Dáil Éireann - Volume 492 - 17 June, 1998

Order of Business (Resumed).

Mr. Quinn: In view of today's reports about the Refugee Act, 1996, which is subject to legal challenge, with which the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform will be familiar, will the Taoiseach indicate whether the Government defends that legal challenge or is it prepared to arrive at a settlement to allow the provisions of that Act to come into operation?

The Taoiseach: A few hundred cases per week are being dealt with.

Mr. Quinn: Perhaps I am not in order——

An Ceann Comhairle: The operation of legislation may not be discussed on the Order of Business.

Mr. Quinn: The legislation was suspended before it was enacted because of a legal challenge in regard to the age limit on the proposed commissioner. The Government of the day has defended that challenge. The matter has been ongoing for more than a year and a half. In light of the pressure on the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the report in today's Irish Independent, will the Taoiseach indicate [1009] whether the Government will maintain its legal defence or waive the age constraint, which would resolve the problem and allow the legislation to come into force?

The Taoiseach: The Act provides for one commissioner, but that case is not holding up the work. The work is going ahead. The Government has defended that case, but that is not holding up the operation of other cases.

Mr. Sargent: I await with interest the briefing by the Taoiseach on the legislation to bring into effect the British-Irish Agreement as it relates to prisoners. In light of yesterday's reply by the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources that he is actively considering measures in the short term to regulate razor-clam fisheries and prevent over-exploitation of stocks, will the Fisheries (Amendment) Bill incorporate the protection of inshore fisheries such as——

An Ceann Comhairle: The subject matter of the Bill may not be discussed.

Mr. Sargent: It is relevant.

An Ceann Comhairle: It is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Mr. Sargent: It relates to publication of the Bill. On the exotic and dangerous wild animals Bill, has the Government made a decision on the proposal from the ISPCA for legislation in this area? Does the Government believe that current legislation is satisfactory, provided resources are made available to the Garda Síochána and other authorities, or is this legislation part of the Government's legislative programme?

The Taoiseach: The Fisheries (Amendment) Bill will be published towards the end of this year. The wildlife Bill will not include exotic species.

Mr. Deenihan: When will the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill be introduced?

The Taoiseach: It will be published next year.

Mr. J. Bruton: The Government is required by the EU authorities to introduce legislation to regulate the veterinary profession and qualification for veterinary medicine and recommendations have been made on this matter to the Government. I note such legislation is not included in the Government programme. Will the Taoiseach inquire whether there are indications that such legislation is necessary and, if so, when will it be made available?

The Taoiseach: It is not yet clear whether primary legislation will be required, but the matter is being examined in the Department. I will ask the Department to inform the Deputy of the matter. [1010]