Wednesday, 12 March 2003
Order of Business.
Kathleen O'Meara (Labour)
I support my Opposition colleagues' comments on the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill 2003. Our legislative function, as Members of the Upper House of the Oireachtas, is being undermined by the farcical process being played out this week. In light of the report of the Information Commissioner and the remarks of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, I appeal to the Leader that this Bill be put into a cooling process until we hear from the Committee on Finance and the Public Service on the matter. In particular, we need to hear the more detailed remarks of the civil servants who drew up the report, which the Taoiseach is outrageously using as cover and as an excuse for amending the legislation. I support my colleagues in requesting that debate ends now, on Committee Stage.
I request an urgent debate on the health services, which are clearly in a state of crisis. Our national hospitals, such as the Mater, Beaumont and St. Luke's, are reported daily as having serious difficulties with carrying out their basic functions. I further request that the Minister for Health and Children come before the House at the earliest possible opportunity to report on his stewardship, or lack thereof, of this important area.