … … … … … … … … … … 522 National Aquatic Centre … … … … … … … … … … … 526 Schools Building Projects … … … … … … … … … … … 531 School Staffing … … … … … … … … … … … … 533 Questions: Written Answers … … … … … … … … … … … 537 385 386 ´ ´ DAIL EIREANN An Ceann Comhairle: It is definitely outside the scope and if the Deputy wants information in ———— this regard he should submit a question to the appropriate line Minister. It is not appropriate to ´ ´ De Mairt, 28 Meitheamh 2005. have a debate on what was discussed or on any Tuesday, 28 June 2005. particular issue which is the not the responsibility of the Department of the Taoiseach. ———— ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: Is the Taoiseach in a ´ Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar position to outline whether the committee has or 2.30 p.m. will address the report? I will leave it at that because I have no intention to retrace this line of ———— argument. Unfortunately, there is no end to it. Paidir. The Taoiseach: The answer to the question is Prayer. yes, the committee is addressing that issue. ———— Mr. Rabbitte: Questions like these about Cabinet sub-committee meetings have been the Ceisteanna — Questions. traditional method used to permit the head of Government to answer broad questions such as ´ ´ those posed by Deputy O Caolain. The Ceann ———— Comhairle has constantly, persistently and con- Cabinet Committees. sistently narrowed the scope of questions that this House might legitimately put to the Taoiseach to ´ ´ 1. Caoimhghın O Caolain asked the Taoiseach ´ such a point that it is not worth our while stand- when the Cabinet committee on social inclusion ing up to ask a question anymore. Therefore, I do and drugs last met. [19095/05] not propose to ask a question. 2. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on social inclusion and drugs An Ceann Comhairle: I agree with the Deputy. last met; and when the next meeting is due to be I believe that these questions, which are statisti- held;. [20741/05] cal, should not be posed for oral answer. 3. Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach when the Mr. Rabbitte: They are not statistical questions. last meeting of the Cabinet committee on social ´ That cliche has come into parliamentary inclusion and drugs took place. [22337/05] exchanges because of questions habitually posed The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions under the rubric of the Central Statistics Office Nos. 1, 2 and 3 together. and other statistical matters. A question about The Cabinet committee on social inclusion last drug abuse and a Cabinet meeting is not statisti- met on 27 April 2005. The next meeting of the cal in nature. committee is scheduled for tomorrow, 29 June. An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Rabbitte’s ques- ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: Has the Cabinet com- ´ tion is as follows: “To ask the Taoiseach when the mittee on social inclusion and drugs reviewed the Cabinet committee on social inclusion and drugs report of the national drugs strategy mid-term last met; and when the next meeting will be held”. review? Mr. Rabbitte: That question is in line with An Ceann Comhairle: That issue does not arise parliamentary convention and aims to ascertain out of this very specific statistical question. There if, arising from the meeting, any decisions were is no space for supplementary questions. reached or general policy announcements are to be made by the Taoiseach. He is the head of the ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: Is the Ceann Comh- ´ Government. airle going to close us down completely? An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is aware An Ceann Comhairle: There are questions on that policy questions should be addressed to the Northern Ireland, so the Deputy should not take line Minister. The Chair does not want to be up time on irrelevant questions involved in this type of discussion every day that questions such as these are posed. ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: I appreciate the ´ ´ importance of that. Nevertheless I am trying to Mr. Rabbitte: If we accept that the position is establish whether the Cabinet committee on so, what is the point in posing a question to the social inclusion and drugs has addressed the Taoiseach? report of the national drugs strategy mid-term review. It is a very straightforward question and An Ceann Comhairle: I agree with the Deputy I thought it would have been accommodated. It about putting down a question of this nature for is not outside the scope of the question. oral answer—— 387 Ceisteanna — 28 June 2005. Questions 388 Mr. Rabbitte: Could the Ceann Comhairle sug- want answers, they should revert to the old gest, on the matter of drugs policy that effects so system, which worked very well. many people in our communities, how we might draft an appropriate question? Mr. Kenny: It worked well because Deputy Rabbitte always gave full information in response An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy, you are missing to questions. the point. The Taoiseach: I could do so too because I Mr. Rabbitte: I am not missing the point. You attend the committee meetings, but that is not the do not want the Taoiseach to answer—— point. Procedurally that is how it should be operated. An Ceann Comhairle: The question should be drafted for the line Minister—— Mr. Rabbitte: The Taoiseach’s Government changed that procedure. Mr. Rabbitte: You want to narrow the scope of the questions that we can put to the Taoiseach. The Taoiseach: There has been no change. It can still be done and there is no problem in An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair has ruled on doing so. the matter in accordance with precedent. Ques- tions on policy are addressed to the line Minister. Mr. Costello: In view of today’s report on the national survey of drug-related suicides and the Mr. Sargent: I hope the Ceann Comhairle will significant increase which has taken place in consider that my question is in order. To take 45 recent years, and given that serious drug abuse is minutes to ask the Taoiseach when the committee a feature of national life rather than of urban last met is not a good use of parliamentary time. life—— The limitations on party leaders or anyone else asking the Taoiseach a question are so strict that An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is straying we are forced to ask questions about when the into policy which is a matter for the line Minister. committee last met. I ask the Ceann Comhairle to bear in mind that we are attempting to address Mr. Costello: ——will the Taoiseach consider important issues here, not simply fill a calendar making the Minister of State with responsibility or inquire about diary entries. Will the Chair for drugs strategy and housing solely responsible countenance the question that I propose to ask, for drugs strategy because of the extent of the namely, whether the Taoiseach accepts that the problem? Cabinet committee on social inclusion and drugs should meet more frequently, given that there is The Taoiseach: The Minister of State is respon- growing inequality in the pathways to social sible for all actions in the drugs area. He is also inclusion? CORI published a report last month responsible for housing because in many of these which clearly indicates that one quarter of Irish areas there is a cross-link between the difficulties children and over one fifth of Irish people are at and problems. Research shows that these risk of poverty. areas—— An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made Mr. Costello: It is in health and so on. his point. The Taoiseach: The health aspect is different, being concerned with treatment centres. I do not Mr. Sargent: I also ask about equality as it think it would be a good idea for the Minister of relates to people with disabilities because 16% of State to take on the additional responsibility of the complaints made to the Equality Authority the health aspect. were from people with disability. Such facts indi- cate that the Cabinet committee on social inclusion and drugs needs to meet more regularly Northern Ireland Issues. and needs to be more public and more effective 4. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach if he will in responding to these growing problems. make a statement on the outcome of his meeting on 15 June 2005 with the British Prime Minister, The Taoiseach: The committee meets on a Mr. Tony Blair. [20735/05] monthly basis. I do not know if this is helpful to 5. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Taoiseach if he will Deputies, but if direct questions are posed about report on the outcome of his talks with the DUP any of these issues, the Ministers who report to in London on 15 June 2005; his assessment of the the committee would be only too glad to answer prospects for political progress in Northern them. When I was on the other side of the House Ireland in view of these talks; and if he will make and Deputy Rabbitte was on this side, he used a statement on the matter. [20736/05] to take part of the time allocated to Taoiseach’s questions to answer these types of questions and 6. Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will I posed questions directly to him. Unfortunately, report on his discussions in London on 15 June that does not happen now and if Deputies really 2005 with the leadership of the Democratic 389 Ceisteanna — 28 June 2005. Questions 390 Unionist Party; and if he will make a statement Dr. Paisley made it clear that he is only on the matter. [20751/05] interested in actions, not just words, and the Irish Government shares that view. I assured Dr. Pais- 7. Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will ley and his colleagues that we also want the IRA report on his meeting with the British Prime response to be conclusive and decisive. We also Minister in London on 15 June 2005; and if he said to the DUP that if we see the actions that will make a statement on the matter. [20752/05] are required, both Governments will expect 8. Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach if he will Unionists to participate in fully inclusive partner- report on his meeting in London with the DUP ship politics in Northern Ireland, recognising that leader, the Rev. Ian Paisley on 15 June 2005; and regaining confidence and trust will inevitably take if he will make a statement on the matter. some time. We also talked about the importance [21057/05] of everybody in the community working together to ensure we have a peaceful summer. 9. Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach if he will I had a separate meeting with Prime Minister report on his meeting in London with the British Blair on the same day. This was our first oppor- Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair, on 15 June 2005; tunity to meet in person since the British general and if he will make a statement on the matter. election. We reviewed our respective contacts [21058/05] with the political parties, including my meeting ´ ´ 10. Caoimhghın O Caolain asked the Taoiseach ´ earlier in the day with the DUP. We reaffirmed if he will report on his meeting with the DUP on our shared position that full implementation of 15 June 2005; and if he will make a statement on the Agreement is the way forward and that to get the matter. [21256/05] to that point, we need to see a complete end to paramilitary and criminal activity and the com- 11. Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach if he has pletion of decommissioning. had any recent discussion with the Alliance Party; I met the Prime Minister again yesterday when when he next intends to have contacts with the we jointly chaired the British-Irish Intergovern- Alliance Party; and if he will make a statement mental Conference, BIIGC. This was the first on the matter. [22340/05] meeting of the conference at summit level since 12. Mr. Sargent asked the Taoiseach if he will 1999. The meeting was the first comprehensive report on the Government’s benchmarks on engagement between the two Governments on assessing any future IRA or loyalist paramilitary Northern Ireland since the British general elec- commitments or actions in terms of genuine pro- tion in May. I was accompanied by the Minister gress in the peace process; and if he will make a for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Justice, statement on the matter. [22341/05] Equality and Law Reform. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Hain, together with 13. Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach if he will other Ministers for Northern Ireland participated report on his recent contacts with the political on the British side. parties in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a We discussed a range of issues, including politi- statement on the matter. [22459/05] cal developments, security and criminal justice, 14. Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach when he policing, the marching season, human rights and next expects to meet the British Prime Minister; North-South co-operation. I also raised the and if he will make a statement on the matter. Dublin-Monaghan bombings with the Prime [22460/05] Minister. ´ The joint communique which was issued after 15. Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach when he the conference outlines in greater detail the issues next intends to visit Northern Ireland; and if he we discussed. A copy of this communique has ´ will make a statement on the matter. [22461/05] been placed in the Oireachtas Library. The two The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Governments will continue to remain in close Nos. 4 to 15, inclusive, together. contact over the coming period. The Government I met Dr. Paisley and senior representatives of also remains in contact with the other parties in the DUP on 15 June in the Irish Embassy in Northern Ireland. I met the Alliance Party in London. The meeting was the first chance to January and I am happy to have meetings with meet the DUP since its success in the UK elec- parties as the need arises. In this context, I reiter- tions. We had a good, comprehensive discussion ate my congratulations to Sir Reg Empey as the about the current political situation. The DUP new leader of the Ulster Unionist Party. I hope knows that the Good Friday Agreement is the that we will have the opportunity to meet shortly. centrepiece of the Irish Government’s policy. We As Deputies may know, I was in Belfast last reiterated our view that the only way forward is week at the ICTU conference. I do not have defi- for people to share power on the basis of equality nite plans to visit Northern Ireland again in the and a commitment to exclusively peaceful and near future. democratic methods. That is also the view of the British Government. To move forward, we need Mr. Rabbitte: Given that it is now three months a clear, unambiguous end to all paramilitary and since Mr. Gerry Adams made his statement to the criminal activity and the completion of decom- IRA, has the Government any factual infor- missioning. mation on when a definitive response from the 391 Ceisteanna — 28 June 2005. Questions 392 [Mr. Rabbitte.] activity. The Deputy knows the reason we IRA can be expected? Given that the impact is inserted that term. The end of criminal acitvity that everything else is on hold awaiting the IRA’s means the end of all such acitivty. I do not believe response, does the Taoiseach acknowledge how there can be big and small criminal activities. frustrating this is for the democratic parties which With regard to the completion of decom- cannot proceed with normal business until we missioning, it seems to the two Governments that have the IRA statement? Will he outline the continuing with incremental decommissioning minimum requirement of the two Governments will not resolve the problems. It was useful at the in terms of what they are demanding from the start as a confidence-building measure but that IRA and what is their bottom line in respect of did not last too long. General John de Chastelain any statement considered to be imminent? Does must be totally and absolutely happy in this he understand the extent to which many members regard. He is accepted on all sides — we had this of the public are repelled by statements, most lat- discussion recently — as being in a position to terly attributed to himself, that the IRA should make an authoritive declaration on the matter. become some kind of commemorative organis- Neither Prime Minister Blair nor I want to get ation and the implications of such a statement in into discussion with him on it, one way or terms of the 1,700 odd murdered by the IRA? another. It is a matter for him to be satisfied and What would be the reaction of the Nationalist to make his assessment based on the logistical people if we had similar statements about loyalist information that we know is in his possession. paramilitary organisations reconstituting them- Anything other than that, as the Deputy correctly selves as some kind of commemorative organis- said, will not allow us to move on and deal with ations? Does the Taoiseach agree the demoractic the political agenda. That agenda will have its parties and the two Governments ought not be a own difficulties and problems. We cannot get on party to the rewriting of history that seeks to with that, however, until we get these answers. paint either the loyalists gangs or the IRA as hav- If this does not happen, as I have said to other ing been involved in anything but a vicious sec- parties in recent months, there is not much point tarian conflict and that any attempt to rewrite this in asking further because we know what the is repulsive to the average citizen? answers will be. In the event, the stalemate will continue into the dim and distant future. I have The Taoiseach: On the Deputy’s first question been very clear on that in all meetings with the on the date we expect to hear a response, frankly, various parties since last September. I do not know the answer. The two Governments On the Deputy’s third question, nobody has expect to hear a response over the summer. We suggested to me what the IRA as a group will do, expect to hear one in the weeks immediately if we can move it to a peaceful mode in which ahead prior to the holiday break in August. That paramilitary activity, violence and criminal is what we believe, although we do not have any related activities are over. I have talked about definite information. As I said previously, if that this to many people in Northern Ireland, includ- is not adhered to, I will regret that fact but it is ing the Unionist political parties. It was Mr. not the biggest issue; the biggest issue is that David Trimble as leader of the Ulster Unionist when we receive a response, we get the right one. Party who said that a commemorative organis- That is still my position. It would help everybody ation was something that would be acceptable to if we could remove the uncertainty. I welcome him. the fact that all over the island of Ireland there If they believe that they should commemorate has been a meeting of people — we know this those who have died, who have been colleagues from security intelligence sources and otherwise over the years, whatever their activities, I am cer- — who have been involved in Provisional IRA tainly not going to condemn that. Neither do I activities during the years. That they are debating condemn the fact that the Red Hand Com- this issue is good and I hope we will get the right mandos, the UVF, the UDA and other para- answer from them. military organisations engage in such activities. On the Deputy’s second question of what is our To say they will all go away and never be minimum and maximum position, there is no dif- involved in such activities any more is just not ference in this regard. We have made it clear dealing with the real world, because they will. To since last autumn and long before — since try to say they should not commemorate some- October 2001, the first time we spelled it out in a body who has been killed or was a colleague is document, and the position has not changed not to live in the real world. Our line is that as much — that we want an unambiguous end to all long as we are finished with arms, criminality, paramilitary and criminal activity. This means a paramilitary trappings and all those matters, we full end to paramilitary activity with clear instruc- will have brought an end to that which we have tions that those involved in these activities cease. sought to end. That was set out very well in paragaph 13 of the document issued a few years ago which defines Mr. Rabbitte: I am sure the Taoiseach under- what it means and all the categories covered. I stands the difference between retired para- would not add to or substract from the list. The militaries choosing to commemorate whomsoever only change over the period was that in addition they want is quite distinct from democratically to paramiliity activity we included criminal elected Governments conferring approval on a 393 Ceisteanna — 28 June 2005. Questions 394 particular version of history. In the sectarian had broken his licence. We cannot make a slaughter that we have witnessed over the last 30 judgment on that and the case will go to the years, more people were killed by the IRA than appeals commission. All we said was that if this by the Black and Tans. It is a matter of concern is the process, we accept it — there have been to a great many citizens that we should seek to very few such cases — and the quicker it is dealt confer some type of approval or be complicit in with, the better. Last year, Mr. Kelly was defin- the re-writing of history. itely involved in playing a constructive role in Has the Taoiseach had any response to his rep- very difficult situations about which we were well resentations on behalf of the Shankill bomber, aware. As to what he was doing during the winter Sean Kelly? Will he explain to the House why he season, I am not in a position to make a decided to take up the cudgels in respect of that judgment. case? To my knowledge, he has not made rep- As Deputy Rabbitte will appreciate, marches resentations in respect of any person returned to have taken place practically every day for the past prison, so why has he done it in that case? few weeks. It is a difficult issue and we are trying Is the Taoiseach aware of the comments by the to be as constructive and helpful as possible in ´ SDLP MLA, Dr. Sean Farren, about events at the trying to deal with difficult situations, whether the Orange parade in Ballymena last night and the tour of the north march ten days ago, the policing of same by the PSNI? Has he or does Whiterock parade, which was on Saturday, the he intend to make representations to the British mini-12th celebration, which will take place in Government or to the Secretary of State for east Belfast this Friday night, Portadown, the Northern Ireland in respect of the incidents that Drumcree parade, which is coming up on 10 July, occurred at Ballymena? tensions around the neighbouring town of Lurgan or concern about parades through Nationalist The Taoiseach: I agree with Deputy Rabbitte areas of Ballymena, such as the Orange march on the first point. Nobody is suggesting that any- on 27 June mentioned by Deputy Rabbitte, about body is giving recognition. However, the reality ´ which Sean Farren said the police had been must be acknowledged, as well. We are trying to heavy-handed in dealing with Nationalist pro- end paramilitary activity and criminality and testors. I want to be very even-handed about this complete decommissioning. We do not want to issue. There are all kinds of tensions and diffi- embark on the next round of trying to end some- culties around many of the parades this year, for thing that is clearly impossible to finish. This does all the obvious reasons, including the Derry par- not mean, however, that these organisations have ade which I mentioned recently. We are trying to any type of official support. The reality is that help all sides. one cannot go through Northern Ireland without Yesterday, apart from the formal meeting, we passing places where the UVF and others were in had meetings with British officials. We are doing 1912 or were trained in 1916. Neither the Deputy our best to try to reduce tensions around parades. nor I has respect for any of these activities or all Every word uttered in the House during these the atrocities over the years. To ask me not alone debates is read by all sides. We are trying to be to try to end paramilitary and criminal activity even-handed with regard to all the marches, and bring decommissioning to a conclusion but to including those I did not mention, whether by the disband organisations so that their members will Orange Order, provisional republicans or any of never meet again is to seek the impossible and I the loyalist groups. What we, in the House, are have made that clear to groups. I do not see the trying to do is help to get through a difficult day when we will all be there commemorating marching season. anything that anyone did. That will not happen at any time in the next century, not to mind in the Mr. Kenny: Was the Taoiseach surprised at the short term. ´ ´ security briefings from the Garda Sıochana and On the Kelly case, this was only the second the Army as to the estimated strength of IRA case of a licence being suspended. Whenever personnel at the moment? News- these cases come up on either side we always ask 3 o’clock paper reports indicate a strength of questions and play an even-handed role. I have 1,500, around 20% of regular Army raised the cases of loyalist prisoners and fought numbers here. Does the Taoiseach have evidence on behalf of the father of the loyalist leader killed about how many are in the Republic compared in prison whose name escapes me. to Northern Ireland? Was he surprised at the statement by the Minister for Justice, Equality ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: Billy Wright. ´ and Law Reform or the numbers estimated to be active personnel in the IRA? Does the Taoiseach The Taoiseach: I raised that case time and believe the evidence from the International again. I met Billy Wright’s father and I always Monitoring Commission that the IRA is regroup- played my part in the case. ing, actively purchasing arms and training person- With regard to the case of Mr. Kelly, we knew, nel in military style operations? from our people, that he was involved in the After the breakdown in talks, the McCartney marching season last year when he was quite murder and the Northern Bank raid, the helpful in de-escalating trouble on the streets. Taoiseach had an acrimonious meeting with the The British side says it has information that he ´ president of Sinn Fein in Dublin. He sent away 395 Ceisteanna — 28 June 2005. Questions 396 [Mr. Kenny.] the wider peace process, we did not stop ´ Sinn Fein with a flea in its ear to talk to the IRA engagement. and to come back to the Irish Government with From 8 December until the St. Patrick’s Day a clear statement of the IRA’s intentions. The period, other than the meeting that happened Taoiseach is entitled to keep dialogue between after 8 December and the meeting to which the parties open but there are newspaper reports that Deputy referred, we did not have another meet- the Taoiseach has had meetings with the pres- ing or engagement — hardly even a telephone ´ ident of Sinn Fein on his own, in secret, and that call. It was then that I spoke to the leader of Sinn no one knows what was discussed at these meet- ´ Fein and then met him in Washington. This was ings. Can the Taoiseach confirm there were no a short meeting between myself, the Minister for side deals made about on-the-run prisoners or Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, and Mr. people in Colombia? What where these meetings Adams and Rita O’Hare. We reiterated our posi- about? Why were they necessary in the first place tion from two months previously. Mr. Adams, as if the Taoiseach had made clear his position and ´ president of Sinn Fein, then issued his statement. that of the Government that the onus and On three subsequent occasions, before, during responsibility rests clearly with the IRA to make and after the UK general election, I had three up its mind about what it wants to do? In future, ´ further short meetings with Sinn Fein. None of as Mitchell Reiss said to me in Washington, there these was secret. I said publicly that I met the will be no more constructive ambiguity and words party. These meetings were mainly around two will mean what they are supposed to mean and issues. One was the issue of us being clear about everyone will know what is intended. Everyone what we expected so that we could move forward. here wants an end to paramilitary and criminal The other concerned the ongoing issue of the activity once and for all. Can the Taoiseach marching season and how we would work explain what went on at these meetings and why through it. were they necessary? Many of the contacts we have had over the Does the Taoiseach believe this situation will years on these issues are important and ensure continue to drag until assembly elections take we get through issues and events. It is not always place again for the political reasons of various understood the amount of contact that goes on groups? Will the assembly be up and running during the marching season in attempts to get before elections are again called? people on all sides to communicate. Otherwise events can easily get out control. Not only in this Has the Taoiseach had any security briefings Government but with previous Governments, on the disappeared and where their remains people, including myself, have gone to the trouble might be located, still a source of great sensitivity of meeting loyalists and others, sometimes pri- to those involved? vately. However, none of these meetings was in any way secret. There was no question of us talk- The Taoiseach: There is no new information on ing about side negotiations or deals in written or the disappeared but we continue to engage with other form. Such a request was never made to any information there is. Sites that have not been me. I was not asked in any of these meetings to checked previously are always kept under review. make any such issue. These meetings simply con- If the information is sufficiently detailed and cerned our ongoing business. specific enough to do something, it is checked. While I stated we would not engage with Sinn On the number of volunteers, I do not have ´ Fein, not to do so at all would be dangerous. It any real oversight of this. The Minister for does not make any sense, particularly when the Justice, Equality and Law Reform receives secur- UK Prime Minister, Mr. Blair, has met Sinn Fein. ´ ity reports and he bases his information on intelli- The US envoy has met the president and other gence mainly from the Garda but also from the ´ members of Sinn Fein. For the Government not Army. There are meetings a few times a year with to do so would be irresponsible. We must keep the Garda when there are security issues such as up the ongoing contact and dialogue. I hope that the Northern Bank raid but normally I do not position is absolutely clear. I will answer Deputy make a point of it. Anything the Minister would Kenny’s letter. say would be based on that information and that Regarding the assembly elections, I honestly is the position given by the Garda. Regarding the hope that over the summer we will get a satisfac- meetings, I accept what Deputy Kenny has said tory conclusion of the issues to which I referred. and that he is under some pressure because In the months — not weeks — ahead, although I people have raised the issue with him. I appreci- hope it is not too long a period, we can begin the ate the bipartisan approach to these matters and process of engaging to build the confidence of the Deputy Kenny’s recent letter on the issue. I have Democratic Unionist Party and Unionism gener- no argument with the Deputy. ally to return to the position we were in some I will reiterate what I stated recently. Following years ago. This will not be easy and will not hap- the public meeting the Government had with pen overnight or in a few months. However, we ´ Sinn Fein after January, I made it clear there was must try to do so. The question has arisen as to no issue about us seeking to engage with the whether one can get to that position with the ´ party. We asked Sinn Fein to go away and let us assembly of November 2003, or if it will require know what was happening. However, because of fresh elections. From a purely technical or legal 397 Ceisteanna — 28 June 2005. Questions 398 perspective, I do not see why one must change sion in interface locations, particularly in the city that position. Perhaps it will become clear to of Belfast. people, who will state that elections are needed. At present however, that is not an issue. It is An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to give another question as to whether it becomes an way to the Taoiseach as we are coming to the end issue at some point in the next year. I do not see of Question Time. Deputy Sargent has already why it should, but no doubt others will state that asked three questions. it definitely will do so. It remains to be seen. However, before we reach that point, two major Mr. J. Higgins: May I ask a question? steps must take place or no further steps will take place. These issues must be answered in the short An Ceann Comhairle: A number of Deputies term — I have not put a date on it but they must are offering to contribute and unfortunately we be dealt with — and then we will move to the must give the Taoiseach time to answer. next phase, which will be to try to build trust and confidence and to return to establishing the Mr. J. Higgins: The House began its pro- executive. Hopefully, this can be done in the ceedings a few minutes late and I hope some lati- tude will be shown. Has the Taoiseach had an months ahead. opportunity to raise the case of Tipperary man, Christy McGrath with Prime Minister Blair? It is ´ Mr. Sargent: The joint communique contains a a miscarriage of justice. number of items, but the one with which I am concerned states the Irish Government raised its An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made concerns regarding the Dublin-Monaghan bom- his point. Deputy Costello also has a question. bings. Has the Taoiseach proceeded to discuss the possibility of a court case in the European Court Mr. J. Higgins: Is the Taoiseach aware of this of Human Rights with the Attorney General and case? Has he raised or will he raise this case in what progress has been made in that regard? the near future? Does the Taoiseach have any indication as to when he expects a statement from the IRA? Can Mr. Costello: I reiterate the point regarding the he inform Members what benchmarks the case of Christy McGrath. Government might have considered as to how the IRA’s intent is to be analysed? I do not have time An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should ask to go into them, but apart from declaring an end a brief question. to paramilitary and criminal activity, will the Taoiseach seek a cessation of recruitment for Mr. Costello: Was the response from the Brit- example? He might indicate whether benchmarks ish Prime Minister positive? The letter mentioned have been considered. Finally, over the summer, last week is the letter which came to the Joint will any thought be given to reappraising the Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and approach of the Government? As far as I can tell, Women’s Rights but that is merely a six month’s it has not changed since the time when unionism late reply to a letter sent by the Joint Committee was predominantly pro-Agreement. Now that on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women’s unionism is mainly anti-Agreement, does the Rights. Is the Taoiseach prepared to go down the situation not require a re-evaluation of the road which he suggested last week, regarding the approach to the implementation of the Agree- European Court of Human Rights action? ment and will the Taoiseach involve the Oppo- sition parties in re-appraising that approach, so Mr. J. Higgins: It is good to see the Taoiseach we can have a more rounded approach, rather ´ and the Tanaiste sitting together. The Irish Times than a unilateral one from the Government? had them disappearing down a crack in the aquatic centre. ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: Regarding the Dublin- ´ An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Higgins should Monaghan bombings there was an indication, as be aware that we are at the end of Taoiseach’s I understand it, on the part of the British Prime Question Time and the Taoiseach should have Minister in the course of that meeting that the time to reply. British were willing to look at the issue again but had no evidence of collusion as things stand. This The Taoiseach: Deputy Sargent again asked me so-called re-examination is without any time about the date. As I said, I do not have a date nor restriction. Should we not move ahead with the am I as concerned about one as making sufficient European Court of Human Rights case option progress on the issues which are important. without further delay? Regarding the arrest of Obviously, I hope it will not be a long period. I Sean Kelly, does the Taoiseach share my concern have already acknowledged the role of Sean at the reaction of many ex-Republican prisoners? Kelly, of which we are aware. I hope the case will The reaction to his re-arrest and re-incarceration pass through the appeals commission very quickly was one of alarm, particularly as they have played and that the issue will be dealt with there. I will such an important role in ensuring the diffusion check the position of Christy McGrath. The issue of what can only be described as increased ten- has been pursued by the secretariat. 399 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 400 [The Taoiseach.] starts when new house starts under the regener- All the Deputies asked about the Dublin and ation programmes, principally in Ballymun, are Monaghan bombings. Yesterday I outlined the taken into consideration. In addition, the main position as we all see it simply and succinctly. I local authority construction programme will stated that we felt we had not got information deliver the completion of 5,500 units this year. we had specifically sought and that there was an Output by the voluntary and co-operative sector overwhelming view that there had been collusion is expected to add a further 1,800 house com- at some levels, of which we can never be certain pletions to supplement the main local authority because of the time span. It is, however, the belief housing construction programme. that that is the case. At the request of my Department, new multi- In particular, I have raised the issue of what we annual action plans have been prepared by local understood to be a commitment given at Weston authorities for the provision of social and afford- Park a number of years ago for a Cory-like able housing for the period 2004 to 2008. These inquiry. I reiterated that the Oireachtas commit- have been approved by my Department and are tee had unanimously called for such an inquiry. I designed to assist local authorities in identifying indicated that in the absence of progress, we priority needs in the next few years and providing would have to examine the possibility of pursing the case before the European Court of Human a coherent, co-ordinated response across all hous- Rights, as recommended by the Oireachtas com- ing services, including delivery of housing by the mittee. I stated that I had persistently made this voluntary and co-operative sector. Financial point to the Oireachtas committee and it was not envelopes have been secured for the next five something on which I would go back. years to underpin the multi-annual approach in The Prime Minister asked me some questions the action plans. on the history which I answered very clearly. The It is anticipated this year that total social hous- British contend that they can find no evidence of ing provision, including new local authority hous- collusion in the bombings but have said they feel ing, vacancies that arise in existing houses and some of the questions asked by the Oireachtas output under the various measures, should meet committee and the Government have not been the needs of about 13,000 households. This com- precise in respect of particular periods and that pares with 8,500 households in 1998. In addition, we should raise this with them. I have no problem it is anticipated that the number of households in doing so but I am not prepared to stop on that private accommodation will transfer to the new basis because I agree with Deputy Costello in that rental accommodation scheme. The Govern- I saw the reply to the Oireachtas committee and ment’s commitment to making housing more one would be no wiser after reading it than affordable is reflected in last week’s announce- before. As I indicated previously, I intend, on a ment of the new affordable homes partnership. preliminary basis, to raise the issue of looking at The partnership will drive and co-ordinate the the European option with the Attorney General. delivery of affordable housing in the greater Dublin area. Priority Questions. It is also intended that the partnership will take responsibility, as far as practicable, for the afford- An Ceann Comhairle: Priority Questions Nos. able housing initiative projects on State lands in 24 and 26 are in the names of Deputies O’Dowd the greater Dublin area. This will include the use and Cuffe. As neither Deputy is present, we will of the land swap option, similar to that piloted on proceed to Priority Question No. 25 in the name the Harcourt Terrace Lane site. The partnership of Deputy Gilmore. As Deputy Gilmore is not will work initially via the existing planning present either, we will proceed to Priority Ques- development framework, but additional legislat- tion No. 27. ive powers will be available should they prove necessary. Local Authority Housing. As part of the broader delivery of housing 27. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the nationally, all local authorities will review their Environment, Heritage and Local Government land management strategies to maximise the his views on whether the recent announcement availability of land for their housing programmes on social housing will eliminate local authority and voluntary and co-operative housing partner- housing waiting lists; the date by which he expects ships with the private sector, and to secure more the elimination to have taken place; and if he will active use of brownfield land and derelict sites. I make a statement on the matter. [22751/05] believe that the development of the action plans Minister of State at the Department of the and the increased capital investment this year in Environment, Heritage and Local Government housing, along with the establishment of the new (Mr. N. Ahern): The Government’s commitment affordable homes partnership, reflects the to improving social and affordable housing is Government’s targeted response to social and reflected in a number of recent announcements. affordable housing need. In May I announced this year’s allocations for the commencement of 5,500 new housing starts by Mr. McCormack: Will we be able to use the local authorities to be further boosted to 6,000 time saved on other questions for this question? 401 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 402 An Ceann Comhairle: No. As this is the last Mr. McCormack: What happened to the 10,000 week before the recess, the Chair will allow those houses that the Minister of State promised but questions. However, I do not want it to be taken never delivered? as a precedent for the future. Mr. N. Ahern: We are working on them. Mr. McCormack: I will therefore only use the time available to me. How many individuals and An Ceann Comhairle: I call on the Minister to families are on local authority housing waiting answer Question No. 24. lists? Does the Minister of State concede that the deficit of data in this area is very strange? Is it Mr. McCormack: What was the value of the not true that the housing needs assessment is pub- houses he gave away last week? lished once every three years? How can the Mini- ster of State make policy in this area in these cir- Mr. Roche: The Deputy has lost the argument cumstances? so he should sit down. How can the Minister of State justify his announcement last week on affordable housing Register of Electors. when there is a lack of housing driving up local authority waiting lists every year? The Minister 24. Mr. O’Dowd asked the Minister for the of State made a statement last week which Environment, Heritage and Local Government sounded like it would solve all problems. Would the steps he intends to take to ensure that the it not be more desirable if the Minister of State electoral register properly reflects the electorate sold land on the open market rather than give it in time for the next general election, given the away to builders and built houses in suitable areas reported inaccuracies in same; and if he will make rather than in the outskirts of cities? a statement on the matter. [22752/05] Mr. N. Ahern: The Deputy is correct. There is 26. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for the Envir- a major examination of housing lists every three onment, Heritage and Local Government if in years. The last compilation in 2002 showed that light of recent research that shows that there were 48,000 families were on the lists. Families can be between 660,000 and 800,000 surplus polling represented by just one person; 30% of the list cards issued for the general election in 2002 and consisted of single people and 32% consisted of that the electorate is much larger than the adult one adult and one child. The 48,000 families on population, he plans to devote the necessary the list represented 109,000 people. People can resources and develop adequate systems in order calculate the figures on an ongoing basis but the that a centrally co-ordinated, computerised and major needs assessment is done every three years. widely accessible electoral register can be estab- The figures this year will be out in the autumn. lished, in order that an independent body is One does not need monthly figures to set long- established to oversee this development and the term plans. The three-year system represents a maintenance of the system, in order that the detailed needs assessment. register can be thoroughly checked on a house- Last week’s announcement was a considerable to-house basis in advance of the next poll and to response by the Government. It was a fabulous allow for names on the electoral register to be arrangement—— cross-checked with a database such as the data- base of PPS numbers; and if he will make a state- Mr. O’Dowd: It was fabulous for the builders. ment on the matter. [22757/05] Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Mr. McCormack: It was the third fall back Local Government (Mr. Roche): I propose to made by the Government. take Questions Nos. 24 and 26 together. Mr. O’Dowd: There are 193 houses on four There is a problem in this area and not enough tenths of an acre. attention has been paid to the issue of the voting register. We have had a number of priorities in Mr. N. Ahern: We could have gone ahead and recent years. Throughout the 1990s, we had the built around 30 apartments on the Harcourt Ter- issue of the electoral code. The expenditure and race site. Instead of that we are getting 193 units. donation regime was discussed and then we dis- cussed the voting system. There has never really Mr. Cuffe: When are we getting them? been a major debate on the voting register. The compilation and publication of the register Mr. N. Ahern: Up to 140 of them will be built of electors is a matter for the appropriate local this year and the remainder will be built early authority in accordance with electoral law and next year. That is the real beauty of it. We are includes the carrying out of house-to-house not just providing more units, we are also provid- inquiries, delivery of registration forms and run- ing them very quickly. We might have had to wait ning local awareness campaigns. It is the duty of three or four years for the 30 apartments, but now local authorities to ensure the accuracy of the we are getting 140 units this year and the remain- register. In carrying out this work, local auth- der next year. That was a very innovative project orities depend to a significant degree on the co- and I was very pleased with the announcement. operation and engagement of the public. 