Government defends plans to devote week to legislation


THE GOVERNMENT has defended its decision to set aside next week’s Dáil sitting to progressing legislation, following Opposition criticism there will be no Order of Business and Leaders’ Questions.

The Coalition recently reversed its decision to adjourn the Dáil for a week following the June bank holiday weekend, and the chamber will now sit from 2.30pm until 7pm on Wednesday and 10.30am until 3.30pm on Thursday.

Fine Gael and Labour will today complain they will not be able to avail of the usual opportunities to hold the Government to account, with Fine Gael’s whip Paul Kehoe warning his party will withdraw pairing arrangements if the Government persists with its plans.

Government chief whip John Curran said the additional week would be “used to progress important legislation” and discuss the implementation of recommendations of the Ryan commission report into clerical child abuse.

Mr Curran said, following discussions with Taoiseach Brian Cowen, it was decided it would be appropriate to use the week after the bank holiday for this purpose.

The Labour Party’s whip Emmet Stagg described the proposals for the sittings as “farcical”. He said: “They are designed to present the illusion of Dáil sittings while the Taoiseach, most Ministers and Government backbenchers will not be required to be here at all.” Mr Stagg said Mr Curran had “made a big issue” of announcing the Dáil would not take a week off. “However, now we find that the Government is planning to force through a motion on the Order of Business tomorrow which will mean that there will be no Leaders’ Questions, no Orders of Business, no adjournment debates, and no votes at all next week,” he said.

Minister for Children Barry Andrews will address the house on the implementation of recommendations of the Ryan report on Wednesday, followed by statements. The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will also be discussed. It is chiefly concerned with dissolving the St Luke’s Hospital board and transferring its staff, assets and liabilities to the HSE.

The Multi-Unit Development Bill 2009 may also be discussed on Wednesday. It will introduce reforms for the owners of apartment complexes and update legislation in apartment management. Thursday will see discussion of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) (Amendment) Bill 2010 which will create a public order offence of begging.