Wednesday, 2 April 2003
Order of Business.
Maurice Hayes (Independent)
I support Senator Brian Hayes's request for a debate on Northern Ireland which would be timely, although whether it will still be timely next week is another matter. The blueprint mentioned by the Senator will be published next Thursday and the Leader might guarantee us a debate, perhaps the following Tuesday. It is not a question of avoiding a Friday sitting but of allowing time to see the reactions of the various parties, particularly those in Northern Ireland, in order that the House can have a broader view. It might be interesting to reflect on and respond to the reactions of others.
Senator Ryan mentioned the comments of Ms Justice Laffoy about the Department of Education and Science. I, too, was shocked that the Department was not co-operating with the Laffoy commission to the extent the judge expected. I read in today's newspapers that the Cabinet finds itself unable to support the case of Senator Higgins and Deputy Howlin on the grounds that it would undermine the tribunal it had set up. I am not sure that it would be undermining the tribunal to help it clarify its legal powers and ambit. This is of importance because it is a conflict of interest between two institutions and should be dealt with. If there is no public money to do this, we, as Members of the Oireachtas, should in some way ensure these two Members are not left on their own to deal with it.