Dáil Éireann - Volume 443 - 25 May, 1994

Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 4, Statements on Local Government Planning Regulations, and Nos. 7 and 2. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that: (1) No. 4 shall be decided without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; (2) The Statements on Local Government Planning Regulations, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion at 7.00 p.m. and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the opening statement of a main spokesperson for the Government, the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrats Party and the Technical Group shall not exceed 30 minutes in each case; (ii) the statement of each other Member called on shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; and (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called on not later than 6.50 p.m. to make a concluding statement; and (3) Private Members' Business shall be No. 11 and the proceedings thereon shall be brought to a conclusion at 8.30 p.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Are the proposals for dealing with item No. 4 satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Are the proposals for dealing with statements satisfactory and agreed? Agreed.

Is it agreed that Private Members' Business shall terminate at 8.30 p.m. this evening? Agreed.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, I wish to raise a question in regard to item No. 5 on today's Order Paper — Vote 20 — Garda Síochána (Revised Estimate) and to ask when it will be taken. Is the Government willing to enforce the law? Is it not the case that paramilitary displays of the [253] kind depicted in today's edition of The Irish Times are clearly against the law?

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton, please, it is not appropriate to display items in the House.

Mr. J. Bruton: This display by the Provisional IRA——

Mr. G. Mitchell: Sir, do you want to wait until they march up to Leinster House?

An Ceann Comhairle: This is the Order of Business. It is a long standing convention of this House that displays of this kind should not take place.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, I will lay down my copy of The Irish Times for anyone who wishes to read it. What action will the Garda take to enforce the law in regard to paramilitary displays of the kind that occurred in Finglas?

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should raise that matter in the ordinary way. It is not appropriate to the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Bruton: It is appalling, provocative and dangerous for everybody living in this city.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton must desist forthwith.

Mr. J. Bruton: No, Sir, I will not desist until I get an assurance that this Government will take the requisite action. This would not happen anywhere else and did not happen under previous Governments. I want to know what the Government will do about this.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton is showing defiance of the Chair.

Mr. J. Bruton: I want to know what the Government will do about this.

An Ceann Comhairle: I rather expected the Leader of the main Opposition [254] party to give the lead in respect of responsibilities.

The Taoiseach: Have respect for the Chair.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, you have been punctilious in the extreme.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton, I will not be abused by you or any Member of this House.

Mr. J. Bruton: I have not abused you, Sir.

An Ceann Comhairle: You will resume your seat forthwith, Deputy.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Bruton: Never in my 25 years in this House have I been thrown out of the House but I am willing to allow that to happen if you will not permit me to answer.

Mr. G. Mitchell: You can throw everybody else out one by one; we will not stand for it.

Mr. Barrett: You can throw us all out.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, I have raised this matter in order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton, this is not Quesiton Time. We are on the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, what will the Government do about this? I have no quarrel with you, Sir.

An Ceann Comhairle: There are many ways open to the Deputy.

Mr. J. Bruton: We got answers yesterday from the Minister for Justice.

An Ceann Comhairle: Since we have had scenes of great disorder in the House and the Leader of the main Opposition party has shown disdain and disregard [255] for the authority of the Chair I propose to suspend proceedings for half an hour.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, you will have great disorder unless we get clear answers to this question.

(Inerruptions.)

The Taoiseach: I hope they are happy now, this is disgraceful.

Mr. J. Bruton: With all the Taoiseach's sympathetic words for these people——

Mrs. Owen: The Taoiseach is conferring respectability on them.

The Taoiseach: There is no respect for the Chair.

Sitting suspended at 11 a.m. and resumed at 11.30 a.m.

An Ceann Comhairle: Let us now proceed to deal with the Order of Business proper.

Mr. J. Bruton: The paramilitary display in Finglas yesterday is a symbol of breakdown of law and order. What I was seeking, which is perfectly in order, was a commitment from the Government to take the Garda Estimate this week so that the Minister for Justice can explain what she intends to do to enforce the law.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not make a speech.

The Taoiseach: The matter raised by Deputy Bruton is, as he knows only too well, an operational matter for the Garda Síochána under the direction of the Garda Commissioner and we will leave it there. There was an extensive opportunity in the House yesterday for 45 minutes to question the Minister for Justice in relation to the present situation and the same opportunity can be taken again if the Deputy so wishes.

Mr. J. Bruton: That is a completely [256] inadequate response to an appalling display——

An Ceann Comhairle: It should not and cannot give rise to debate now.

Mr. J. Bruton: ——of paramilitary might on the streets of this city which endangers everybody living in Dublin. When will we have the debate on the Garda Estimate?

The Taoiseach: I would point out that Private Members' Business is a motion on crime and there will be an opportunity to contribute this evening. I appeal to Deputy Bruton not to continue his disgraceful display of disrespect for the Chair and disregard for the rules of this House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Can we proceed——

Mr. J. Bruton: This display is disrespect for this State, which institution it is the Taoiseach's charge to protect.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am very concerned——

The Taoiseach: I have always protected it and will continue to do so. The Deputy should not attempt to undermine the efficiency of the Garda Síochána. It is disgraceful on the part of a responsible politician. Show more respect for the House and law and order like a responsible politician.