403 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 404 [Mr. Roche.] confidence. The Government would have been There have been a number of reasons put for- far better off if it had decided to spend a much ward for the state of register. Rapid population smaller sum of \3 million or \4 million per annum growth and development, increased personal on a proper electoral register. mobility and other changes in modern society I welcome the highlighting by The Sunday present difficulties for the preparation of the elec- Tribune of the appalling disgrace that over toral register. I do not accept that these reasons 300,000 people are on the register who do not explain fully the condition of the register. In over- have the right to vote. It is not good enough that all terms, the number of people on the register in people have been multiply registered. While we ´ 2002 were eligible to vote at Dail elections was can talk forever in committees, cannot the Mini- 3.002 million. However, census data for 2002 indi- ster talk to county managers and the Revenue cate that there were 2.71 million voters over the collectors who often do the work in question in age of 18 who were eligible to vote at these elec- local authorities and ask them why the register is tions, representing a difference of 300,000. The a mess, what resources have been invested and main reasons for excess registration seem to what action is required? It is an action the Mini- include slowness to remove deceased persons ster could take quickly. from the register, changes of address without Dedicated staff are required to visit voters. As advising the local authority, as well as second the Minister rightly says, commuters are a signifi- houses. cant problem as they leave home at 7 a.m. and I share the concerns that have been expressed do not return until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. It is almost on the quality of the register and have already impossible to meet a commuter at his or her mandated my Department to examine any home, especially if he or she works in Dublin, as improvements that can and should be made. he or she is always travelling and is not home on There will be a national awareness campaign later weekends. Will the Minister engage proactively this year associated with preparation of the next with county managers and those they have register of electors by local authorities. We are charged with the duty to compile the register to monitoring developments in Northern Ireland push the agenda forward? We will have them and elsewhere regarding best practice on elec- before the committee in the autumn. We would toral registration. In terms of the voting process, be better off to invest a great deal more money we have introduced important new controls in in a proper electoral register and encourage a recent times. The Electoral (Amendment) Act great deal more people to vote. It does not matter 2002 contains more stringent requirements for if it takes two or three days to count their votes entry to the supplement to the register. In the after an election. Let us encourage and enfran- 2002 general election, polling staff were advised chise our citizens and ensure we get them out to by the Department to require at least 25% of vot- vote. ers to produce an identity document. The Elec- toral (Amendment) Act 2004 made unlawful pos- Mr. Roche: I do not disagree with the Deputy session or use of someone else’s polling card a on any point other than his attempt to introduce specific offence. Strong legislation must be mir- a different issue in his introductory remarks. The rored locally by vigilance on the part of polling Deputy is correct to say local authorities have dif- staff. fering records. In some areas, there is good prac- There is a problem in this area which, as I have tice while in others it is very clear the practice is already mentioned to a number of Members, will not good enough. I will engage with local auth- require a cross-party approach to solve. All orities as soon as the guidelines have been Members have practical experience which could produced. be used to good effect. It would be very useful to I have already indicated in my earlier response hold full discussions on the matter at the Joint that I am very anxious to engage all sides in the Committee on the Environment, Heritage and House not only on the preparation of the register Local Government. If it is agreeable, I am willing but also on voting and verification procedures. to bring to the committee in the autumn the They are issues about which we are all concerned. guidelines I have mentioned and to establish with There is a great deal of experience within the pol- representatives of parties on all sides of the itical system which can be used to assess how the House what is best practice elsewhere. We can system is failing—— consider suggestions such as the one Deputy Cuffe outlined in his question. The register Mr. McCormack: How it is abused even. requires an appropriate level of attention which it has failed to receive in the past. I want to see Mr. Roche: ——and inform its improvement. I the matter resolved in the very near future. am willing to engage in the most open way pos- sible with Members on the matter. Mr. O’Dowd: I thank the Minister for his reply. While I note with approval his reference to a Mr. Cuffe: Does the Minister agree there is a cross-party approach to the matter, the fact is the glaring anomaly in the current system of compi- Minister represents a Government which has lation of electoral rolls which delegates the func- wasted \50 million on electronic voting machines tion to local authorities without providing for the which do not work or in which we do not have centralised cross-checking of the individuals 405 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 406 registered? Does the Minister accept his Depart- in the electoral register. I will impress on local ment has overall responsibility for registration authorities the need to carry out the job more and in delegating responsibility to local auth- effectively as the process of compiling the elec- orities needs to keep a check on the figures? The toral register for next year continues. Minister will be aware that the electoral office in We are producing guidelines which I will make Northern Ireland calls to each household twice a available in draft form to the joint committee this year at a cost of £6 million. Surely, the system autumn. As we all share the same concern, I am could be replicated in the Republic for approxi- prepared to sit down with any Member to discuss mately \15 million, a mere fraction of the cost of how to improve matters. electronic voting. I am sure the Minister is aware of the massive Mr. O’Dowd: The issue of people living in flats population movements of the last decade and that and apartments is one which particularly needs to people tend to move more quickly than they did be addressed. There is generally no difficulty with before. Does the Minister accept the current the older estates on which people have tradition- system is based largely on trust and that while ally lived. Problems arise in areas in which people the Government has expended tens of millions of move about very quickly and it is to these the euro on an electronic voting system to make very Minister should direct the attention of local auth- careful cross checks, it has failed to ensure voter orities. Recently, I came across an apartment registration is cross-checked at county level? complex from which no one voted at the last elec- Does he accept that a simple system of checks tion as people had moved on and the local regis- at a national level using personal public service ter was out of date. numbers and a central office would make a great I also ask the Minister to direct the attention deal of sense? This would provide a more secure of local authorities to the issue of the registration system which more accurately reflected those of people in rural areas alphabetically rather than who have a right to be registered. It would also by address. One does not know who is where. It ensure that those who are deceased are no is a matter which must be addressed for those of longer registered. us who want to canvass every house by name but do not know everyone in a rural area. Mr. Roche: I agree with Deputy Cuffe on many of his points, including his reference to the accu- Mr. Roche: I take Deputy O’Dowd’s point. He racy of electronic voting. We will leave that for is an excellent public representative but does not another day, however. know absolutely everybody living on the high- ways and byways of Louth. If we had a postal Mr. McCormack: We will leave it for years. code system, it would improve matters. It is also the case that local authorities are, to put it at its Mr. Cuffe: I referred to cross checking. mildest, remiss in the matter of naming roads. Even in centres like Greystones, there are roads Mr. Roche: While local authorities are cur- which have yet to be named. Deputy O’Dowd’s rently required to conduct door-to-door inquiries, point on multiple occupancy addresses is valid. Deputy Cuffe was correct to say standards vary There is a propensity on the part of enumerators from authority to authority. I will put it no who check registers to miss many of the places in stronger than that. The process has always been question. Additionally, there are increasing decentralised and I am not disposed to centralis- numbers of gated multiple-dwelling units to ing every activity. I would prefer, with reference which it is impossible to gain access. to Deputy O’Dowd’s contribution, if local auth- I will try to address in the guidelines any orities did their job more efficiently and that we reasonable suggestion a Member makes. There is introduced a system to make sure that happened. a great deal of experience in the political system Deputy Cuffe referred to voter security and the which can be brought to bear. We have all known use of personal public service numbers. While I for years that the electoral register has contained am aware of the procedures operated in the a significant degree of error and it is time the North of Ireland, to introduce the cross-check issue was addressed. I am anxious to proceed. Deputy Cuffe mentioned would, especially on voting day, require an information technology Mr. Cuffe: I hope the Minister accepts that link between the Department of Social and reform of the electoral rolls is not rocket science. Family Affairs and the electoral database. A It is a comparatively simple undertaking, and number of issues, including data protection, using personal public service numbers does not would arise with this approach. Nonetheless, I am raise significant data-sharing issues. The electoral open to considering any proposal which offers rolls close a considerable time in advance of an security in voting, has the potential to make the election taking place. Surely a little cross-check- process more open and transparent and ensures ing could be done at that point at national level the register is properly prepared. Whether we and if there were duplicate PPS numbers one accept the number of surplus polling cards issued would simply write to the individuals advising is 300,000 or 800,000 as hypothesised in the article them of this and giving them a chance to remove referred to by Deputy O’Dowd, it is simply not themselves from the register in one location? good enough to have a significant level of error That could be done a long time in advance of the 407 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 408 [Mr. Cuffe.] Under Part V agreements with developers, a election. It would allow us to deal with the total of 508 affordable housing units were 300,000, 800,000 or whatever number of people acquired by local authorities up to the end of who are registered in two or more locations. It December 2004, 1,215 affordable units were in could be done comparatively simply. Would the the course of acquisition and a further 2,260 were Minister consider doing this relatively quickly earmarked for acquisition on foot of Part V and bring in the necessary regulations to ensure agreements with developers. In addition to the we can have a lot more confidence in who is on affordable housing units, nearly 300 social units the register and that people are not registered in have been acquired together with 12 land several locations. transfers to local authorities involving over 11 hectares, a further 156 sites have also been trans- Mr. Roche: I see the attractions of the PPS ferred and some \11 million has been received in approach as it offers a unique number which can payments in lieu and under the withering levy. be cross-checked. However, a system of cross- These figures demonstrate the effectiveness and checking would have to be built into that to further potential of Part V. I am confident that ensure efficiency when the registration system is the Part V arrangement will contribute signifi- in operation. Local authorities would have to be cantly to the provision of social and affordable able to counter-check names against PPS housing in the future. numbers, and that is not as simple as it would Under the affordable housing initiative sub- appear. It is not rocket science if the linkage and stantial progress continues to be made. Over 70 the IT access are there but it raises a number of sites have been identified on State or local auth- issues. ority lands, which, including Part V, have a poten- As Deputy Cuffe said, one of the problems we tial yield exceeding 10,000 affordable housing have is that the register is closed at a specific date units, meeting the target proposed by the parties which is arbitrarily established. As a poll observer to the pay agreement. To date, the initiative has in South and Central America, I have seen polls delivered nearly 500 units, including from Part V. operated by the Organisation of American States, Delivery will continue throughout 2005, with an and registration took place up to a very short estimated 1,350 units forecast for completion and time before the election. One of the big problems projects with a potential of 2,200 units either at the moment is that there is a cut-off point. I under construction or commencing construction know the supplementary register has been intro- during 2005. Projects with an estimated potential duced but it is not used as well as it could be. of 3,400 units will commence construction dur- These are issues which we should all discuss ing 2006. because there is a problem in this regard and, To promote the earliest possible delivery of irrespective of who was in government, we never units, a fast-tracking mechanism for delivery of addressed it. We have all known for years that units has been agreed and is being implemented. problems exist with the register and now is the This followed a pilot land exchange arrangement time to address it. I am willing to discuss it with for a 0.4 acre city centre site at Harcourt Terrace Members of the House and to take on board Lane which is to be exchanged for 193 additional reasonable suggestions. I do not think the affordable units to be made available on a phased situation on the PPS is quite as simple, as Deputy basis over the next nine months. Some 140 of the Cuffe suggests, although it has many attractions. units will be delivered in 2005 with the balance of 53 available early next year. In light of the posi- Social and Affordable Housing. tive outcome of the pilot land swap, a number of other sites will be developed using the same 25. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the model. Environment, Heritage and Local Government I assure the House that there is a strong com- the total number of affordable houses that have mitment in Government to deliver on this initiat- been constructed, provided and allocated to date ive and I believe that the substantial progress under Sustaining Progress and Part V of the Plan- made to date and our arrangements for accelerat- ning and Development Act 2000; and if he will ing delivery emphasise this commitment. make a statement on the matter. [22462/05] Mr. N. Ahern: Part V of the Planning and Mr. Gilmore: The Minister of State indicated Development Acts 2000 to 2004 is fully oper- that 500 dwellings have been provided under Sus- ational and all relevant residential planning appli- taining Progress, including some from Part V. cations are now subject to a Part V agreement. How many houses under Sustaining Progress, Apart from the provision of housing units to the excluding those provided under Part V, have local authority on or off-site, an agreement under been provided to date? Part V may provide for a range of other options. Do I understand the Minister of State correctly Notwithstanding the availability of these options, that from the Part V initiative that was originally my Department’s stated preference, which has announced in 1999, only 508 affordable dwellings been communicated to local authorities, is for the have been provided to date, at a time when hous- provision of housing units whether on-site or ing construction is running at almost 80,000 units off-site. per annum and when we were to expect 20% of 409 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 410 development to be provided by way of social and time houses are provided. Next year will see a affordable housing initiatives? higher output of housing units. By the end of the Will the Minister of State explain the inconsist- year we expect to be on 13 sites. ency between the figure he has given me today and the figure which he provided for me on 18 Mr. Cuffe: Are they all in Finglas? May? Today he informed me that 1,215 dwellings were in the course of acquisition but on 18 May Mr. N. Ahern: They are not but—— he informed me that 1, 910 dwellings were in the course of acquisition. He also informed me today ´ Mr. B. O’Keeffe: They are certainly not in Dun that 2,260 dwellings were earmarked for acquis- Laoghaire-Rathdown anyway. ition but on 18 May he informed me that 2,885 were earmarked for acquisition. What has hap- Mr. Gilmore: What is the valuation of the Har- pened in the past six weeks that has caused 700 court Terrace site? dwellings that were in the course of acquisition to disappear and 600 which were earmarked for Mr. N. Ahern: The local authority in Finglas acquisition to also disappear? has been active in this area, mainly under the Will the Minister of State indicate to the House 1999 scheme, and there is some affordable hous- the valuation put on the Harcourt Terrace site? ing initiative. The valuation of the Harcourt Ter- race site is \39 million. Mr. N. Ahern: Deputy Gilmore’s question is about affordable units but the total dividend from Mr. Gilmore: The Minister of State is not get- Part V would include social as well as affordable ting good value if that is the case. units. The figure of 508 units relates to affordable housing. However, the total dividend from Part Mr. N. Ahern: We are receiving a net consider- V is about 800 units. ation for this site of \15.6 million, which is \2.6 million more than its pre-sale valuation of \13 Mr. Gilmore: Is that 800 in all? million. This equates with \39 million per acre and is at the top of the range of sale prices Mr. N. Ahern: It is approximately 850. Where achieved in city centre locations. It is a very good I referred to 1,200 affordable units today, that deal. We could have provided approximately 30 would amount to 1,900 Part V units in total. apartments on the site and some commercial units but instead are getting 193 units—— Mr. Gilmore: How many housing units relate specifically to Sustaining Progress, excluding Mr. Gilmore: The Minister of State would have Part V? done as well as he did for the past three years. Mr. N. Ahern: It is small, it is only about 30 Mr. N. Ahern: ——and much quicker. That is units. the real beauty of it. We could have got 30 apart- ments but it might have taken another three or Mr. Gilmore: Thirty. four years. We are to have 140 of the 193 units this year. It is not just a case of getting more but Mr. N. Ahern: This is where Deputy Gilmore of getting them much quicker. This is a really deliberately tries to blackguard and act the fool. good deal. He is the only person he is codding. Mr. Gilmore: The Minister of State is codding Mr. Gilmore: Thirty out of 10,000. the public. Mr. N. Ahern: No, it is not 30 out of 10,000. Mr. N. Ahern: No, I am not. It takes time. Mr. Gilmore: It is. That is what has been Mr. Cuffe: Ten thousand units. produced. Mr. N. Ahern: The public is more sensible. Mr. N. Ahern: The social partners know the People realise that it takes time to build houses. deal into which they entered. Deputy Gilmore One cannot just produce houses overnight. The keeps getting mixed up deliberately. affordable housing initiative was first mentioned two years ago. Some 350 units will be produced Mr. Cuffe: It was always separate. this year under Sustaining Progress that are not related to Part V. That will increase substantially. Mr. N. Ahern: The deal includes 10,000 afford- Any developer would say the same thing. able houses, including Part V. Mr. Gilmore: It is a long way from 10,000. Mr. Cuffe: It was always separate. Mr. N. Ahern: I am sorry if I sound boring Mr. N. Ahern: The social partners know this. repeating myself but it takes a minimum of three or four years from the time one gets a site to the Mr. Gilmore: It excluded Part V. 411 Priority 28 June 2005. Questions 412 Mr. N. Ahern: It most definitely did not. I am construction of new houses and buildings with sorry the Deputy keeps confusing himself. effect from 1 April this year. The enhanced measures which call for radon sump outlets to be Mr. Gilmore: It excluded Part V. clearly identified should help to further raise awareness among householders and the building Mr. N. Ahern: It did not. industry. The institute has published the results of a Mr. Gilmore: That was the deal. recent survey undertaken by it of a number of houses in Kilkenny built before and after July Mr. N. Ahern: It did not. 1998 when the updated 1997 regulations stan- dards came into effect. This survey showed that, Mr. Roche: It is absolutely certain that there of the 33 houses built after July 1998, three had will be more houses completed than Dun ´ radon concentrations above the national refer- Laoghaire Rathdown County Council has deliv- ence level, including one which was very seriously ered in the past ten years. It is an appalling affected and had a radon concentration of over council dominated by the Deputy’s party. seven times the reference level. However, the sur- vey results also showed a reduction of some 33% Mr. Cuffe: Nice try. in the average radon concentration in the houses built after July 1998 compared with the average Question No. 26 answered with Question concentration for houses surveyed by the institute No. 24. under its national radon survey carried out in the period 1992 to 1997. I expect further improve- Radon Gas Levels. ments will emerge from the enhanced measures I 28. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for the Envir- have mentioned. onment, Heritage and Local Government if, in The testing of domestic dwellings for radon is view of the fact that the RPII estimates that straightforward and inexpensive, amounting to between 10% and 15% of all lung cancer deaths approximately \40 per house. I urge house- in Ireland, which is the equivalent of 150 to 200 holders, particularly those in high risk areas, to deaths per annum, are linked to radon gas check their houses for radon concentrations and exposure, he will consider the introduction of a carry out remediation work, if recommended. radon testing scheme for homes and a grant to Both my Department and the RPII will con- assist with the cost of remedial measures in cases tinue to use all appropriate opportunities to raise in which houses are found to be above the public awareness of the dangers of radon and accepted safe level of radon; if, in view of the every effort will continue to improve information recent survey from the RPII showing that new to householders to enable them to address moni- homes fitted with barriers to prevent the build-up toring or remedial requirements effectively and of radon gas still have high levels of the gas, he economically. intends to undertake a review of the building con- trol regulations introduced in 1998, particularly Mr. Stagg: I remind the Minister that we are with a view to ensuring that the protective bar- talking about 200 entirely avoidable deaths per riers are properly installed; and if he will make a annum. He has stated enhanced measures for statement on the matter. [22463/05] excluding radon gas from houses were introduced Mr. Roche: During the years the Government, recently. He has also referred to the building and largely through the Radiological Protection other regulations made on foot of these which Institute of Ireland, has committed significant were developed by his Department under the resources to assessing the extent of the radon guidance of his constituency colleague, Deputy problem throughout the country and increasing McManus, when she was Minister of State at the public awareness of radon and public health. Department. Does he agree that the regulations While the provision of Exchequer grant assist- are not working because of one simple failure, ance for testing or remediation works is not envis- that is, the expectation the building industry aged, efforts will continue to be directed at should self-regulate? If I were to pick one indus- improving information to householders to enable try in the world that should not be asked to self- and encourage them to address monitoring or regulate, it would be the building industry. Strict remedial requirements effectively and economi- regulation should be imposed on it rather than cally. The institute has recently embarked on a self-regulation. series of nationwide public information seminars That the houses supposed to have exclusion targeted at selected areas with high radon levels. systems fitted since 1997 are now found to have These seminars have received widespread media dangerous levels of radon gas indicates clearly coverage and generated a large number of that the measures required to be taken at con- inquiries. struction stage are not being implemented cor- In October last I announced the publication of rectly. I am sure the Minister will agree. There is an updated technical guidance document under no inspection at any stage except at the end of the the 1997 building regulations containing process, at which time an architect signs a piece of enhanced radon prevention measures as recom- paper. This architect is hired by the builder dur- mended by the institute to be incorporated in the ing the planning process and subsequently paid 413 Other 28 June 2005. Questions 414 by him or her to state the development is built in ster will agree, that there are or should be two accordance with the building regulations, includ- Departments involved — the Departments of ing radon gas regulations. Does the Minster have Health and Children and Environment, Heritage any view on enforcing the regulations rather than and Local Government. allowing self-regulation? Does he agree that there should be a requirement on those selling Mr. Roche: The Deputy touched on a number pre-1997 houses to have a radon test carried out of issues. Grant schemes announced by one on the dwellings before they are sold? Government in 1997 were never funded. Mr. Roche: I do not agree with the Deputy’s ´ Mr. Stagg: That is because Fianna Fail came gloomy view of the effect of the 1997 regulations. into Government and abolished them. In so far as we do have a study — the study con- ducted by the RPII on houses in Kilkenny after Mr. Roche: Grant schemes have been intro- the regulations came into effect — it suggests duced elsewhere and have not been terribly there has been a significant improvement. I successful. accept it also suggests there is room for further Regarding the Deputy’s other points, there are improvement. I have sought to make the issue statistics. Nobody can put a price on an individual much more clear in the new regulations which I life and we should ensure that people, including have outlined. For example, radon sumps should property owners, take due responsibility. be marked clearly and readily identifiable. On the general issue, the regulations I have Mr. Stagg: I am speaking of medical costs. introduced are being enforced. The Deputy’s points on inspection and the sale of houses Mr. Roche: I accept that is what the Deputy require further consideration. He made a point meant. on the sale of older or other houses. As he will know, the RPII has made a submission to the Other Questions. Law Reform Commission advocating the inclusion of radon-reducing measures in further ———— legislation on house conveyancing. I must give further consideration to this suggestion. Planning Issues. The regulations that have been introduced 29. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for the further strengthen the procedures. There is an Environment, Heritage and Local Government overwhelming onus on property owners to ensure when the new fast track planning procedure for radon levels in their homes are properly moni- major infrastructural projects will be operational; tored. It is not expensive to carry out a radon the measures he is proposing to provide for test. Paying \40 is certainly not difficult for most adequate public consultation during the fast- households. In a number of areas local authorities tracking of such projects; and if he will make a have provided monitoring devices, particularly statement on the matter. [22201/05] for rented accommodation. I encourage house- holders to take up from the RPII what is avail- 34. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the able in terms of monitoring. I will give further Environment, Heritage and Local Government if consideration to the matter of conveyancing. he will make a statement on his plans for the ´ restructuring of An Bord Pleanala and for Mr. Stagg: Money is the usual problem. We changes to planning legislation. [22317/05] have asked the Minister repeatedly to introduce 112. Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for the grants to assist with the cost of remediation where Environment, Heritage and Local Government required. I am not referring to testing for radon the funding allocation for the new strategic infra- as this involves a relatively small sum of money. ´ structure division within An Bord Pleanala; and Last year the Department sent back \154 million if he will make a statement on the matter. which it did not spend to the Department of Fin- [22304/05] ance. It sent back another \17 million pertaining to disabled persons’ grants because it did not 114. Ms Shortall asked the Minister for the spend it. Therefore, there is no question of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government Department not having the money. the major transport projects of strategic import- Some 200 people are dying per year because ance that he envisages will come under the terms of the radon problem. Their medical treatment is of the strategic infrastructure division of An Bord costing the State \200 million per year. The aver- ´ Pleanala. [21232/05] age cost of treating a lung cancer Mr. Roche: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 o’clock patient, from the time he or she is 29, 34, 112 and 114 together. diagnosed with cancer to the time he I recently announced that the Government has or she dies, is \1 million per year, given that such approved my proposals to amend the Planning patients usually die of cancer. Radon poisoning is and Development Act 2000 to help fast-track costing the State a fortune. I ask the Minister to major infrastructure projects. The Government’s remedy the problem with a relatively small sum objective in advancing these proposals is to con- of money. The problem is, as I am sure the Mini- tribute to the delivery of a highly effective infra- 415 Other 28 June 2005. Questions 416 [Mr. Roche.] soon as possible after the legislation has been structure that the public rightfully demands while, enacted. at the same time, respecting the environment and the right of people to object to developments. It Mr. Gilmore: The final section of the M50 will is important to provide greater certainty on the at last open on Thursday. This has been 20 years timeframe for delivering decisions while at the coming, the first six or seven of which were taken same time ensuring robust analysis of proposals. up by the old Dublin County Council preparing The proposed new legislation will establish a an initial design. The next five years were taken new strategic infrastructure division as part of An up by the EIS process which was ordered by the ´ Bord Pleanala. The new division will handle the Minister’s Department to examine and change planning decisions for major roads and motor- the different routes. It took three years from the ways and other large-scale projects proposed by time the Minister signed off on the motorway local authorities that the board currently over- scheme until construction started. All told, I can sees. The division’s role will also extend to only count 18 months where the scheme was on decisions on other strategic infrastructure, for public display or when there were planning example, railways and major electricity trans- delays, including cases taken with regard to the mission lines. Carrickmines issue. In addition, the new legislation will provide The purpose of this legislation is to fast-track that major transport, environmental and energy infrastructural development but, given the M50 infrastructure projects that are of strategic experience, to address the planning aspect is to importance and that at present require a planning address the shortest element of delay. The great- application accompanied by an environmental est delays appear to occur where elements which impact statement to be submitted to the local have nothing to do with public consultation are authority will be referred directly to the new div- concerned, such as design, consultants and con- ision of An Bord Pleanala.´ tract document preparation. It is also my intention that the board will take If major projects are to be referred directly to a more proactive role in the pre-planning process ´ An Bord Pleanala, which is to be the planning for such projects, especially to ensure that devel- authority of first instance, will there be an appeal opers deal with all relevant matters in their plan- process from that or will we be left in a situation ning applications and environmental impact state- where the courts are the only recourse for people ments. This will help to ensure that the key who wish to submit an appeal? planning issues and appropriate environmental mitigation measures are addressed by developers at an early stage in the process, which should help Mr. Roche: People will be able to make sub- to avoid unexpected delays at a later stage and ´ missions to An Bord Pleanala. Deputy Gilmore aid people who wish to review the process. The must be the only person in the country who public will also have substantial rights to com- would dispute that infrastructure developments ment on infrastructure proposals before the have been delayed in this country for an inordi- board, as is the case for major local authority nate amount of time. He gave a highly question- infrastructure. able analysis of the M50. However, I draw his I am happy that the new proposals build on the attention a little further down the road to the ´ proven expertise of An Bord Pleanala in handling extraordinary delays that were encountered in planning appeals and, since 2001, approvals of the Glen of the Downs on the N11 and the Ark- major local authority infrastructure. Obviously I low sewerage scheme which has been locked in am concerned to ensure that the board is legal and planning battles for 12 and a half years. adequately resourced and has appropriate organ- Deputy Gilmore is probably the only Member of isational structures to handle these new the Oireachtas that holds the view he has can- responsibilities as well as maintaining its current vassed here. excellent performance in respect of planning ´ An Bord Pleanala did some analysis in this area appeals. My Department is in discussions with the which reflected that the time taken in High Court board and the Department of Finance to ensure proceedings on which judgment was given in 2003 this outcome. and 2004 was 92 weeks. It took almost two years The Government has decided that as well as from the lodging of an appeal to final court changes to the planning system, we need to tackle decision. It is a fallacy to suggest that we have delays in the courts. My colleague, the Minister not had undue delays in delivering planning and for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy infrastructure, and I am surprised that the Deputy McDowell, will therefore examine ways, in con- would do so. sultation with the courts, to ensure that cases get heard earlier and that court decisions are made Mr. Gilmore: The Minister is not addressing quickly. In addition to these changes, I am pro- the problem. He is only addressing part of it — posing some specific changes to judicial review of the populist bit. planning decisions in the draft Bill. Drafting of the new legislation, which is com- Mr. Roche: I am addressing the planning prob- plex and will take some months, has begun. The lem and not only the populist aspect. The citizens new division will be brought into operation as and taxpayers of this country have a right to 417 Other 28 June 2005. Questions 418 understand and expect that planning will be Mr. Roche: I hope so. We have until 2007 to handled in a timely way—— complete it and I certainly hope we can do so. Deputies McCormack and O’Dowd have plan- Mr. Gilmore: The consultants will not take five ning and infrastructural issues in their constitu- years, but one. encies, which I know are of concern to them. Given their concerns, I anticipate help from them Mr. Roche: I do not disagree with the Deputy. in getting the legislation through when it is Undue bureaucratic delay must also be dealt presented to the House. with. However, it is simply nonsense for the Deputy to suggest there has not been undue delay Mr. O’Dowd: To take up the last point made and an abuse of the planning system. by the Minister, is it not the case that his prede- cessor, Deputy Cullen, met Indaver Ireland at the Mr. Gilmore: The greatest delays with regard end of the planning process regarding an inciner- to the M50 were outside the planning process. ator for Carranstown? The company made sub- missions to the then Minister and he agreed to Mr. Roche: There has been a rank abuse of the ´ change the decision of An Bord Pleanala. Is that system in the cases of the N11, the Arklow sewer- not a fact? At the same time, the process relating age scheme and others. I have outlined the points to the waste licensing system had not been com- ´ raised by An Bord Pleanala statistics. Some 32 of pleted through the Environmental Protection the board’s decisions last year were challenged in Agency. Is it also not a fact that Greenstar, the courts, which is an increase of eight since the another company with interests in waste licensing previous year. Therefore there must obviously be in this country, met officials of the Department an integrated approach and we must build on of the Environment, Heritage and Local Govern- ´ what has been a record in An Bord Pleanala. We ment in Brussels — I do not know why they met must also deal with the manner in which the in Brussels — to make a submission to them on courts system has been abused to introduce ´ the decisions of An Bord Pleanala? delays which have cost the taxpayer hundreds of ´ If the Minister is putting An Bord Pleanala at millions of pounds and added huge amounts of the heart of his plans for a fast-track decision time. making process, which I welcome, it is utterly wrong that Ministers would try to change or side- Mr. McCormack: With regard to Question No. ´ step decisions of An Bord Pleanala by changing 34, what is the status of the transformation of An regulations. The Minister brought in regulations ´ Bord Pleanala? How much of the work has been several weeks ago relating to regional boundaries done? How far advanced is the appointments for the transport of waste. Those regulations have process? Is the funding yet in place? Can the put Indaver Ireland back in position and allowed Minister estimate how quickly a major infrastruc- it to circumvent the decision of An Bord ture project will go through the planning process ´ Pleanala, which was a democratic one. under the new system? If one disagrees with a decision of An Bord ´ Pleanala, one has a right to appeal it to the High Mr. Roche: Until such time as the legislation is in place, it would neither be prudent nor normal Court, which was the process to date. From now to make the funding available up front. However, on, however, the Minister proposes to establish a I and my Department are engaging with An Bord process for specific projects whereby an inciner- ´ Pleanala to discover what it needs and with the ator developer, for example, can lobby the Mini- Department of Finance to ensure the necessary ster to introduce new regulations to circumvent a resources are in place. decision that is not to his or her liking. This can Deputy McCormack should consider the alter- occur, notwithstanding the fact that thousands of native of a second board, an issue which was can- people may have objected to the incinerator, as vassed at one point. A limited number of people is the case in my constituency, in County Cork with planning expertise at a very senior level are and other parts of the country. This is simply not available in this country and we are conserving good enough. and focusing them within An Bord Pleanala. It´ is better to review, revise and update an existing Mr. McCormack: The Minister raised system which works quite well at that level. objections. The Deputy also asked how long the process will take. It will be a difficult piece of drafting, Mr. O’Dowd: Deputy McCormack is correct, and there will then be a lengthy debate on the the Minister objected to incinerators in the past. issue when it comes before the House. It would Where does he stand on the issue now? be wrong of me to speculate on how long the pro- cess will take. I am anxious to ensure the process Mr. Cuffe: The allegations from Deputy is as limited as possible. With regard to the per- O’Dowd are outstanding. sonnel numbers—— Mr. O’Dowd: They are not allegations, they are Mr. McCormack: Will the process be complete statements of fact, and I have the documents to before the next election? prove it. 419 Adjournment 28 June 2005. Debate Matters 420 Mr. Gormley: Fair play to Deputy O’Dowd if Mr. Cuffe: The Minister is being inaccurate. that is the case. Let us nail the Minister on these matters. Mr. Roche: Deputy Cuffe’s party was partic- ularly culpable on the matter of the Glen of the Mr. Cuffe: Does the Minister accept that the Downs. He does not want to hear the truth of the two major causes of delays are political indecision matter and I can understand that. The activities and appeals by property owners? Is he putting of his party contributed to a loss of \42 million any measure in place to deal with these two to the taxpayers and a delay of over two years. issues? He must accept that the Luas was delayed for several years by Deputy Harney’s dithering Mr. Cuffe: The Minister should speak to the over whether it should be put underground or ´ Tanaiste about the loss of taxpayers’ money. over ground. Even now, the two lines still do not join up in the city centre. The M50 was delayed Written answers follow Adjournment Debate. for years because appeals by property owners were going through the courts. Is the Minister doing anything about either issue? After three Adjournment Debate Matters. years in government we still do not have a An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I wish to advise decision on the proposed metro. the House of the following matters in respect of On the issue of judicial review and judicial pro- which notice has been given under Standing ceedings, there is a marked silence as to what the Order 21 and the name of the Member in each Minister’s colleague is doing in the Department case: (1) Deputy Cowley — to ask the Minister if of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Has he agrees that the Health and Safety Authority Deputy McDowell given the Minister anything in should investigate the circumstances of an acci- writing about his proposals to deal with the legal dent; (2) Deputy Neville — to ask the Minister obstacles to the process? The two major causes to comment on a recent report by an Oireachtas of delays on projects are political indecision and committee on orthodontic services; (3) Deputy legal challenges, and I am not convinced that the O’Dowd — to ask the Minister to discuss the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and decision of the Health Service Executive not to Local Government has done anything to address recommend the transfer of Leas Cross residents either of those issues. to certain other nursing homes in the Dublin area; (4) Deputy Breeda Moynihan-Cronin — the Mr. Roche: I am not sure if the Deputy heard need for funding for the establishment of a sexual me correctly, but I made a major point about assault treatment unit at Kerry General Hospital; improving the situation in terms of legal chal- (5) Deputy Carey — the need to review the lenges. I reject the idea that a Minister should impact of the policy decision on the probation retrospectively interfere with any decision made and welfare service village project in Finglas, ´ by An Bord Pleanala. Dublin 11; (6) Deputy Jim O’Keeffe — the need for clarification by the Minister of his approval or Mr. O’Dowd: The Minister did just that. otherwise of a decision of the Dublin Port Com- pany to make a site available; (7) Deputy Michael Mr. Roche: I certainly did not. Moynihan -the lack of progress on the acquisition of a site from the Department of Defence for a Mr. Gormley: What about the regulations? school (details supplied); (8) Deputy Burton — to ask the Minister to comment on the reports Mr. O’Dowd: The Minister interfered by intro- of further extensive problems with the national ducing regulations. He got around the decision of ´ An Bord Pleanala. aquatic complex; (9) Deputy Crawford — the urgent need for the Minister to provide adequate Mr. Roche: That is simply untruthful. resource-remedial teaching hours to small rural schools; (10) Deputy Deenihan — the need to Mr. O’Dowd: It is not untrue. address the shortfall of funding for additional places in the intellectual disability sector in Mr. Roche: That is simply untruthful and I will County Kerry for 2005; (11) Deputy McGinley — not engage in a debate on an untruthful ´ ag iarraidh ar an Aire go bhfagfar foireann tea- statement. ´ ´ ´ gaisc Scoil Naisiunta Oilean Thoraigh, mar ata ´ ´ faoi lathair don scoil bhliain 2005-06 — to ask the (Interruptions). Minister to leave the teaching staff of Tory Island national school as it stands for the school year An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputies must ´ 2005-06; (12) Deputy Sean Ryan — the lack of allow the Minister to finish his point. services available to a four year old boy (details supplied) who has autism and a global develop- Mr. Roche: To address Deputy Cuffe’s point ment delay; (13) Deputy Finian McGrath — the about political indecision, the Deputy knows that potential loss of the 12th classroom teacher at delays on issues like the N11 were caused by Scoil Mhuire Marino, Griffith Avenue, Dublin; people using the planning system to create them. (14) Deputy Fiona O’Malley — to ask the Mini- Sadly, his party was involved in that process. ster to undertake a review of the electoral register 421 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 422 system in the country given the high level of inac- The Taoiseach: I advise all concerned to allow curacies; and (15) Deputy Kehoe — to ask the the courts—— Minister if she is aware of the condition of New Ross elderly day care centre. (Interruptions). The matters raised by Deputies Jim O’Keeffe, Burton, Moynihan and McGinley have been The Taoiseach: Everyone should allow the selected for discussion. courts to deal with the issue and not be fooled by red herrings, because that is what yesterday’s furore in the media is about. I am very sad to see Leaders’ Questions. the Opposition aligning itself with the company Mr. Kenny: Very few people in the country will that CSID has taken to court and acting as its forget the description, in May 2002, of the campus mouthpiece in the House today. Opposition Ireland project by the Minister for Justice, Deputies appear to have no compunction about Equality and Law Reform as being “Ceaucescu- making public statements on matters before the like”, but recent revelations suggest that this anal- courts. I agree with CSID that court proceedings ogy might not be as far-fetched as people should not be prejudiced and will not attempt to imagined. After all, the infamous Romanian prejudge the outcome of the court’s deliberations. tyrant left behind him a battery of extravagant, Once the court proceedings have been com- egotistical, sub-standard, unfinished monuments pleted, CSID will no longer be constrained from and buildings, the price for which his people will putting the facts before the public and answering continue to pay for many years to come. The any questions Deputies, the media or anyone else debacle of the National Aquatic Centre truly is may have about the various matters before the ´ an apt metaphor for the Fianna Fail-Progressive court. Democrats Government — massive costs to the public, a so-called state-of-the-art attraction that (Interruptions). is all splash, with fake waves, the roof blown off and leaking like a sieve. The Taoiseach: I am happy to outline the fac- I put it to the Taoiseach that, as the sole pro- tual position for the House. CSID has a legal moter and shareholder of this project, he is per- action in the commercial court against Dublin sonally responsible for the huge failures that have Waterworld, the operator of the aquatic centre, been exposed. Does the Taoiseach stand over his for breaches of the lease agreement. In the com- statement at the opening of the centre on 10 mercial court on 3 June Mr. Justice Peter Kelly March 2003 that “a visionary concept has been made an order regarding the following matters brought to magnificent fruition”? Will the which were the subject of a statement of claim Taoiseach confirm that the facility is leaking lodged by CSID against Dublin Waterworld. water at the rate of 5 million litres per month and that a consultant’s report has found that the orig- (Interruptions). inal roof structure was substandard, suggesting that either corners were cut or plans were washed The Taoiseach: The dispute as to whether away at the construction stage? Were these facts Dublin Waterworld is liable to pay VAT of known to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tour- \10,254,600 on the granting of the lease has been ism, who claimed two weeks ago that the \62 mil- referred to arbitration which will be concluded lion capital expenditure on the project “repre- shortly. The dispute regarding repair and main- sents money very well spent” or can we take it tenance and as to whether Dublin Waterworld that this farce is the benchmark, or rather the tide has properly maintained the national aquatic mark, of Government spending and standards? centre has been referred to an architect for expert determination. This process is under way as per The Taoiseach: Campus and Stadium Ireland the court ruling. Development has stated that the reports in the On the question of the lease, the remaining media relating to the National Aquatic Centre issues against Dublin Waterworld for failure to are inaccurate in most respects and it would be pay rent, the failure to provide audited accounts, inappropriate to comment on any of these issues thus preventing the profit share to be circulated; as there are proceedings before the court. the failure to pay insurance on the building; and the failure to establish a sinking fund, are still Mr. Durkan: It might also be embarrassing to subject to court proceedings—— have to comment on the issues. (Interruptions). (Interruptions). An Ceann Comhairle: Please allow the The Taoiseach: The proceedings are before the Taoiseach to continue without interruption. court. Yesterday, CSID’s legal team referred to the situation which has grown murkier and Mr. Durkan: Literally, it has already sunk. murkier—— The Taoiseach: I am reading from the court Mr. Durkan: Curiouser and curiouser. order. 