Dáil to return earlier than scheduled


THE DÁIL will reconvene a week earlier than scheduled in January, but it has yet to be confirmed whether it will be on the 11th or 12th of the month.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen also confirmed that the legislation to reduce the minimum wage by €1 would be debated in the Dáil and decided this week.

He told Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny that it would be “in the public interest” that all reports would be published once approved.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore asked when the Government planned to “go ahead with cutting the minimum wage by €1 an hour or €2,000 a year for people on the lowest wage”.

He said the Minister for Social Protection last week seemed to indicate it was the Government’s intention to “sneak this piece of legislation in by way of a report stage amendment to the Social Welfare Miscellaneous Bill which is currently before the Dáil”.

The Taoiseach told him “there will be a reduction in the minimum wage in an effort to improve prospects for people for employment and it’s important that that be given a statutory basis as quickly as possible. So it will be dealt with this week also.”

Mr Kenny had asked when the Government proposed to publish the report on gaming and lotteries, in the wake of the proposed development of a casino in the Tipperary North constituency of Independent TD Michael Lowry.

“I thought I heard the jingle of casinos in the distances and I understand that central to that aspiration is that the gaming and lottery report will be published.”

Mr Cowen said the report reviewing gaming legislation since the 1950s was “being prepared in the Department of Justice over the past three years” and would be circulated by the Government “in the very near future”. The Taoiseach said “it would be in the public interest that all reports once approved and passed by the Government will be published. It will be important in terms of the issues concerned in the public debate that would ensue.”

When asked about the return of the Dáil Mr Cowen said “it’s a matter to be decided by the Government next week, but I would be in a position to be able to indicate that we could come back a week sooner than expected”.

The House was originally scheduled to return on January 19th.

Mr Cowen told Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin that legislation on bank restructuring was “an issue that will be approved by Government this week”.

Mr Kenny said he had heard reports “about climate change Bills, mayoralty Bills, corporate donation Bills, that these are all to be dealt with in the blended amalgamation of the Finance Bill when the Dáil comes back a week earlier”.

He asked if it was planned to take other legislation or to “stick to the Gormley edict” of an election in the second half of January.

Mr Cowen said “there is a lot of legislation that we can and should do . . . which will be done in the normal course”.