Dáil Éireann - Volume 331 - 09 December, 1981

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Departmental Employees Illness.

34. Mr. Flynn asked the Minister for [1448] Posts and Telegraphs the reason a certain employee of his Department (details supplied) in County Mayo has not been asked to resume duties following his recent illness in view of the fact that his doctor has certified him as fit for work.

Mr. Harte: The officer concerned has been certified as unsuitable for continued employment on ground of ill-health. Arrangements are in hands for his superannuation.

Mr. Flynn: Is the Minister suggesting to me that somebody who has given 12 years of loyal service to the Department in that capacity and who has been certified by a general practitioner as fit for work is deemed unsuitable by the Minister and his officers?

Mr. Harte: The information I have is that the man is aged 62 years, he has been employed as a night and Sunday telephone operator at Westport and he has not been on duty since 31 July 1980. If the Deputy now assures me that he is fit and well I will ask the Department to have the matter looked into.

Mr. Flynn: This employee has submitted evidence from a medical practitioner that he is fit to resume work. There is some other reason for the Minister to deny him the right to return to work. I am now asking the Minister if he will give a guarantee to the House that this employee, who has been deemed fit for work by his medical practitioner, will be restored to his position——

Mr. Harte: The Deputy will appreciate it is not easy to speak publicly about a medical matter. In deference to the Deputy's constituents, I should prefer not to give the reasons publicly, but if the Deputy wants to read the file afterwards I will let the Deputy have a look at it.

Mr. Flynn: I should be pleased if the Minister lets me have a look at it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 35.

[1449] Mr. Killilea: It is very important that that question be left over. It is now 3.30——

An Ceann Comhairle: The question can be taken with the agreement of the House.

Mr. Killilea: It is very important that the question be left over.

An Ceann Comhairle: The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.

Mr. Flynn: I want to raise a point of order concerning a Private Notice Question in the names of Deputies Calleary, Morley, Denis Gallagher and me which has been refused by you. I wish to ask you if you do not regard the withdrawal of a commitment by this administration to the west of Ireland, the abandonment of a solemn commitment given by the Taoiseach to the continuation of the regional airport project in the west of Ireland, as a matter of public importance? I suggest, Sir, that it is a matter of national concern and that you should have allowed it.

An Ceann Comhairle: You are making me out to be a villain. The Private Notice Question was not a matter of urgent public importance and consequently I could not allow it.

Mr. Flynn: Are you suggesting that a question of reneging on a solemn promise given by the Taoiseach is not a matter of urgent importance——

An Ceann Comhairle: You had ample time to put down a normal question since last Thursday. Indeed you could have put down a question for written reply and then could have raised the matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Because of technical information available to us there is an urgency about this matter. Works which have been done will prove to be useless and will have to be re-done, all excavations [1450] will have to be re-done. In view of that, would the Ceann Comhairle be prepared to have another look at the question? We regard the whole thing as being very urgent. There will have been a waste of money for the technical reasons I mentioned. Would the Ceann Comhairle look at the matter again?

An Ceann Comhairle: You have my assurance that I examined it very thoroughly before reluctantly coming to the decision to refuse it. To have qualified under the Standing Order, it would have had to arise suddenly. This was not the case. You have an opportunity to raise it by way of a question for written reply or by way of a normal question. Then if you are not happy it could be raised by way of motion or a Question on the Adjournment.

Mr. Morley: This is a matter of great public concern not just for the Mayo area but for the whole of the north-west. It is a cause of great public disquiet that the Government have reneged on a commitment on this project — the Taoiseach himself is reneging on his commitment to this project. Because of its importance and interest to the people of the west generally I ask you to reconsider this.

An Ceann Comhairle: You have other means at your disposal.

Mr. Flynn: Would you not regard the unchristian act of the Taoiseach and some of his Ministers as of great national importance? It has caused enormous disquiet and considerable hardship to the people of the west. Do you not regard our future in the west as being of some importance?

An Ceann Comhairle: I am responsible for maintaining order in the House. I am abiding by the Standing Order. If there was a possibility of my allowing the question I would have done so gladly. I cannot allow you to continue because to do so would be disorderly. I gave my decision on it after much examination.

Mr. Flynn: Would you consider allowing [1451] the matter to be raised on the Adjournment so that the Taoiseach himself could come in and justify him reneging on a solemn promise given by him to the people of the west of Ireland? He has broken faith and his word and that is a matter of serious political consequence to this House as well at to the west of Ireland.

An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.

Dr. Byrne (Dublin North-West): I should like permission to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of the RTE authority, with particular reference to a television programme late at night last week relating to the adverse living conditions in the Finglas area, part of which I represent. I should like to raise the matter under the legislation establishing and controlling the RTE authority.

Mr. Flynn: Normally when one challenges the Taoiseach it is regarded as being of some political consequence. When the Taoiseach of the day has broken his word in regard to a solemn commitment given——

An Ceann Comhairle: You cannot raise this as a point of order.

Mr. Flynn: I will come to the point of order. Should the Taoiseach not come in here——

An Ceann Comhairle: It does not arise. Deputy Flynn is out of order. Deputy McMahon, on a point order. Will Deputies extend the courtesy to Deputy McMahon of listening to him?

Mr. McMahon: After the matter had been dealt with, are we to have yet another debate from the opposite side on Knock airport?

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Order. Deputy McMahon's point does not arise.

[1452] Mr. Flynn: This question should be allowed to be raised and answered by the Taoiseach because there has been regional discrimination.

An Ceann Comhairle: I have been lenient with the Deputy but I hope he will not test my patience too much.

Mr. Flynn: I do not want to be disorderly, but do you regard a serious breach of faith on the part of the Taoiseach——

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not for me to adjudicate on a matter like that.

Mr. Ellis: I should like permission to raise on the Adjournment the reply given yesterday to Questions Nos. 50 and 51.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair will communicate with the Deputy and Deputy Byrne.

Mr. Flynn: Is the Taoiseach afraid to come in here to answer this?

An Ceann Comhairle: I have given the Deputy a lot of latitude. I am calling the next business.