423 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 424 Mr. Bruton: The court jester. The Taoiseach: It is one of them. The Taoiseach: If Opposition members want to Mr. Kenny: Will the Taoiseach explain who is make fun of Mr. Justice Kelly’s order, that is a responsible for the fact that the roof blew off matter for them. the building—— Deputy Burton has been claiming that the national aquatic centre is a pet project of mine. I The Taoiseach: The wind. wish to confirm to the House that this is the case. I am proud to claim it as such. The motivation of (Interruptions). the Government in developing the centre in the first place was to provide a 50 metre pool for the An Ceann Comhairle: Please allow Deputy country and, specifically, a suitable location for Kenny to continue without interruption. hosting the aquatic events of the Special Olymp- ics. The project was delivered on time and Mr. Kehoe: I hope they can put it back up in within budget. the Taoiseach’s constituency office in St. Luke’s. Mr. Durkan: As were the cracks in the The Taoiseach: While I am hugely powerful, I concrete. am not the one who will organise it. An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach’s time is Mr. Kenny: I remind the Taoiseach that the up. wind also blew over a lot of other rooftops, none of which blew off. The Taoiseach: I only need another minute; I The Taoiseach: It blew off a lot of them. have injury time. Opposition members are giddy because they are getting their holidays. Mr. Kenny: Who is responsible for the inferior construction of the building and the fact that 5 (Interruptions). million litres of treated water is leaking out on a monthly basis? An Ceann Comhairle: Please allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption. (Interruptions). Mr. Kehoe: He will be on his holidays. Mr. Kenny: Does the Taoiseach stand over the remarks he made about the shelf company on 26 The Taoiseach: The national aquatic centre has March 2002, that despite being a shelf company, drawn well deserved admiration from those who it was a company not only of substance but of have visited and used the facilities since the international standing? It was criticised in the centre was opened just over two years ago. High Court yesterday when Mr. Justice Kelly queried the reason a company worth \127 should Ms McManus: It is leaking. be given a 30 year lease on an asset worth \62 million. Does the Taoiseach now stand over that The Taoiseach: It has successfully hosted the statement? Has the company lived up to his Special Olympics Summer Games and later in the expectations? Will he stand over the arrange- same year the European short course champion- ments whereby the Government entered into an ships, both to significant acclaim. In its first year agreement with the company which was sharply of operation it had close to 1 million visitors criticised in the High Court? which placed it among the top attractions in the I was in the Mansion House last night to wel- country. come the new Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Catherine Byrne. In the middle of all the pomp (Interruptions). and power, I noticed the coat of arms of the Ahern family whose motto reads—— The Taoiseach: It continues to be equally popular as a facility for those who love water Ms Lynch: Water wings. sports, especially young people, tourists and swimmers of all ages and abilities. Deputy Kenny Mr. Kenny: ——Per ardua surgo, I rise through has referred to a statement made last week by my difficulties. As the Taoiseach is nearing his escape colleague, the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tour- from the House for his summer holidays, how ism, who said the capital expenditure provision does he intend to deal with this matter? Does he represented value for money. I fully agree with plan to wade, swim or dive through the him. difficulties? Ms O. Mitchell: It is time to retire. Mr. Durkan: I suggest he change the motto. Mr. Kenny: I am glad to receive confirmation The Taoiseach: Since Deputy Kenny has asked from the Taoiseach that this is his pet project and for my opinion, the Government is not happy that, therefore, he knows all about it. with the performance of the company. While it 425 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 426 has done a very good job in Killarney in the The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Kerry operation, it has not done a good job in Reform, Deputy McDowell, anxious as ever to this case. That is the reason CSID has brought give precedence to the necessity to clear himself the company to court. I support the action being and make a display of the correctness of his own taken. Obviously, I do not stand over the remarks advice, has dropped the Minister for Arts, Sports made at the time. and Tourism, Deputy O’Donoghue, into the most I have already answered the question of what serious situation any Minister has experienced in happened on 1 January. People have been critical this shambles of a Government. of the damage caused by the freak storm. It is He has created a circumstance where the Mini- unfortunate it damaged a large number of build- ster, Deputy O’Donoghue, is on the run. He will ings in the area, uprooted 200 year old trees and not even appear on “Questions & Answers” hit the centre. A report on the damage was com- when invited. He will not come in here in case he missioned by the OPW following a request from is asked a question about it. I want to ask the the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism in Taoiseach a question because he came in here consultation with CSID. Its findings were taken and misled the House as well. He said they only into account in agreeing the repair programme had partial knowledge and not then until Nov- with the contractor. Legal, contractual and finan- ember 2001. We know they had the Conroy cial issues are being considered in the light of report in August 2000. Was the Conroy report in the report. any way inadequate and, if the answer is no, why Our primary concern at all times must be to did the Taoiseach promote him to Com- protect the taxpayer’s investment and that is what missioner? If the answer is yes, why did the we are doing. In spite of all the exaggerations in Taoiseach fail to investigate the serious matters the newspapers about leaks and cracks, the with which he dealt? That report is a very com- national aquatic centre is fully operational—— prehensive summary of what is in the Carty report. The fact the Minister for Justice, Equality Mr. Durkan: In the Government. and Law Reform is shaking his head and that wit- ness statements were not appended is neither The Taoiseach: ——and bringing endless here nor there. If I were Minister for Justice and enjoyment to adults and children, day in, day out, I or any Minister for Justice got the entire barrow as well as providing a top class facility for our full of the Carty report, he or she would be swimming athletes. I was in it ten days ago for a annoyed. Assistant Commissioner Conroy sum- national swimming competition in which children marised the gravamen of the allegations in a 37- and teenagers from all over the country partici- page legible, intelligible report to these two Mini- pated. Because the issues are being dealt with in sters and now they are covering up why they the courts, CSID are constrained from dealing failed to investigate one of the most serious with them in the media while it is fighting in the public interest issues in this jurisdiction. courts. I want to see the company win the case and compel Dublin Waterworld to pay. I hope Mr. McDowell: That is wrong. the necessary legal process will resolve the issue. Ms McManus: Hear, hear. Mr. Rabbitte: Does the Taoiseach agree that The Taoiseach: Deputy Rabbitte made two the state of the aquatic centre is a metaphor for points. As we approach the school summer the state of the Government? He has just admit- holidays thousands of children throughout the ted that the centre and the Government are his country are using the National Aquatic Centre own creations; that both are defective and every day. Therefore, the Deputy is badly incapable of performing the job they were set up informed on this issue and totally wrong. to do. Their foundations are cracked and both are In February 1999, Assistant Commissioner leaking like a sieve. They are swallowing up and Carty was appointed by the Garda Commissioner wasting taxpayer’s money and both are involved ´ to investigate allegations that gardaı in Donegal in a cover-up and PR bluster. had engaged in criminal and unethical behaviour. I refer to one of the cover-ups, the circum- In July 2000, Assistant Commissioner Carty sub- stances where as a result of the story in The Irish mitted his report — that was the investigation file Times on Saturday we now know that what has — to the Director of Public Prosecutions. In been asserted from these benches all this time is August 2000, Assistant Commissioner Conroy true, that both the Minister for Justice, Equality forwarded a 37-page summary of Carty report to and Law Reform of the day and the Attorney the Department of Justice, Equality and Law General of the day had full knowledge from the Reform. This was not the Carty report. report submitted by then Deputy Commissioner Conroy in August 2000 of what was happening in Mr. S. Ryan: Come on, Taoiseach. County Donegal and the circumstances surround- ing the framing of the McBrearty family and so Mr. McDowell: The Deputies do not under- on. Despite this, they refused to investigate. They stand this. came into this House and voted down a motion tabled by the Labour Party, Fine Gael and the The Taoiseach: Deputy Rabbitte wanted to Green Party to have the matter inquired into. ignore a judge in the last case and now he wants 427 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 428 [The Taoiseach.] gave us conflicting, partial, half answers. It is no to ignore the Director of Public Prosecutions. I thanks to the Minister, Deputy McDowell, that ask him to please listen. At that stage the Direc- whoever leaked it to whomsoever leaked it, in tor of Public Prosecutions was considering the turn, to The Irish Times that we now know the Carty report and its recommendations and pros- sequence of events. It now seems the Taoiseach ecutions. A number of civil actions related to as well as the Minister, Deputy McDowell, will Donegal were well under way and a number of dump on the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue. The complaints were then with the Garda Complaints Taoiseach keeps saying he had only a partial Board. In light of the growing controversy, in report and so on. The Minister, Deputy June 2001, the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, O’Donoghue, said “The investigation by Assist- sought a preliminary opinion from the Attorney ant Commissioner Carty was completed and General about the options open to him to have presented to me and, in turn, to the DPP” in the matter inquired into. answer to a question from Deputy Howlin. I acknowledge this is disquieting and I enjoyed Mr. Howlin: A year later. the way the Minister, Deputy McDowell, declared the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, The Taoiseach: The Attorney General replied innocent judicially. I enjoyed his performance in June 2001. He required sight of the full Carty last week—— report. The Attorney General, while agreeing that a public inquiry was the most attractive Mr. Howlin: His acquittal of the Minister. option, advised that since tribunals had to be con- ducted in public it would seriously prejudice the Mr. Rabbitte: ——and his pat on the head for pending prosecutions. He also advised that a tri- the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue. He wanted to bunal could be established if the truth did not tell the House that the Minister was emerge in the pending court cases. blameless—— In November 2001, having consulted the Direc- tor of Public Prosecutions on foot of the Attorney An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy’s time is General’s request to see the Garda file, the concluded. Garda Commissioner gave an edited version of the Carty report to the Department of Justice, Mr. Rabbitte: ——and that is the judicial Equality and Law Reform. This consisted of decree in the matter. The Minister, Deputy those parts of the Carty report considered to be McDowell, has declared the Minister, Deputy relevant to the defence of the civil actions related O’Donoghue, to be blameless and innocent, and to Donegal. This edited version was a very bulky that this should be good enough for him and that document and the Office of the Director of Public he should skulk off to south Kerry and not appear Prosecutions remarked that it would be difficult on “Questions & Answers” or anywhere else to for persons reading themselves into the case to answer questions. The Minister has dropped him make sense of the issues without sight of these in it, and he knows that. The Taoiseach has come papers. Therefore, it was not possible to do it and in here and said that when the Assistant Com- the Director of Public Prosecutions had declared missioner of the day, Noel Conroy, intelligibly that. put the evidence together from the Carty report In November 2001, Mr. Shane Murphy was in a legible form and submitted it to the Mini- appointed to review all the papers and advise how sters, that this was not the Carty report. I refer to best to proceed. The full Carty report was given an answer from one of the Taoiseach’s prede- to the Department in the second half of January cessors, Mr. Haughey, when he denied that there 2002. Mr. Murphy submitted his report at the end was any such meeting. The Taoiseach is now of that month also. denying there was any such report. We are not In February 2002, the Government approved, talking about the investigation file of the Mini- in principle, the establishment of a tribunal of ster, Deputy McDowell, nor about the depth of inquiry and the drafting of a Bill to amend the documents that must be furnished to the Director tribunals of inquiry Act to facilitate the holding of Public Prosecutions before a prosecution is of an inquiry allowing a tribunal to hold part of mounted; we are talking about the substance, the its hearing in private, if necessary, to avoid pre- gravamen, of the allegations made where two citi- judicing a criminal prosecution. At all times the zens were framed for a murder that was never Minister and the Attorney General were anxious committed. Neither the Taoiseach nor anyone to have the matter fully inquired into. The issue else could answer the question as to why that was in question was — Deputy Rabbitte knows this redesignated from a murder to a hit and run two because I said this last week — one of prejudicing years earlier than we were told about it and the pending proceedings and that difficulty was over- Taoiseach allowed a debate to happen in this come only by amending the law, and that is what House to cause a tribunal to be set up and we did happened. Those are the full facts. not even know Mr. McBrearty and his first cousin did not know that they were no longer under sus- Mr. Rabbitte: We know the history of this case picion for murder because it had been redesig- now no thanks to the Taoiseach or the Ministers, nated a hit and run two years ago. It is a disgrace. Deputies McDowell and O’Donoghue. They all Your combined efforts—— 429 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 430 An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy had one The Taoiseach: I point out to the Deputy that minute but has spoken for almost three minutes. I would like to answer the question — it is about important matters. Mr. Rabbitte: ——to cover up and to collude in a cover up is reprehensible. An Ceann Comhairle: I point out to Deputy Jim O’Keeffe that this is Deputy Rabbitte’s ques- Mr. Howlin: Hear, hear. tion, not Fine Gael’s. The Taoiseach: Deputy Rabbitte, as always, The Taoiseach: I will start answering everyone makes a—— if Deputy O’Keeffe wants me to do that. The 37- page document did not come to a conclusion Mr. Rabbitte: Compelling case. about Mr. Barron. The Taoiseach: ——number of propositions, Mr. Rabbitte: It summarised the Carty report which he knows are untrue. — I have seen it. Mr. McDowell: It is sad. An Ceann Comhairle: Allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption. The Taoiseach: With regard to the quote by the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, to which he The Taoiseach: The Deputy is assuming-—— referred, Deputy Rabbitte knows that previously the Minister made it very clear what was the posi- Mr. McDowell: He is bluffing. tion about the stated facts. Mr. Howlin: The Minister is misleading the Mr. Howlin: He never did. House. The Taoiseach: It is in the document. Mr. Rabbitte: I have seen it and the Minister saw it and denied it. Mr. Howlin: He did not speak on it at all; the Mr. McDowell: The Deputy is bluffing. Minister, Deputy McDowell, did but the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, did not. An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Minister, Deputy McDowell, and Deputies Rabbitte and The Taoiseach: It is part of the section of the Howlin to keep silent and allow the Taoiseach document Deputy Rabbitte raised. to continue. Ms McManus: That is not true. The Taoiseach: I want to answer Deputy Rabbitte. It is clear that his party does not want The Taoiseach: On the issue—— me to answer him but I would like to do so. The report of August 2000 from Assistant Com- Mr. Howlin: Let this be accurate. missioner Conroy, of which I said he forwarded a 30-page summary—— An Ceann Comhairle: Allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption. Mr. Rabbitte: A 37-page summary. The Taoiseach: On the issue of the 37-page The Taoiseach: ——a 37-page summary, did document, it did not come to a conclusion as to not come to a conclusion about what happened who was—— Mr. Barron. Ms Lynch: It did not need to. Mr. Stagg: That is why the Taoiseach needs an inquiry. The Taoiseach: I am answering Deputy Rabbitte. Why do other Deputies keep jutting in? The Taoiseach: Deputy Rabbitte was trying to I am trying to answer Deputy Rabbitte. give the impression it did but it did not. Mr. J. O’Keeffe: The Taoiseach is rattled. Mr. Rabbitte: It summarised the Carty report and it justified our request for an investigation. The Taoiseach: The 37-page document does not—— An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to allow the Taoiseach to continue without Mr. J. O’Keeffe: The Taoiseach is rattled. interruption. The Taoiseach: I am just trying to answer The Taoiseach: It did not. Deputy Rabbitte’s questions as opposed to those of four or five Deputies. Mr. Rabbitte: I have seen the report. Mr. J. O’Keeffe: The Taoiseach is very rattled. Mr. McDowell: So have I. 431 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 432 Mr. Rabbitte: I know the Minister did but he Mr. Sargent: The Taoiseach has not told any- did not tell us about it. thing like the full story in so far as investigations indicate. Does he believe in the basic wisdom that Mr. Howlin: He saw it five years ago. justice delayed is justice denied? On that basis will he explain to the House whether he finds it An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Minister, satisfactory that when the former Minister for Deputy McDowell, to allow the Taoiseach to con- Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy tinue without interruption. Members of the O’Donoghue, received the report of the Carty Labour Party should allow the Taoiseach the investigation, over nine months elapsed before same courtesy that Deputy Rabbitte was given the advice of the Attorney General was sought? when he submitted the question. On the basis of the questions which arise from that, would the Taoiseach not like to see a Private The Taoiseach: In November 2001, which was Notice Question on which Deputy Cuffe has been a long time after that—— working on behalf of the Green Party in which Deputies O’Donoghue and McDowell could Mr. Stagg: It could have been done two years answer for their lack of actions in the course of earlier. this saga? Not only was there a nine-month delay, when the advice was sought, the full file was not The Taoiseach: ——having consulted the made available to the Attorney General, as we Director of Public Prosecutions on foot of the now know. Was that not unacceptable to the Attorney General’s request to see the Garda file, Taoiseach? the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions Is he not, as Taoiseach, duty bound to hold to noted that it would be difficult for persons read- account Ministers who displayed such ineptitude ing themselves into the case to make sense of the and prevarication on a matter which has not only issues without sight of these papers. That was a cost the State a great deal of money, but has also damaged the reputation of the Garda Sıochana ´ ´ long time after that particular period. The full and generated enormous trauma and pain, partic- Carty report was not available until 2002. The ularly for the McBrearty family and others? Will Minister had raised the issue the previous year. he not take responsibility as Head of Govern- ment and initiate action about what we now know Mr. Howlin: It could have been done two to have been ineptitude and prevarication? years earlier. The Taoiseach: The Deputy is again raising the The Taoiseach: He had written asking for issue of the delay. As I have already stated, the advice and looking for the options and that issue reason for the nine-month delay was that the was dealt with. Six months after this was done, DPP was considering the file over that period. the Director of Public Prosecutions was still rais- Even in November 2001, a long time after that ing the issue of the doubt. period, the Office of the DPP—— Mr. Stagg: It was a limited inquiry. Deputies Mr. Sargent: And the Government. McDowell and O’Donoghue could not be investigated. The Taoiseach: ——remarked that it would be difficult for persons reading themselves into the The Taoiseach: Since Deputy Rabbitte is case to make sense of the issues without sight of intimating that there were divisions between the the papers. That was the position. The Director Minister, me and the Attorney General when of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General and everyone knows that was not the case, I will again the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law repeat that it was this Government and not the Reform were all concerned, but there were cases Opposition which identified the solution to the pending and this could not simply be ignored. impasse which existed during this period, namely, That was the issue. the enactment of legislation to enable a tribunal In the light of the controversy that was grow- to hold part of its proceedings in private to avoid ing, in the summer of 2001 the then Minister, possible prejudice, which was a difficulty. The Deputy O’Donoghue, sought the Attorney Gen- then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law eral’s advice about the options that were open to Reform, Deputy O’Donoghue—— him. He got a quick reply which said the Attorney General could not make a judgment on that until Mr. Stagg: He could not be investigated by he saw the full Carty report. That was in June. In the inquiry. November the DPP was saying the same thing. To try to paint the picture now that the The Taoiseach: ——brought forward that Attorney General and the DPP had the full Carty amending legislation to facilitate this. That is why report, as some Members maintain, when the fact we passed in this House the Tribunals of Inquiry is that they did not and two officers of the (Evidence)(Amendment) Act and that is why we State—— have the Morris tribunal today. Those are the facts. Mr. Howlin: He told the House he had. 433 Leaders’ 28 June 2005. Questions 434 Mr. Rabbitte: Yes, he told the House he had it. General. Is it not the case that the Attorney Gen- eral is employed, very handsomely, to give politi- The Taoiseach: He did not say that. cal advice? Mr. McDowell: The Deputies are misleading Mr. Roche: Legal advice. the House again. Mr. Sargent: Legal advice of a political nature, An Ceann Comhairle: It is Deputy Sargent’s I would argue, in terms of the Government. Not question. The Taoiseach, without interruption. to ask for that is, in itself, an irresponsible lack of action. Does the Taoiseach not accept that on the The Taoiseach: It is a pity, just to try to confuse back of that delay by the then Minister, Deputy issues, that Members of the House—— O’Donoghue, the Attorney General was involved in prosecuting criminal cases in which we now (Interruptions). know the State to have been in the wrong? Is the Taoiseach not duty bound as Head of Govern- The Taoiseach: There is no confusion in my ment to hold to account the people who brought mind about this. The Attorney General, the about that farcical situation and, in turn, wasted Director of Public Prosecutions, the then Minister an enormous amount of money, damaged the for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Garda ´ ´ reputation of the Garda Sıochana and sentenced Commissioner and the assistant Garda com- to McBrearty family to years of trauma, which missioner, Mr. Carty, knew there were cases was completely unjust and of which they were pending. innocent? As Taoiseach he is required to take action. Mr. Costello: What about screening? The Taoiseach: I should not have to, but I will, The Taoiseach: The Director of Public Pros- remind Deputy Sargent that the Attorney Gen- ecutions was dealing with those cases. The eral does not prosecute criminal cases. Since 1975 Attorney General was not prepared to give the it is the Director of Public Prosecutions. That options and the DPP was not prepared to go to change was made 30 years ago, so the basis of his finality until they saw the full report. That is what argument is incorrect. happened and no amount of bluster will change This is the second time in this debate today that that position. Members have stated what the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, did at the time. They know that, on Mr. Howlin: It was too late to vote down a tri- the record, just prior to the section they quote bunal of inquiry motion. from, he made it absolutely clear that he had not seen—— The Taoiseach: Statutory officers of the State have stated they were not proceeding until they Mr. Howlin: He did not. got the full report. Neither did they—— The Taoiseach: It is on the record of the House Mr. Howlin: It was covering up. to be read. The Taoiseach: ——and when they did, this Mr. Howlin: He did not. Government acted. Those are the facts. An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Howlin should Mr. Howlin: They are not the facts. allow the Taoiseach to speak. It is Deputy Sargent’s question. He is entitled to hear the Mr. Sargent: The former Minister for Justice, answer without interruption and so is the rest of Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O’Donoghue, the House. told the House on 23 May 2001: “The investi- gation by Assistant Commissioner Carty was Ms McManus: We are entitled to hear the completed and presented to me and, in turn, to truth. the DPP.” The Minister implied that he had received the Carty report, not just Deputy Com- An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy McManus is not missioner Conroy’s synopsis of it, before passing a member of the Green Party. it on. Even if it was only a synopsis, the Taoiseach knows this is damning. To hide behind it as if it Ms McManus: I am not the Taoiseach either. were some type of innocent document that does not tell the full story is in itself a perversion of An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach, without the truth. The Taoiseach has not answered why interruption. the full file of the investigation was not passed over to the Attorney General. The Taoiseach: The Minister said that he had I would like to tease this out. The Taoiseach not seen the Garda file. suggests that because the DPP is addressing a matter, somehow there is a wall of silence Mr. Eamon Ryan: The Taoiseach should set between Cabinet Ministers and the Attorney some standards. 435 Requests to move Adjournment of 28 June 2005. ´ Dail under Standing Order 31 436 The Taoiseach: The Minister for Justice, them. I cannot give Deputy Sargent anything Equality and Law Reform, the Attorney General other than the facts. and the Director of Public Prosecutions of the time all stated that they could not proceed until Mr. Sargent: The Taoiseach should apologise. they saw the full Carty report. Mr. Gormley: He should hold the Minister to Mr. Howlin: They said nothing of the kind. account. The Taoiseach: I have just given the references. The Taoiseach: There is no question of anyone apologising when the law officers of the State Mr. Rabbitte: They did not say anything of made clear determinations at the time, all of the kind. which are on the record. The fact that Opposition Deputies are trying to paint a delay—— An Ceann Comhairle: I ask Deputy Rabbitte to allow the Taoiseach to continue, without Mr. Sargent: There was a delay. interruption. The Taoiseach: The delay was due to the The Taoiseach: I have just given the references reasons I gave. As I said, it was this but I will give them again. In light of the growing Government—— controversy in June 2001, the then Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, sought a preliminary Mr. Gormley: They are spurious reasons. opinion, in writing, from the Attorney General about the options open to him to have the matter The Taoiseach: If that is the Deputy’s attitude, inquired into. The Attorney General replied in then the DPP, the Attorney General, the Minister June 2001. The reply cited the full Carty report. for Justice, Equality and Law Reform and every- That is one reference. body else is spurious. I do not agree with him. In November 2001—— An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Sargent, the Mr. Howlin: Privately. leader of Deputy Gormley’s party, is competent to deal with the question. The Taoiseach: I do not why the Deputy is jus- tifying himself. He seems worried. I am just giving The Taoiseach: I reiterate that it was the facts; I am not blaming the Deputy. Government, not the Opposition, which iden- tified the solution that is working successfully. Mr. Howlin: It is not a fact. None of these events took place in public. Mr. Stagg: It was not the Government; it voted down the solution two years earlier. An Ceann Comhairle: We are dealing with a question tabled by the Green Party and Deputy The Taoiseach: While I recognise that Oppo- Sargent is quite competent to deal with it. sition Deputies feel guilty about all of that now, that is a matter for them. The Taoiseach: We have had approximately 20 interruptions. I am just giving facts and the An Ceann Comhairle: For the information of Deputy is trying to twist them. the House, we went 13 minutes over time on Leaders’ Questions today. Mr. Howlin: They are not facts. Mr. Gormley: It was worth it. An Ceann Comhairle: I ask Deputy Howlin to remain silent. Requests to move Adjournment of Dail under ´ Standing Order 31. The Taoiseach: In November 2001, the edited version was a bulky document but the Office of An Ceann Comhairle: Before coming to the the Director of Public Prosecutions remarked Order of Business, I propose to deal with a that it would be difficult for persons reading number of notices under Standing Order 31. I call themselves into the case to make sense of the on the Deputies in the order in which they sub- issues without sight of the full report and the pap- mitted their notices to my office. ers. That was the second reference. What I have outlined is, therefore, the factual position. Mr. O’Dowd: I seek the adjournment of the ´ Dail under Standing Order 31 to discuss an issue Mr. Gormley: It is bluster. of national importance, namely, that the Health Service Executive has decided, after inspection, The Taoiseach: Lastly, in February 2002, when not to recommend the transfer of Leas Cross resi- the Government approved in principle the Tri- dents to certain other nursing homes in the bunals of Inquiry (Evidence) (Amendment) Bill Dublin area, the breaches of regulations found at 2002, it did so when it received the full Carty the further homes in question, the names of the report. Those are the facts and I cannot change homes in question, whether they are registered 437 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 438 homes under the Health Acts and if they continue Order of Business. to be so registered, if any public patients are resi- The Taoiseach: The Order of Business today dent in the homes and if they will now be moved shall be as follows: No. 13, Social Welfare Con- to other homes, if any subvented patients are resi- solidation Bill 2005 — First Stage; No. 14, motion dent in the homes, if they will be moved or ´ ´ re proposed approval by Dail Eireann of a report advised to move and, if not, why? by the Minister for Defence pursuant to section 4 of the Defence (Amendment) Act 1993, back Mr. Sherlock: I seek the adjournment of the from committee; No. 27, Electoral (Amendment) ´ Dail under Standing Order 31 to discuss the fol- Bill 2005 — Report and Final Stages (resumed); lowing specific and important matter of public No. 1, Disability Bill 2004 — amendments from interest requiring urgent attention, namely, the the Seanad; and No. 28, Veterinary Practice Bill need for the Minister for Agriculture and Food, 2004 [Seanad] — Order for Report, Report and Deputy Coughlan, to make a statement on bio- Final Stages. fuels production in view of the proposal for changes in the sugar regime. In view of the It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in importance of this issue, I hope the Ceann Comh- ´ Standing Orders, that the Dail shall sit later than airle will agree to my request. 8.30 p.m. and business shall be interrupted not later than 10 p.m.; Nos. 13 and 14 shall be decided Mr. M. Higgins: I seek the adjournment of the without debate; the proceedings on the resumed ´ Dail under Standing Order 31 to discuss the fol- Report and Final Stages of No. 27 shall, if not lowing matter of urgent public concern, namely, previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion the increasing vulnerability of workers, in part- after 60 minutes by one question which shall be icular migrant workers, who are affected by sud- put from the Chair and which shall, in relation den closures in the construction industry, often to amendments, include only those set down or on public contracts, without notice, breaches of accepted by the Minister for the Environment, statutory regulations and general absence of pro- Heritage and Local Government; and the pro- tection and the need for a hardship fund to ceedings on No. 1 shall, if not previously con- address their immediate needs and such statutory cluded, be brought to a conclusion at 9 p.m. and changes as will meet their basic rights. any amendments from the Seanad not disposed of shall be decided by one question which shall ´ Mr. Sargent: I seek the adjournment of the Dail be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation under Standing Order 31 to discuss the following to amendments to the Seanad amendments, matter of urgent national importance, namely, include only those set down or accepted by the the fact that a large construction company, Glen- Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform. man Corporation, which has Government con- Private Members’ Business shall be No. 56, tracts to build council houses in Ballymun, For- motion re G8 summit and overseas development tunestown B and other places, has failed to meet aid. its payment obligations to more than a dozen other companies which have subcontracted work, An Ceann Comhairle: There are four proposals including one company, KBD civil engineering, to be put to the House. Is the proposal for the which is owed \374,000, and another company late sitting agreed? owed \254,000, and this is resulting in a signifi- cant threat of job losses and companies going to Mr. Rabbitte: I do not wish to record my point the wall — and the associated tensions created by in this manner but there is no other parliamentary such non-payment of Bills — and the need for procedure for so doing. What happened last week the Government to make transparent, account- was as big a shambles as I have ever seen in the able and fair its procurement procedures in light House. Deputies were required to vote—— of such evidence. An Ceann Comhairle: That matter does not Mr. Deenihan: I seek the adjournment of the arise at this stage. The question is whether the ´ Dail under Standing Order 31 to discuss the fol- Deputy opposes the late sitting. lowing matter of national importance, namely, the ongoing difficulties between CSID and Mr. Rabbitte: My point is directly connected. Dublin Waterworld regarding the National We had to come into the House to vote on some- Aquatic Centre and the need for the Taoiseach thing and we did not even know, with the number or the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism to of items of different coloured paper that had been make a statement clarifying the various diffi- circulated by the Minister for Justice, Equality culties which have arisen in respect of the and Law Reform—— building. An Ceann Comhairle: The matter does not An Ceann Comhairle: It is not in order to go arise at this stage. beyond the statement submitted to my office. Having considered the matters raised, I do not Mr. Rabbitte: If the Ceann Comhairle wants consider them to be in order under Standing me to explain the reason I am opposed to the Order 31. proposal, I will do so. 439 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 440 An Ceann Comhairle: We must have some sort An Ceann Comhairle: I am taking questions on of order on the Order of Business. the same proposal together, as is the standard practice, and we will then hear from the Mr. Rabbitte: On Friday night, the Minister for Taoiseach. Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, blamed the Ceann Comhairle and the Mr. Stagg: I have no problem with that. staff of the House because the amendments were not disseminated. Anybody who knows anything Mr. Sargent: The Ceann Comhairle will be about the Bills Office, knows that its staff are the aware that it is also standard practice to oppose most industrious in the House. I am sure I need the taking or lumping together of items together not labour the point or say how distressed I was as if they are of no consequence. He should take that the Minister should reflect on the Ceann into account that the Green Party does not regard Comhairle’s efficiency it as satisfactory to give No. 14, which has just come back from committee. This item is a signifi- An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should cant defence motion which must be considered resume his seat as he is out of order. As he is and our giving it the nod takes for granted the opposed to the late sitting, I will put the question. Government’s thinking on the matter, something it has not made clear. I ask that the Minister for Mr. Rabbitte: I just wanted to place on record Defence make a clear statement in the House and the disquiet caused to me over the weekend by that we debate the matter. the Minister’s decision to reflect on the Ceann Comhairle’s deficiency, which was unfair in the The Taoiseach: The Minister hopes to be in a circumstances. position to do that at the end of the summer, so it will happen when the House returns in the An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made autumn. his point. In reply to Deputy Stagg, the Social Welfare Question, “That the late sitting be agreed to,” Consolidation Bill passed First Stage and was put and declared carried. sent to committee, as has happened since the first consolidation Bill in 1980. The motion will just An Ceann Comhairle: Is the proposal for deal- move it into committee in order that the matter ing with Nos. 13 and 14 without debate agreed? can be dealt with during July and September, when committees will continue to meet. Mr. Kenny: On No. 14, when does the Govern- ment expect to make an announcement about An Ceann Comhairle: Is the proposal for deal- Ireland’s participation in the battle groups ing with Nos. 13 and 14 agreed? Agreed. referred to under the Department of Defence Is the proposal for dealing with No. 27, con- proposal? clusion of Report and Final Stages of the Elec- toral (Amendment) Bill 2005, agreed? The Taoiseach: As I stated previously, the matter is under examination but it will take con- Mr. Gilmore: The Labour Party is opposed, on siderable time. It will not arise for a number of two grounds, to a guillotine being imposed on the months. We have not opted in or out Electoral (Amendment) Bill, which will revise 5 o’clock at this stage, we must consider how ´ Dail constituencies. As a matter of principle, the we can participate if we are to go Government should not use its majority, in the down that road. Many countries have already form of a guillotine, to enact legislation on the declared that they are looking at the major infras- revision of constituencies because the latter are at tructural issues and we must assess if we can use- the heart of our electoral and democratic system. fully do it. It will be some time before we com- Furthermore, we cannot adopt the proposal plete our assessment. before the House. On Report Stage on 16 June, the House agreed to recommit section 3 in order Mr. Kenny: Will it be this year or next year? I to address an issue I raised, namely, the likeli- heard on a radio programme last week that the hood that it will emerge from the census in 2006 Minister for Defence, Deputy O’Dea, got an that, on foot of an increase and change in the award for straight talking. How long will this ´ location of population, significant revision of Dail assessment take? Will the Minister for Defence boundaries will be required. If the election is held indicate whether we are in or out? after the publication of the census figures in 2006, it may give rise to legal proceedings and consti- Mr. Stagg: Will the Taoiseach explain why the tutional questions in respect of the Bill. The First Stage of a Bill is being introduced without recommitted Committee Stage of section 3 is still debate? in progress. The House adjourned without con- cluding the Committee Stage debate on section 3 An Ceann Comhairle: I call Deputy Sargent. and it is not possible to make an order for the resumed Report and Final Stage of the Bill until Mr. Stagg: Do I not get an answer? the Committee Stage debate is concluded. 441 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 442 An Ceann Comhairle: On the Deputy’s second extensive debate on this matter and the legis- question, it has been agreed to recommit amend- lation emanates from an independent body. The ment No. 1 for discussion in the House. Government has given adequate time to some- thing we have all accepted as a fait accompli from Mr. Gilmore: Yes. the outset. The Taoiseach: On the first question, we have Question put: “That the proposal for dealing tried during this session not to guillotine Bills. with No. 27, conclusion of Report and Final The guillotine has been applied in very few Stages of the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005 instances in recent months. There has been an be agreed.” ´ ´ ´ The Dail divided: Ta, 76; Nıl, 58. ´ Ta Ahern, Bertie. Keaveney, Cecilia. Ahern, Dermot. Kelleher, Billy. Ahern, Michael. Kelly, Peter. Ahern, Noel. Killeen, Tony. Andrews, Barry. Kirk, Seamus. Ardagh, Sean.´ Kitt, Tom. Brady, Johnny. Lenihan, Brian. Brady, Martin. ´ Martin, Micheal. Brennan, Seamus. McDowell, Michael. Browne, John. McEllistrim, Thomas. Callanan, Joe. McGuinness, John. Callely, Ivor. Moloney, John. Carey, Pat. Moynihan, Michael. Carty, John. Mulcahy, Michael. Cassidy, Donie. Nolan, M. J. Collins, Michael. ´ ´ ´ O Cuıv, Eamon. Cooper-Flynn, Beverley. ´ ´ ´ O Fearghaıl, Sean. Cowen, Brian. O’Connor, Charlie. Cregan, John. O’Dea, Willie. Cullen, Martin. O’Donnell, Liz. Curran, John. O’Donovan, Denis. Davern, Noel. O’Flynn, Noel. Dempsey, Tony. O’Keeffe, Batt. Dennehy, John. O’Keeffe, Ned. Devins, Jimmy. O’Malley, Fiona. Ellis, John. O’Malley, Tim. Fahey, Frank. Parlon, Tom. Finneran, Michael. Power, Peter. Fitzpatrick, Dermot. ´ Power, Sean. Fleming, Sean.´ Roche, Dick. Fox, Mildred. Sexton, Mae. Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Smith, Brendan. Glennon, Jim. Smith, Michael. Harney, Mary. Treacy, Noel. Haughey, Sean. ´ Wallace, Dan. Healy-Rae, Jackie. Walsh, Joe. ´ Hoctor, Maire. Wilkinson, Ollie. Jacob, Joe. Woods, Michael. ´ Nıl Allen, Bernard. Hayes, Tom. Boyle, Dan. Higgins, Michael D. Breen, James. Hogan, Phil. Broughan, Thomas P. Howlin, Brendan. Bruton, Richard. Kehoe, Paul. Burton, Joan. Kenny, Enda. Connolly, Paudge. Lynch, Kathleen. Costello, Joe. McCormack, Padraic. Cowley, Jerry. McGinley, Dinny. Crawford, Seymour. McGrath, Finian. ´ Crowe, Sean. McGrath, Paul. ´ Cuffe, Ciaran. McManus, Liz. Deasy, John. Mitchell, Olivia. Deenihan, Jimmy. Morgan, Arthur. Durkan, Bernard J. Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Enright, Olwyn. Murphy, Catherine. Gilmore, Eamon. Naughten, Denis. Gormley, John. Neville, Dan. Gregory, Tony. ´ ´ ´ O Caolain, Caoimhghın. Harkin, Marian. ´ O Snodaigh, Aengus. 