Mr. J. Bruton: I and my party are here to ensure that the law is enforced.

An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Bruton.

Mr. J. Bruton: I am very concerned.

An Ceann Comhairle: I have been very concerned about the lowering of standards in this democratic assembly this morning.

[257] Mr. G. Mitchell: There is more respect for Sinn Fein than for law and order.

An Ceann Comhairle: I have always striven to uphold the dignity and decorum of this House and I do not know how a democratic assembly can proceed except by obedience to the Chair and the Standing Orders and precedents of the House. I am not prepared to preside over a rowdy House. If this disorder continues you leave me no option but to suspend proceedings for a much longer period until common sense and dignity is restored to this Chamber.

Mr. J. Bruton: On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Where is the point of order?

Mr. J. Bruton: I wish to seek your advice. What is the value of passing legislation unless we are assured it will be enforced? It is plain that what occurred in Finglas was illegal.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are reverting to the same matter. I call Deputy Rabbitte and I trust he will help me to restore the dignity of the House by adherence to the business proper on the Order of Business.

Mr. J. Bruton: If Members think this is a laughing matter it only shows the state of disorder in this State.

Mr. Rabbitte: I do not think it is possible to exaggerate the gravity of the matter Deputy Bruton has raised. This House ought to be enabled to secure a reply from the Taoiseach on the important matter he raised.

An Ceann Comhairle: We cannot debate the matter now, Deputy. There are many ways and means open to Deputies to raise the matter. This matter has been the subject of debate in this House in recent days. It can be raised further in accordance with the procedures of the House.

[258] Mr. J. Bruton: It has not been debated here at all.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not in order now.

Mr. Rabbitte: I refer you, a Cheann Comhairle, to item No. 18, sub item 15, on today's Order Paper. You will recall that yesterday you invited me to put down a motion concerning the Minister for Social Welfare misleading the House. I have done that and I ask the Taoiseach whether he will allow Government time to debate this motion, which is within the rules as required by the Chair, or whether the Minister for Social Welfare intends — as I understand unofficially he does — to come before this House and make an apology for misleading the House——

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Rabbitte has made a request in respect of a certain matter on the Order Paper which is quite in order.

The Taoiseach: It is open to the Deputy and his party to move the motion in Private Members' time.

Mr. Rabbitte: That makes a farce of your request to me yesterday. The Minister has cheated up to 70,000 women——

An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Rabbitte——

Mr. Rabbitte: ——and he misled the House. You are talking about order. Are you going to permit a situation where you preside over a House where the Minister comes in——

An Ceann Comhairle: Please do not make allegations of a serious kind. There are procedures in relation to such matters.

Mr. Rabbitte: It is serious.

Mr. M. McDowell: If he wants to make a personal statement later——

Mr. Rabbitte: I have put down a [259] motion. What else can I do? He is trying to come in at a time when nobody will be aware and make an apology to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Rabbitte may not anticipate his Private Members' motion now. It will come before us in due course.

Mr. Rabbitte: It will take six weeks to reach the motion in Private Members' time.

An Ceann Comhairle: That is not the fault of the Chair.

Mr. Rabbitte: The Minister cheated up to 70,000 women and gave false information to the House and still sits tight.

An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Mr. Rabbitte: I am stating that the Minister misled the House. Nobody challenges that and you will not permit or require him to make a statement to the House in accordance with normal procedure.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not reflect upon the Chair; the facilities of the House are available to him. The motion he put down can be dealt with in Private Members' Business at the appropriate time. I can do no more in the matter.

Mr. Rabbitte: I accept that but I advise you that a court case on 21 June can determine this matter. This motion will not be debated until after that.

Dr. Woods: The Deputy is undermining the position of the State. That is nothing new.

Proinsias De Rossa: The Minister is undermining the rights of more than 70,000 women.

Mr. G. Mitchell: Will the Taoiseach [260] reply to the question put to him as to when the Vote for the Garda Síochána will be taken on the floor of the House given it will not be adequate to deal with it at a committee? The House needs to know if gardaí were present at this display yesterday and what action was taken.

An Ceann Comhairle: We are having repetition; this is not Question Time.

Mr. G. Mitchell: This is a serious matter. Will the Taoiseach bring the Estimate for the Garda Síochána forward and deal with it on the floor of the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: I call Deputy De Rossa.

Proinsias De Rossa: On a point of order, is it in order——

Mr. G. Mitchell: Will that Estimate be dealt with in the House?

An Ceann Comhairle: That question was asked earlier.

Mr. G. Mitchell: It has not been answered. I am asking that it be dealt with in the House to give us an opportunity to discuss the matter. Do we have to wait until these people are on the steps of Leinster House before the Taoiseach acts?

The Taoiseach: Will the Deputy listen? The issue of crime and law and order will be dealt with during Private Members' Business tonight——

Mr. G. Mitchell: We want the Estimate for the Garda Síochána.

