Seanad debates

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

3:00 am

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)

Senator Landy raised the question of gold and scrap for sale, which has been raised in this House several times. I will investigate the question of traceability and of future legislation in this regard.

Senator David Cullinane referred to advances in technology, particularly in the context of the deaths of the five fishermen at Union Hall. The tragedy was a harrowing experience for all the families involved. I join the Senator, as, I am sure, do all other Members, in paying tribute to all the personnel of the State services and voluntary bodies who took part in the search. The Taoiseach has intimated that if the relevant technology is available, it should be provided. Skippers and personnel involved in the fishing industry and all others who go to sea should have the best technology available to them. I hope the devices to which the Senator refers will be made available. Their use should be compulsory because we do not want so many families in coastal areas being obliged, as has been the case, to grieve the loss of loved ones.

Senator Ned O’Sullivan referred to local government reform. The Minister will be putting proposals in respect of that matter to the Cabinet in approximately eight weeks. I am sure the House will engage in a good debate on them when they emerge.

Senator Jimmy Harte referred to the upgrading of the A5. As he indicated, £300 million has been allocated to the project.

Senator Sean D. Barrett referred to third level education and the difficulties in the teaching of mathematics, languages and economics. These issues can be addressed when our debate on third level education takes place. I hope the Minister will be present in the House for it.

Senator Feargal Quinn referred to allowances and subsistence rates for higher civil servants being based on the size of the cars they drive. I am aware that they were previously paid on the basis of car size, but I am not sure whether this remains the case. However, I assure the Senator that it is not the position in the case of Oireachtas Members. The system under which the horsepower of one’s car, etc., was used to calculate Members’ allowances and subsistence rates was done away with many years ago. I do not know whether such a system still applies in the case of higher civil servants and county and city managers. However, I will try to discover what the position is for the Senator.

Senators John Crown and Denis O’Donovan paid fitting tributes to the late Professor Gerry O’Sullivan. I am sure all other Members would like to extend their sympathy to Professor O’Sullivan’s family and acknowledge his passing and the work he did in the area of cancer research over many years.

Senator Michael Mullins referred to the jobs plan, while Senator Martin Conway mentioned third level education. I have dealt with both matters.

Senator Terry Brennan referred to the rugby match that was due to take place last weekend. I was astounded when I discovered that there was no undersoil heating at the Stade de France. It must be one of the few international stadiums which does not have an undersoil heating system. All the Irish people who travelled to Paris for the match incurred significant costs and were extremely disappointed at the outcome. I am not sure whether we can do anything about the cost of hotels in Paris. Hotels, etc., here tend to increase their prices when international matches are held at the Aviva Stadium. We should look into our own hearts in this matter.

Senator Mary Moran referred to the barbaric practice of symphysiotomy. I understand the report to which she refers will be issued in the near future. The Minister will be coming before the House after the Order of Business to discuss the HSE’s national service plan. If the Senator addresses her question to him at that point, she will probably receive a response.

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