443 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 444 ´ Nıl—continued O’Dowd, Fergus. Ryan, Eamon. O’Keeffe, Jim. ´ Ryan, Sean. O’Shea, Brian. Sargent, Trevor. O’Sullivan, Jan. Sherlock, Joe. Pattison, Seamus. ´ ´ Shortall, Roisın. Penrose, Willie. Stagg, Emmet. Perry, John. Timmins, Billy. Quinn, Ruairi. Twomey, Liam. Rabbitte, Pat. Upton, Mary. ´ ´ Tellers: Ta, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Nıl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg. Question declared carried. took place last night in Limerick and the ongoing strength of feeling around the country, not least An Ceann Comhairle: Is the proposal for deal- because the Minister has indicated that he ing with No. 1, Disability Bill 2004, amendments believes in the virtues of inequality. It is abso- from the Seanad, agreed to? lutely essential that we go back to the drawing board in respect of the Bill and put the requisite Mr. Kenny: I am opposed to No. 1 being guillo- rights-based legislation in place. To proceed on tined in this fashion. I also note that former Mr. this basis is to do a disservice to this House and Justice Fergus Flood has stated the Bill should be people with disabilities. ´ torn up and that the Dail should legislate in a proper manner for an issue of such importance. Mr. McCormack: It will be third time lucky. Hence, I oppose No. 1 being brought to a con- clusion at 9 p.m. ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: I also record Sinn ´ ´ Fein’s opposition to the proposal that we proceed Mr. Rabbitte: I share that sentiment. The dis- with the 33 amendments which are broadly tech- ability movement—— nical in nature and do absolutely nothing to address the fundamental flaws in the Disability Mr. Kelleher: The Deputy is bluffing well. Bill identified by the disability legislation consul- tation group, a body established by the Govern- Mr. Rabbitte: ——which is extremely dis- ment. Hence, it is absolutely bizarre that the tressed that, after the collapse of the first Dis- House is proceeding with the legislation which ability Bill under the previous Government, this has proceeded through both Houses and is now one is—— ´ back in the Dail. As I stated, there are 33 amend- ments, none of which addresses any of the sub- (Interruptions.) stantive inadequacies of the Bill in meeting the ´ needs of people with disabilities. Sinn Fein would An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Rabbitte should have been happy to address the Bill on its return be allowed to speak without interruption. from the Seanad if the amendments reflected the recommendations of the Commission on the Mr. Rabbitte: I also oppose the moving of this Status of People with Disabilities but sadly that is Bill. not the case. Accordingly, we must oppose this proposal. Mr. Sargent: The Green Party once again opposes the guillotining of the Disability Bill. It Question put: “That the proposal for dealing asks the Ceann Comhairle and the Government with No. 1, amendments from the Seanad to the to have regard to the significant meeting that Disability Bill 2004, be agreed to.” ´ ´ ´ The Dail divided: Ta, 76; Nıl, 54. ´ Ta Ahern, Bertie. Collins, Michael. Ahern, Dermot. Cooper-Flynn, Beverley. Ahern, Michael. Cowen, Brian. Ahern, Noel. Cregan, John. Andrews, Barry. Cullen, Martin. ´ Ardagh, Sean. Curran, John. Brady, Johnny. Davern, Noel. Brady, Martin. Dempsey, Tony. Brennan, Seamus. Dennehy, John. Browne, John. Devins, Jimmy. Callanan, Joe. Ellis, John. Callely, Ivor. Fahey, Frank. Carey, Pat. Finneran, Michael. Carty, John. Fitzpatrick, Dermot. Cassidy, Donie. ´ Fleming, Sean. 445 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 446 ´ Ta—continued Fox, Mildred. ´ ´ ´ O Cuıv, Eamon. Gallagher, Pat The Cope. ´ ´ ´ O Fearghaıl, Sean. Glennon, Jim. O’Connor, Charlie. Harney, Mary. O’Dea, Willie. Haughey, Sean.´ O’Donnell, Liz. Healy-Rae, Jackie. O’Donovan, Denis. ´ Hoctor, Maire. O’Flynn, Noel. Jacob, Joe. O’Keeffe, Batt. Keaveney, Cecilia. O’Keeffe, Ned. Kelleher, Billy. O’Malley, Fiona. Kelly, Peter. O’Malley, Tim. Killeen, Tony. Parlon, Tom. Kirk, Seamus. Power, Peter. Kitt, Tom. ´ Power, Sean. Lenihan, Brian. Roche, Dick. Martin, Micheal.´ Sexton, Mae. McDowell, Michael. Smith, Brendan. McEllistrim, Thomas. Smith, Michael. McGuinness, John. Treacy, Noel. Moloney, John. Wallace, Dan. Moynihan, Michael. Walsh, Joe. Mulcahy, Michael. Wilkinson, Ollie. Nolan, M. J. Woods, Michael. ´ Nıl Allen, Bernard. McCormack, Padraic. Boyle, Dan. McGrath, Finian. Breen, James. McGrath, Paul. Broughan, Thomas P. McManus, Liz. Bruton, Richard. Mitchell, Olivia. Burton, Joan. Morgan, Arthur. Connolly, Paudge. Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Costello, Joe. Murphy, Catherine. Cowley, Jerry. Naughten, Denis. Crawford, Seymour. Neville, Dan. ´ Crowe, Sean. ´ ´ ´ O Caolain, Caoimhghın. ´ Cuffe, Ciaran. ´ O Snodaigh, Aengus. Deasy, John. O’Keeffe, Jim. Deenihan, Jimmy. O’Shea, Brian. Durkan, Bernard J. O’Sullivan, Jan. Enright, Olwyn. Pattison, Seamus. Gilmore, Eamon. Penrose, Willie. Gormley, John. Quinn, Ruairi. Gregory, Tony. Rabbitte, Pat. Harkin, Marian. ´ Ryan, Sean. Hayes, Tom. Sargent, Trevor. Higgins, Michael D. Sherlock, Joe. Hogan, Phil. ´ ´ Shortall, Roisın. Howlin, Brendan. Stagg, Emmet. Kehoe, Paul. Timmins, Billy. Kenny, Enda. Twomey, Liam. Lynch, Kathleen. Upton, Mary. ´ ´ Tellers: Ta, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Nıl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg. Question declared carried. An Ceann Comhairle: The matter does not arise. What is the Deputy’s second question? Mr. Kenny: I wish to ask the Taoiseach three questions. First, in respect of the Morris tribunal, Mr. Kenny: The bogus confession is a serious the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law and central issue for the tribunal. Before the Reform promised a ringing apology to the House rises, will it hear statements from the McBrearty family. When can the House expect to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform hear it? giving the ringing apology to the McBrearty family to which he has committed himself on the An Ceann Comhairle: This matter does not issue of the bogus confession? arise on the Order of Business. An Ceann Comhairle: That matter does not Mr. Kenny: Legislation was introduced to set arise on the Order of Business. Does the Deputy up the Morris tribunal and there are serious con- have a third question? sequences in respect of that legislation. 447 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 448 Mr. Kenny: My second question pertains to the Mr. Naughten: In light of the fact that An Bord ongoing negotiations between the European Altranais deals with applications by nurses for Union and the United States on an open skies registration, when will we see the relevant prom- policy. Will the Taoiseach fund a professional ised legislation because it now takes up to eight study on the impact on the mid-west and west months to process applications for registration? region? Some 40,000 people are employed by There is a shortage of nurses in this country. American companies in that region. When will we see the natural gas regulation Bill An Ceann Comhairle: I would prefer if the which was expected to be published in 2005? Will Deputy did not make a statement. the Government take an interest in the fact that tomorrow a number of people face jail sentences Mr. Naughten: The situation is crazy. because of confusion and lack of clarity in respect of the Government policy being implemented in The Taoiseach: The legislation is being drafted regard to the Corrib gas field? but I do not have a date as to when it will be ready. The Taoiseach: I will raise the issue of Shannon with the line Minister. The natural gas regulation ´ Ms McManus: Yesterday the Tanaiste and Bill will give effect to the restructuring of the Minister for Health and Children caved in crav- natural gas industry. It is being drafted and is due enly to the demands of the health insurance com- in the first half of next year. pany, BUPA. Mr. Rabbitte: When is it proposed to bring the An Ceann Comhairle: Does the Deputy have a Abbotstown Campus Development Authority question appropriate to the Order of Business? Bill before the House? I remind the Taoiseach of his commitment that the work permits Bill would Ms McManus: I have. It is important because be through the House this session, but it has not we will see a continuation of a windfall profit even been published. Obviously, it will not be going to a UK national because of the Minister’s moved in this session so will the Taoiseach indi- failure to introduce risk equalisation. cate when it will be published? An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy cannot The Taoiseach: The Abbotstown Campus make a statement. If she does not have a ques- Development Authority Bill will be brought ´ ´ tion, we will move on to Deputy O Caolain. before the House in the autumn session. I said we would try to take the work permits legislation this Ms McManus: In regard to promised legis- session but it will be published tomorrow and will lation, the Oireachtas Committee on Health and be taken in the autumn session. Children has been processing amendments to the health insurance regulation which will be taken Mr. Sargent: Is the Government contemplating in the House on Thursday without debate. any amendment to the prompt payments legislation? An Ceann Comhairle: That is Thursday’s business. An Ceann Comhairle: Does the Deputy have a question appropriate to the Order of Business? Ms McManus: The situation has changed There are a number of Deputies offering and we dramatically. Will the Taoiseach ensure a debate cannot go on too long. in this House—— Mr. Sargent: The diplomatic relations and An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise at immunities amendment Bill is on the minds of this stage. people, particularly since the husband of Ingrid Betancourt, the presidential candidate in Colom- Mr. Rabbitte: We are giving the House notice. bia, is in the Public Gallery. She had been in cap- tivity for over 40 months and is one of thousands Ms McManus: ——about the extraordinary in that situation. failure to introduce protection and safeguards for subscribers to health insurance—— An Ceann Comhairle: We must move on to the next question. An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made her point. Mr. Sargent: Is that a matter on which the Government will allow statements? Will the legis- Ms McManus: ——which has been recom- lation be published to allow us to debate such mended by an independent expert authority? matters? An Ceann Comhairle: I would like to facilitate The Taoiseach: That Bill was approved by the some of the Deputy’s colleagues. There are a Cabinet today and it will be published shortly. number of ways to raise the matter. 449 Order of 28 June 2005. Business 450 Ms McManus: Will we have a debate in the their houses and who will be thrown in jail House on this important issue? I want that ques- because they are in fear of their lives—— tion answered by the Taoiseach now. An Ceann Comhairle: The natural gas regu- The Taoiseach: No debate has been promised. lation Bill has been dealt with. An Ceann Comhairle: On the Order of Busi- Dr. Cowley: This pipeline will be located ness the Deputy may ask a question only on beside these people’s homes and they have no promised debates. I ask Deputy McManus to choice but to live in them. They just want to get resume her seat and allow her colleagues to ask on with their lives but they face the threat of questions. being sent to jail. Ms McManus: What is the point in having an An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Cowley should expert authority established by this House—— take a lesson from Deputy Stagg on how to ask an appropriate question on the Order of Business. An Ceann Comhairle: If Deputy McManus does not resume her seat we will have to move (Interruptions). on to the next business. Mr. Hogan: The Taoiseach’s brother, the Mini- ´ Ms McManus: ——if the Tanaiste and Minister ster of State at the Department of the Envir- for Health and Children disregards the need—— onment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Noel Ahern, promised in the Seanad in An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to 2004 the stage payments Bill to abolish stage pay- allow her colleagues to ask questions. ments. When will this Bill be published? ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: If a debate is not ´ The Taoiseach: It is not listed. I will consult the scheduled, will the Taoiseach accommodate an Minister of State. opportunity for the House to debate the mid- term review of the national drugs strategy? Mr. Hogan: It is on his list, the never, never list. An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise on Mr. Broughan: This is a postscript to Deputy the Order of Business. Stagg’s question. When does the Taoiseach intend to appoint the RTE authority or is he wait- ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: Is a debate scheduled ´ ing until the holiday weeks in July to make the or will the Government accommodate such a announcement? On a number of occasions last debate? week, the Ceann Comhairle steadfastly refused to allow me raise by way of Adjournment debate The Taoiseach: No debate has been promised. the situation of the An Post pensioners and work- An Ceann Comhairle: I call Deputy Naughten. force who have not received their delayed pay- ments for the past two and a half years. Mr. Naughten: I already asked a question but perhaps the Taoiseach will answer it this time. An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair has communi- cated with the Deputy. Mr. Timmins: Regrettably, there was another fatality on the N81 at the weekend. When will the Mr. Broughan: The Chair communicated with strategic national infrastructure Bill be before the me twice. House so we can debate funding for this road, which is the most dangerous in the country? An Ceann Comhairle: That is the reason the Deputy cannot raise the issue in the House. The Taoiseach: The Bill will be before the House in 2006. Mr. Broughan: The Ceann Comhairle allowed me to raise the issue before Christmas. The postal Mr. Stagg: Given the highly regrettable service is collapsing. decision by RTE to end the long wave trans- mission of sporting occasions to Britain, will the Mr. Gormley: Last week I was promised I Taoiseach indicate when the broadcasting auth- would get the full list of nursing homes which ority Bill will be before the House and if it will were found deficient. deal with this issue? An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise on The Taoiseach: It will be before the House the Order of Business. next year. Mr. Gormley: It relates to the Ombudsman Dr. Cowley: The legislation in which I am (Amendment) Bill. That Bill may help us get interested is that which will protect those people information because the Government is intent on who will have a high pressure gas pipeline beside covering up everything it can. 451 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 452 The Taoiseach: The Bill will be introduced in “2.—Section 5(1) of the Electoral Act 1997 early 2006. is amended by the deletion of ‘Census Report setting out the population of the Mr. Durkan: In the absence of the Minister for State classified by area’ and the substitution Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, therefor of ‘Preliminary Report containing will the Taoiseach indicate when the national oil provisional information on the population of reserves agency Bill might appear, given the rap- the State including classification by Elec- idly escalating oil prices? When will the energy toral Area’.”. Bill, which is a mute subject at present, appear? —(Deputy Gilmore). The Minister is a bit shy about coming into the House. We may have offended him, but will the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Taoiseach give us an update on the legislation? Local Government (Mr. Roche): I should learn a lesson from this not to recommit an amendment. The Taoiseach: The heads have been approved Before we adjourned, I set out my concerns with by Government. The Bill will be drafted and it the approach proposed in the amendment by should be ready by the autumn session. Deputy Gilmore. After every census, the Central Statistics Office publishes the results on a phased Mr. Durkan: Is that the case with both Bills? basis. Volume 1, containing the population classi- fied by area, has the necessary final data to enable a constituency commission to review con- Social Welfare (Consolidation) Bill 2005: First stituencies in accordance with the relevant legis- Stage. lation, the Constitution and case law. The CSO Minister for Social and Family Affairs (Mr. publishes a preliminary report a number of Brennan): I move: months after a census, but it contains provisional information which is subject to revision and That leave be granted to introduce a Bill which is not regarded as having any statutory entitled an Act to consolidate the Social Wel- force. fare Acts. While there is always a possibility of legal chal- Certificate of the Attorney General lenge in matters relating to constitutional law, I am satisfied that it would not be the correct In pursuance of Standing Order 137 of the approach to ask the commission to operate and ´ ´ Standing Orders of Dail Eireann relative to to make recommendations on a basis other than public business, I, Rory Brady, Attorney the final census results. Neither should the General, hereby certify that the Social Wel- Oireachtas be asked to evaluate a commission fare Consolidation Bill 2005 is a Bill to con- report prepared on such a basis. The approach we solidate enactments relating to social are following reflects the statutory requirement welfare. since enactment of the Electoral Act 1997 and the Date 16th day of June, 2005. practice extending back over a much longer period. RORY BRADY, The case law in the area supports the approach Attorney General. we are following. For these reasons, I do not fav- our using the initial figures for a revision of con- stituencies as would be required by the terms of Question put and agreed to. the proposed amendment. I suggest to the Deputy that he does not press the matter further. Defence (Amendment) Act 1993: Motion. Minister of State at the Department of the Mr. Gilmore: We are very much in unknown Taoiseach (Mr. Kitt): I move: territory. We have a Bill before us which will set down the constituency boundaries in line with the ´ ´ That Dail Eireann approves the report by 2002 census and the report of the boundary com- the Minister for Defence pursuant to section 4 mission arising from that. We know that there of the Defence (Amendment) Act 1993, copies will be a census in 2006 and that the preliminary ´ ´ of which were laid before Dail Eireann on 11 figures on that census will be published around November 2004. July 2006. We expect, based on what is already known to the CSO, that the 2006 census will show Question put and agreed to. a population increase of about 250,000. I referred earlier to the degree to which that is likely to give rise to changes in the boundaries of constituenc- Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: Report Stage ies. It is likely that the constituency of Louth will (Resumed). have the same population as the constituency of Cavan-Monaghan after 2006, yet Louth will have Bill again recommitted in respect of amend- four seats while Cavan-Monaghan will have five. ment No. 1: In her contribution, Deputy Catherine Murphy In page 3, between lines 20 and 21, to insert pointed out that it is likely the 2006 census will the following: show that the existing Kildare North constituency 453 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 454 will have exceeded the one Deputy per 30,000 pass muster as far as the Constitution is con- ratio set out in the Constitution. cerned. If a decision is made in the High Court in The Minister is very buoyant in his belief that late 2006 or early 2007 that declares the 2005 Act the legislation before us is robust enough to with- is unconstitutional based on what has been ascer- stand any legal challenge against it. The truth is tained in the census, we will all be wondering that he does not know — none of us knows — what will happen next. Will it be appealed? If it what will happen if a case goes before the courts. is, it will be taken closer to the wire. If the out- In my opinion, there is a high likelihood that a come of an appeal upholds a decision that the case will end up before the courts on this issue. 2005 Act is unconstitutional, what can be done? The court will be exercised about two issues. Will the Minister have to establish a new bound- First, there is a difference between the pro- ary commission and revise constituencies on the visional figures and the official figures. The fig- hoof? It should be remembered that on the last ures available around July 2006 will be the pro- occasion a major case on electoral issues was visional census figures. We know from experience taken, the High Court handed down its decision that the provisional census figures and the official the day before polling. If that happens again, the census figures do not differ much. On the last ´ question of the status of a Dail elected on foot of occasion, the total difference was about 130 an Act the court has found to be unconstitutional people in the entire country. will arise. Second, we must look at what is required by I raise this matter because we are in uncertain the Constitution. Article 16.2.3° of the Consti- and unprecedented territory. The next census will tution states: probably reflect the most significant ever changes over a short period in population in Ireland, with The ratio between the number of members attendant consequences for constituency bound- to be elected at any time for each constituency aries. It would be prudent of the House to take and the population of each constituency, as that on board. I bring my concerns to the atten- ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, tion of the House because it is not good enough so far as it is practicable, be the same through- for the Minister to simply say that he is satisfied out the country. the legislation will withstand any legal test. Not What does the word “ascertained” mean in the only does he not know whether it will do so but context of this article? Does it mean the publi- there have been countless instances in which cation of the official census figures, or does it legislation passed by the House has been found mean that once the information is available from by the courts, within a short period, to be defec- the census returns that it has been ascertained? I tive. We do not know what the courts will decide imagine that the courts might spend some time because they make their decisions independently addressing what that exactly means. We are mak- of the House. They may present us with a politi- ing the legislation in the almost certain know- cal crisis if a decision is made too late to establish ledge that this Bill, once enacted, will be chal- an independent commission to revise constitu- lenged if an election is not held before the census ency boundaries. figures for 2006 are available. We know what we know now and have a fair In such circumstances, two issues arise. First, idea of what the 2006 census will tell us. As my we are obliged to comply with the Constitution. amendment seeks, we should anticipate its find- We are obliged to ensure that no constituency ings by making provisions for them. exceeds one Deputy per 30,000 people. We are obliged to ensure that the ratio should be, as far Mr. Roche: I have listened at length to the as is practicable, the same throughout the coun- arguments made by Deputy Gilmore. Whatever try. We are heading into a situation where we we know now, however, it is certain that if we know that the ratios are not the same. We know proceed on the basis of preliminary figures we that there has been significant population move- know to be imperfect and subject to revision, we ment, especially on the eastern side of the coun- will face a legal challenge. This is not the first try, which will give rise to dramatic changes in time the issue has been dealt with by a Minister. the ratios between the number of Deputies and On the previous occasion, Deputy Howlin was population. It is not wise for the Oireachtas to the Minister who steered the Electoral Act 1997 make legislation knowing that it is creating a through the Oireachtas. As the 1997 Act intro- situation at the next general election where that duced into law a practice which had extended ratio will be skewed. back over a longer period, it is untrue to contend Second, if the 2006 population figures are we are in unfounded territory. Deputy Gilmore known before the next general election and they was pleased to vote in favour of Deputy show the skewed nature of the representation or Howlin’s legislation. that the maximum limit provided by the Consti- The long-standing practice provided for in the tution has been exceeded, somebody will inevit- 1997 Act is continued in my Bill. There is also ably take a case to the courts. We will be creating case law, as I pointed out on the previous a set of circumstances where we will have a case occasion on which we discussed the matter. I before the courts in the run up to a general elec- again draw the attention of the House to the tion. That will create much uncertainty if the decision of Mr. Justice Budd in 1961, as set out courts decide that this Bill, as enacted, does not on page 119 of the Irish Reports, which could not 455 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 456 [Mr. Roche.] 2.—Section 6(2)(b) of the Electoral Act be clearer. According to Mr. Justice Budd, while 1997 is amended by the insertion after ‘five’ the preliminary figures of the 1946 census were of ‘(or where necessary to avoid the provided in the case he was judging, it is the final breaching of a county boundary, six)’.”. figures to which regard must be had for the Amendment No. 2 arises from Committee Stage, proper purposes of comparison to the distribution on which we addressed in particular the issue of of population. While Deputy Gilmore was correct County Leitrim and the sense of grievance that it to say that the final figure for the total population is being divided. One part of the county is to be in the most recent census did not vary greatly included in a Sligo-Leitrim constituency, while from the preliminary figure, he was wrong to sug- the other will be included in a Roscommon- gest that there were not variances at the micro Leitrim constituency. Amendment No. 2 seeks to level at which constituency boundaries are provide terms of reference to the next boundary discussed. commission to allow it to recommend constitu- Variances at the constituency level can be sig- encies of six members where it is necessary to nificant. There should be no great difference in avoid the breaching of a county boundary. the first and last figures for the overall population if enumerators have been doing their jobs. The Mr. Morgan: There are a number of amend- final figures on which the Oireachtas has always ments before the House on specific constituenc- depended are precise and they deal exclusively ies. Leitrim is the key to amendment No. 2 and with the data below electoral division level. I was the subject of lengthy debate on Committee refer here, for example, to the figures relating to Stage. Amendment No. 6 addresses in principle townlands. The CSO is adamant that the prelimi- the need to put in place the infrastructure to nary figures do not have a statutory basis and that allow the commission to deal with constituencies it cannot provide the detailed information on in a broader sense. It seeks to provide that each which boundary commissions depend until Vol- constituency shall return three, four, five, six or ume 1 is published. One can never suggest that seven Members. Meath and Kerry are two of a there will be no legal challenge in respect of a number of constituencies which would be matter which has touched on constitutional affected by the amendment. issues, one can only follow the long-standing I seek to achieve a greater degree of pro- practice. In this instance, that practice has been portionality per constituent, while retaining the to use the final, precise census figures. integrity of the constituency boundaries. While In the context of hypotheses as to whether constituencies which accord to there will be a legal challenge, it is far more likely 6 o’clock county boundaries are more common that one will be successful if we go forward on in rural areas, the principle is also the basis of the imprecise, preliminary figures. It relevant to Dublin where almost all of the con- would not be right or proper to request a com- stituencies north of the Liffey contain three seats mission to use those figures. If one were to and most of those south of it are five seaters. It operate on the basis Deputy Gilmore suggests is ironic that after partition in the early 1920s, we only to find the final figures to outline significant had constituencies with up to nine Deputies. In differences below the electoral division level, one spite of the turbulence of that period, the foun- would face a real crisis. The best practice is that ders of the State saw fit to put in place constitu- which has operated for a long time. This was put encies offering significant proportionality in into law by Deputy Howlin in the 1997 Act and terms of representation. Unfortunately, Govern- it accords with precedent in case law, two ments on both sides of Britain’s border in Ireland examples of which I have recorded. It would not have since sought to employ deliberately negative only be imprudent and dangerous to accept the electoral engineering policies with which we are amendment, it would be reckless. On those bases, all familiar such as gerrymandering in the North I cannot accept it. and Tullymandering in the South. Notwithstand- ing all of this, the issue of real import in my Mr. Gilmore: I can do no more than raise the amendment is that of proportionality. That is the issue. If it becomes a problem, I will certainly crucial element. return to it and have no doubt the House will It is important to point out that the concept of revisit the exchanges in this debate. four seat, five seat and even six seat and seven seat constituencies is not that new. In the North Amendment put and declared lost. all constituencies of the Legislative Assembly are six seaters. That position is fully supported by the Bill reported without amendment. Government for which I commend it but why can we not have the same level of proportionality An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendments here? The greater the number of seats in a con- Nos. 2 and 6 are related and will be discussed stituency, the greater the level of proportionality. together. The division of County Meath into two three seat constituencies is a perfect example of this, as is Mr. Gilmore: I move amendment No. 2: the division of County Kerry into two three seat In page 3, between lines 20 and 21, to insert constituencies. Now we have this ludicrous pro- the following: posal regarding the division of County Leitrim 457 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 458 into two parts, each of which would be linked to is the situation in which we find ourselves. The two other constituencies. Surely one large con- issue will not go away. Therefore, from that per- stituency would be preferable? This could involve spective, surely we need to look at larger con- a six seat constituency of Sligo-Leitrim or a con- stituencies because that would give the com- stituency of Sligo-Leitrim-Roscommon with a mission flexibility to try to ensure the greater number of seats. That is what I am trying maintenance of county boundaries. to achieve in the amendment. We do not need to maintain all county bound- My aim is not to be prescriptive. A number of aries. County Meath which has been mentioned the other amendments are prescriptive in dealing could become a six seat constituency. If one with the issue of County Leitrim alone. What I wanted to do it on a trial basis, one could easily seek to achieve through my amendment is to give have put Sligo, Leitrim and Roscommon together the constituency commission terms of reference as one six seat constituency with County Meath which would facilitate a detailed examination of as another. That would have been feasible but it all of the constituencies and allow it to arrive at has been decided to split them into two three seat a conclusion that would take on board the level constituencies. The issue of splitting County of proportionality involved while maintaining the integrity of county boundaries. As I have illus- Meath relates to proportionality and represen- trated, this can be carried through in the case of tation which is another argument but the splitting cities like Dublin and Cork. of County Leitrim is a very different issue. As we Unfortunately, when we examine the case of ´ heard in the Dail today, the ratio is 1:30,000 and Dublin, it is inexplicable that there is a host of the population of County Leitrim is just in excess three seat constituencies on one side of the river of 25,000. Therefore, if one splits the county for while there are a number of five seat constituenc- electoral purposes, it is almost guaranteed that ies across it. I do not object to five seat constitu- there will not be a Deputy living in the county, encies on the south side but greater pro- particularly because of the way it is being split. portionality should be afforded on the north side The splitting of county boundaries is an issue also. This should apply throughout the State nationally but the particular issue I wish to deal wherever there is a lack of proportionality. with is the splitting of County Leitrim. We must amend the legislation to facilitate the Has the commission taken demographic shifts constituency commission in carrying out its work into consideration? Has it made any request to more effectively. I do not wish to be prescriptive the Minister or the Department seeking larger six about any constituency but we should give the seat or seven seat constituencies to allow it to commission a framework that would allow it to adhere to its guidelines? The guidelines indicate do its work as an independent body more that county boundaries should not be breached broadly. I look forward with interest to the Mini- where practicable. Because of the demographic ster’s comments. shift, I know, as does the Minister and the com- mission, that as time passes, it will not just be Ms Harkin: I support the amendments. Refer- County Leitrim that will be split; other small ence has been made to the population shift. If one counties will also be split. The creation of larger goes back to the 1920s, one will find that County constituencies would provide a solution to avoid Kildare had a population of 50,000, the same as this. Has there been any communication from the County Leitrim. In the intervening years the boundary commission about larger constituencies population of County Kildare has more than to enable it to carry out its functions more effec- doubled while that of County Leitrim has halved. tively and adhere to its current guidelines? That is an accurate, although extreme, example Reference has been made to the constituencies of what has been occurring. of the Legislative Assembly in Northern Ireland, If we look at the projections for 2030 from the all of which are six seaters. I heard the Minister Central Statistics Office, CSO, we will see that the population of the greater Dublin area will say in the House that maximum proportional rep- grow by up to 50%. In that context, would it not resentation would be achieved if we had one sin- be reasonable to look at larger constituencies, gle constituency, with which I agree, but that is whether it is six seat or seven seat constituencies, not practicable, as the Minister and I are both so as to cater for population shift? This issue will aware. Let us look to Northern Ireland where six not go away. I will not become political, other seat constituencies are in operation and have than to say that if we had balanced regional worked. In general, people appear to be happy development and were achieving what is included with the proportional nature of their represen- in the national development plan, we might not tation. Why should we have a six seat constitu- need to have this debate. We are certainly not ency on one side of the Border in County striking a balance in terms of population. Fermanagh that delivers proportional represen- Two or three years ago when the CSO pub- tation to its electorate and on the other side lished population projections for 2030 — it has County Leitrim is forced into two three seat con- done so again recently and revised the figures stituencies that will not deliver the same level of upwards — it described it as a wake-up call for proportionality? Most importantly, it will prob- the Government. It was saying something for the ably not deliver a Deputy who lives in the county. CSO to make such a statement but as I said, that I support both amendments. 459 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 460 Mr. O’Dowd: There are two issues of import- ment. The continued creation of industry and ance, the first of which is the fact that a report jobs in and around the city of Dublin does not has been produced. It is an independent report make sense. We should be developing the west, commissioned by the Government but with the building transport corridors, including rail corri- consent of everybody. When one sets up an inde- dors, and infrastructure. pendent commission to do a job, one cannot I take the point that Leitrim is a small county. really disagree with its results because it cannot Its population is smaller than that of Drogheda. be argued that it acted impartially or did not fol- There are more people living in my town of low its terms of reference. It is not just the Drogheda than there are in the whole of County present Government that has commissioned such Longford. An agreement has been signed with reports because previous Administrations have the consent of the Department implying that done so since the famous Tullymander in the Drogheda’s water and sewerage systems can sus- early 1970s. It is not that there was not a political tain 104,000 people. However, the county man- carve-up of constituencies prior to that period; of ager expects the population to grow to 140,000 in course there was such a carve-up. the next five to ten years. There are, therefore, As a democratic Parliament, the Houses have significant pressures on the east coast which we given the power to an independent commission have not been able to resist. to do the job for us and we have given it its terms When further changes to constituency bound- of reference. It has followed them to the best of aries are considered, we should consider the its ability and we are left with the result, warts trans-county boundary issue on the east coast. and all. That is the reality we must face. Much of The county boundary is not as important as it the debate on these amendments really focuses clearly is in rural areas with declining popu- on the next round, namely, what will happen lations. Perhaps we should re-examine the terms when the next commission is set up and the terms of reference of the boundary commission. The of reference it ought to be given. Government’s national spatial strategy should be I accept the argument in principle that one revisited and reorganised to focus on those areas. should be able to elect a Deputy for one’s area. Fine Gael cannot support the two amendments The county system has been in existence for cen- because the die is cast, the commission has sat turies. In the modern world, however, and cer- and issued its report. We are not going to change tainly on the east coast of Ireland, it does not it, notwithstanding the concerns that have been really make much sense. People want effective expressed. However, there are issues pertaining representation and want their representatives to to constituency boundaries that are not being be as near to them as possible. This is the issue addressed by way of Government policy. The on the east coast. East Meath is a fast growing time to resolve these issues is after the next elec- area and there are approximately 3,000 or 4,000 tion, not now. more people living there than there were five years ago. These people send their children to Mr. F. McGrath: I take the opposite view to school in Drogheda in the constituency of Louth Deputy O’Dowd on amendments Nos. 2 and 6 and also do their shopping there. All of the which are very important. We need discussion services they want and need are available in a and debate and we need to open our eyes to the different constituency. The proposed constitu- scam that is being perpetrated. It is an absolute ency seems to enfranchise the people of east disgrace in terms of the Electoral (Amendment) Meath, particularly those on the outskirts of Bill. As stated previously, the legislation is flawed Drogheda. Bearing in mind that the county and undemocratic. It should be thrown out. These boundary was formed hundreds of years ago, a amendments represent an attempt to bring different formula is needed so that the point of democracy back into this State. view of these people can be represented politi- In considering the debates on three seat, five cally by those who understand it and who address seat and six seat constituencies, anybody with a every day the problems they face. As the Minister bit of vision will realise that three seat constitu- knows, I tabled a parliamentary question on this encies are a disaster for democracy. They suit the matter today. There was not enough time for him larger parties. That is the reality and it was to answer it in the House but I hope I will be exposed during this debate. delighted with the reply. What is the exact position on three seat and There are two trends of note. There is a shift of five seat constituencies in the Dublin area? Most population from rural to urban areas — including of the latter have been created on the south side massive growth in the city of Dublin and its of the Liffey, while many of the former have been environs — and depopulation in the west. I agree created on the north side. The commission could with the Deputies from the west who contend easily have created a five seat constituency and that if we had a national spatial strategy that four seat constituency on the north side but worked, this problem would be addressed. Frank instead it took a very conservative view. I speak McDonald of The Irish Times stated recently that as a Deputy from Dublin North Central, where it Ireland is fast becoming a city state involving the is proposed to remove one seat so that it will city of Dublin and nowhere else. I agree that become a three seat constituency. Many people serious issues pertaining to the national spatial on the north side are very angry about this. It will strategy have not been addressed by the Govern- backfire on the larger parties in the next general 461 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 462 election. It is very important that the Minister Mr. Roche: I have rarely heard such self-serv- recognise this. ing nonsense in the House. Deputy O’Dowd I wish to address a couple of myths in the legis- made a very honest contribution in which he said lation. The amendments deal with reality. The that if we were to make the change now, it would commission removed from my constituency — not have the effect in County Leitrim suggested Dublin North Central — 5,280 people, in the by a number of contributors. However, it would Edenmore area, and 5,020 people, in the Beau- mean that the commission would be re-estab- mont-Whitehall. The commission was established lished and more detailed legislation would be under the 1997 Act. It has five members but its required. The law currently provides for the terms of reference were given to it by the establishment of a commission on the publication Government. It was appointed by the Minister for of a census but no census results have yet been Transport, Deputy Cullen, whose track record on published. Therefore, we would have to revisit previous issues we know. The citizens of the State the legislation, re-establish the commission and have major concerns about the narrowness of the give it different terms of reference. terms of reference. On researching the issue, I If we were to abandon the commission’s report noted that the commission held only ten meetings and go back to the bad old days, we would hear to discuss the election process and decide on the other specious arguments. We would certainly future of democratic elections in constituencies hear more legitimate arguments. We abandoned throughout the State. The Independent group the idea of a political redrafting of constituency would have ten meetings on smaller issues. It is boundaries to suit the Administration of the day interesting that the Minister of State, Deputy and it would be an extremely retrograde step to Noel Ahern — Wonderboy or Superman, as he return to it. It would be a step backwards to should be known — was given back Drumcondra return to the bad old days. We set up a com- and Whitehall. This poses an interesting question. mission and gave it its terms of reference in law. The Minister will know that the population of Therefore, it would be dishonest to suggest that Dublin is exploding. If one goes down O’Connell we should tear up the entire practice and return Street this evening, one will see the amount of to where we were. It is not a practical approach people and the traffic congestion but the com- and would not have the effect the Deputy seeks. mission has recommended that the number of The constituency commission’s terms of refer- Deputies remain at 166. It could easily have ence are clearly set out in the legislation and in recommended 168. This would have made the my speech on Second Stage. Section 6(2) of the democratic system more democratic and inclus- Electoral Act 1997 includes requirements for ive. We are to have 43 constituencies but will still three, four and five seat constituencies and deals have only 166 Deputies. There are to be 18 three- with the issue of breaches of county boundaries. seat constituencies, which is absolutely amazing. Deputy O’Dowd made a very valid point with In Dublin, with its expanding population, there regard to the so-called sacrosanct constituency are 47 Deputies. The commission could easily boundaries. have recommended that this be increased to 48 or 49 in light of the population explosion. Mr. F. McGrath: It is a big parties’ club. I raise these issues regarding the amendments because there is a broader issue to be considered. Mr. Roche: As Deputy McGrath does not want Our citizens deserve respect and equality. A new to hear the truth, he resorts to bullyboy tactics. debate is starting in respect of the census to be He does not prepare his contribution but resorts held in 2006, which will lead to further devel- to anti-democratic means. opments. If the Government is serious about democracy, on which we get many political lec- Mr. F. McGrath: There are no bullyboy tactics. tures in this House, voting rights and citizenship, I have made some very valid points. it should give serious consideration to amend- ment No. 6 in the name of Deputy Morgan, which Mr. Morgan: The Minister is bullying the is positive and progressive. It is also important commission. because we are looking at the democratic interests of the State. Those who back the Mini- Mr. Roche: Deputy McGrath comes in to the ster may think they are pulling a smart one with House and tries to shout me down when I want regard to constituencies and trying to squeeze out to outline the facts and tell the truth. If he was smaller parties and independent candidates. better prepared, he would not need to resort to However, it will backfire on them and people such gutter tactics. have already spotted what they are doing. Many The legislation enacted in 1997 provides for credible people in the other parties with a three, four and five seat constituencies. It is genuine interest in democracy and the inclusive wrong for Deputies to come in to the House and development of politics have also seen it. impute that somehow or other those who formed Overall, the Bill is flawed, out of date and the commission could have varied the law. They undemocratic. It is an absolute disgrace for a could not. Deputy Harkin legitimately asked a Minister for the Environment, Heritage and specific question as to whether they had been in Local Government to present such amendments contact? The answer is no because they were and legislation to the House. operating within the law as it stood. It would not 463 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 464 [Mr. Roche.] elected representative and the person he or she be normal for them to communicate back and represents, which is the very essence of democ- make such a query. racy. I am sure the Deputy is not attacking it. From time to time the commission’s recom- There would be an electorate of more than mendations have been criticised for not keeping 170,000 in a seven seat constituency. However, to county boundaries. I represent a constituency that is not the best or most practical way to pro- which has experienced every conceivable vari- ceed. There would be an issue with regard to dis- ation. At one time parts of County Wicklow were tances in handling a constituency of that size. included with County Dublin, parts of County Deputy Harkin is also an MEP and can attest to Kildare and County Carlow. There have been the practical problems which arise. other variations in the past. Much of the debate There is, however, a