Mr. Barrett: This is not private business.

The Taoiseach: If the House wants a debate, I am pointing out all the opportunities available.

Mr. J. Bruton: We want to know what the Taoiseach will do about it.

[261] Mr. G. Mitchell: We want to debate the action the Taoiseach will take.

The Taoiseach: The Deputies opposite do not want to listen; they are only interested in 9 June, playing politics and in trying to undermine——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Bruton: That is a disgraceful statement. Members of my party gave their lives to protect this State. That is an outrageous statement and I will not accept it from the Taoiseach. I demand that it be withdrawn. I request the Taoiseach to withdraw that appalling slur.

The Taoiseach: The Taoiseach will not withdraw it because there are ample opportunties to discuss legislation in this House.

Mr. J. Bruton: It has nothing to do with legislation; the Taoiseach should withdraw the statement.

The Taoiseach: I will not; the Deputy is playing politics.

Mr. J. Bruton: We are not; the Taoiseach is charged with the responsibility of enforcing the law and he is not able do it.

The Taoiseach: I take that responsibility every day and I will not allow the Garda Síochána to be undermined by anybody on the opposite side of the House.

Mr. G. Mitchell: What action has the Taoiseach taken against these people? None.

The Taoiseach: The Deputy should behave himself.

An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please; if order is not restored immediately and unless we proceed in a dignified manner I propose to suspend the sitting——

[262] Mr. J. Bruton: I ask the Taoiseach to withdraw the statement.

An Ceann Comhairle: How dare the Deputy interrupt me when I am making a statement to the House?

The Taoiseach: He should obey the Chair and not show disrespect.

Mr. J. Bruton: I want the statement withdrawn.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not show such disdain; I will not tolerate it.

Mr. J. Bruton: I want the statement withdrawn.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am telling the House——

Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach should withdraw the statement.

The Taoiseach: No.

An Ceann Comhairle: ——that I will suspend the sitting for a much longer period.

Mr. Barrett: Your might as well suspend it for all time.

An Ceann Comhairle: I call Deputy De Rossa.

Mr. G. Mitchell: The allegation made in the House should be withdrawn.

An Ceann Comhairle: I called Deputy De Rossa.

Proinsias De Rossa: I seek your advice. A statement was made by the Minister for Social Welfare, Deputy Woods, less than five minutes ago. He shouted across the House that I was attempting to undermine the institutions of this State.

Dr. Woods: The position of the State in the legal case.

[263] Proinsias De Rossa: Is it in order for any Member of this House, particularly a Minister who has deliberately misled this House, to make that kind of accusation?

An Ceann Comhairle: There was pandemonium for some time this morning——

Mr. Barrett: Why do you keep trying to protect them?

An Ceann Comhairle: ——and the Chair did not hear such a remark.

Mr. Barrett: You hear them from this side.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am not the kind of chairman that hides behind this situation; I do my job openly, independent of any side of this House. Unless we get down to the business of the House I will suspend the proceedings.

Mr. G. Mitchell: We have no——

An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy help me?

Mr. G. Mitchell: I will. We do not want you to adjourn the House but we wish to hear from the Taoiseach what action he is taking against subversives——

An Ceann Comhairle: There are ways and means of dealing with that matter. Item No. 4.

Mr. G. Mitchell: We want to know what action he is taking against subversives.

Mr. J. Bruton: I ask the Taoiseach to withdraw the statement he made in the House against me and members of the Fine Gael Party.

An Ceann Comhairle: I am proceeding to the business of the House.

Mr. J. Bruton: I ask the Taoiseach to withdraw the unworthy remark he made [264] about me and the members of the Fine Gael Party.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should please assist me to restore order at this time.

Mr. J. Bruton: I ask the Taoiseach to withdraw that statement, please.

The Taoiseach: The Deputy knows that is not in order to display the front page of a newpaper in this House. He also knows that he is out of order on the Order of Business and that he will have an opportunity this evening and next week. What other opportunities does he want?

Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach cast a slur on other Members of this House when he is not prepared to enforce the law against subversives.

An Ceann Comhairle: I call on the Minister for Finance to move item No. 4.

Mr. J. Bruton: Is the Taoiseach prepared to withdraw the statement?

Mr. G. Mitchell: He should withdraw the remark and take action against subversives.

Mr. J. Bruton: I want the Taoiseach to withdraw the remark he made about the Fine Gael Party. It was unworthy in view of our record in protecting the institutions of this State and in enforcing the law at personal costs to ourselves when in Government and supporting Fianna Fáil in doing so when it was in Government. We supported the Taoiseach's party in Government when it had to enforce the law. We are asking him to do the same now.

The Taoiseach: We support the law as much as anybody else; we are defending the Garda.

Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach should enforce the law in regard to these displays [265] which put the life of every citizen of this State at risk.

The Taoiseach: The Garda will enforce the law; that is a serious charge.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: The Deputy knows that the Garda is enforcing the law.