Dáil Éireann - Volume 402 - 24 October, 1990

Requests to move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 30.

An Ceann Comhairle: Before coming to the Order of Business, I propose to deal with a number of notices of motion under Standing Order 30. I observe that the notices given by Deputy De Rossa and Deputy Spring relate to the same subject matter and I am calling the Deputies in the order in which they submitted their notices to my office. I call, therefore, Deputy De Rossa to state the matter of which he has given notice to me.

Proinsias De Rossa: In accordance with Standing Order 30, I wish to raise the dispute which involves the secretaries [2] employed by Deputies in their parliamentary and constituency work and I seek leave to move the adjournment of the Dáil to discuss this matter because of the serious impact on the work of Dáil Deputies and consequently on the public at large. It is clear that there is a major problem of understanding between the union representing the secretaries and the Department of Finance. It is important that this House and the Houses generally should demonstrate that they are exemplary employers rather than adopting an intransigent attitude towards negotiations. I urge the Ceann Comhairle to agree to this discussion to enable the matter to be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.

Mr. Spring: Before dealing with my request under Standing Order 30, we in [3] this House should unite today in expressing our abhorrence at the constant murders taking place in Northern Ireland. A statement should come from this House today regarding these brutal murders.

Under Standing Order 30 I gave notice that I wished to move a motion to the effect that this House deplores the failure of the Department of Finance to negotiate seriously regarding the legitimate grievances of Dáil secretaries and in particular the failure of the Department to make any serious effort to avert this unnecessary and damaging industrial dispute. This House calls on the Minister for Finance to take personal charge of the handling of the dispute forthwith. In the event that you, a Cheann Comhairle, refuse my request, the Minister for Finance might meet with party Leaders to try to bring the dispute to a resolution as quickly as possible.

An Ceann Comhairle: The House is probably aware that the question of the industrial action by the secretarial assistants is on the agenda for our meeting of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges this afternoon. It would be my ardent hope that some definite results would accrue from that and I feel it is appropriate at this stage that nothing should be said or done to aggravate what is already a very delicate situation. Perhaps you would leave the matter with me and with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte gave me notice that he wished also to raise a matter under Standing Order 30.

Mr. Rabbitte: I gave notice that I sought to raise the following matter of urgent public interest, namely, the immediate and other causes of and the circumstances leading to the financial difficulties of the Goodman Group of companies and the appointment by the High Court of an examiner to a number of these companies, especially in view of the importance of the beef industry and the serious risk to the jobs and livelihoods of [4] thousands of workers and farmers. Since the Dáil debated the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 1990, a number of new issues have emerged which the House should be allowed debate in full. Among these are the suggestions that money borrowed by the Goodman Group under section 84 lending for the specific expansion of the beef industry was used for other purposes, that promises were made by members of the Government to re-establish export credit insurance for beef exports to Iraq, the origins of a sum of approximately £20 million now on deposit in an account in the Bank of Cyprus and the purposes for which this money was raised, and a number of other matters which did not surface during the debate on 28 August.

An Ceann Comhairle: Having considered the matter fully I do not consider it is one contemplated by Standing Order 30 and I cannot, therefore, grant leave to move the motion.

Deputy Spring and Deputy John Bruton gave notice under Standing Order 30 of their intention to raise a similar matter. In the first instance I call Deputy Spring to raise the question.

Mr. Spring: I gave notice that under Standing Order 30 I wish to raise a matter which I consider to be of extreme public importance.

The motion reads as follows:

This House deplores the decision to suppress the broadcasting of a television programme dealing with the Merchant Banking affair and that the House regards that decision as essentially a political one. This House demands a full statement by the Taoiseach concerning any and all representations made to the programme or to the RTE Authority on his behalf.

Mr. J. Bruton: Sir, I gave you notice under Standing Order 30 of my intention to move the adjournment of the Dáil on a specific and important matter of public interest requiring urgent consideration. The matter in question is the failure of [5] RTE to go ahead with the screening of the programme “Wednesday Report” due to be screened tonight. The programme is understood to contain allegations that Merchant Banking Limited, or a company associated therewith, made loans to a Fianna Fáil politician through a company linked with that politician's family. This matter is urgent and of public interest in that (a) no action was taken on the liquidator's report on the Merchant Banking collapse and (b) the failure to screen the programme at the prearranged time was due to its political content and that the postponement is designed, and may have been sought by the Government in order to deny information to voters in advance of the Presidential election.

An Ceann Comhairle: Having considered the matter fully I do not consider them to be contemplated by Standing Order 30. Therefore, I cannot grant leave to move the motion. The matter is not within the current responsibility of the Government.

Mr. J. Bruton: Would you not agree, Sir, that the matter is of urgent public importance?

An Ceann Comhairle: I have ruled on the matter. Deputy Dukes gave me notice of his intention to raise a matter under Standing Order 30. Will the Deputy now please state that matter?

Mr. Dukes: Sir, the matter I wish to raise with you under Standing Order 30 is the emergence of independent evidence which corroborates statements to the effect that the Tánaiste, Deputy Brian Lenihan, attempted to put improper pressure on the President in 1982 to secure a transfer of power to Deputy Haughey without an election and, in so doing, committed a grossly improper act — that is an attempt to interfere with a power which is within the absolute discretion of the President — and in the fact that he has since denied that in the face of the evidence has cast a very real doubt over any credibility he may have had.

[6] An Ceann Comhairle: Having considered the matter fully I do not consider it to be one contemplated by Standing Order 30. Therefore, I cannot grant leave to move the motion.

Mr. Dukes: I put it to you, Sir, that it is a matter of public importance that a member of the Government is now shown to have been involved in an attempt to subvert the Constitution——

An Ceann Comhairle: I have allowed the Deputy to raise this matter. In fact, the matter is not within the current responsibility of the Government.

Mr. Dukes: ——that he has shown ever since an absolute disregard for truth or veracity and that he is therefore utterly unsuitable for the office he holds or the one he seeks.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Dukes, I am now going on to the Order of Business proper.

Mr. Dukes: Sir, you leave me with no option but to give you notice that my party will put down a motion of no confidence in the Tánaiste.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may pursue the matter along those lines. The Taoiseach on the Order of Business.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: They can fool some of the people some of the time.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Mitchell: If he told lies would he resign?

An Ceann Comhairle: I have called the Taoiseach.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Shatter: He should come into the House and make a statement for the record.

[7] An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach on the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: A Cheann Comhairle, like yourself, I did harbour a faint hope that the advent of television might have a civilising influence on the House.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: Indeed, I would like to congratulate the benches on the left on their response.

Mr. Shatter: We will not be silent on this side of the House.

(Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: But I am afraid this juvenile ebullience on the part of Fine Gael persists.

Mr. J. Bruton: A Cheann Comhairle, is it not the case that the Tánaiste admitted on a tape that he had made such representations?

The Taoiseach: If Deputies go back on the record they will find that the position of the Fianna Fáil Party in regard to that matter was put on public record by me in a statement on the night in question at 8.28 p.m.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: I have called the Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: A Cheann Comhairle, again may I suggest that we transfer the fighting of the Presidential election to where it belongs, at the hustings and not in this House.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. Bruton: The Deputy in question is a member of the Government. If a member of the Government does not tell the truth that is a matter of public importance quite apart from any Presidential election.

[8] (Interruptions.)

The Taoiseach: I interpret all of this as a sign of desperation.

Mr. J. Bruton: The obfuscation by the Taoiseach will not conceal the truth.