more important point, surrounding the Bill has focused on the breaching given the current debate. There could be a poten- of the boundaries of County Leitrim resulting tial sense of political alienation in such circum- from the commission’s proposals. I can fully stances. There is already a sense of ennui, a point understand the way in which people in Couinty on which Deputy O’Dowd touched. There is a Leitrim feel about the matter. In some areas problem if we say that the old constituency there is an attachment to county boundaries, as boundaries which were drawn up between the Deputy O’Dowd pointed out. 12th and 17th centuries, should form the basis on The county boundaries issue is not as pressing which we should deal with today’s democratic in other areas. In places such as Drogheda the units. We would risk alienating many and create contiguous area affines all of its connections in a sense of futility with regard to politics. Deputy Drogheda. One could more legitimately argue O’Dowd is right. that in such circumstances the county boundaries Bray, County Wicklow, has a population of should be breached. There is also case law in this 32,000 and is larger than some of the constituenc- regard such as the judgment of Mr. Justice Budd ies about which we are talking. Parts of the town in the O’Donovan case. He stated that although are in Deputy Gilmore’s constituency. The identi- in the main a system based on counties had been fication of area is changing, the point made by adopted, there was nothing in the Constitution Deputy O’Dowd. If Deputies were to think long about constituencies having to be based on and hard about the issue, they would realise that county boundaries. This is true because the last in suggesting a much larger constituency, they of the counties, County Wicklow, was formed in would contribute to a greater sense of alienation 1604. Some parts identify more with County and removal of the population from their politi- Wexford than other parts of County Wicklow. cal representatives. Mr. Justice Budd also stated the Constitution did We must be fair to the commission. I am ang- not state that in forming constituencies according ered at the suggestion that it has somehow been to the required ratio it should be done as far as motivated by political prejudice. That does a dis- was practicable having regard to county service to its members. Before throwing mud of boundaries. that nature, one should think of the implications. Deputy Morgan made a practical point about When one chooses to throw mud at those who connectedness between the electorate and the have served the people well and operated within elected representative. If we look at his amend- the law, one undermines the very democratic ment, we are talking about a larger constituency. principles that should—— Deputy Harkin is right. The logic of a large con- stituency is that there would be one single con- Mr. F. McGrath: We are entitled to challenge stituency because there would be absolute pro- their decision. That is democracy and there is portionality. Why stop at seven? Let us consider nothing wrong with it. The Minister wants us all the impact of a six or seven seat constituency. to tip the cap. Mr. Morgan: I will support the Minister if he Mr. Roche: That is a completely perverse view. wants to amend the legislation to allow for more After a period when politicians drafted the con- seats. stituency boundaries, we decided, wisely, to depoliticise that particular issue. It was decided Mr. Roche: I will deal with that issue. Let us by consensus across the political parties. There look at the practical impact of what the Deputy has been much comment on this issue of late, is proposing on constituencies with a population including contributions from Dr. Garret greater than 150,000. From the point of view of FitzGerald. what the Deputy has brought forward, connec- It is not proper for Deputy Finian McGrath to tedness between the elected representative and cast aspersions on the integrity of the people who the electorate is not wise. made the decision or the basis on which it was made. It is quite legitimate, of course, to criticise Mr. Morgan: I am speaking of proportionality, the decision and I am not suggesting otherwise. not connectedness. It was very light handed of the Deputy to dismiss the Minister of State as being Superman, Mr. Roche: The Deputy is disputing the argu- although I believe the Minister of State is a ment that there is a connection between the super man—— 465 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 466 Mr. O’Dowd: He is more like Batman. but it is a problem to which we have yet to face up. Population decline is not occurring in the Mr. Morgan: The Minister is making this dis- places where it used to occur. cussion farcical. My amendment attempts to address a situation where a county boundary needs to be retained. If Mr. Roche: The Minister of State is a good one takes the example of County Wicklow, it is example of a hard-working constituency Deputy. likely that when the 2006 census results are pub- ` One cannot be a la carte on this issue. One lished, the county may justify having six seats cannot say that one does not want the large politi- rather than its current allocation of five. If that is cal parties to make decisions on constituency the case, and under the existing legislation, Wick- boundaries and then say one does not like the low will have to be divided in some way. It could alternative either. No cogent argument has been be divided into two three seat constituencies or put forward for a radical departure from the perhaps some other formula could be agreed arrangements that have been in operation for a upon. It would make sense for a commission to considerable period. Constituencies restricted to have the option to examine the possibility of three, four or five seats have been a fact of life as retaining the county’s integrity. It would be useful long as I have been on the planet. if it had a greater degree of latitude in its Mr. O’Dowd: That is a very long time indeed. decision-making. Where six seats would solve the problem, the commission would not then have to Mr. Roche: They have been in operation since divide the county with all of the discontinuity that the election of 1947, which is more years than I can entail. My amendment simply seeks to allow care to remember. The arrangements have for a degree of latitude. applied for over 50 years and they strike a better On the question of proportionality and larger balance than the alternatives that preceded them. numbers of seats, it depends on one’s starting I must make a point to Deputy Morgan and, in point. If an individual or party is on 12% of the fact, I cannot avoid doing so. His espousal of the vote, then one could say that winning one seat in system that obtained in this country in 1922 over- a seven seat constituency is proportionate. looks the minor fact that it was our former However, if that rises to 20% of the vote in a imperial masters who dictated the arrangements seven seat constituency and still only one seat is that we inherited at that time. Whatever else won, then it is no longer proportionate. Pro- motivated our former imperial masters—— portionality depends on one’s starting point. It is not necessarily the case that larger numbers of Mr. Morgan: They were never my imperial seats confer greater proportionality, particularly masters—— in terms of political parties rather than individ- uals. One could have, for example, a four seat Mr. Roche: I know that; they were not mine and a three seat constituency side by side that either. might be merged into a seven seat constituency. There might be two independent candidates from Mr. Morgan: They were not my father’s mas- each of the original constituencies who would ters either. We resisted them steadfastly at every then find themselves in the same seven seat con- turn and will continue to do so. stituency. That might not be the most comfort- able arrangement and it might not produce the Mr. Roche: I accept that. Fair dues to Deputy kind of proportionate results that people seek. Morgan. What I was about to say is that whatever Proportionality has a lot to do with perception. else motivated our former imperial masters, it was not the well-being of the Irish people. Mr. Morgan: First, for the purpose of clarity, I I cannot accept the amendments. wish to categorically state I never had imperialist masters. While there may have been occupiers in Mr. Gilmore: Like the Minister, I was also this country, they certainly were not my masters. struck by the degree to which Deputy Morgan was harking back to the days of the Free State I am disappointed with the Minister’s description for a formula for organising the constituencies. of them as such. Deputy Harkin mentioned the issue of popu- Deputy Gilmore has just commented on the lation change and population decline in part- issue of proportionality but I am disappointed icular. An analysis of the census of 2002 — the that the person to whom I directed my question, phenomenon may be replicated in the 2006 cen- namely, the Minister for the Environment, Heri- sus — reveals that the areas where population is tage and Local Government, did not deal with the declining are the expensive inner suburbs of the issue. Proportionality is central to the argument I cities. In my constituency there has been a signifi- am making. cant population decline. In areas such as Black- I have never challenged the independence of rock, for example, the population is declining for the commission. My amendment attempts to put a simple reason, namely, the fact that housing has terms of reference in place which will broaden become too expensive, young families cannot the scope of the commission and that issue was afford to live there and regeneration is not taking not adequately addressed by the Minister’s com- place. This is possibly an issue for another day ments either. 467 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 468 [Mr. Morgan.] mission must make decisions — that under no cir- As I am aware that we are pressed for time cumstances should parishes be divided. and that other Deputies wish to contribute to the debate, I will ask only one question of the Mini- Ms Harkin: I agree with the Minister; it was ster. In the event that the census is held next year, absolutely right to depoliticise the issue of con- the results are published in January 2007 but the stituency boundaries but the guidelines can be general election is not held until May 2007, will changed. While the commission is an independent the Minister reappoint the constituency com- body, this House is in a position to change the mission in the intervening months? At that point, guidelines. I am asking the Minister to do so. the scenario referred to by Deputy Gilmore may Deputy Gilmore spoke about proportionality. I be clear and it may be obvious that pro- am not an expert on the matter but it seems that portionality is not in place. What would happen it depends on where one is coming from. The in that event? Deputy referred to two constituencies, a three seater and a four seater with an Independent Mr. Cassidy: I do not think any other Member Deputy in each who might not like to be joined in of this House has suffered more than me through a seven seater. However, this is not about Labour ´ Party, Fianna Fail or Independent Deputies but the redrawing of constituency boundaries. One the electorate. third of County Westmeath was merged with County Meath and I lost 24% of my first prefer- Mr. Gilmore: Agreed. ence vote. Ms Harkin: The electorate should have—— Mr. Morgan: Was it not Senator O’Rourke who took those votes from the Deputy? (Interruptions). Mr. F. McGrath: Or it is about winning. Mr. Cassidy: I am relating a factual matter. I wish Deputy Morgan well and know he has a Ms Harkin: The issue of county boundaries safe seat—— came to light when County Leitrim was split. Fol- lowing the 1977 general election the county did Mr. Morgan: There is no such thing as a safe not have a TD resident in it. This caused outrage seat. at the time and a major campaign was begun, as a result of which one of the guidelines about not Mr. Cassidy: ——but the public can also favour breaching county boundaries, where practicable, the underdog. was inserted into the legislation but now in 2005 I have been in Leinster House for 23 years and we are right back where we started and making seen many things. I am aware of the job that the the same mistakes again. We seem to be moving commission must do and understand why it has backward instead of forward. At one point in the to do its work. The redrawing of boundaries 1940s I think there were three County Leitrim started in counties Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo and TDs in a seven seat constituency but now the then affected County Westmeath. I understand county is facing the prospect that in a three seat why north-west Meath was put back in with the constituency there may be no TD living in the rest of the county. If part of a county must be county. This is a disenfranchisement of the divided, I do not think any Minister should pre- people of County Leitrim. It is almost saying that side over the division of a parish but my parish because the county is so small it really does not has been divided in two. In Castlepollard my matter. The 2002 census showed that there were brother 400 yards to the right of my home can 25,799 people living there. I advise the Minister vote for me but I cannot vote for myself. Neither that if County Leitrim is split, it will almost cer- can my mother. No one living in a rural area tainly lose a resident TD. I ask him to look again which takes up one third of the county can vote at the legislation and amend it to ensure the for me. Raharney, a small village of 230 people, county will have a reasonable chance of having a has also been divided in two. resident TD. An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As the time per- Mr. Morgan: Will the Deputy vote with us? mitted for this debate has expired, I am required to put the following question in accordance with Mr. Cassidy: This division is wrong. An area’s ´ an order of the Dail today: “That Fourth Stage is identity, ethos and culture have been completely hereby completed and that the Bill is hereby removed. I make a strong case that whatever passed.” must be done with county boundaries — I acknowledge there are exceptions and the com- Question put. 469 Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2005: 28 June 2005. Report Stage (Resumed) 470 ´ ´ ´ The Dail divided: Ta, 114; Nıl, 13. ´ Ta Ahern, Bertie. Lenihan, Brian. Ahern, Dermot. Lynch, Kathleen. Ahern, Michael. Martin, Micheal. ´ Ahern, Noel. McCormack, Padraic. Allen, Bernard. McDowell, Michael. Andrews, Barry. McEllistrim, Thomas. Ardagh, Sean.´ McGinley, Dinny. Brady, Johnny. McGrath, Paul. Brady, Martin. McGuinness, John. Brennan, Seamus. McManus, Liz. Broughan, Thomas P. Mitchell, Olivia. Browne, John. Moloney, John. Bruton, Richard. Moynihan, Michael. Burton, Joan. Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Callanan, Joe. Mulcahy, Michael. Callely, Ivor. Naughten, Denis. Carey, Pat. Neville, Dan. Carty, John. Nolan, M. J. Cassidy, Donie. ´ ´ ´ O Cuıv, Eamon. Collins, Michael. ´ ´ O Fearghaıl, Sean. ´ Connaughton, Paul. O’Connor, Charlie. Cooper-Flynn, Beverley. O’Dea, Willie. Cowen, Brian. O’Donnell, Liz. Crawford, Seymour. O’Donovan, Denis. Cregan, John. O’Dowd, Fergus. Curran, John. O’Flynn, Noel. Davern, Noel. O’Keeffe, Batt. Deasy, John. O’Keeffe, Jim. Deenihan, Jimmy. O’Keeffe, Ned. Dempsey, Tony. O’Malley, Fiona. Dennehy, John. O’Malley, Tim. Devins, Jimmy. O’Shea, Brian. Durkan, Bernard J. O’Sullivan, Jan. Ellis, John. Parlon, Tom. Fahey, Frank. Pattison, Seamus. Finneran, Michael. Penrose, Willie. Fleming, Sean.´ Perry, John. Fox, Mildred. Power, Peter. Gallagher, Pat The Cope. Power, Sean.´ Gilmore, Eamon. Quinn, Ruairi. Glennon, Jim. Rabbitte, Pat. Hanafin, Mary. Roche, Dick. Haughey, Sean. ´ ´ Ryan, Sean. Hayes, Tom. Sexton, Mae. Higgins, Michael D. Sherlock, Joe. ´ Hoctor, Maire. ´ ´ Shortall, Roisın. Hogan, Phil. Smith, Brendan. Howlin, Brendan. Smith, Michael. Jacob, Joe. Stagg, Emmet. Keaveney, Cecilia. Timmins, Billy. Kehoe, Paul. Treacy, Noel. Kelleher, Billy. Twomey, Liam. Kelly, Peter. Upton, Mary. Kenny, Enda. Wallace, Dan. Killeen, Tony. Walsh, Joe. Kirk, Seamus. Wilkinson, Ollie. Kitt, Tom. Woods, Michael. ´ Nıl Boyle, Dan. McGrath, Finian. Cowley, Jerry. Morgan, Arthur. ´ Crowe, Sean. Murphy, Catherine. ´ Cuffe, Ciaran. ´ ´ ´ O Caolain, Caoimhghın. Gormley, John. Ryan, Eamon. Gregory, Tony. Sargent, Trevor. Harkin, Marian. ´ ´ Tellers: Ta, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Nıl, Deputies Morgan and Finian McGrath. Question declared carried. 471 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 472 Private Members’ Business. on their counterparts in less developed nations; ———— — calls on the Government to support a reappraisal of the European Union’s G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: economic partnership agreements with Motion. African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Mr. Boyle: I move: countries in light of serious concerns that they would inhibit rather than pro- ´ ´ That Dail Eireann, given the meeting of the mote the economic development of leaders of the G8 countries being held in Edin- those countries; burgh, Scotland and given subsequent meetings being held for the UN Millennium Summit in — acknowledges the need to restrict the New York and meetings of the International international trade in arms in order to Monetary Fund and the World Bank in assist conflict resolution and prevent September 2005 and the World Trade Organis- the terrible cost in human lives and ation Ministerial conference in December 2005, attendant economic costs of such trade; calls on the Government through its own poli- — calls on the Government to strongly cies to assist in making poverty history and to support the initiative being taken by the this end: Government of Finland to bring about — reaffirms Ireland’s policy of supporting an arms trade treaty through the frame- 100% debt cancellation for heavily work of the United Nations; and indebted poor countries, going beyond — resolves that the Government, in the the inadequate, though welcome, pro- upcoming renegotiation of the Kyoto posal of the G8 group of nations to agreement, support a fair distribution of restrict such cancellation to a list of 18 carbon allocation on a per capita basis countries; and in view of the increasing convergence — that such debt cancellation should not between the issues of environmental be accompanied by damaging con- degradation and world poverty, as evi- ditions which would erode the benefits denced by the fact that the costs of of cancellation; climate change are being dispro- portionately borne by the world’s poor- — that such cancellation should be funded est people. out of additional moneys, supporting the views of non-governmental organis- In introducing this motion we had hoped a collec- ations that International Monetary tive opinion might go from this House to meet Fund gold reserves be sold to help fin- what we hope is a global gathering of minds on ance debt cancellation; and issues of world poverty. As matters 7 o’clock stand, an important meeting of the — that developed nations move away from G8 group of countries will take place operating as both judge and plaintiff in this weekend in Scotland. However, as this House relation to heavily indebted poor will not reconvene until the end of September, countries; this debate presents an opportunity to the — recognises that debt cancellation is only Government to outline policy positions as regards part of what is needed to assist heavily other international gatherings that will address indebted poor countries and that tar- these important policy issues, namely, the meet- geted and untied aid must continue to ings of the International Monetary Fund and the be given and significantly increased; World Bank in September. Probably the most important of all is the UN Millennium Summit — resolves to agree a new target date in also to be held in September in New York. view of the Government’s acknowl- It was at a previous UN meeting that the edgement that it will not meet its com- Taoiseach made the promise that Ireland would mitment to reach 0.7% of GNP to be meet the commitment of 0.7% of gross national devoted to overseas development aid product, GNP, in overseas development aid by by 2007; 2007. It is greatly disappointing that the Govern- — calls on the Taoiseach to reaffirm ment has since stated it cannot meet this commit- Ireland’s commitment to this target at ment. It is particularly frustrating that it has not the forthcoming UN Millennium indicated by what date it intends to meet this tar- Summit; get. It is with a great deal of disillusionment that many of us behold the failure to put in place any — further recognises the importance of mechanisms to reach this target as we address fair trade in bringing about inter- the motion. national social justice; In the course of this debate we intend to cover — demands re-examination of subsidies the five most pertinent issues at the meetings given to producers in the developed mentioned. They include the important concepts world and the effect of such subsidies of aid, trade and debt cancellation; the crucial 473 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 474 need to put the brakes on the pernicious global motion because it was so reasonable. I disagreed trade in arms; the linking of issues of social justice as I believed it would table an amendment. It has with environmental degradation, and the need to done so and gutted our motion. It shows a sense adopt a truly global position on issues of climate of cynicism — the type displayed when the change. Each of my party colleagues and I hope Taoiseach went before the United Nations and other Members will address these issues on an gave a solemn commitment to the world’s poorest individual level. nations, on which he has since reneged. At the I will begin by talking about what seems to be U2 concert at the weekend when his name was the main issue that will come from the G8 summit mentioned, he was deservedly booed by the next weekend. A preliminary meeting has indi- crowd. Most Irish people recognise that it was a cated that a deal has been reached on debt can- cynical ploy in order to become a member of the cellation. Many of those involved in development Security Council. It was a matter of prestige for work have indicated that it is an important first this country. The Government achieved its aim step. It must be acknowledged, however, that the of securing a seat on the Security Council but, deal is limited to 18 countries and that there is a unfortunately, did not do very much with it at the degree of conditionality as regards how the debt time and now we are left with this empty promise. will be met. There a great deal of uncertainty Based on the Government’s figures, we will about whether the debt being cancelled will be achieve a figure of 0.43% of GNP by 2007. We dealt with through existing aid budgets or will not achieve our goal of 0.7% which we will through new funding mechanisms as proposed by achieve at current rates by 2028. many NGOs, namely, the sale of the Inter- The Minister should look at what is happening national Monetary Fund gold reserves. If we get in our world. Some 8,000 die of AIDS-HIV this wrong at the outset, we could be in danger of related illnesses every single day. The first millen- putting the cause of alleviating global poverty nium development goal, to achieve gender parity back even further. by 2005, will not be reached. We need an extra Undoubtedly, the issue has been talked about \50 billion to reach the UN millennium develop- for several decades on many levels since the end ment goals. It simply will not happen. of the Second World War. During that period, Next September the Taoiseach will once again however, we have seen a doubling of the distance go before the United Nations in New York. What in terms of overall wealth between the wealthiest will he do on this occasion? It is clear from the countries in the world and the 20% of countries amendment tabled by the Government that it at the other end of the scale. There has been enough talk, meetings and summits. Those who does not want to make any serious commitment. care about these issues and, more importantly, That is the difficulty. We have a problem with our those affected by them daily hope the series of credibility. We wanted the Government to meetings which will take place next week and produce a new timetable. However, such a time- beyond will, at last, provide the opportunity for table is absent from the motion. We had hoped which people in the developing world have been that before we broke up for the summer recess, waiting. since we will not have an opportunity to debate In addressing these issues in their totality we the issue before the Taoiseach leaves for New are, for once, reviewing more pertinent matters York, we might get some indication. Perhaps the than we ordinarily deal with in this House on a Minister will give us an indication this evening or regular basis. These are issues of grave inter- tomorrow. On three separate occasions he gave national importance. While at times we get this commitment. I was present on one of them, caught up in the pantomime of name calling and at Johannesburg, at the summit on sustainability. point scoring about individual political positions For one moment I felt proud that the Govern- in this Chamber to do with our system of politics, ment was going to fulfil a promise but that did we had hoped in tabling the motion that there not happen. would be a consensus of views, with the House There is one small mercy in the Government’s speaking collectively. Unfortunately, the Govern- amendment, it now recognises that we need an ment’s amendment, in effect, amounts to a new arms trade treaty. I hope it will, at least, fulfil motion. It carries too much self-aggrandisement this obligation. Today there was a separate press to be regarded as a serious attempt to deal with conference held in another room, at which the the issues involved. Possibly, during the course of cost of the Iraq war, \180 billion, was spelled out. the debate other contributions and the potential That is a tangible price tag at which we can look for further amendments might see by the end of and say with certainty that if this money had been tomorrow’s business a coming together of views transferred to the poorest countries, poverty in order that this House may at least send a mess- could indeed be history. age that those outside this Chamber want to hear. The arms trade treaty focuses on the supply of arms. Once adopted, it will help to ensure all Mr. Gormley: At this morning’s press con- nations are working to the same standard of arms ference to launch this Private Members’ motion transfers and ban the export of arms to places some of my colleagues wanted to give the where human rights violations are likely. It will Government the benefit of the doubt. They be legally binding and based on international law, expressed the view that it might accept our especially human rights and humanitarian law. It 475 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 476 [Mr. Gormley.] How does he intend to deal with it compre- will help to ensure deals rejected by one exporter hensively? are not licensed or authorised by another. With regard to the millennium development Finland is spearheading the campaign to build goals and the 0.7% target, if the Minister was to international support. It will be necessary for take part in the protest in Edinburgh next week, countries to show support for the treaty at the the responses to the chants, “What do we want?” United Nations conference on small arms and and “When do we want it?” would be “0.7% of light weapons to be held next year. As is evident GDP” and “Eventually”. from the amendment, while Ireland is sympath- etic, it has not fully declared yet. I hope the Mini- Mr. Eamon Ryan: We are at an historic ster will make his intentions clear this evening. moment. There is a sense abroad, among people The right to sustainable development is here and throughout the world, that there is a enshrined in international human rights instru- political will and a desire to make poverty history. ments and declarations. In addition, exporter One can feel we have a chance to achieve this governments have made specific commitments goal. This incredibly strong message was felt in under numerous regional and multilateral arms Dublin in recent days and will be stronger still export control regimes to take into account sus- this weekend in London and Edinburgh. In this tainable development and the impact of arms ´ ´ respect, people look to Dail Eireann to find out exports on importer countries when undertaking what message we have to give them. arms licensing. The Green Party motion is an attempt to set These are the most important issues. Compari- out the broad range of issues which must be sons between expenditure in developing countries addressed if we are to make poverty history. This on health, education and the military are not only involves how much we give but also how astounding. Seven developing countries, Oman, much we take and what type of trading systems Syria, Burma, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea and we have in the world. Our motion is a fair, honest Burundi, spend more on the military than on and balanced attempt to set out the right direc- health and education combined. A further 14 tion we should take. I deeply regret that the developing countries, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Government has chosen to confuse, minimise, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Iran, Cambodia, China, Ecu- remove and obfuscate because it is surely the ador, Nigeria, Rwanda, Angola, Guinea, Ethiopia wrong message for it, on behalf of the people, to and Sierra Leone, spend more on the military send on these issues. than on health or education. These figures place I will pick up on three issues on which there in perspective a problem which Ireland has a role are differences between the competing motion to play in addressing. and the amendment. First, the motion is clear and Last year Amnesty International produced a simple regarding the importance of fair trade in report entitled, Claws of the Celtic Tiger, which bringing about international social justice. It showed that the high tech industry here played recognises that we must tackle the conditions that an increasingly significant role in the defence sec- create poverty in the first place and that between tor. In 2002 Ireland’s military exports were valued 1997 and 2002 the lesser developed countries’ at \34 million. Dual use exports, however, which share of world trade fell. During the same period include many components, were valued at \4.5 the value of their food exports decreased by billion. Irish armoured vehicle technology 67%, a disastrous failure of the world trading appears to have been licensed via a Singapore system. company to Turkey where the military has used The amendment reads like a statement straight armoured vehicles to abuse human rights, includ- from the Washington consensus. Mr. Wolfowitz ing the killing of a man crushed against a wall by and his friends could not have written it better a tank during a Kurdish new year celebration in as they stand by the rules of the World Trade 2002. Also in 2002 the involvement of an Irish Organisation. The amendment lacks even an registered company with an international arms ounce of sense and fails to address whether these smuggling operation was revealed. The company, rules should be fair as well as free. That is a Balcombe Investments Limited, owned the air- shame. craft operated by Renan Airways of Moldova to I will take as an example the amended wording fly several shipments of illegal arms to Africa. the Government has chosen for no clear or ben- The Government commissioned a report on eficial reason in response to our call for a reap- export licensing of military and dual use goods praisal of the European Union’s current econ- following criticisms from Amnesty International omic partnership agreements which almost every and others. On the basis of this report, published single development NGO across the world has in May 2004, Amnesty International called for criticised for creating systems that will hinder legislation to be introduced to govern military rather than help the progress of developing coun- exports and control the activities of arms brokers tries. The EPAs are more liberal than anything and shippers with a view to improving trans- than in place in the WTO rules. In this regard, parency on documentation related to dual use the amendment states: “ .. .it will be important to items. have close monitoring and dialogue between the Will the Minister indicate to the House what EU Commission and the Council to ensure that he intends to do about the arms trade treaty? the development focus of EPAs remains a 477 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 478 primary concern”. Although I am utterly pro- loudspeakers in Croke Park a strong message European and believe multilateralism is the best which they support and on which they want approach to achieving solutions around the action. We have a fantastic history. We could go world, I do not believe dialogue in the European to Africa and say we were not colonisers, that we Union should be confined to the Commission and were like them but the Minister is now taking us Council, with national parliaments looking on in the opposite direction. We are setting up a without comment. Sometimes it is appropriate for trading system that will subjugate just as colonial dialogue to take place between the national par- powers did in the past. It will diminish the great liaments and the European Union. The EPAs tradition and credit we enjoy in the developing offered one such opportunity. world. This must change. At a conference in Dublin last week a Euro- I commend the Prime Minister, Mr. Blair, for pean Commission official noted that the British calling for a debate. He said politicians needed to had raised concerns about the EPAs, a new neo- hear what the people were saying and he is right. liberal system, adding that if only one other coun- We should have an open, fair and honest debate try was to come out and raise similar concerns, and would be supported by the people if we had. they might be subject to a proper reappraisal. We What we will have instead, however, is fair trade have seen recently that when two member states coffee in the canteen of the Department of For- ask questions, it changes the way in which the eign Affairs while we do not dare to say anything European Union works. The Government had a beyond this on the serious issues on which we can simple, albeit small, opportunity to raise concerns make a point and make real changes on the world about EPAs by agreeing with the motion as set stage. We will hang on the amendment the Mini- out. Had it done so, its position could have been ster has tabled which provides cover but little used by the NGOs and others with concerns else. about this issue to argue in Europe that Britain is not alone in having concerns about EPAs. It ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: I accord appreciation ´ would be good to reappraise EPAs, rather than to the Green Party for allowing the House the stepping back and indicating that we will examine opportunity to debate and formally endorse the the dialogue between the Commission and Make Poverty History campaign which is uncon- Council. This is a narrow view of the communi- ditionally and enthusiastically supported by my cation which should take place in the European ´ party from the beginning. Sinn Fein activists are Union. preparing to hit the streets of Dublin where, The motion includes a call which is neither rad- together with others committed to global social ical nor likely to rock the foundations of Irish and economic justice, we will gather on Thursday agriculture. Instead, it merely requests a re-exam- evening at 6.30 p.m. in Parnell Square. I encour- ination of the effect of export subsidies on those age every one who believes in the universality of farmers in developing countries who are worst human rights, that poverty and hunger are human affected by the European Union’s policy of rights violations and that another world is pos- dumping a range of products on world markets. sible to join us and the other demonstrators in an It does not seek a unilateral solution but calls for endorsement of this historic objective of the total a multilateral recognition that dumping brings to elimination of poverty and our expression of an countries in Africa the very poverty on which the alternative vision of global social and economic developed nations spend development aid in justice. addressing. The Government amendment I wholeheartedly endorse and share the removes this call. Is there no room for this issue approach that the Green Party has taken in this to be examined? Are we not honest and open motion to emphasise the interlinked measures enough to admit that this agricultural practice is required to achieve our stated objective. With not the correct approach and damages the coun- 100% debt cancellation for all heavily indebted tries we are trying to help by other means? poor countries, we need significantly increased, I was amazed this week to hear how clear, targeted and untied official development aid. We strong and correct the European Agriculture need fair trade rules, trade justice and the Euro- Commissioner was in this regard. She took the pean Union to stop standing in the way of this simple example of sugar exports. Europe is and start acting like a real ally to the Group of 77. responsible for approximately 18% of world We need states to stop spending obscene sugar exports and as a result, a reduction in the amounts of money on militarisation. Just as Sinn price of world sugar by 17% which has serious ´ Fein’s commitment to the total eradication of consequences for the poorest countries. The poverty does not stop at our borders, our commit- Commissioner has asked why we do not move ment to the demilitarisation of conflict does not towards alternative markets such as bioethanol stop with our island but is one of the core objec- and biofuels which should be the future of Irish tives of our international relations policy. To agriculture. It is not as if the approaches advo- truly make poverty history, the world needs a glo- cated by the Green Party would damage world bal peace dividend through the diversion of arms farming. On the contrary, they would open the spending to spending on human security — food, door to the future. shelter, clean water, access to healthcare, edu- As I stated, there is a sense of possibility in the cation, dignified employment, a living wage and air. In recent days 250,000 people heard from the full human rights. 479 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 480 ´ ´ ´ [Caoimhghın O Caolain.] really need to do to make poverty history is to What will the Taoiseach do when he attends muster the collective political will. Who could dis- the UN summit this autumn, representing the agree with this? people of this State? Will he once again make We are keeping it simple because our message aid or other commitments he has no intention of does not need to be complicated. We do not need keeping, even though he also claims that our to commission more studies because we already economy is stronger than ever and boasts that know the actions we have to take to make this Ireland now ranks as the fourth wealthiest state shared vision a reality. As the leaders of the in the world? Will he trot out the standard weak world’s richest countries gather in Scotland for excuses for breaking his promise to allocate 0.7% the G8 summit, we and millions like us the world of GNP to ODA spending by 2007 — that we are over, in every region and on every continent, the ninth largest per capita donor of ODA and demand trade justice, total debt cancellation and that we will honour the EU deadline by 2015? more and better aid for the world’s poorest coun- Why should we not aspire to be at the very top tries. As republicans, socialists and international- of the generosity league rather than lagging ists, we are fully committed to making poverty behind the Nordic states? Why must we be satis- history for everyone on this island and all our fied with reaching only 0.5%, possibly but not brothers and sisters in every nation. definitely by 2007, when other countries now give 1%? Mr. F. McGrath: I commend the Green Party Per capita spending is not relevant to the UN’s for tabling this motion on aid to the Third World. proposal to contribute a fixed percentage of the I support it as it is important that this small, inde- nation’s wealth. Under the Government, despite pendent country plays its part on the inter- our unprecedented Celtic tiger wealth, Ireland national stage in assisting countries that urgently has failed and will continue to fail into the fore- need our assistance. I urge the Government and seeable future to commit just over 0.5% of our our country to be a voice for the voiceless and income per year to eradicating global poverty. To poor. Sitting on the fence is not an option. The make matters worse, in the most unscrupulous Government must immediately meet its commit- and duplicitous way the Government and the ment to reach 0.7% of GNP devoted to overseas Taoiseach misled our friends in the developing development aid by 2007. world to get votes for a seat on the UN Security Council. The Government took advantage of the It is also important to face up to the reality of vulnerability of many of those countries for its poverty in our country, despite the economic own aggrandisement. The word “shameful” growth and development in the past ten years. It cannot even scratch the surface. The Taoiseach is not acceptable that 80,000 children still live in promised the world on behalf of the Irish people. poverty. It is not acceptable there are homeless We supported him and felt proud of that commit- people in our cities or that young couples are ment, on which the Government does not have priced out of the housing market. It is a disgrace ´ the right to renege unilaterally. Sinn Fein will not that over 50,000 families are on local authority give up on it; we will continue to press the housing waiting lists. We, a society steeped in Government to keep its promise on behalf of the wealth, are not delivering to our people. It is not citizens of the State. right and there is no excuse that 25% of our citi- By now, we are all familiar with the facts and zens are always left behind. It is up to all poli- figures: the 600 million children living in absolute ticians to ensure all people are treated with poverty and the one child who dies every three respect and equally. The debate is not about seconds from hunger and preventable disease. resources and wealth but how these are distrib- We can all in our mind’s eye see the contrast with uted. It is about how we treat our sick, elderly the obscene, unspendable wealth amassed and and disabled. I do not want to live in a country wasted by an elite few. The poorest countries’ where greed and selfishness are rampant. share of world trade has dropped by almost half I support the international campaign of Make since 1981 and is now as low as 0.4%. Under the Poverty History. We know from our history about current unjust world trade rules, poor countries famine, poverty and exploitation. Now it is our must pay back 14 times what they receive in aid. turn to lead the charge against injustice and stand The world, despite agreeing the UN millennium by the poorer countries. Let us ensure their chil- development goal to halve world poverty by 2015, dren live and get back their dignity. Let us is not following through on its commitments. At reaffirm Ireland’s policy of supporting 100% debt the current rate of progress, we will not even cancellation for heavily indebted poor countries, halve the number living in absolute poverty until going beyond the inadequate but welcome pro- 2147. posal of the G8 to introduce cancellations to 18 The message with which we need to really countries. Such debt cancellation must not be come to grips today is a simple one. Nelson accompanied by damaging conditions which Mandela expressed it perfectly when he recently erode its benefits. Such cancellation must be said, “Poverty is not natural. It is man made and funded out of additional moneys and, as argued it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions by non-governmental organisations, the Inter- of human beings.” I have said it in the past and national Monetary Fund gold reserves must be will repeat myself as often as necessary: all we sold to finance debt cancellation. 