Wednesday, 12 March 2003
Order of Business.
Joe O'Toole (Independent)
I concur with everything Senator Brian Hayes has just said. It is important to recognise that, in terms of how we do our business, as Senator Leyden said many times yesterday, this situation is unprecedented. We have found that the Government was hiding from us information issued by the Information Commissioner. The Government is opposed to that information being made available to us and we are not being allowed due time to have consultation with the senior people involved in the drawing up of the Bill. The Government has decided to press ahead without speaking to the senior civil servant of the State who is charged with responsibility for the matter. The final and ultimate sanction, which the Leader said she would never do, is that a guillotine will be dropped on the debate on the Freedom of Information (Amendment) Bill at 4 p.m. That is outrageous and I hope the Leader is suitably ashamed. I know she is under instruction, but I hope that privately she will feel the same sense of shame for this House as that felt by other Members. Although the Leader said she would never go along with that approach, we are now forced into a situation whereby the House is being brought into grave disrepute.
I also wish to propose an amendment to the Order of Business. I circulated the following motion a short time ago on behalf of the Independent Senators:
That Seanad Éireann expresses its thanks and appreciation to the Information Commissioner for bringing to the attention of the Houses of the Oireachtas vital information regarding the operation of the Freedom of Information Act and affirms his statutory entitlement to make such a report.