Seanad debates

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent)

Senator Darragh O’Brien referred to the financial institutions. I am requesting the Leader to consider how this House can best liaise with the committees of both Houses. Yesterday the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality had a three hour discussion on the heads of the insolvency Bill which was attended by a wide range of interested parties, including the Irish Bankers Federation, the Association of Insolvency Practitioners and representatives of FLAC. It afforded us a valuable opportunity to question, in particular, members of the Irish Bankers Federation about the practices engaged in in lending to customers during the boom years and what has been done since to alleviate pressure on mortgage holders. It strikes me that it would be useful if there was in place a formal mechanism to allow committees to report back to this House on some of the issues raised. The Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform also held hearings on similar issues during the past few weeks. There is a good deal of work being done outside this Chamber and the Dáil on issues to do with financial institutions, accountability and providing greater protection for mortgage holders. The hearings on the heads of the insolvency Bill are a valuable part of this work, of which, perhaps, Members of the House, with the exception of those who are members of committees, are not sufficiently aware.

I renew my call for a debate on higher education. I note the formal opening took place yesterday in Trinity College Dublin of the school of medicine in the new Biomedical Sciences Institute on Pearse Street by the Minister of State, Deputy Sean Sherlock, which was opened last June. This is a very important innovation and initiative which it is hoped will generate a good number of jobs. It is already generating a great deal of research which will lead to further innovations in bioscience. This is an area in which our biomedical departments are leaders. I, therefore, seek a debate on higher education in the context of such initiatives taking place in both Trinity College Dublin and other institutions of higher education.

I congratulate President Rousseff of Brazil. A major feature on her Cabinet has been published in today’s edition of The Irish Times in which it is pointed out that she has appointed women to ten of the 39 ministerial posts. She is trying to ensure greater participation by women in the political system in Brazil. The report states it is languishing with a female parliamentary participation rate of 12%, well below the average in Latin America, albeit not far off Ireland’s very poor representation rate of 15% in the Dáil. It is, of course, much better in the Seanad. Interestingly, however, Brazil has failed to introduce the legislation Ireland is introducing - it was debated in the House yesterday - to ensure political parties will be required to ensure at least 30% of their candidates will be of each gender.

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