481 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 482 Developed nations must move away from Kyoto Protocol, one message became apparent, operating as judge and plaintiff towards heavily that of equality and the value we place on the indebted poor countries. Debt cancellation is only lives of the poorest in the world. Over the past part of what is needed to assist heavily indebted year, the increasing intensity of the campaign by poor countries. Targeted and united aid must Make Poverty History means all Members are continue to be given and significantly increased. familiar with the horrifying figures that demon- I urge the Government to agree new target dates strate the true extent of poverty. Some 600 mil- in view of its acknowledgement that it will not lion children live in absolute poverty and 10 mil- meet its commitment to reach the 0.7% of GNP lion children die of hunger and preventable devoted to overseas development aid by 2007. I diseases. That is one child every three seconds. call on the Taoiseach to reaffirm Ireland’s com- By the time I will have concluded, 100 children mitment to this target at the forthcoming UN mil- will not have survived. Some 852 million people, lennium summit. more than the populations of the US, Canada and Fair trade is important in bringing about inter- the EU combined, will not have enough food to national social justice. I demand the re-examin- eat. One in six children will die before they reach ation of subsidies given to producers in the the age of five years. Unfortunately, these statis- developed world and their effect on those pro- tics are just a sample. ducers in less developed nations. I call on the The motion seeks a broad response to ending Government to support the reappraisal of the poverty. This is not just about throwing money at EU’s economic partnership agreements with the issue. All Members received an e-mail from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, in light GOAL, in which some of the matters raised are of serious concerns that these will inhibit rather worrying. Our Government channels approxi- than promote their economic development. mately \60 million through the Ethiopian and We need to restrict the international trade in Ugandan Governments. We should immediately arms to assist conflict resolution, to prevent the cease funding through the Ethiopian Govern- terrible costs in human life and the attendant ment. I am not saying we should not assist the economic costs. The Government must support people in those countries, but we cannot support the initiative taken by the Government of Finland regimes that murder their citizens, which hap- to bring about an arms trade treaty through the pened only last week in Ethiopia. framework of the UN. Why do governments The Make Poverty History campaign argued around the world always have money for arms, for more and better aid. The first assertion is that yet there is always a problem when finance is poverty will not be eradicated without the required for food, health care and education? I immediate and major increase in international challenge international leaders on this major pol- aid. This is where our obligation starts. The cam- itical and moral issue. It is simply not good paign calls for a binding timeframe for the richer enough. countries to reach this target. It demands that aid The Independent Members will always chal- focus better on the needs of poorer peoples. It lenge, fight and stand up for working people and must be spent on better health care and edu- the poor in society. That is our agenda and we cation, not tied to goods and services from the have no notion of going off course. This motion donor country. is about standing with the peoples of other coun- There were several good media reports about tries in a spirt of co-operation, generosity and the results of aid given to some countries affected equality. I urge all Members to stand with these by the tsunami disaster in December. For these peoples and support this excellent motion. countries to recover, the money must be spent within the region. We can see the sense in this Ms C. Murphy: I welcome this Private but I do not understand how good practice in one Members’ motion. When the Government, on place is not regarded as such in another. The cam- behalf of the people, committed to leading the paign also seeks a more democratic World Bank way by allocating 0.7% of GNP in development and IMF so that not only will the concerns of aid, I believed it was a decision of which we people from poorer countries be addressed, but should all feel proud. It gave us the credibility to they will be acted upon. punch above our weight and consolidated The figures of the charity, Concern, highlight Ireland’s position as an honest broker. Just as I that 30,000 people a day die from starvation and felt proud of that decision, I was ashamed when poverty related deaths. This is not far short of 1 it was rolled back on our behalf. Deferring our million people in one month. That figure is commitment, in practical terms, means accepting etched on our political history as the same that some lives, mostly those of children, will end number died in the dark days of the Famine. The prematurely. We cannot account for what other only way to deal with this global catastrophe is to countries do, but we can account for what our act collectively. The basis for such action is country does. Through this climbdown, we are grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human assisting others not to aim for that target. Rights, signed in 1948. One part of the preamble Having spent some time trawling through the to the declaration states “whereas the people of array of information dealing with debt cancel- the United Nations have in the charter reaffirmed lation, development aid, trade justice, campaign their faith in fundamental human rights, in the against the arms trade and the provisions of the dignity and worth of the human person and in the 483 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 484 [Ms C. Murphy.] of the UN Millennium Summit in equal rights of men and women and have deter- September 2005; mined to promote social progress and better stan- — acknowledges the need for inter- dards of life”. I ask that we live up to that by national agreements to control the committing to the 0.7% target of GNP. international trade in arms in order to assist conflict resolution and prevent Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): I the terrible costs in human lives and move amendment No. 1: attendant economic costs of such trade; To delete all words after “Heavily Indebted Poor Countries” in the second paragraph and — calls on the Government to strongly substitute the following: support efforts to bring about an Inter- national Arms Trade Treaty; “— welcomes the proposal of the G8 coun- tries to finance 100% cancellation of — acknowledges that the Government is multilateral debt owed by 18 of the committed to a strong rules-based world’s poorest countries; WTO and multilateral trading system as being the best way to help developing — expresses the strong hope that the G8 countries to integrate into the global agreement will be funded out of trading system and is working towards additional monies and not through a successful outcome to the Doha diversion of existing funding; Development Agenda negotiations and — calls on the Government to continue the Sixth Ministerial Conference of the Ireland’s long-standing commitment to WTO in December 2005; debt cancellation and urges it to support — confirms that as the negotiations on the further initiatives to this end; Economic Partnership Agreements — recognises that debt cancellation is only move into a more critical phase, it will part of what is needed to assist heavily be important to have close monitoring indebted poor countries and that tar- and dialogue between the EU Com- geted and untied aid must continue to mission and the Council to ensure that be given and significantly increased; the development focus of EPAs remains a primary concern; and — welcomes the very substantial increases in Ireland’s aid programme, which has — recognising the increasing convergence grown from \96 million in 1994 to \545 between issues of environmental degra- million in 2005, which is channelled to dation and world poverty, and in view some of the world’s poorest countries of the fact that the adverse impacts of and which has made Ireland the world’s climate change are, and will be, dispro- ninth largest aid donor on a per capita portionately borne by the world’s poor- basis; est people, supports the Government, in the upcoming negotiations on global — welcomes the fact that the Government action to tackle climate change after has already committed to expenditure 2012, in seeking a fair, equitable and of \1.8 billion on Official Development inclusive agreement that will reduce the Assistance over the years 2005-2007; vulnerability of developing countries — notes that Ireland, almost uniquely through reducing global emissions of among donors, gives all of its aid untied; greenhouse gases and through assisting developing countries to access the — notes that the recent report by Action resources and expertise required to Aid entitled ‘Real Aid: An Agenda for adapt to the adverse effects of climate Making Aid Work’ found that Ireland change.” has one of the highest quality aid prog- rammes among Western donors; I wish to share time with Deputies Nolan and O’Connor. I am glad of this opportunity to speak — notes that at the European Council of and I thank the Green Party Members, despite 16-17 June, 2005, the Heads of State their comments. I am somewhat disappointed by and Government, including Ireland, their attitude to the amendment which the agreed that the EU Member States Government and I thought was better-worded which have not yet reached a level of and which does not detract from the Green 0.51% of GNP should reach that level Party’s motion’s sentiments. I regret that it by 2010, and that they should achieve appears the House might divide on this issue the 0.7% target by 2015. The 10 new because it is not an issue on which it should. Member States were set lower targets; Nevertheless, the debate provides us with an — notes that the Government is strongly opportunity. I thank the Green Party for provid- committed to achieving the UN target ing the opportunity to have a debate which will of 0.7% for expenditure on ODA and it embrace the totality of the development agenda, will take a decision on this in advance not simply the question of overseas development 485 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 486 aid. It offers the House an opportunity to deal that it would put wind into the sails of the pro- with the key issues of aid, trade, the international posals in his reform package, particularly in the arms trade and the environment. Each of these development area. Other member states which topics would merit an extensive debate on its joined after 2002 have lower targets. The EU 15, own, never mind combining them in one debate. in other words excluding the ten newer member However, I will attempt to address each of them states, have also committed to a new collective as comprehensively as possible in the time at my target of 0.56% by 2010. This means that by 2010, disposal. the EU as a whole will disburse an additional \20 I will start with aid. In terms of cash disburse- billion in aid to the poorest countries in the ments, Ireland’s aid programme has grown enor- world. That is a major step forward and I am sure mously over the last decade. It is worth remem- it will be welcomed by everyone who is concerned bering that none of the G8 donor countries for the developing world. Naturally, Ireland fully provides the same level of aid per capita as subscribes to these new targets agreed by the Ireland. On average they provide 0.21% of their European Union. GNP in aid, just over half the level of aid Cash disbursements do not give the whole pic- achieved by Ireland. Since the formation of this ture regarding aid as where and how the funding Government, the aid programme has risen by is spent is also important. In this respect, Ireland \387 million, from \158 million in 1997 to \545 has an excellent record. Our aid programmes has million of taxpayers’ money today. In 1997 we been highly praised for its value and focus on the spent approximately \39 for every man, woman poorest of the poor. The last peer review of the and child on our development programme. This OECD in 2003 noted that our aid programme dis- year we will spend about \136, an increase of tinguishes itself by its sharp focus on poverty almost \100. Everyone will accept that these are reduction and its commitment to partnership significant amounts. Moreover, they are in principles. The recent report by Action Aid Inter- addition to the personal donations made by many national entitled Real Aid: An Agenda for Mak- Irish citizens to the developing word. ing Aid Work, found that Ireland has one of the In addition, we now have a three-year commit- highest quality overseas aid programmes among ment, which stipulates an increase of \60 million western donors. The report distinguished this year. To put that figure in context, the between “real aid”, that is assistance which ´ Tanaiste received \70 million to deal with the reaches its target and brings genuine improve- accident and emergency service issue. It will be ments, and “phantom aid”, which ties recipients increased by \65 million in each of the next two to purchases from donor countries, or is poorly years. In fact, over the three years from 2005 to implemented. We must state with pride that irres- 2007, the Irish taxpayer will pay \1.8 billion in pective of what political party was in Govern- overseas development aid. Hence, this multi- ment, we have never tied our aid. There should annual commitment provides an excellent oppor- be a greater focus on many of the larger countries tunity for careful planning and implementation. in respect of this issue. That report put Ireland at I do not say this to detract from the UN target the top of the list, noting that almost 90% of Irish of 0.7% in any way, but to show just how much aid is “real aid” which benefits poor people in the Irish people currently give to the developing developing countries and that our aid is totally world. On the issue of the UN target, I am the 100% untied. This means we do not link our aid first to assert that we must meet this target. In my to the purchase of Irish goods and services, as work as a UN special envoy, I promote the UN unfortunately do some other countries. Conse- reform package, part of which is a greater com- quently, goods and services provided represent mitment to the development agenda and partic- best value and often help to build up local ularly to the 0.7% target. I wish to reassure the service providers. House that this Government is strongly commit- Earlier this month, the G8 called on the OECD ted to achieving the UN target of 0.7% for expen- to set ambitious and credible targets for the indi- diture on ODA. We need a sustainable, tenable cators of aid effectiveness agreed in Paris earlier and deliverable target. We will not be rushed this year. It is particularly important to set targets because this is serious business. I refer to the for untying aid, so that more of it can be spent by Government’s amendment, which clearly states and in developing countries, thus multiplying its that it is committed to achieving the UN target of developmental impact. 0.7% and that it will make a decision on the sub- Ireland’s aid programme is focused on some of ject in advance of the UN Millennium Summit the world’s poorest countries. We are one of only in September. six countries which spends more than 0.15% of Deputies will also be aware that the European GNP on the least developed countries. To cite the Union recently agreed — again as part of my recent Action Aid report again, Ireland spends exhortations as UN special envoy — to set a new more of its aid, 79%, on low-income countries set of targets regarding ODA. Those member than any other country, apart from Portugal. states which have not yet reached a level of As far as debt is concerned, the provision of 0.51% of GNP on ODA should individually reach aid, though vital, is only one of several dynamics that level by 2010. They have also undertaken to in the relationship between the developed and achieve the UN target of 0.7% by 2015. Indeed, the developing world. Two other vital factors are when that decision was made, Kofi Annan stated debt relief and trade. The recent announcement 487 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 488 [Mr. D. Ahern.] ing the funds allocated to them by the lending by the G8 Finance Ministers that they will finance institutions, are maintained or increased. Ireland 100% cancellation of World Bank, African and other non-G8 donors will be expected to par- Development Bank and International Monetary ticipate in the financing of the debt cancellation. Fund debt owed by a group of the world’s poorest For Ireland, which is not a lender and has always countries represents significant progress. provided its aid as grants, every euro we put into For the first time, the most powerful countries debt relief should turn into an extra euro for the in the world, those that effectively control country receiving the relief. decision-making at the World Bank and the I hope that in the process of bringing their International Monetary Fund, have accepted that donor partners on board, the G8 countries will be many countries should have their loans with these prepared to show the flexibility around the objec- institutions completely written off. This agree- tives and principles which govern the implemen- ment represents significant progress towards solv- tation of the initiative that will allow us all to fin- ing the thus far intractable problem of Third ance it with enthusiasm and hope for its success. World debt. Ireland has argued for many years Some proposals for debt relief in the past have for such a move. Our official policy on debt which turned out to be less generous than originally was adopted in 2002 by this Government, called they appeared. I hope this will not be the case for 100% debt cancellation for all heavily with the latest proposals. Developing countries indebted countries. The Government felt then deserve a fair deal on debt. It must be and continues to feel that a country’s requirement remembered however that debt relief or cancel- to repay debt must not prevent it from main- lation, even implemented in the most favourable taining an adequate level of expenditure on manner possible, is unlikely on its own to solve services and investments in health, education, the economic problems of poor developing coun- agriculture, water supply, sanitation, roads and tries. The G8 agreement is historic and represents other infrastructure. significant progress but it is only a part of what Without adequate resources for these areas, is required to make real progress in eradicating development and poverty reduction are imposs- extreme poverty. ible. I am very glad the G8 countries have come The yearly value of the debts being cancelled to the same conclusion. For Ireland, the success of a debt relief or debt cancellation scheme is will be approximately US$700 million. Even if all principally measured by how much it increases this relief turned into new money in developing the money available to the beneficiary govern- country budgets, it would still be less than one ment for spending on poverty reduction. It seems fiftieth of the increase in annual aid budgets clear from the conclusions of the G8 Finance which the World Bank estimates is needed to Ministers’ meeting that financing of the debt can- achieve the internationally agreed millennium cellation will be additional to the current development goals. The volume of assistance to resources of the international financial insti- poor developing countries needs to be increased tutions. This means that in overall terms resource significantly. As I have already mentioned, flows from international financial institutions to Ireland’s aid budget has grown significantly and developing countries should be unaffected by will continue to grow. debt cancellation and the relief provided should Trade is a powerful engine for economic result in additional resources being available for growth which can lead to sustainable develop- recipient countries. ment and ultimately to poverty reduction. Ireland However, it is also possible that the allocations firmly believes that having a transparent, rules- of funds to the individual beneficiary countries based global trading system is the best way to from the international financial institutions will help developing countries to integrate into the be reduced by an amount equivalent to the debt global trading system. The Government is com- relief resulting from the cancellation. Perhaps mitted to working towards a successful outcome that is the point to which Deputy Higgins refers. to the Doha development agenda negotiations Countries may not, therefore, have direct access and the sixth ministerial conference of the WTO to additional resources for expenditure as a result in December 2005. of the cancellation. Rather, they will have to com- The most fundamental objective of the WTO pete with other low income countries for access Doha development agenda launched in Nov- to the benefits of the debt cancellation. ember 2001 is to further the integration of Furthermore, if the cancellation is financed developing countries into the global trading from existing bilateral aid flows, it could well system. However, many developing countries mean that the debt relief is accompanied by an have understandable concerns that a multilateral equivalent fall-off in bilateral aid flows. It is vital trading system will have severe negative effects that this does not happen. It is important that on their economies. The Government believes Opposition parties publicly support our stance on that the Doha negotiations need to result in real this important issue. benefits for these countries if their concerns are The opportunities for the beneficiary countries to be successfully addressed. The Government is to achieve the millennium development goals will working to ensure that the Doha development only be enhanced if, at the same time as their round will be a genuine development round. Cen- debts are cancelled, the aid they receive, includ- tral to our approach and that of our EU partners 489 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 490 is a commitment to respond positively to the con- establish, with his fellow Commissioners, includ- cerns of developing countries. ing the Commissioner responsible for develop- As we approach the sixth ministerial con- ment, Louis Michel, and in partnership with the ference in Hong Kong next December, we will ACP countries, a dedicated structure to keep the maintain our commitment to this balance. Pre- EPA process under close review. This is paratory work for the conference is proceeding, important not least because the Commission, as notwithstanding the difficulty of some of the the institution competent for EU trade policy, is problems that need to be resolved. I am confident the body which negotiates on behalf of member that the Hong Kong conference will provide the states. necessary impetus to progress in the final nego- Ireland is actively following developments in tiations of the Doha development agenda and the EPA negotiations. As they move into a criti- that the successful conclusion of the round is now cal phase, Ireland, in common with other EU in prospect. Ireland’s priority in these nego- member states, will continue to ensure that there tiations has been, and will continue to be, that the is close monitoring and dialogue between the process of trade liberalisation continues in a fair Commission and the Council to ensure that the and balanced way and that the WTO continues development focus of EPAs remains to the fore. to provide a stable and consistent framework for This Private Members’ motion raises the very the regulation of world trade. important issue of international trade in arms. I The Government does not believe that trade agree with the sentiments expressed and in my liberalisation alone, including agricultural trade amendment to the motion I have proposed only liberalisation, is a panacea for development chal- some slight amendments to the original wording. lenges, particularly in the case of least developed The best and most effective way to control such countries. The integration of least developed trade is through international agreements and, countries into the global economy will require not therefore, I have added a reference to this effect only trade liberalisation measures, it will require in the text of the first indent on this issue. I have measures to fight HIV-AIDS; build trade capa- also replaced the word “restrict” with “control” city; attract foreign direct investment; promote as the latter is more commonly used and under- agricultural and rural development; support the stood internationally in the context of export role of women in agricultural production; and, controls. crucially, increase investment in new My amended wording also deletes the refer- technologies. ence to Finland in the second indent, which deals The EU has a number of preferential trade with the proposed arms trade treaty. The treaty relationships with least developed countries. The was devised and has been promoted by a number biggest is the so-called Cotonou Agreement with of non-governmental organisations, including 77 countries mainly from sub-Saharan Africa, but Amnesty International and Oxfam. My under- also the smaller Caribbean and Pacific states. This standing is that the Government of Finland, while provides access to EU markets on preferential being very supportive of the treaty, is not the co- terms for exports from these countries. The latest ordinator of the campaign for the treaty. The phase of the Cotonou Agreement has just been campaign for the treaty has also been supported concluded by the EU and the ACP states. by other countries. It is for those reasons I believe Another important trade link is the 2001 every- that rather than singling out a particular country, thing but arms initiative which grants least a more general reference would be appropriate. developed countries very wide access to EU On the fundamental issue of the international markets. The economic partnership agreements, trade in arms, Ireland recognises the importance EPAs, which are due to enter into force by 1 of addressing this issue. There are all too many January 2008, are an integral element of the examples of conflicts which are fuelled by pro- Cotonou Agreement. The EPAs are intended liferation of conventional weapons, especially in first and foremost as instruments for develop- developing countries. It has been estimated that ment to foster the smooth and gradual integration approximately 300,000 people are killed each of African, Caribbean and Pacific states into the year in violent conflict and war. Global stockpiles world economy. They combine trade and wider of small arms and light weapons amount to an development issues in a unified framework while estimated 600 million units. This is especially an taking account of the specific economic, social issue of concern in Africa where the proliferation and environmental circumstances of each of these weapons continues to have a serious regional group and its component states. This negative impact on fragile economies and brings overall approach is welcomed by Ireland and terror, misery and suffering to societies through- other member states concerned that development out that continent. and poverty reduction should be the principal The Government supports the principle of hav- objectives of the EPAs. We are, therefore, clearly ing legally binding international agreements on not talking in the case of EPAs about conven- the control of arms exports with as wide a partici- tional trade agreements. pation as possible. Ireland is committed to work- I very much welcome recent statements by the ing with others to ensure that the international EU Trade Commissioner, Peter Mandelson, that community deals effectively with the illicit traf- he intends to strengthen the development focus ficking of such weapons. Currently, all exports of of EPAs. He has announced his intention to arms from EU countries must conform to the EU 491 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 492 [Mr. D. Ahern.] which is scheduled to take place in Montreal in code of conduct on arms exports which estab- November 2005. Under the United Nations lishes criteria to control such exports. Ireland was framework convention on climate change, a actively involved in the establishment of this pol- special least developed countries fund was estab- itically binding code, which was adopted by the lished to help those countries plan for and cope EU general affairs council in June 1998. The code with the adverse effects of climate change. lists the factors to be taken into account when Ireland was one of the first to contribute to the deciding whether to allow an export of military LDC fund and I intend making further contri- goods, including respect for human rights, the butions in this and subsequent years. internal situation in the country of final desti- Again, I pay tribute to the Green Party for nation and the preservation of regional peace, highlighting the issues under discussion tonight. I security and stability. Discussions are ongoing in am disappointed the party could not accept what the EU on the possible reinforcement of the I believe is a better motion. Ireland has led the status of the code of conduct. way over the years and we should pay tribute to Over the past two years, Ireland has actively our own Bono and Bob Geldof and to the rep- participated in negotiations in the United Nations resentatives of our NGOs, who have been slaving on an international instrument to regulate the away on this issue for many years. I do not think marking and tracing of illicit small people realise the amount of effort and the level 8 o’clock arms and light weapons, which I am of funding the Government spends on their pleased to note was agreed upon behalf, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. It is earlier this month in New York. This will assist important that we air these issues so that people the international community in its efforts to con- are fully aware that over the next three years, we trol such trade in a much more systematic way. A will spend \1.8 billion of their money on overseas welcome aspect of the international trade treaty development, especially in Africa. proposed by NGOs is that it has the objective of setting out states’ existing international legal obli- gations in the area of international transfers of Mr. Nolan: I join the Minister in commending arms. Once ratified, the proposed treaty would the Green Party for putting down this motion. I enable the international community to move for- am disappointed that we could not reach consen- ward incrementally, by means of subsequent sus and that the House will divide on the motion specific instruments, to strengthen international tomorrow night. All parties in the House have a controls on arms transfers. Ireland has taken an genuine commitment and concern. It has been a active interest in this initiative. During Ireland’s tradition in this country to assist developing coun- Presidency of the EU last year, we placed this tries, especially those in the Third World. issue on the agenda of the relevant working group The EU has been able to agree an interim in Brussels. overseas development assistance target as part of The Government fully shares the view that the EU contribution. That is to be welcomed, climate change is the most serious threat to the given the challenges faced by the new member global environment and that poor people in poor states in meeting this target. I was disappointed countries are most vulnerable to its adverse to note that it will take us a little longer to meet effects. Such people are least able to cope with the targets set down by the UN, I still welcome extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurri- the fact that we have agreed to progress towards canes and droughts which are expected to occur that. I hope it will happen sooner rather than with increased frequency and intensity due to the later. impact of climate change. The second Kyoto Pro- There are three aspects to this debate: debt tocol commitment period negotiations will be relief, aid and trade. I welcomed the news that very sensitive. the G8 finance ministers have agreed to a 100% The Government believes that comprehensive debt cancellation of World Bank and African dialogue is essential and must involve the United Development Bank debt. This will go some way States, the oil producing countries and developing towards alleviating the problems of developing countries that, up to now, have had no obligation countries. Nonetheless, we have been very forth- to curb emissions. Together with our EU partners coming in our aid and perhaps it has not been at the United Nations framework convention on targeted in the right areas in recent years. One climate change meeting held in Buenos Aires last area in which we can be pro-active is trade. We December, Ireland pressed hard for the initiation must continue that because we in Ireland have of these negotiations. Parties to the conference seen, as a developing country, that if we use trade agreed to hold a seminar in Bonn, which took and the economy to its full effect, we can be far place in a very constructive atmosphere. Nego- more helpful to our citizens, to the country and tiations on the next phase should ideally conclude to the planet. by 2008. One aspect of all this is local to me, but is top- The Government believes the targets set ical at the moment and highlights many of the should be ambitious and that responsibility for difficulties we will encounter. If the sugar reform curbing emissions should be fairly shared. We will package being proposed by the European Com- work to that end in the months to come and at the mission is accepted in its present form it will not first meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol, only destroy the sugar industry in Ireland, it will 493 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 494 also have a dreadful knock-on effect on some of Mr. O’Connor: I am very sincere about that. I the APC countries. am a very strong supporter of the Minister of State’s work, as the Deputy well knows. Mr. Eamon Ryan: What about ethanol, or biofuels? Mr. Naughten: Keep him abroad. Mr. Nolan: We should be mindful of those Mr. O’Connor: Chris Flood keeps me informed issues. If we go down this road, I am concerned on what is being done in this area. that we will play into the hands of the sugar The people of Africa are not just looking for a barons of Brazil and other parts of South Amer- hand out, they want an opportunity to do some- ica. The smaller countries will be left exposed. thing positive for themselves. As a nation, it is not too long ago that we had our own experience Mr. Eamon Ryan: What about ethanol, or bio- of famine. In our present prosperity, it is fuels? We will not have to import from the important that it remains in our memory so that Middle East. we can empathise with the desperate plight in which some of these people find themselves. It is Mr. Nolan: I am using that as one example. very important to continue at this level to make the case for aid for Africa. Like others of my gen- Mr. Eamon Ryan: Why not import from eration, I brought a penny to school every single Carlow rather than from Kuwait? Why not get day for Africa though I was not sure in those days our oil from Carlow? exactly what I was doing. From my little experi- ence, especially in Ethiopia recently, it seems Mr. D. Ahern: The Deputy should let the man nothing has really changed. I commend the work speak. He only has three minutes. of Irish aid organisations which, as I have seen on the ground, do a tremendous job. Mr. Eamon Ryan: I am sorry. Mr. Allen: I wish to share time with Deputies Mr. Nolan: If we accept proposals, we should Naughten, Neville and Crawford. look at it on the bigger scale. We should look at the impact that it will have on developing An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is that agreed? countries. Agreed. I again commend the Green Party for putting Mr. Allen: Amendment No. 2 in the name of down this motion. I am disappointed that this Fine Gael reads as follows: House will divide on it tomorrow night. I now wish to give some of time to my colleague, In the tenth paragraph, to delete “demands Deputy O’Connor. re-examination of subsidies given to producers in the developed world and the effect of such Mr. O’Connor: I compliment my colleague, subsidies on their counterparts in less Deputy Nolan, on his courtesy and I thank the developed nations;”. Minister for his speech. I am always happy to pra- Tonight’s motion is timely as many hundreds of ise his work on this issue. I have a particular thousands will gather in a few days for the Live 8 interest in this subject and thank the Green Party concerts in London, Edinburgh, Washington, for tabling the motion. I visited Zambia in 1995 Berlin, Paris and Rome. They will unite in a com- and recently, I had the opportunity to visit Leso- mon cause to demand debt cancellation for the tho and South Africa. Several weeks ago, I went poorest countries and increased aid and trade to Ethiopia for the elections with Senator Fergal with the developing world. In short, they will Browne. We were very impressed by what we saw demand action from all governments working and at the same time we were very troubled by together. While the demand coincides with the much of what we saw. The election was held on upcoming G8 summit, the call goes out to all. It 15 May and I found out today that the results will is time for countries like Ireland to realise their not be declared until 8 July. international obligations and begin to meet them. I feel very privileged to be given the oppor- We must tackle the endemic poverty, disease, tunity to speak on this motion in the week when illness and starvation which form the bedrock of the announcement by the G8 states will come to lives which are often cut tragically short. Every fruition. Bono and Bob Geldof have been day which passes sees poverty and disease thrive referred to and we should praise the work they in many parts of a world in which 1.2 billion are doing. My friend and political mentor, Chris people live on less than a dollar a day, 28,000 chil- Flood, was the Irish envoy to the tsunami disaster dren die from poverty-related causes, 8,000 and was also the chairman of the Minister’s advis- people die of AIDS and 14,000 women and girls ory body. I also mention my colleague, Deputy die from pregnancy and childbirth-related com- Conor Lenihan, and commend his work in this plications. In 2002, 2 million people died of TB. area. Among the ways we can help to alleviate poverty and disease is through our commitment to over- Mr. Naughten: That sounds very genuine. seas development aid. 495 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 496 [Mr. Allen.] accelerate action on aid dramatically. In contrast, When Ireland made the historic commitment Ireland has dramatically decelerated action on to increase aid to UN target levels by 2007, its aid, which is a cause of great concern. announcement was justifiably welcomed through- Debt cancellation is an integral aspect of the out the world. The sense of disappointment and relief required by the countries of the developing anger which accompanied the Government’s dis- world. The recent G8 proposal to cancel the debt graceful U-turn has been well documented. It was of 18 states has been welcomed. We should not ´ a dark day for the Fianna Fail-Progressive Demo- underestimate the importance of the proposal crats coalition and for Ireland as a whole. which writes off $40 billion and saves each coun- Recently, the original 15 EU member states try approximately $1.5 billion in annual repay- agreed to increase aid to 0.51% of GNP by 2010 ments. We must also, however, reaffirm support and to at least 0.7% of GNP by 2015. In fact, four for the policy of 100% debt cancellation for heav- member states have already met the 0.7% target ily indebted poor countries which Ireland pro- while six others have promised to meet it on a posed some time ago. date before 2015. Ireland has a role to play in the promotion of Where is Ireland’s new commitment to aid? good governance and the tackling of corruption Having abandoned the 2007 deadline, have we in the developing world. Every person who also delayed the implementation of the donates money to the developing world from a Taoiseach’s solemn promise to the UN by at least pocket or pay packet wants to know it does the eight years? The Minister of State with responsi- best possible work for those who need it. We bility for overseas development aid described the should take every reasonable and possible action EU agreement as historic recently. He went on to in co-operation with developing world govern- say it was positive that the European Union had ments to ensure the best, most co-ordinated and taken a lead on this important issue which begs most effective use of aid is achieved. the question of whether the Government has a Action on an international arms treaty is also memory problem. Ireland took the lead on the vital as many around the world continue to live issue in 2000 but without apparent embarrass- with the results of the indiscriminate use of land- ment we are happy to abandon the role and pass mines. We must ensure through action and co- responsibility to the European Union. Even if the operation with other countries that arms are Government tries to forget that its actions are traded according to the most stringent rules and unacceptable, the people will not. regulations which take account of the value of If we are serious about our aid commitments, human life. Progress should be made on the draft- we should be prepared to back them up with ing of the important arms trade treaty. legislation. Last December, I outlined when Fine Gael tabled a motion on overseas development Mr. Naughten: I welcome the opportunity to aid why an aid target should be set out in legis- contribute on the Private Members’ motion lation to ensure that every future Government moved by the Green Party. Tabled in the context would meet its commitments. To set aside a fixed of the upcoming meeting of the leaders of the G8 percentage of GNP for a specific purpose is not countries in Edinburgh and the World Trade a new concept. The most recent example is the Organisation ministerial conference in national pensions reserve fund, under the legis- December, the motion affords Members the lation for which a set amount of 1% of GNP is opportunity to re-examine the Government’s automatically diverted from the Exchequer annu- policies in the context of the goal of making pov- ally. The process does not demand annual Dail ´ erty history. While Fine Gael supports the Green approval as the amounts are specified in legis- Party Members in principle in bringing forward lation. Legislation to provide for the allocation of the motion, as my time is limited I will concen- 0.7% of GNP to overseas development aid from trate on just a few points. the Exchequer each year would copperfasten Fine Gael concurs with the policy of 100% debt Ireland’s commitment to meeting its international cancellation for heavily-indebted poor countries. responsibilities. The legislation should be intro- While the write off by G8 countries announced duced now as we cannot wait until 2015 to meet on 10 June for 18 of the poorest states in Africa the UN aid target. is a step in the right direction, Fine Gael would If we allow aid to increase according to current like to see the policy broadened to include the 42 spending plans, it will be 2028 before Ireland most heavily-indebted countries in the world. A meets the target. In the absence of a concerted write off would provide them with more money effort to meet aid targets, the millennium in their budgets to achieve the millennium development goals will not be reached. In his development goals by spending more on the vital report, In Larger Freedom, the UN Secretary services in health, education, agriculture and General emphasises our obligation to ensure the infrastructure which are crucial to their long- millennium development goals are achieved in term futures. the context of the deaths every year of 3 million If we are serious about making poverty history, from HIV-AIDS while countless more are lost to we must do more than pay lip service to an ideal. disease, poverty and starvation. Mr. Kofi Annan The Government must immediately agree a new has stated clearly that while the goals can be target date to achieve 0.7% of GNP on overseas reached by 2015, it will only happen if all involved development aid. The Minister of State, Deputy 497 G8 Summit and Overseas Development Aid: 28 June 2005. Motion 498 Conor Lenihan, informed the Joint Committee The jury remains out as to whether removing on Foreign Affairs recently that a timeframe and all subsidies will help poor countries. A cut in EU mechanism to meet the UN target was under sugar prices could have a negative impact on less ongoing review. It is imperative that the ongoing developed African countries—— review reaches a conclusion quickly. I call on the Government to stop procrastinating on the issue Mr. D. Ahern: Is there a split? and honour its commitment by immediately set- ting out a realistic timeframe to reach the 0.7% Mr. Naughten: ——which currently gain from target. the high guaranteed prices they receive for the The Green Party motion demands a re-examin- sugar cane they sell into Europe. These countries ation of the supports given to producers in the favour an import system into the EU which developed world and their effect on producers’ ensures predictable and regular import quantities, counterparts in less developed regions. I will first rather than the race to the bottom in price terms consider the effect of subsidies on the developed that totally free access would bring. world using Ireland as an example. Since reform of the Common Agricultural Policy in 1992 and Mr. D. Ahern: I am surprised Deputy Eamon the Agenda 2000 agreement, the emphasis of EU Ryan is not heckling the Deputy. agricultural supports under the CAP has moved away from the traditional market supports to Mr. Eamon Ryan: I am asking for—— direct payments to farmers. In 2003 direct pay- ments received as a percentage of farm income Mr. D. Ahern: The Green Party is supposed to amounted to 68%. Last year the payments be going into government with Fine Gael. accounted for 74% of aggregate farm income. It is clear that for agriculture to survive such sup- Mr. Eamon Ryan: We will convert them. port measures are needed. We must support our indigenous agricultural Mr. Naughten: The reference in the recent EU industry. The agrifood sector as a whole accounts sugar reform proposals to the design of an assist- for 9% of GDP and employment and 8% of ance package for less developed countries is an exports. More than 112,000 people are employed ´ acknowledgement of this fact. Trocaire has called in primary agriculture and nearly half that for the maintenance of quotas for less developed number again in the food and drinks industry. African countries. It recognises that there must Agrifood exports last year were worth \7 billion be room for domestic production of sugar in to the economy, but when taken as a net value Europe. The change to subsidies can have a direct based on balance of payments etc., they are worth negative impact on many of these developing \11 billion so they are a significant element of countries. We could see the major sugar barons our economy. in the likes of Thailand, Brazil and Australia, In many rural areas where farming is on the many of whom reside within the European decline, this decline does not stop at the farm Union, benefiting from it. gate. It has a significant domino effect. If we are Food security is an important issue. The reason serious about preserving our rural landscape, we we have subsidies and supports in the European must encourage people to remain on the land and Union is to ensure we have food security for maintain farmers in rural areas. It must be European consumers. A key question is how pointed out that as a result of EU payments, Irish much we value the need to have a domestic food farmers are now encouraged to farm in an supply that provides safe, quality food. We must environmentally sensitive way, which has had a answer that question in regard to the debate on significant impact on the rural landscape. the CAP. Do we want factory farms, hypermark- It is important to point out that for 80% of ets and dodgy imports, which is contrary to what European farm holdings the amount of direct we have at present? In those circumstances the support farmers receive is less than \5,000 but it countryside would become a desolate place as the is crucial to ensuring that small farmers in rural agricultural economy is the lifeblood of many Ireland can continue to live and work the land. towns and villages the length and breadth of For those who have not been following the Ireland. I commend the amended motion to the recent reforms, the single farm payment is now House. completely decoupled from food production. We no longer have a system of agriculture that Mr. D. Ahern: The Green Party would sell its encourages inefficient farming. The focus is now soul if it went into government with Fine Gael. on quality, efficiency and environmental prac- tices. The revised Common Agricultural Policy Mr. Allen: It is better than what the Minister which was agreed in 2002 by all member states is suggesting. was to provide funding for agriculture between then and 2013. The budget was to start at 38% of Mr. D. Ahern: One may laugh, but it will sell the total EU budget and scale back over the its soul. period to 30% by 2013. That deal was signed by each member state and we must abide by it. An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order, please. 499 Disability Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. From the Seanad 500 Mr. Neville: I welcome the opportunity to attends the forthcoming UN Millennium Summit. speak on this important issue. While welcoming When he returns from that summit he must put in the recently announced debt cancellation, we place mechanisms to deliver on the commitment must ensure that as part of the First World we within two years. would give leadership on this issue. We have The Minister, Deputy Dermot Ahern, has given leadership in the past but, unfortunately, questioned what an alternative Government our name has taken a knock in recent times. I ask would do or how it would work if it was consti- the Minister to reiterate the objective of reaching tuted from different parties. 0.7% of GNP in overseas development aid. A total of 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 Mr. Naughten: He is worried. a day. Earlier this year I visited Ghana where I saw people in those circumstances. I met some mission- Mr. Crawford: For a Government that handed aries there who after 50 years do not understand back \383 million over a seven-year period from how these people survive on less than $1 a day. the Department of Agriculture and Food to the They were wholehearted in their tributes to them Department of Finance, its commitment to farm- for their initiative and survival instinct in such ing has fallen far short. appalling conditions. Statistics show that every day 800 million people go to bed hungry and 28,000 Mr. D. Ahern: Does the Deputy agree with the children die from poverty related causes. It is Green Party on the subsidy? appalling that rich countries do not respond to the needs of the Third World. We must send a clear Mr. Crawford: He should consider his own message that there is a moral obligation not alone record and let ours stand. in this country but in the developed world in gen- eral to ensure that basic human dignity is main- Mr. Naughten: The Minister should read the tained in the Third World. amendment. It is unacceptable that 14,000 women die each day from causes related to childbirth, 99% of them Mr. Crawford: I appreciate that money pro- in the developing world. Some 15 million children vided by taxpayers must be spent properly. around the world have lost one or both parents to ´ I thank organisations such as GOAL, Trocaire AIDS. I visited an AIDS centre when I was in and Christian Aid for all the good work they have Ghana and saw at first hand the devastation caused done. It is more important to help people to help by children being orphaned because of AIDS and themselves than simply to give them money. children who were born with AIDS because one or both of their parents had it. We have a duty to Debate adjourned. contribute not alone financially but in every way possible towards relieving that situation. Message from Seanad. Mr. Crawford: I welcome the opportunity to ´ An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Seanad Eireann say a few words on this matter. I hope that when has passed the Maritime Safety Bill 2004 and the the G8 countries meet in Edinburgh they will Investment Funds, Companies and Miscellaneous make a total commitment to the cancellation of Provisions Bill 2005 without amendment. debt for heavily indebted poor countries. I wel- come the publicity towards this end generated by people like Bob Geldof, but I want no more Disability Bill 2004: From the Seanad. excuses or half promises from the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, or the Taoiseach. ´ The Dail went into Committee to consider Ireland has had a proud record through its amendments from the Seanad. church workers and individuals down through the An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Seanad amend- centuries. Even at a time when we could not ments Nos. 1 and 2 are related and may be dis- afford it, our people supported those who were cussed together. worse off and were in desperation. The name of Ireland has been damaged by the Seanad amendment No. 1: fact that, while the Taoiseach gave a solemn com- In page 8, subsection (1), lines 36 to 39, “an mitment on the world stage to get his man officer of which is the accounting officer in elected, in the end he failed to deliver the 0.7% relation to the appropriation accounts of that of GNP he promised to devote to overseas body for the purposes of the Comptroller and development aid. Six months ago the people Auditor General Acts 1866 to 1998” deleted showed their total and absolute commitment to and “which is not the subject of an allocation the people of south-east Asia when they fund- by a Minister under subsection (2)” substituted. raised and gave personal donations, shaming the Government into committing sizeable sums in Amendment No. 1 concerns section 5. This aid. The way it was given, one would almost think section was probably discussed on Committee the Minister was losing out and not the compliant Stage more than any other section. Difficulties taxpayer. I call on the Taoiseach to reaffirm arose regarding how various elements of the Ireland’s commitment to the 0.7% target when he structure were to work but, nevertheless, section 501 Disability Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. From the Seanad 502 5 is probably the most fundamental section of presented that all the people of Ireland deserve. the Bill. I emphasise this because it does not only concern Section 5 makes reference to services and people with disabilities but all the citizens of this states a “Minister” means “a Minister of the State. We all have a right to see the desired legis- Government”. This Bill affects several Depart- lation presented. None of us is at a remove from ments and therefore it is a question of “Ministers this issue. Only for the grace of God, we might of the Government”. Given the importance of well be at the centre of what is actually needed ring-fencing, what is meant by “services”? Do the in this legislation. Who knows what the future services to be provided by each Department com- will bring for any of us? prise only services specific to people with dis- This legislation is for all the people of Ireland abilities or all services? If, for instance, the OPW and these amendments do absolutely nothing to were to install a ramp to facilitate access to a change what is, in effect, a Bill that has turned its building, would it be part of the service? Would back on the recommendations of the Govern- it be what the funding is for? Is the tactile pave- ment-established Disability Legislation Consul- ment the Department of the Environment, Heri- tation Group and all its good work. This is exem- tage and Local Government provides through plified by the withdrawal of many of those who local government services part of the service? had made an heroic and critical contribution and Does it pertain to the budget? who ultimately found themselves, very disap- Is the education service provided by the pointingly, having to campaign against the end Department of Education and Science part of the result of all their labours because the Govern- service? Is this what its budget is for? I do not ment turned its back on it. refer solely to the education service for children Seanad amendments Nos. 1 and 2 confer no with disabilities because the Supreme Court rights and establish no commitment to the prin- decision on primary education for people over 18 ciple of progressive realisation. Every provision extends the scope in this regard. Exactly what in section 5 is framed to reduce the State’s liab- services are we talking about? To what does ring- ility for failure to provide essential services. Sinn fencing apply? If the education service is part of ´ Fein’s amendment, which was presented by my the service referred to, how does this square with ´ colleague Deputy O Snodaigh during the substan- the constitutional obligation regarding primary tive debate on the legislation in this House, education? sought to ring-fence funding for disability-specific Will the Minister state exactly what he means services. Of course this was rejected by the by “services”? Are they disability-specific Government. services? Does he mean services including those which are available to us all? I would like a com- Although not wishing to labour my point on prehensive answer to these questions because it Seanad amendments Nos. 1 and 2 because we is very important that we know exactly the budget may wish to proceed further, I must state that any that will be available to each Department. Will it amendment to section 5 that does not introduce be a question of the comprehensive service the principle of ring-fencing funding for dis- including services for people with disabilities or ability-specific services is not relevant, serves no simply a question of disability-specific services? If useful purpose and is an example of the futility it is the latter, how will the budget of each of the entire exercise in which we are engaged Department be determined at the start of each this evening. year? I regret greatly that we will not have another opportunity to pass judgment on the substantive ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: We are dealing only ´ Bill. Instead, we must vote on whatever Seanad with the first and second of 33 Seanad amend- amendments are outstanding at 9 p.m. It is the ments although the time allowed for considering only mechanism open to us with which to show them will elapse in 25 minutes. As I stated today our absolute contempt for a Bill which shows con- on the Order of Business, these 33 amendments tempt for those who hoped, worked for and are broadly technical and do absolutely nothing deserved legislation which reflected their rights to rescue this fundamentally flawed legislation. and needs. Since the Seanad did not make a series of amend- ments taking on board the recommendations of Mr. Stanton: These amendments are largely the Commission on the Status of People with Dis- technical. I am not 100% sure what amendment abilities, the recommendations contained in the No. 1 is supposed to achieve. Perhaps the Mini- document Equal Citizens, or amendments that ster of State would explain. Judging from what transformed the Bill significantly into rights- he said in the Seanad this is a purely technical based legislation, the exercise in the House is amendment and relates to section 2 not contra- absolutely fatuous. dicting a part of section 1 when changed. I strongly disagree with even the notion of In amendment No. 2, the Minister of State is section 5, which imposes resource limitations. replacing the word “required” with “appropri- This is its primary purpose. This is not the stuff ate”. It would be useful to know why that is being of legislation that would make a key and critical done. Perhaps the DLCG had something to do difference in the delivery of the rights of people with it. However, it appears to weaken the legis- with disability. We want to see legislation lation in that if funding is required it is up to the 503 Disability Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. From the Seanad 504 [Mr. Stanton.] Government to respond to the advice which was Minister of the day to judge whether it is given by those put in place to do so. Mr. Justice appropriate. Flood was very clear in that the only approach The Bill would make sense if it included a pro- was on the basis of introducing a rights-based vision in this section whereby funding was ear- Bill. Others who contributed were singular in the marked early in the year and then ringfenced so view that nothing less than a rights-based Bill was that it could not be used for anything other than acceptable and that it is needed to ensure that the services needed for people with disabilities. people with disabilities get their rights under var- However, this is not the case, as the Minister of ious international conventions, including the State made clear to me on Report Stage. Is it pos- Convention on Human Rights. Section 5 and the sible at this point for the Government to put that amendments before us do nothing to allow for kind of structure in place? A judgment could then this discussion and we are concerned in that be made at the start of the year regarding the regard. Politicians from many parties gave a com- amount of money required to provide services for mitment to ensure that, should the opportunity people with disabilities for that year. That money arise, a rights-based Bill would be introduced to would then be made available and could not be the House. touched by anybody except for those services. If the money ran out during the year, a supplemen- Minister of State at the Department of Justice, tary budget could be introduced to top it up. Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Fahey): Amend- This section, however, goes the other way. ment No. 1 is a technical amendment and makes There will be very little left for the services pro- it clear that the definition of specified bodies vided for in this Bill if a flu epidemic occurs and relates to bodies such as the HSE and the courts the HSE must use the funding. This huge corner- which operate with their own financial Votes and stone should be in place but it is not. The entire where the relevant Minister does not allocate strategy is built on sand; it is a quicksand into funding. which people can sink. This is the Bill’s major The change reflected in amendment No. 2 was flaw. sought by the DLCG at its recent meeting with We are discussing largely technical amend- the Taoiseach on 25 May. The Taoiseach indi- ments and the changing of words. There are a cated that the matter would be reviewed and the number of amendments further along which some Government has since agreed to make the related of us suggested on Committee and Report Stages change to the Bill. Page 9, subsection (4), line 6, and which the Minister has now taken on board. states that in determining the appropriate allo- I would be interested in what he has to say about cation under subsections (2) and (3), the Minister section 5, one of the key funding sections. It is or specified body shall ensure that the amount specifically set up to protect the Minister, the remaining after the allocation is not less than the Exchequer and the Departments so that nobody amount that is required. The word “appropriate” can say that the Department must spend a certain is more balanced in the context of the balance amount of money to help a child badly in need of achieved in this Bill. The DLCG felt that the a service. Until now the courts could do this and word “required” was somewhat too strong and parents have had to go to court to get support we accepted the amendment. and services for their children. However, that will With regard to Deputy Lynch’s point, services not be possible under this section. It will preclude are described in section 2 of the Bill and do not people from going to court and the courts will be include education services which are provided for unable to make a judgment to provide a service. in the new special education Bill. That is what people are saying about this section. With regard to the points made in terms of The Minister of State has said many times that rights, I am absolutely satisfied that the pro- he does not want the courts to tell him, the visions in this Bill give a considerable number of Government or the HSE what to do. Heretofore rights to people with disabilities but do not citizens had no choice but to go to court to get include a new right, namely, the right to a jus- rights for their children and for other adults. ticiable decision. I took on this responsibility fol- Hopefully the situation will change but unless the lowing publication of the Bill and am satisfied funding is sufficient and ringfenced, it will all be that it would not be in the best interests of people built on sand. I hope it works for the sake of the with disabilities to have justiciable rights. A people who deserve and need services and sup- situation already exists in respect of health ports from the State in order to achieve a quality services whereby justiciable rights do not exist. of life that gives them dignity and respect. That They have existed in the past with regard to is what we all wish for. special education services. It is quite clear from decisions taken and the ensuing results that most Mr. Neville: The proposed amendment does of the money received in terms of justiciable nothing to address serious concerns regarding the rights in the courts with regard to the issue of need for a rights-based Bill. There was an emot- education has gone into lawyers’ pockets. ive response to the Minister of State’s approach I was very interested in what I read in this at a meeting last night in Limerick. Families of morning’s paper. I would particularly like those with disabilities expressed their extreme members of the Labour Party and Fine Gael to concern and near anger at the failure of the confirm whether they will give a commitment to 505 Disability Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. From the Seanad 506 introduce legislation giving justiciable rights. It is into the pockets of barristers and solicitors. Mr. not in the interests of people with disabilities. It Justice Fergus Flood did not speak last night as a is no wonder someone like Mr. Justice Flood judge, he spoke as the chairman of the Com- wants to have justiciable rights. He would prob- mission on People with Disabilities. To even infer ably feel it is the courts that should decide the that it was in his self-interest that he proposed the level of service to be provided for people. It is inclusion of justiciable rights requires an apology not the courts that should do this, but this House. from Deputy Fahey. It is outrageous that he The legislation is innovative in that it provides should make such an assertion. for transparency for the first time, in that each Minister must outline in public at the beginning Mr. Neville: Hear, hear. of the year the amount of money that he or she will allocate for disabilities. With the multi- Ms Lynch: People who have to go to court to annual funding of the next five years there will vindicate their rights do so because they have no be no change in that departmental allocation. It other option. I ask the Minister how he thinks we is not possible to include in legislation the ring- would react to legislation that stated that either fencing of money in any area of public expendi- he, or I could not go to court to vindicate our ture. I had robust discussions with officials in the rights, whether in relation to wrongful arrest, Department of Finance who were quite clear that slander or a civil action of some kind. We would in the interests of good governance and the strongly protest and we would be right to do so. proper use of public funds, we could not ring- People with disabilities are not lesser citizens. fence funding in legislation. I assure the House, They are equal citizens who just happen to need however, that the Bill provides that each Minister more help from the State than people who are must outline the allocation of money he or she able-bodied. The difficulty is that this Govern- will devote to disabilities during the year. It ment perceives them to be lesser citizens and is would take a brave Minister to change that allo- not prepared to do the right thing. I point out to cation and with multi-annual funding, there will the Minister of State that everything costs money. be no need to change. Mr. Stanton: If this Bill is all the Minister of Ms Lynch: The notion that one cannot ring- State claims, why is he afraid of the courts? If this fence money is outrageous, for the simple reason legislation will provide the necessary services and that it is done all the time. supports there is no need to insert a provision that prevents people from going to court. The last Mr. Fahey: Not in legislation. place people with disabilities or their parents want to go is to court. The court is the last resort, Ms Lynch: We already know, for instance, how the final choice and people only go there because much the Government intends to spend in the the State has let them down. In most instances next five years for disability services. The notion they are vindicated in the neutral venue of the that one cannot—— court, although the Minister of State seemed to imply that our courts are not neutral. Under the Mr. Fahey: On a point of information, Deputy Constitution the courts are there to uphold the Lynch is incorrect. That is plainly incorrect. rights of individuals and if the courts find in fav- Ms Lynch: I ask the Leas-Cheann Comhairle if our of the citizen, they are doing their job. If this that is a point of information. Bill is all that it is claimed to be, if it will provide the services and supports Deputy Fahey claims, An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: There is no such there is no need to prevent people from going to thing as a point of information. court if they feel they must. People should not have to go to court, if this Bill is so good. Ms Lynch: That is not a point of information. Through the Finance Act, money is ring-fenced It is just a point of pomposity and an indication every year and there is no reason that could not that the Minister of State thinks he is right about be done in the context of the Disability Bill. I do everything. It is not a point of information. not know if the Minister of State has ever read With this Disability Bill we have a Minister of the Finance Act. It is a large document and there State who clearly does not have the power, the is considerable reading in it, as well as much will or the desire to change anything or to put work. Money could be set aside and ring-fenced something in place that would benefit people with specifically for the services for which the Bill disabilities. That was very obvious from the out- legislates. If funding is inadequate, a supplemen- set of this process. I do not know if Deputy Fahey tary budget could be introduced to ensure that felt this was a form of punishment for him but he people receive the services they require. That is clearly did not have the interest required to do what should be done, but this Bill and the section the job properly. under discussion, is specifically designed to pro- Those who campaign on behalf of people with tect the State and Ministers from the weakest sec- disabilities have enough to do without running to tor of our society, namely, people with dis- the courts at every turn. Yet the Minister of State abilities. has consistently said, every time he has risen to At the outset of the debate on this legislation, his feet, that their only aim in life is to put money I read out a letter from the parent of a disabled 507 Disability Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. From the Seanad 508 [Mr. Stanton.] stage of its enactment and implementation. child. He said that when he read this Bill, it was Unfortunately, because of the guillotine we will like a slap in the face. He wondered why the State not be afforded the opportunity to discuss other is so afraid of his child, who cannot walk or talk. amendments tabled. However, most of these are Why is the State so afraid that it must insert safe- technical and will not make a huge difference to guards into legislation to protect the State and the substance of the Bill. the Exchequer from his child? That is what that ´ ´ Caoimhghın O Caolain: As this is almost the ´ parent wondered and that is exactly what is hap- last minute allowed for this discussion, I wish to pening with this Bill. briefly state that the Human Right’s Com- Some time ago I said I hoped the Bill would mission’s critique of Section 5, as work, for the sake of people with disabilities. We ´ passed by the Dail will still hold, will follow the progress carefully from the aut- 9 o’clock even if amendments Nos. 1 and 2 ´ umn, when the Dail returns from its imposed were accepted. The critique deals with the pro- exile. We will track the progress of the Bill, ask posed system of funding which provides Ministers questions and examine how every section of the and service providers wide discretion to deviate legislation is put into place. We already find that from the provision of services identified as being the special needs area in education is being cut required, or appropriate, by persons with dis- back. Special needs assessment officers are telling abilities. The Human Rights Commission con- children in schools that they cannot have a special cluded that this Bill does not guarantee the pro- needs assistant. The Education for Persons with gressive realisation of rights and therefore is not Special Educational Needs Bill does not appear consistent with our obligations under inter- to be working in that regard. national human rights law. In all the responses I appeal to the Minister of State to ensure that from the Minister of State in the course of the there is sufficient funding in place, that it is ring- entire debate on the so-called Disability Bill, I fenced and not frittered away on other services in never noted that he addressed the concerns raised the health or education areas and that the by the Human Rights Commission and I do not services and supports are in place for the people know if time will allow for that this evening. This who need them. The need is great. Deputies who is a most unsatisfactory process. were in Limerick last night heard people describe their experiences, the pressures they are under An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: As it is now 9 and their anger and frustration was palpable. p.m. I am required to put the following question ´ in accordance with an order of the Dail of this One’s heart would go out to such people when day: “That the Seanad amendments not disposed one realises what they have to endure and the of are hereby agreed to in Committee and agree- fears they have for their disabled children when ment to the amendments is accordingly reported they die and so on. to the House.” I hope this Bill will work, but I have major res- ervations. We will track progress and follow every Question put. ´ ´ ´ The Dail divided: Ta, 65; Nıl, 51. ´ Ta Ahern, Michael. Haughey, Sean.´ Ahern, Noel. ´ Hoctor, Maire. Ardagh, Sean.´ Jacob, Joe. Brady, Johnny. Keaveney, Cecilia. Brady, Martin. Kelleher, Billy. Brennan, Seamus. Kelly, Peter. Browne, John. Killeen, Tony. Callanan, Joe. Kirk, Seamus. Callely, Ivor. Kitt, Tom. Carey, Pat. Lenihan, Brian. Carty, John. McEllistrim, Thomas. Cassidy, Donie. McGuinness, John. Collins, Michael. Martin, Micheal.´ Cowen, Brian. Moynihan, Michael. Cregan, John. Cullen, Martin. Mulcahy, Michael. Curran, John. Nolan, M. J. ´ ´ ´ O Cuıv, Eamon. Davern, Noel. ´ ´ O Fearghaıl, Sean.´ Dempsey, Tony. Dennehy, John. O’Connor, Charlie. Devins, Jimmy. O’Dea, Willie. Ellis, John. O’Donnell, Liz. Fahey, Frank. O’Donovan, Denis. Finneran, Michael. O’Flynn, Noel. Fleming, Sean.´ O’Keeffe, Batt. Gallagher, Pat The Cope. O’Keeffe, Ned. 509 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. Report Stage 510 ´ Ta—continued O’Malley, Fiona. Smith, Brendan. O’Malley, Tim. Smith, Michael. Parlon, Tom. Treacy, Noel. Wallace, Dan. Power, Peter. Walsh, Joe. ´ Power, Sean. Wilkinson, Ollie. Roche, Dick. Woods, Michael. Sexton, Mae. ´ Nıl Allen, Bernard. McGrath, Finian. Boyle, Dan. McGrath, Paul. Breen, James. McHugh, Paddy. Broughan, Thomas P. McManus, Liz. Burton, Joan. Moynihan-Cronin, Breeda. Connaughton, Paul. Murphy, Catherine. Costello, Joe. Naughten, Denis. Cowley, Jerry. Neville, Dan. Crawford, Seymour. ´ ´ ´ O Caolain, Caoimhghın. ´ Crowe, Sean. O’Dowd, Fergus. ´ Cuffe, Ciaran. O’Keeffe, Jim. Deasy, John. O’Shea, Brian. Deenihan, Jimmy. O’Sullivan, Jan. Durkan, Bernard J. Pattison, Seamus. Fox, Mildred. Penrose, Willie. Gormley, John. Quinn, Ruairı.´ Gregory, Tony. Rabbitte, Pat. Hayes, Tom. Ryan, Eamon. Healy-Rae, Jackie. Sargent, Trevor. Higgins, Michael D. Sherlock, Joe. Hogan, Phil. ´ ´ Shortall, Roisın. Howlin, Brendan. Stagg, Emmet. Kehoe, Paul. Stanton, David. Lynch, Kathleen. Upton, Mary. McCormack, Padraic. Wall, Jack. McGinley, Dinny. ´ ´ Tellers: Ta, Deputies Kitt and Kelleher; Nıl, Deputies Kehoe and Stagg. Question declared carried. Dr. Upton: I move amendment No. 1: In page 16, line 6, to delete “who is not eli- Veterinary Practice Bill 2004 [Seanad]: Order gible to be so registered, but”. for Report Stage. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that Minister of State at the Department of Agri- an adequate number of vets will be appointed. culture and Food (Mr. Browne): I move: “That Having regard to the number of sub-committees Report Stage be taken now.” that may exist, it is important to ensure adequate veterinary representation is available to each of Question put and agreed to. them. We discussed this issue at some length on Committee Stage. It is important that account is Veterinary Practice Bill 2004 [Seanad]: Report taken of this amendment to ensure the number Stage. of vets required is available to fulfil their role adequately on such various committees. An Ceann Comhairle: Amendment No. 2 is an alternative to amendment No. 1 and amendments Mr. Naughten: I wish to speak to the three No. 3 to 5, inclusive, and 15 are related. Amend- amendments in my name and that of Deputy ments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, and 15 can be taken Crawford. Amendment No. 2 questions the together. reason a veterinarian cannot represent animal welfare groups. I accept the point made by the Mr. Naughten: On a point of order, can we get Minister on Committee Stage that she wants to a list of the grouping of amendments as it would maintain a balance on the Veterinary Council. be helpful when debating the amendments? It is She wants to make sure that there are not too normal procedure that this list is circulated. many vets on the council. However, I do not understand why the chairperson of the ISPCA — An Ceann Comhairle: Does the Deputy also to use the example I gave in this regard on Com- wish to take a copy of the list for the information mittee Stage — who traditionally was the person of his colleague? normally appointed to represent animal welfare groups, should be disbarred from representing Mr. Naughten: I thank the Chair. that organisation on the Veterinary Council sim- 511 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. Report Stage 512 [Mr. Naughten.] Dr. Upton: It is Russia. ply because that person holds a veterinary qualifi- cation. That is not satisfactory. I do not believe Mr. Browne: I am sorry, Russia. that there will be too many vets. The legislation should not be prescriptive in that way. I will not Mr. Naughten: It is good we are keeping an eye go into this amendment in further detail because on her, anyway. we articulated this point well on Committee Stage. Mr. Browne: Deputies will no doubt be aware We also discussed amendments Nos. 4 and 15 that there was considerable discussion about the on Committee Stage and the Minister gave a composition of the council during the passage of commitment that she would examine the position the Bill through the Seanad and on Committee in this regard. I raise these amendments because Stage in this House. The Minister, Deputy for some unknown reason the legislation has been Coughlan, already agreed to adjust the compo- worded as if there is only one institution in the sition of the council to ensure that sufficient vet- State that provides veterinary qualifications, but erinary expertise was available, particularly to that is not the case. The National University of serve on sub-committees. In order to achieve this, Ireland provides the majority of qualifications she agreed to an increase of two in the elected here, but HETAC also provides qualifications, veterinary practitioner membership. As regards and account is not taken of that in the legislation. the amendments being put forward again by Members of the Athlone Institute of Technology Deputies Naughten, Crawford and Upton, the are extremely annoyed it was not consulted under issues concerned were given considerable airing any guise on this legislation. A significant amount on Committee Stage in this House. As the Mini- of the legislation directly relates to the institute ster, Deputy Coughlan, indicated previously, the and it was never consulted. No recognition, what- underlying concerns are already catered for in the soever, has been given to the Athlone institute in Bill as currently formulated. the legislation, yet one other institution is As regards the welfare constituency which is implicitly written in, namely, UCD or the the subject of two amendments, already there is National University of Ireland. As I said on Com- a critical mass of veterinarians on the council, all mittee Stage, either the NUI should be taken out of who will, by virtue of their profession, be very of the equation or HETAC should be included, mindful of welfare. However, there is also an for the sake of balance. The legislation has a pro- issue of overall balance involved and I cannot vision whereby as a default mechanism the NUI agree to further increase the representation of nominates members to the Veterinary Council of vets on the council. Ireland. Even at this late stage will the Minister As regards consultation with HETAC, the of State consider inserting an amendment, in con- Minister indicated on Committee Stage that this sultation at least with HETAC, so that at least it would be examined further. Following this exam- has a consultative role as regards this? These are ination we do not believe any change is necessary since the matter of nominating rights beyond the the only two awarding bodies in the country and NUI is already catered for in section 16(2) of the I cannot see the logic of precluding one of them. Bill. Deputy Naughten instanced a course being The Minister, Deputy Coughlan, in her run for veterinary nurses in Athlone Institute of response on Committee Stage, said nothing pre- Technology, which I understand is in its first year. cludes her, as the Minister, from specifying any It would be premature at this stage to include a particular institute of technology, and that is cor- specific reference to HETAC in the Bill before rect. Yet, why does she have to include one body the course has been accepted by the veterinary and ignore the other? There are only two relevant council in its role under section 13 as an approver institutions in the State and I cannot understand of courses for the purpose of registration. why one of them has to be precluded from the However, if and when this approval is granted, it legislation. I ask the Minister of State to seriously is likely the Minister will, at that stage, designate consider that argument. HETAC is an awarding HETAC as a nominating body, using her powers body and there is absolutely no mention of it. The under section 16(2) of the Bill. representatives on the ground in Athlone Deputies Naughten and Crawford, by means of Institute of Technology are very aggrieved that amendment No. 15, also proposed that it be stipu- they were not consulted as regards this legis- lated in section 16(2) that a member of HETAC lation. They feel they deserved to have an input, must be appointed to the council’s education just like everyone else. What really annoyed them committee. Again, I feel this is premature. is that implicit in the legislation is one institution However, if in due course a nominee of HETAC while the other is ignored. is appointed to the council, section 16(2) already provides that the person must be on the edu- Minister of State at the Department of Agri- cation committee. As regards Deputy Upton’s culture and Food (Mr. Browne): I apologise for proposal to specify that the dean of the veterinary the absence of the Minister, who is on a trade faculty must be on the council, as the Minister, mission in China. Deputy Coughlan, has already indicated on Com- mittee Stage, we do not believe it would be Mr. Naughten: I believe it is Russia. appropriate in primary legislation to prescribe 513 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. Report Stage 514 whom a nominating body must nominate. This of Technology to get their qualification. All of a must be left to the nominating body itself. sudden the sands are shifting under that structure. As regards the nominee of the Minister for Those particular students signed up for that Education and Science, the Government remains course on the basis of meeting specific targets of the view that it would not be appropriate to when they would emerge with a specified qualifi- remove this person. Matters relating to training cation. There is genuine concern in this regard. and education, including continuing professional There is also concern at Athlone institute level development, are among the most important that if the NUI is the only representative as functions being assigned to the council. In so far regards the education element of the veterinary as the education sphere is concerned a nominee council, and that the university in conjunction of the Minister and nominees from the education with the council will set the rules for the future providers are essential and appropriate. We as regards the registration, functions and roles of therefore do not accept the amendments for the veterinary nurses, then it will not have a role in reasons I have outlined. that. Finally, on the Minister of State’s comment Dr. Upton: As regards amendment No. 5, a that the Minister, Deputy Coughlan, is likely to very important point was being made in relation include HETAC under section 16(2), will he be to the dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine somewhat more specific and indicate whether she at UCD. As I have pointed out, it is the only will do it? school of veterinary medicine on the island. By tradition the dean holds a very specific role of Mr. Browne: On Deputy Upton’s point about responsibility within the faculty. It would be the dean of the faculty, it is generally expected appropriate that as the representative of that that he or she will be appointed. The Minister’s body of professional veterinarians, and the edu- point is that the House should not tell the nomin- cators, particularly, the dean of the faculty should ating body who it must appoint, although it is be given a position on the council. Traditionally, generally expected that the dean will be this role has been held by the faculty of veterin- appointed. ary medicine. I also take account of what Deputy Naughten Mr. Naughten: I am sure one or two individuals said regarding HETAC. While I am promoting from Wexford will also be appointed. the dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine, UCD — I regard this as very important — I Mr. Browne: I hope so. While it is good that a accept the role of HETAC, the other awarding new and, I am sure, worthwhile course is being body for the veterinary profession, namely veter- offered at the Athlone Institute of Technology, inary nurses. Some account should be taken, in the Minister is not in a position to approve it. The particular, of that role as well. I accept this is its Veterinary Council of Ireland is the only organis- first year and that awards have not yet been con- ation which can approve a course. However, the ferred. Nevertheless, HETAC clearly will be the Minister has indicated that if and when approval awarding body and it is very important it is recog- is granted, it is likely that she will designate nised in that role and has parity, at least, with the HETAC as a nominating body using her powers faculty of veterinary medicine for which I am under section 16(2). She stated same on Commit- arguing. tee Stage. I anticipate that as soon as the Veterin- ary Council of Ireland, the only body with power Mr. Naughten: I come back to the issue of to approve a course, approves the course in HETAC and the significant concerns among vet- Athlone, the Minister will be in a position to con- erinary nurses. I do not know the ins and outs of sider HETAC as a nominating body. their qualifications or their training. However, staff at the Athlone Institute of Technology are Mr. Naughten: With regard to—— adamant that the core structure that has been approved under HETAC is to a considerably An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Upton is the higher standard than what is taking place in the only Deputy with a right to speak to the amend- National University of Ireland. I do not know ment a third time. whether that is the case. It would take someone more expert than I am to decide whether that is Mr. Naughten: Is that because she moved it? the position. Perhaps Deputy Upton is in a better position to adjudicate on that. However, be that An Ceann Comhairle: Yes. as it may they feel their qualification could be watered down. The rules governing that and the Mr. Naughten: Do I not have an opportunity registration could be watered down because the to speak to my amendments in the group? function of the veterinary council is to set the rules as regards the practice of veterinary nursing. An Ceann Comhairle: No, the Deputy has an That is one of the council’s first functions and opportunity to speak twice, one long contribution roles. HETAC has put the structures in place and and one contribution of two minutes. indicated specifically what hurdles have to be crossed by students attending Athlone Institute Amendment, by leave, withdrawn. 515 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. Report Stage 516 Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved. Dr. Upton: I agree with the thrust of Deputy Naughten’s argument. The issue of limited regis- Mr. Naughten: I move amendment No. 4: tration has been widely debated and the Minister In page 16, line 16, after “Ireland” to insert offered some useful recommendations and advice “in consultation with H.E.T.A.C.”. on the matter. Nevertheless, the veterinary pro- fession is concerned as to what exactly might be implied by the provision for limited registration. Amendment put and declared lost. For this reason, it is important to specify that the provision would be activated only where a disease Amendment No. 5 not moved. poses “a significant threat to human or animal health”. Failure to do so would open the door to An Ceann Comhairle: Amendment No. 6 in the interpretation and thereby create an environment names of Deputies Naughten and Crawford arises in which limited registration could be made avail- out of committee proceedings. Amendment No. 7 able in circumstances that were never intended. is related and the amendments may be discussed The inclusion of the specific wording, “a signifi- together by agreement. cant threat to animal or human health”, would remove ambiguity from the provision. Mr. Naughten: I move amendment No. 6: In page 37, line 12, after “disease” to insert Mr. Browne: With regard to amendments Nos. the following: “which poses a significant threat 6 and 7, the subject of limited registration has to animal or human health”. been debated extensively during earlier Stages of This brings us back to the issue of the definition passage of the Bill. Although the Minister has of the term “a significant threat to animal or explained in depth the rationale for the section, human health”. There is considerable concern it may be useful to briefly cover it again since that the current wording could give the Minister there appears to be an underlying concern that a blank cheque in terms of the diseases she would the provision could be used as a back door to designate. Vets are also concerned that the Mini- register unqualified persons in a manner which ster could include in the designation routine pro- would undermine the veterinary profession. That cedures carried out as part of an animal health is not in any way the intention behind the programme. provision. According to the Minister, the sole purpose of The 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease the provision is to deal with significant diseases, which, though limited geographically, nonetheless for example, class A diseases, but the powers showed the extreme pressure a larger outbreak given to the Minister far exceed this specific would place on the veterinary service, both State element. In the Seanad and in committee, she and private. It must be taken into account that a consistently stated that the sole purpose of the disease episode could be EU-wide or even hemi- provision in both the relevant sections is specifi- sphere-wide, meaning that we could not call on cally to deal with serious emergencies arising practitioners from elsewhere in Europe. In these from class A type diseases or a shortage of veter- circumstances, it is no more than prudent to make inarians which requires us to bring in vets from statutory provision for an exceptional recognition abroad. She consistently cited the example of foot mechanism, which would allow persons with and mouth disease as the reason for introducing requisite skills, for example, trainee vets from a the provision. No one, inside or outside the third country, to be taken in expeditiously to Chamber, would have a difficulty with the pro- carry out specified tasks determined by the Vet- vision, provided that this is its sole purpose. The erinary Council of Ireland. difficulty, however, is that as the legislation Provision is also made under the section to stands, any disease can come under this category. recognise persons who, while eminently qualified The purpose of the amendment is to provide clar- in a particular field which would render desirable ity in this regard. their presence in, for example, a veterinary The Minister argued on Committee Stage that college for teaching purposes, they would none- she did not want to be restricted if an urgent and theless not hold a conventional veterinary degree. significant threat to animal or human health The section also contains important safeguards. emerged and, therefore, the class A definition The Veterinary Council of Ireland must satisfy might not be appropriate. I accept her argument, itself that it is appropriate to activate the pro- which is the reason I tabled these amendments vision. The education committee has been desig- specifically to deal with the types of diseases that nated under section 63 a function to advise the would pose a significant threat to animal or council on the skills and knowledge required. The human health. They provide a sufficiently broad grounds for limited registration are specified in definition to facilitate the Minister in terms of any section 45(2), and section 45(4) provides a basis potential necessity to apply the provisions, as set for attaching conditions, including time, geo- out, while also protecting the integrity of the vet- graphic limits and operating under supervision, to erinary medicine profession. Given the consider- a limited registration. able concern regarding the broad definition in the With regard to the specific amendments under section, I ask the Minister of State to reconsider consideration and bearing in mind what I have and accept the amendment. said, it would not be appropriate to limit the pro- 517 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. Report Stage 518 vision to significant diseases. In any event, the still feels the situation is the best way forward and formula contained in section 45(1) gives the that the VCI would go through the exhaustive council, rather than the Minister, an adequate conditions before any decision is made. framework within which to decide when it is appropriate to activate this provision. Mr. Naughten: The argument does not hold up. The Minister of State made the point about class Mr. Naughten: I thank the Minister of State for A and class B diseases. I accepted that and his response. While I accept his point that the changed the amendment between Committee and provision contains checks and balances and the Report Stages to redefine the issue. The amend- Veterinary Council of Ireland ultimately calls the ment provides checks and balances and I do not shots in terms of activating the provision, I am at see any difficulty with our wording. It gives rise a loss to understand why the amendment is not to concern that it is not acceptable. deemed appropriate. During every Stage in both Houses, Members were told ad nauseam that the Amendment put and declared lost. provision would apply in the event of an outbreak of a disease such as foot and mouth disease, Mr. Naughten: I move amendment No. 7: which poses a significant threat to animal or In page 37, between lines 14 and 15, to insert human health. Any such outbreak may not the following: necessarily involve a class A disease, the defini- tion of which may change at some future date “(12) For the avoidance of doubt, a person thus requiring amendment. This amendment is who is registered under this section shall not well balanced and makes provision for what the carry out on an animal a treatment or pro- Minister wants. I cannot understand why she is cedure or administer an animal remedy, save not prepared to consider it when it copperfastens in the course of a disease outbreak poses a everything she said on all Stages. significant threat to animal or human The Minister made the point about a veterinary health.”. teacher. There could be a need for microbiolog- ists if there is another major outbreak of foot and Amendment put and declared lost. mouth. The fair and balanced proposal in the amendment addresses the provision the Minister Mr. Naughten: I move amendment No. 8: requires while providing the protection for con- cerns that have been articulated. In page 41, line 25, after “Minister” to insert ´ ´ “with the approval of Dail Eireann”. Dr. Upton: With emerging diseases such as This amendment comes back to the issue of avian flu and familiar diseases like foot and definitions. There are such wide provisions in this mouth, the intention of the Bill is to categorise legislation that the Minister could regulate every- class A diseases. To include the words “a signifi- thing bar the kitchen sink if she wished. In the cant threat to animal or human health”, however, definition of veterinary practice, there are such would take any contingency into account. It broad provisions that every Member of the would clarify the situation while protecting veter- Oireachtas could be defined as a practitioner of inary practitioners in the area of limited regis- veterinary medicine if the majority of the House tration. There are economic and human and ani- wanted without any debate. That is the main diffi- mal health connotations so it is important we culty I have with it. specify what we are talking about. The Minister and the profession would be pro- tected if there was a provision requiring the posi- Mr. Browne: Since the debate in the Seanad, ´ tive approval of the Dail and referral to a com- when this issue arose, and on Committee Stage, mittee. Many Ministers are sympathetic to this the Minister has considered the suggestions made sort of provision but for some reason the Minister by Opposition Deputies. She believes it would be for Agriculture and Food is not prepared to con- inappropriate to limit the provision of class A dis- sider it in this legislation. ease since a class B or uncategorised disease Section 53 provides for the Minister to intro- could pose as great a threat. In terms of the sig- duce regulations on live animal certification or nificant threat format, this is more of a policy products of animal origin. The Minister, when statement than a legal provision. Deputy Crawford raised the issue on Committee There are questions as to who will decide when Stage, said it was not the case but section 53(1) a significant threat exists and the criteria that will covers what veterinary practitioners can certify. be used to decide it. The Minister feels the exist- The veterinary profession has a certain degree of ing draft, which reserves the power to activate influence in the Department of Agriculture of limited registration to the council, implies the Food and we must ensure checks and balances council must assess the situation in light of the are in place. conditions prevailing and reach a decision as to We have teased out the transportation of ani- whether the other possibility of getting veterinary mals with the Minister on a number of occasions expertise into the country at short notice is not so there is a sensible and practical approach taken adequate. The Minister has given considerable that is not stacked in favour of one profession thought to the amendments put forward but she getting its cut of the cake before everyone else. 519 Veterinary Practice Bill 2004: 28 June 2005. Report Stage 520 [Mr. Naughten.] this Bill is simply to bring it within the legal That is why I am concerned about the practice of definition of the practise of veterinary medicines veterinary medicine. The amendment would when it is designated to vets. However, the desig- mean the Minister would have to bring regu- nation of such functions will not be provided for lations before the House, thus ensuring any pro- under this legislation and, therefore, the need for posals to extend the provisions for veterinary the amendment does not arise. medicine would be debated. Otherwise, it is pos- The Minister for Agriculture and Food has no sible that a Minister could be caught in a bind problem with a debate in the House a year after with the veterinary profession when the issue of the Bill is enacted. However, it would have to be certification by vets who want a slice of the cake agreed by the Whips at the time. This is the stan- before allowing these procedures to go through dard practice in the House. arises. Mr. Crawford: It certainly would not work out Mr. Crawford: I support this amendment. I sat then. in this House when we agreed regulations with the then Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mr. Browne: I am not sure if Deputy Crawford Deputy Walsh, and former Deputy Dukes was will be the Minister for Agriculture and Food in our spokesperson. Categorical assurances were the foreseeable future. given that the issues would be brought back to the Chamber within 12 months. Recently, on a Mr. Naughten: He is well on his way. debate on the special powers Act, I noted that, The Minister of State referred to other second- on an annual basis, the Oireachtas has an oppor- ary legislation. It defies logic that the protection tunity to discuss its measures. If there are prob- regarding secondary legislation provided for in lems with the legislation, we have the right to section 53 is other secondary legislation that can change it. The regulations in this legislation could be rubber-stamped through the House. The Mini- have major implications for the future of farming. ster of State referred to the European Communi- We must protect the good name of our agricul- ties (Certification of Animals and Animal tural produce. However, we cannot protect it at all costs and there is justification for this amend- Products) Regulation 1999, SI 380/99. In effect, ment. These measures must be brought back to secondary legislation will protect other secondary the House if and when necessary and not just on legislation. That is a pointless argument. It is a Minister’s whim. I urge the Minister of State to obvious he has not listened to our argument that realise it is not in the interest of the Minister for checks and balances need to be put in place for Agriculture and Food to have all matters tied the Minister, as much as anyone else. down to regulations. The House has a role to play While he argues that this is the wrong legis- in determining this. lation on which to discuss this issue, the amend- ment states in black and white what vets can cer- Dr. Upton: There are two important elements tify and it provides that the Minister, through to this amendment. Precedents already exist in secondary legislation, will make that provision other legislation allowing for this type of amend- regarding the certification. I do not want a ment to be put in place. It is not as if an unusual situation in the future where a partnership provision is being sought. The second element member, the veterinary practitioners, has an ace concerns the power given to the Minister. It is card up its sleeve to put pressure on the Minister true that when dealing with any modification, to act in a particular way. This could also have particularly with regulations, the Minister has the large ramifications regarding costs that could be exclusive power to bring in that regulation. This introduced under emergency measures. The is neither good for the Minister nor the House. Minister could argue that due to an outbreak of Regarding regulations introduced in the past, it foot and mouth disease, we have no other choice is important the opportunity exists to have a full but to introduce these emergency measures. debate on them. It would serve to protect the We know the difficulties some provisions intro- Minister because of the potential far-reaching duced under the definition of emergency consequences of any regulation that may be measures cause on a day-to-day basis and that introduced. they subsequently cause hardship for many. However, these have not been reviewed as there Mr. Browne: On Committee Stage during is no provision to debate them on the floor of which the Minister for Agriculture and Food, the House, as Deputy Crawford pointed out. The Deputy Coughlan, pointed out there is separate Minister of State must examine this issue again if legislation in place governing certification by vet- he thinks that, just because there is other second- erinary practitioners, this issue was discussed at ary legislation that goes through on a nod and a some length. This legislation is the European wink, we should drop this amendment. Community (Certification of Animals and Ani- mal Products) Regulation 1999, SI 380/99. Mr. Browne: I will bring Deputy Naughten’s Accordingly, the conferring of functions in the viewpoints to the Minister. certification is not appropriate for this legislation. The purpose of the reference to certification in Mr. Naughten: After the Bill is passed. 521 Port 28 June 2005. Development 522 Mr. Browne: It will be returned to the Seanad effected, with 104 amendments since the Bill was this week. All Ministers are accountable to the first introduced in the Seanad. House through, for example, parliamentary ques- tions, private Members’ time and Standing Order Debate adjourned. 31. There are many ways in which a Minister is accountable to the House. I will point out Deputy Adjournment Debate. Naughten’s concerns to the Minister for Agri- culture and Food. She has given consideration to ———— the issues raised on Committee Stage. However, she believes this is the wrong legislation for this Port Development. amendment. Mr. J. O’Keeffe: I raise the need for clarifica- Mr. Naughten: The Minister for Agriculture tion by the Minister of State at the Department of and Food has seriously considered amendments Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputies Crawford, Upton and I have tabled. Deputy Gallagher, in the context of his replies to That is why she has tabled so many amendments Questions Nos. 180 of 17 May, 221 and 222 of 24 on Report Stage, all of which are of a technical May and 247 and 248 of 31 May, of his approval nature. That reply does not wash. or otherwise of the decision of Dublin Port Com- This is secondary legislation. The Oireachtas is pany to make a site available without going criticised in the courts and the tribunals of inquiry through the normal tendering process to facilitate because it does not scrutinise legislation properly. a private consortium bidding for the national con- Whatever criticism we can take on primary legis- ference centre contract. lation, we all accept that secondary legislation I raise questions and I demand clarification basically provides the Minister of the day with a from the Minister of State, arising out of a secret blank cheque to do whatever he or she wishes. arrangement entered into by Dublin Port Com- We all know that under procedures, it is difficult pany to provide a site for a private consortium, to tease out issues in secondary legislation. If the the Anna Livia Consortium, on which this private Minister signs a regulation next Friday, it will not consortium has bid for the contract to build the be discussed in the House until October, with no national conference centre. checks and balances provided. Large measures The Minister for Communications, Marine and can be implemented at a particular time. I ask Natural Resources is the sole shareholder on the Minister of State to consider accepting this behalf of the people for Dublin Port Company. The Anna Livia Consortium is a private consor- amendment, particularly in returning to the tium comprising Bennett Construction Limited, Seanad on this amendment. It is important that Kilsaran Concrete Limited and Earlsfort proper checks and balances are in place to protect Developments. a Minister and officials as much as everyone else. This secret deal was arranged without a com- petitive tendering process and thus fails to com- Mr. Crawford: We do not have a later oppor- ply with public procurement law and policy. tunity to discuss legislation passed in this House. I Neither does it comply with the code of practice attempted on umpteen occasions to raise matters for the governance of State companies. After I concerning regulations on foot and mouth disease ´ raised the issue in the Dail by way of a parliamen- in the House. When they were introduced, all tary question, the Minister of State confirmed sides of the House dealt with these regulations in that his Department had received a letter from a co-operative manner. However, this co-oper- Dublin Port Company requesting retrospective ation was not appreciated or given fair play after- approval for its proposals to enter into the wards by the Government. arrangement with the consortium in question. The Minister also confirmed that the proposal Mr. Browne: I will point out the Deputies’ con- of Dublin Port Company provides that in the cerns to the Minister for Agriculture and Food. event of the consortium being successful in its bid Deputy Naughten stated that the Minister for for the development of the national conference Agriculture and Food was not listen- centre and appropriate planning and other con- 10 o’clock ing, but I note that since the Bill was sents being issued in respect of same, Dublin Port first introduced to the Seanad and its Company will make a site available to facilitate ´ subsequent passage through the Dail, approxi- the development of the national conference mately 104 amendments were taken on board. centre together with further and complementary Some were tabled by the Minister and others by commercial development. the Opposition. The arrangement entered into by Dublin Port Company, DPC, has been done without a com- Mr. Naughten: I accept that. petitive tendering process. No competition has been held by DPC nor have the principles of Irish Mr. Browne: Hence, the Minister listened and, and EU public procurement law and policy been in particular, she took into account a number of adhered to. amendments tabled by Deputies Upton and DPC is a “contracting entity” within the mean- Naughten. As I stated, major changes have been ing of article 2 of the EU utilities directive and, 523 Port 28 June 2005. Development 524 [Mr. J. O’Keeffe.] petitive tendering process. Inquiries and offers as such, it is subject to the public procurement for these lands by a number of other parties have law regime set out in the utilities directive. Fur- been rejected by Dublin Port Company. There- thermore, as a State-owned body, DPC is subject fore, the arrangement between Dublin Port Com- to Government guidelines, the most recent being pany and the Anna Livia Consortium has all the the national public procurement guidelines of hallmarks of a sweetheart deal, possibly of the 2004 which update the 1994 green book. The Galway races tent variety, since the principals on guidelines enshrine the principle that competitive ´ both sides are well known Fianna Fail supporters. tendering should always be used by any public ´ The Dail and the public are entitled to an body in awarding a contract unless exceptional explanation for the fact that Dublin Port Com- circumstances apply. pany has dealt exclusively with one private con- In response to Parliamentary Questions Nos. sortium in respect of this matter and has failed to 221 and 222 of 31 May, the Minister of State at give an opportunity to others to tender or to be the Department of Communications, Marine and considered for any such arrangement. The Dail ´ Natural Resources, Deputy Gallagher, indicated and the public are also entitled to know why that the Department is concerned to ensure that Dublin Port Company sought ministerial DPC has complied with “applicable legislation approval for the arrangement only after the heads and the code of practice for the governance of of agreement had been completed and the matter State bodies”. The code of practice has specific ´ had been raised in the Dail by me. guidelines on the disposal of assets. Section 5.1 ´ At this stage, the Dail and the public are also provides that where any property with an antici- entitled to full clarification from the Minister as pated value at or above \70,000 is disposed of, it to whether he approves of the activities of Dublin should be by way of auction or competitive ten- Port Company on this issue. Failure to provide dering process, except in exceptional circum- full clarification will certainly fuel speculation as stances, such as a sale to a charitable body. The to the real reason for this secret deal and as to method used should be both transparent and how the parties involved hoped to justify such an likely to achieve a fair market-related price. extraordinary arrangement. In the context of the national conference centre, we are talking of significant sums of Minister of State at the Department of money. The ballpark figure for the national con- ference centre will be in the order of \300 million. Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Ancillary and complementary developments, (Mr. Gallagher): I thank Deputy Jim O’Keeffe depending on the extent, could easily add another for providing me with this opportunity to report \300 million or more to the overall development to the House on the background and current posi- project. Clearly in the context of such enormous tion regarding the matter of Dublin Port Com- sums of money, there are huge dangers and temp- pany and the Anna Livia Consortium which is tations, which in the context of more modest one of the candidates for the provision of a amounts, have led to the establishment of national conference centre. The Office of Public tribunals. Works has provided my Department with an At a minimum it is essential that any involve- information note on some key events in the pro- ment by a State-owned company should be in full curement process for the national conference compliance with public procurement law and centre and it is appropriate to refer to some of policy. At this stage, it is essential for the Minister these key events by way of background. of State to clarify the position fully. He should In June 2003, the Government agreed in prin- furnish details of the alleged non-binding heads ciple to the provision of a national conference of agreement entered into with the private con- centre. To facilitate and oversee the process, the sortium, including date, terms and full details of Government authorised the Minister for Arts, the lands involved. Sport and Tourism to set up a steering group to I am talking about land values with full zoning include the Chairman of the Office of Public and planning permission, which could be in the Works and senior representatives of the Depart- order of \20 million or \30 million an acre. ´ ment of Finance and Failte Ireland. The group Approximately four acres are needed for the was to be chaired by the Secretary General at the national conference centre. The Minister indi- Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and was cated that the arrangement with the private con- to be supported, as necessary, by professional sortium also provided for further or complemen- expertise, including the National Development tary commercial developments. Depending on Finance Agency. the extent of such complementary commercial In November 2003, the steering group development another four acres could be approved the placing of advertisements by the involved. Office of Public Works seeking expressions of Therefore, the lands being made available by interest for the provision of a conference centre Dublin Port Company may have a value of more on a design, build, finance, operate and maintain than \200 million. If the bid of the Anna Livia basis. Responses to the advertisements were Consortium for the national conference centre is received from four candidates in January 2004. successful, that private group will end up as the Subsequently, tenders from two of these candi- only possible purchaser, thus avoiding the com- dates, including the Anna Livia Consortium, were 525 National 28 June 2005. Aquatic Centre 526 received by the Office of Public Works and are this context, the two Departments have agreed currently being assessed. that it is necessary to seek the advice of the On 22 March 2005, the Department received a Attorney General on the matter, in particular press query by e-mail regarding the use of land in regarding the process applicable to the proposal the ownership of Dublin Port Company in con- by Dublin Port Company to make available to nection with a proposal for the national con- the Anna Livia Consortium a site to facilitate the ference centre. On 23 March, the Department development of the national conference centre requested Dublin Port Company to provide it together with further and complementary com- with relevant information regarding the proposal. mercial development. I assure the Deputy there On 1 April, Dublin Port Company replied to the is no question of a sweetheart deal. He can be Department stating that it was facilitating a con- assured this will be dealt with in an open and sortium in a tendering process for the national transparent manner. conference centre. On 1 April, the Department requested the company to provide a note setting Mr. J. O’Keeffe: It was not initially. out the involvement of the company in and impli- cations for the company of the consortium’s pro- National Aquatic Centre. posal and a clear statement of what was meant by the company facilitating the consortium. Ms Burton: One of the water slides in the On 7 April, the company replied, stating that it national aquatic centre is called the dark hole. I has been facilitating one of the consortia bidding reckon the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, for the national conference centre in so far as it Deputy O’Donoghue, wishes he could climb into has consented to the inclusion of a site in the that dark hole and hide while somebody com- ownership of the company in the submission of petent sorts out the mess in the \62 million the consortium to the Office of Public Works as centre. being potentially a suitable site for the national This week’s revelation that the national aquatic conference centre. The company stated that it centre is losing 5 million litres of water a month had entered into non-binding heads of agreement have really proven to be the straw that broke the with the consortium, that it had not concluded a camel’s back. Can the Minister substantiate formal contract with the consortium and that it reports that substantial cracking is visible on both had not concluded an agreement for the disposal floors of the centre’s underground plant room of company assets or to provide access to those and that more than 20 large cracks have assets in favour of any third party. appeared? Can he substantiate reports that The principal issue at stake from the point of design flaws make it difficult to maintain the view of the Department is compliance by the pool’s plant equipment? Is it true that the centre- company with the applicable legislation and the piece of the national aquatic centre, the 50m com- code of practice for the governance of State petition pool, is open for a mere four hours in the bodies. The primary responsibility for compliance morning from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.? rests with the company. In this regard, the com- The Minister boasted to me previously that the pany has confirmed to the Department that it is national aquatic centre was completed within the adhering to the code of practice. In my reply to time schedule set for it and within the budget of Question No. 180 on 17 May, I stated that, based \70 million. Would he make the same argument on the information provided to the Department, if a builder built his home ahead of schedule and I had no reason at that time to request further within budget only for the house to fall apart information from the company regarding this within two years? Somehow I doubt it. Will the matter. Minister publish a detailed analysis of how the On 18 May, the Department received a letter \62 million cost of the centre was arrived at, how from Dublin Port Company requesting minis- much was spent on consultant and project man- terial approval for its proposal to enter into an agement and how much on actual building and arrangement with a consortium as detailed in design and to which individuals and companies draft heads of terms attached to the letter. The payments were made? company states that, in essence, the proposal pro- It has become apparent that the problems with vides that, in the event that the consortium is suc- the national aquatic centre are not only structural cessful in its bid for the development of the but that it is mired in a range of legal, contractual national conference centre and appropriate plan- and financial difficulties. Court reports of Dublin ning and other consents issue in respect of the Waterworld making payments of \4.5 million for national conference centre, Dublin Port Com- unspecified services to a subsidiary of the com- pany will make available a site to facilitate the pany that secured the contract for the national development of the national conference centre, aquatic centre during a time when the parent together with further and complementary com- company was in rent arrears of \1 million beggar mercial development. belief. Did the Government really hand over a The Department has had a number of consul- State asset costing \62 million to a company with tations with the Department of Finance regarding a share capital of \127 originally registered in the the application of the code of practice and the British Virgin Islands, a well-known tax haven? legislative provisions relevant to the particular Will the Minister publish the details of the con- case presented to it by Dublin Port Company. In tract between CSID and Dublin Waterworld and 527 National 28 June 2005. Aquatic Centre 528 [Ms Burton.] Stadium Ireland Development Limited, CSID, any other companies associated with it? In the landlords of the national aquatic centre, March, the Minister advised me, “The concept of against Dublin Waterworld Limited, the oper- the National Aquatic Centre has been developed ators of the centre. This case is currently before with a clear emphasis on commercial viability. the commercial court. As has been explained on The intention was that once built the facility a number of occasions to the Deputy, the exist- would be a self-sustaining venture.” These words ence of the court case precludes me, the Minister, are coming back to haunt him now. who apologises for being unable to attend Even more scary than what has happened tonight, or CSID from speaking freely about the already to the national aquatic centre is the fact issues under dispute. To do so might jeopardise that the Government proposes to use this public the outcome of the case. That, despite all the private partnership-design build and operate pro- efforts of the Opposition, I will not do. cedure as a template for future substantial capital I am happy to put the factual position on the investments, including the national conference record. At present CSID has a legal action in the centre, about which we just heard, and the build- commercial court against Dublin Waterworld, the ing of offices for decentralisation. Using this operator of the national aquatic centre, for unique form of Government management of tax- breaches of the lease. In the commercial court on payers’ money, no doubt the cost of decentralis- 3 June, Mr. Justice Peter Kelly made an order in ation will easily top \2 billion as this Government relation to the following matters, which were the has lost the plot in regard to its capacity to man- subject of the statement of claim lodged by CSID age infrastructural development. against Dublin Waterworld. The dispute as to Even the Progressive Democrats are jumping whether Dublin Waterworld is liable to pay over ship and are criticising the national aquatic \10 million of VAT on the granting of the lease centre. The Minister of State at the Department has been referred to arbitration. This arbitration of Finance, Deputy Parlon, said of the crisis that is taking place and will be concluded shortly. On he was more than a little concerned when we repair and maintenance issues, the dispute as to were spending more on lawyers rather than on whether Dublin Waterworld has properly man- architects. For once the Progressive Democrats aged the national aquatic centre has been maths add up in that spending more on lawyers referred to an architect for expert determination and less on architects equals a broken roof and a and again this process is under way. There are cracked pool. a number of issues involving the lease, including Another of the water slides in the national complaints that Dublin Waterworld failed to pay aquatic centre is called the master blaster. The rent, failed to provide audited accounts — thus masters of the national aquatic centre, the Mini- preventing the profit share to be calculated — ster, Deputy O’Donoghue, and the Taoiseach, failed to pay insurance on the building and failed Bertie the Bather, have well and truly been to establish a sinking fund. These matters are still blasted. subject to court proceedings and are currently We need an independent report into the pro- before the court. The most recent hearing was ject and the publication of the report carried out yesterday. by the independent engineers into the damage to Last evening, CSID issued a statement on the the roof. Some 60 employees were laid off for five matters referred to by the Deputy and I would months. In the two years of its life, the centre has like to bring this statement to the attention of been closed for five months and water sports have the House: been badly damaged. CSID has stated that it is satisfied that the The national aquatic centre is the Taoiseach’s reports in the media relating to the National pet project — stage one of Abbotstown. The Aquatic Centre are inaccurate in many respects Taoiseach, the Minister for Finance, Deputy and would be inappropriate to comment on any Cowen, and the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, of these issues as there are proceedings before are shareholders in CSID on behalf of taxpayers. the court at this time. They must come out of hiding and take responsi- bility. The Comptroller and Auditor General In the court yesterday, CSID’s legal team advised me on 31 March that “these matters will referred to a situation that is growing murkier be examined during the course of my audit of the and murkier. accounts of CSID Limited.” I hope the Comptrol- I can give an assurance to the House, on behalf ler and Auditor General will proceed to examine of the Minister, Deputy O’Donoghue, that the this saga as soon as possible to prevent further primary concern at all times has been to protect waste of taxpayers’ money. taxpayers’ investment in this and other projects. During the 2002 general election, the Progress- I will not play any part in the Opposition’s deter- ive Democrats in Dublin West had a campaign mined efforts to undermine that position, even button calling on voters to flush the Bertie Bowl though Deputy Burton appears to have no com- down the drain. It is the taxpayers’ money that is punction about making public statements on being flushed down the drain. matters before the court. Once the court pro- ceedings have been completed, CSID will no Mr. Gallagher: As the Deputy is well aware, longer be constrained from putting the facts legal proceedings have been taken by Campus before the public and answering any questions 529 National 28 June 2005. Aquatic Centre 530 Deputies, the media or anyone else may have was safely removed. To ensure the health and about the various matters at present before the safety of future users of the facility and to avoid court. a recurrence of the damage, expert consulting Deputy Burton has, over the past months, been engineers were commissioned to provide an inde- loud in her comments about the damage caused pendent report on the situation. to the centre on 1 January. It is unfortunate that The Office of Public Works, at the request of the freak storm damaged the roof of the national the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism and aquatic centre. Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Ltd., engaged Kavanagh Mansfield and Partners, con- Ms Burton: It was not a freak storm. sulting and structural engineers, to examine the damage and to provide a report as a matter of Mr. Gallagher: There was considerable struc- priority. The findings of this report guided the tural damage elsewhere on that same day. response of CSID. They were taken into account in agreeing the repair programme with the con- Ms Burton: The Minister of State should ask tractor and the consultants who carried out the the Met office. It was not a freak storm. report subsequently provided a service in overseeing the type and quality of the work car- Mr. Gallagher: It will be recalled that, for ried out. This work was in addition to a report example, two aeroplanes were damaged on the prepared by O’Connor Sutton Cronin, an engin- runway at Dublin Airport and buildings on an eering consultancy appointed to examine the estate in Clonee, County Meath, were stripped by damage on behalf of the insurance company the exceptionally unusual high winds. I do not carrying the insurance cover on the national know how people in Dublin debate but I suggest aquatic centre. It is important to be indepen- that I should be given the opportunity to reply. dently briefed to ensure that liability is appropri- ately assigned and that this misadventure is not Ms Burton: Why did the Minister of State not billed to the Exchequer. get the facts first? The Deputy has sought to have this indepen- dent report published and indeed it will be when Mr. Gallagher: We cannot complain about any the time is ripe. As has been explained to the infrastructural development during the 1980s and Deputy on a number of occasions, there are legal, 1990s when the Deputy’s party was in Govern- contractual and financial issues that are still on- ment because it provided little or no such going and are being negotiated in the light of this development. The Labour Party could not fill report. Therefore, it would not be appropriate to pot-holes when it was in Government. The publish it or comment on its findings at this time. Deputy should not talk to me about infrastructu- The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism said ral development. There is a great saying in Irish, in this House, just the week before last, that capi- ´ ´ “Ta an fhırinne searbh”. If the Deputy does not tal expenditure on the provision of this facility want to listen to the truth, then I have no inten- represented value for money and that is indeed tion of continuing. the case. For years we have heard complaints about the lack of proper sporting infrastructure. Ms Burton: The Minister of State has no This Government has made a tangible contri- answer to—— bution in this field, delivering over \600 million An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order, please. in capital investment in sports facilities since 1997, in sharp contrast to that provided from 1994 Mr. Gallagher: The only policy of the Labour to 1997. The centre was only one of a number of Party is to criticise Government policy. It has significant state-of-the-art facilities which we none of its own. have provided. Instead of giving credit where cre- dit is due, or indeed supporting the endeavour, Ms Burton: He has no answer at all. we have an Opposition that cannot wait to find fault and that rushes to criticise. An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy must The motivation of the Government in allow the Minister of State to make his reply. developing the national aquatic centre in the first place was to provide a 50-metre pool for Ireland’s Mr. Gallagher: I need extra time. The damage needs and to provide a suitable location for host- at the national aquatic centre occurred on a day ing the aquatic events of the Special Olympics. when the centre was closed for a holiday and The project was delivered on time and within there was no injury to staff or the public. CSID budget and resulted in games of which everyone handled this situation immediately in an efficient could be proud. The centre has justly drawn well- and effective matter. CSID’s first priority was to deserved admiration from those who have visited look to the safety of the general public and any- it and used its facilities. Since the centre was body using or working in the facility. It also opened to the public in March 2003, it has suc- focused on ensuring that the damage was accu- cessfully hosted the Special Olympics and later rately assessed by the insurance assessors, that that year the European short course champion- repairs would be carried out as quickly as possible ships — both to significant acclaim. In its first and that the debris in the vicinity of the facility year of operations it had close to 1 million visit- 531 Schools Building 28 June 2005. Projects 532 [Mr. Gallagher.] The Department needs to ensure that a new ors, which placed the facility among the top ´ ´ ´ facility is provided in Gaelscoil Uı Rıordain. The attractions in Ireland. latest extension was built with a view to the Today the centre continues to be equally popu- rooms being let out individually when the build- lar as a facility for those who love water sport, ing would no longer be used as a school. It was especially young people, tourists and swimmers obviously not designed as a school building. The of all ages and abilities. Despite suggestions to school is located in a densely residential area and the contrary by the Deputy, the reality is that the that causes problems for local residents. We need centre is fully operational and bringing endless clarification from the Department of Education enjoyment to adults and children alike, as well as and Science to ensure that a new building is pro- providing a top class facility for our swimming ´ ´ ´ vided to Gaelscoil Uı Rıordain in Ballincollig, athletes. which has provided an excellent service over the last 20 years. I congratulate all the school part- Ms Burton: It is open only four hours a day. ´ ´ ´ ners in Gaelscoil Uı Rıordain for their excellent working relationship and their great school. I ask Schools Building Projects. the Minister of State to outline the plans, if any, of the Department of Education and Science for Mr. M. Moynihan: I thank the Leas-Ceann this school. Comhairle for allowing me to raise this issue on the provision of a new school at Gaelscoil Uı ´ Mr. Gallagher: I thank the Deputy for afford- ´ ´ Rıordain in Ballincollig, County Cork. Gaelscoil ing me the opportunity to outline to the House ´ ´ ´ Uı Rıordain is an excellent school which is oper- the proposals of the Department of Education ation for over 20 years. It is a testimony to the and Science on the provision of a new school work that has been put in by the staff, manage- ´ ´ ´ building for Gaelscoil Uı Rıordain, Ballincollig, ment, the parents and pupils of the school. Unfor- County Cork. I apologise on behalf of the Mini- tunately, the building in which the school is cur- ster for Education and Science, who is unable to rently housed has outgrown its usefulness. What attend the House this evening. are the plans to ensure that a new Gaelscoil is The Government decision to close the Murphy built in Ballincollig? This has been the subject of barracks complex in Ballincollig was seen by the an ongoing debate between the education part- Department as an excellent opportunity to ners in the school and the Department of Edu- acquire a suitable site on which to provide perma- cation and Science. ´ ´ nent accommodation for Gaelscoil Uı Rıordain. ´ The partners are quite concerned about the Following this decision, it was agreed that an area lack of facilities in the school. There is a major of approximately 1.7 acres would be provided on concern regarding the safety of children as the which to build a new school building for the Gael- school is next to a busy main road and another scoil. The school would also have immediate congested road on an adjoining housing estate. access to adjacent playing fields. Contract docu- The building is not suitable for disabled children ments for the transfer of ownership of the site or wheelchair usage. At this stage, every school were forwarded to the Office of the Chief State in the country should be wheelchair accessible. Solicitor. However, since then a number of issues The parking facilities adjacent to the school are have arisen. very poor and parking for parents at busy periods The map included in the contract docu- causes some disruption to the nearby residents. mentation shows that there are wayleaves cross- There is no gymnasium or hall which can be used ing the site which would have the impact of sig- as a gymnasium. There is an almost total lack of nificantly reducing the area available on which to learning support in the school. The external play build. These wayleaves were not flagged orig- area is very confined and far from ideal due to inally when the site was reserved for the Depart- the steep sloping nature of the small site on which ment of Education and Science. In addition, a the school is situated. As the external playing local authority road bordering part of the site area is so small, break time is divided up between may be widened to facilitate the overall develop- lunch and play to allow the children more space. ment of the barracks and could result in further It is the only school I have visited that has to keep reducing the amount of land available for the pro- children in during break time due to lack of room posed school building. in the playground. Officials at the Department of Education and There are no facilities on the school grounds Science have written to the local authority seek- for nature studies. The lack of toilet facilities in ing clarification of the issues raised above. The the classrooms cause a particular problem for question of the acquisition of the site will be children in the junior classes. Many of the toilets addressed immediately on receipt of a response are accessible directly off the open corridors and from the local authority. not in their own rooms. The corridors in the The Department is acutely aware of the need school are very narrow and lead to a congested to provide permanent accommodation for Gael- atmosphere in the school at times. The school ´ ´ scoil Uı Riordain, as has been borne out compre- building is rented and there has always been a hensively by the Minister, Deputy Martin, in his fear that the landlord may not choose to renew submission this evening. The Department is lease when the current lease expires. aware of the need to provide accommodation for 533 School 28 June 2005. Staffing 534 the Gaelscoil and is determined to progress the ´ ´ feinne a thabhairt doibh, ba choir eisceacht a ´ issue as a matter of urgency. ´ dheanamh go ceann bliana eile. Ta comharthaı ´ ´ I assure Deputy Moynihan that I have listened ´ ´ ´ dochais le feiceail ar Oilean Thoraigh i lathair na ´ to the case he made and noted the points raised. huaire, chomh fada agus a bhaineann se le daltaı ´ ´ ´ I will communicate his views directly to the Mini- scoile. Tuigim go bhfuil ar an laghad cuig theach ´ ster, Deputy Hanafin, at the first available oppor- ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ur a dtogail ar an oilean i lathair na huaire, agus tunity, which will possibly be tomorrow morning. ´ is docha go mbeidh teaghlaigh ura ag dul isteach ´ sna tithe sin agus, sna blianta amach romhainn, School Staffing. ´ ´ ´ go mbeidh paistı oga eile ag teacht chun cinn ar Mr. McGinley: Ba mhaith liom buıochas a ´ ´ Oilean Thoraigh agus ag dul go dtı an bhunscoil ´ ´ ghabhail leis an Aire as ucht an deis a thabhairt agus an iarbhunscoil. ´ domh an cheist thabhachtach seo a thogail ar an ´ ´ Chomh maith leis sin, is oilean speisialta e ´ ´ ´ ´ Athlo anocht. Ce nach bhfuil an tAire Oideachais ´ ´ ´ Oilean Thoraigh, nı amhain go bhfuil Gaeilge ann ´ agus Eolaıochta anseo, ar an laghad ta an tAire ´ ´ ´ ach ta cultur, ceol agus saibhreas ann a theann ´ ´ ´ ´ Stait anseo. Ta suil agam go mbeidh tuigbheail ´ ´ ´ siar na glunta, rud nar bhris an Bearla. Nıor bhris ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ aige ar an chas ata a dheanamh agam, a bhaine- ´ ´ ´ an cultur duchasach traidisiunta sıos go foill. Ta ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ann le scoil inar ndailcheantar fein. Is e an scoil ´ ´ ´ ´ se iontach tabhachtach go mbeidh scoth an oidea- ´ ´ ata i gceist agam na Scoil Naisiunta Cholm Cille ´ ´ ´ ´ chais a cur ar fail do mhuintir og an oileain fa ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ar Oilean Thoraigh. Sılim go bhfuil muid ag iar- ´ choinne an cultur, an traidisiun agus an saibhreas ´ ´ raidh cas speisialta a dheanamh don deacracht a ´ ´ ´ sin a choinneail beo. Is e an tuairim dhaingean ata ´ bheas ag an scoil seo o Mhean Fomhair seo chu-´ ´ ´ ´ ´ agam na e seo. Muna mbıonn acu ach muinteoir ´ ´ gainn nuair nach mbeidh ach muinteoir amhain ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ amhain, lagoidh se sin laidreacht agus saibhreas ´ sa scoil, an prıomhoide, ma theann siad de reir na ´ ´ ´ an chultuir sin. ´ ´ treorach ata faighte acu on Roinn. Mar a duirt ´ ´ ´ Mar sin, is e an rud a iarraim ar an Aire Stait ´ ´ ´ me, ta Scoil Cholm Cille ar Oilean Thoraigh, agus ´ agus an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaıochta na go ´ ´ anuraidh rinneadh eisceacht di mar nach raibh ´ ndeanfaidh siad eisceacht don scoil do bhliain eile ´ aici ach naonur ar na rollaı, agus tugadh cead ´ ´ agus go bhfagfaidh siad an cuntoir sin leis an ´ ´ ´ doibh dul ar aghaidh le prıomhoide agus cuntoir ´ ´ ´ ´ phrıomhoide sa bhliain amhach romhainn go ´ ´ ar feadh bliana. Bhı se iontach tabhachtach gur ´ ´ bhfeicimis cad e an feabhas a bheas ar chursaı an ´ ´ tugadh an t-aitheantas sin don scoil lan-Ghaelach ´ bhliain seo chugainn. Ta me iontach dochasach´ ´ ´ ´ sin ar oilean Gaeltachta. go mbeidh feabhas air, agus mar sin, ta me ag ´ ´ ´ ´ Anois, ta contuirt mhor ann o Mhean Fomhair ´ ´ ´ ´ iarraidh orthu eisceacht a dheanamh bliain eile. ´ seo chugainn nach mbeidh ach muinteoir amhain ´ ´ ´ Rachaidh se sin chun sochair go mor don oilean, ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ i Scoil Naisiunta Oileain Thoraigh, an prıomho- ´ ´ don aos og, agus d’oideachas ar an oilean. ´ ´ ´ ide. Cothoidh se sin deacrachtaı mora don scoil ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ naisiunta ar Oilean Thoraigh. Nı feidir comparaid ´ ´ ´ Mr. Gallagher: Ba mhaith liom leithsceal an ´ ´ a dheanamh idir scoil ar oilean beag ar nos ´ ´ Aire, an Teachta Hanafin, a ghabhail leis an ´ ´ Oileain Thoraigh agus scoil ar an morthır a dtar- ´ ´ Teach agus leis an Teachta McGinley agus mo ´ ´ laıonn an rud ceanna di. Is mıbhuntaiste do scoil ´ ´ ´ ´ bhuıochas a ghabhail leis as an cheist seo a tho- ´ ´ ´ ar bith, ce acu ar oilean no ar thır mor ata sı, nach´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ gail. Ta an-taithı agam uirthi. Ta a fhios aige gur´ mbeidh ach oide amhain inti. Cothaıonn se sin ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ phleigh me go leor de na fadhbanna ar an oilean ´ ´ deacrachtaı oideachais agus eile sa la ata inniu ´ ´ seo le cathaoirleach an bhoird bhainistıochta ag ´ ann. Ba mhaith an rud e da mbeadh beirt i gconaı´ ´ ´ ´ deireadh na seachtaine. ´ ´ ´ ar an laghad ag ple le paistı i mbunscoil no ar aon ´ Glacadh cinneadh i leith fhoireann scoil eile. ´ prıomhshrutha bunscoile de reir rollachain na ´ ´ ´ ´ Mar sin fein, ce go bhfuil se fıor ar an morthır, ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ scoile ar 30 Mean Fomhair den bhliain roimhe ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ta se nıos fıre fos ar oilean. Cuir i gcas an muin- ´ ´ ´ ´ sin. Deantar cinneadh i leith lıon na bpost ´ ´ teoir ar Oilean Thoraigh, an prıomhoide. Is on tır ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ prıomhsrutha de reir sceideal foirne a chuirtear i ´ ´ ´ mor ı, agus cosuil le gach duine, is maith lei dul ´ ´ ´ gcrıch do bhliain scoile airithe tar eis e a phle leis ´ ´ ´ abhaile ag an deireadh seachtaine. Ma bhıonn la ´ ´ ´ ´ na comhphairtithe oideachais. Deantar cur sıos ar ´ ´ ´ garbh ann, no munar feidir leis an bhad faran- ´ ´ ´ an sceideal foirne i gciorclan a eisıonn an Roinn ´ ´ ´ toireachta dul go dtı an t-oilean trathnona De ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ Oideachais agus Eolaıochta do bhord bainis- ´ Domhnaigh no maidin De Luain, cad e ata ag dul ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ tıochta gach bunscoile. Da reir, cuirtear gach ´ ´ ´ a tharlu do na paistı agus don scoil? Ta a fhios ´ bord ar an eolas faoi shocruithe foirne maidir ´ ´ againn uilig cad e ata ag dul a tharlu: beidh an ´ ´ lena scoil fein in aon bhliain scoile. Eisıodh an ´ ´ ´ scoil dunta an la sin, agus an la ina dhiaidh sin, ´ sceideal don bhliain seo chugainn i Mı Bealtaine ´ ´ ´ b’fheidir, agus an la ina dhiaidh sin arıst, agus ´ 2005. ´ ´ ´ beidh na paistı fagtha gan oiliuint, gan teagasc, ´ ´ ´ ´ Thainig laghdu ar rollachain na scoile a nde- gan fhoghlaim, agus nıl se sin inghlactha. ´ ´ ´ arna an Teachta Dala tagairt di o 14 dalta ar an ´ Le blianta fada anuas, bhı se de bhuntaiste ag ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ 30 Mean Fomhair 2002 go dtı 11 dalta ar 30 Mean ´ muintir Thoraigh — agus ta me cinnte go n-aon- ´ ´ ´ ´ Fomhair 2003. De reir rollachain na bliana 2003,´ ´ ´ taıonn an tAire Stait agus go dtuigfidh se e seo ´ ´ ´ bhı an scoil i dteideal foirne de phrıomhoide don ´ ´ — go bhfuil meanscoil acu. Ta scoil iarbhunoide- ´ ´ ´ bhliain scoile 2004-05. Da reir, bhı an scoil chun ´ achais acu anois, ach caithfidh muid cuimhneamh ´ an chead phost d’fhoireann teagaisc phrıomshru- ´ ar na blianta fada nach raibh. Le cothrom na tha a chailleadh don bhliain 2004-05 toisc gurb e ´ 535 The 28 June 2005. Adjournment 536 [Mr. Gallagher.] ´ omharc. Cuireadh bord bainistıochta na scoile ar ´ an lıon riachtanach chun an post seo a choinneail ´ an eolas maidir leis an chinneadh ar 16 Mei- ´ ´ na 12 dalta. Mar a duirt an Teachta McGinley, theamh 2005. ´ tugadh cead an dara muinteoir a choinneail. ´ ´ ´ ´ O am go cheile deanann an tAire Oideachais ´ Le cinntiu go mbeadh oscailteacht agus ´ ´ agus Eolaıochta athbhreithniu ar na criteir le ´ ´ ´ ´ tredhearcacht sa choras, bunaıodh bord achom- ´ ´ haghaidh cheapachain mhuinteoirı. Ta sı sasta ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ hairc neamhspleach chun casanna mar seo a ´ feachaint ar cheist na scoileanna ar oileain, ach ´ ´ mheas. Chuir an bord bainistıochta achomharc ´ ´ deir sı liom go mbeadh se an-deacair cead a thab- ´ faoi bhraid an bhoird achomhairc foirne ag iar- ´ ´ ´ hairt beirt mhuinteoirı a choinneail nuair ata lıon ´ ´ ´ raidh go gcoinneofaı an dara muinteoir don ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ na ndaltaı chomh hıseal sin. Ta se tabhachtach a bhliain scoile 2004-05. Rinne an bord scrudu ar ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ ra go bhfuil sı sasta breathnu ar an cheist seo, an achomharc ar 3 Meitheamh 2004, agus sheas se ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ afach, agus ta suil agam, tar eis an achomhairc no ´ ´ leis an achomharc. Ciallaıonn an cinneadh nach an athbhreithnithe seo, go gcuirfidh sı cinneadh ´ ´ mbeidh ach prıomhoide ar an fhoireann do 2005- ´ os ar gcomhair. 06. Rinneadh an cinneadh seo toisc go raibh rolla- ´ Ba mhaith liom buıochas a ghabhail leis an ´ ´ ´ ´ chan de naonur ar 30 Mean Fomhair 2004. Is´ ´ Teachta Dala as ucht na ceiste seo a ardu. Ta a ´ ´ ´ ´ ´ cosuil go mbeidh laghdu eile i lıon na ndaltaı an ´ fhios ag an bheirt againn na coinnıollacha ar ´ ´ ´ Mean Fomhair seo chugainn. Chuir an bord bain- ´ ´ ´ Oilean Thoraigh, agus ta suil agam, tar eis an ´ ´ ´ istıochta achomharc faoi bhraid an bhoird achom- ´ athbhreithnithe, go mbeidh an tAire abalta teacht ´ ´ hairc foirne chun an chead phost prıomhshrutha ´ ´ ar chinneadh sasuil. ´ don bhliain scoile 2005-06 a choinneail. Rinne an bord achomhairc machnamh ar an achomharc ar ´ The Dail adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until ´ ´ 14 Meitheamh 2005, agus diultaıodh leis an ach- 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 29 June 2005.
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