Seanad debates

Wednesday, 2 April 2003

10:30 am

Photo of Jim WalshJim Walsh (Fianna Fail)

I endorse what was said by Senators Glynn and Ó Murchú about 16 Moore Street. It would be a travesty if that building were demolished. It should be preserved because it is obviously of historic importance. While it might seem early, we should be planning now for the centenary commemoration of 1916. I hope we will not have such an anaemic event as that which took place in 1991 on the occasion of the 75th anniversary.

I previously asked the Leader for a debate on insurance. On that occasion a number of Members broadened it beyond what I sought, which was a debate on liability insurance. I ask the Leader to have a debate at an early stage confined to this issue. Many companies are operating without insurance and this makes matters difficult for employers and employees. The compensation culture that exists in this country needs to be tackled.

I welcome the recently published report by the Law Reform Commission which takes to task the cost of the tribunals. There was a suggestion, which echoed a comment I made when previously asking for an insurance debate, that we could move to an inquisitorial arrangement rather than using the advocacy model. The report questions the correctness and necessity of legal representation for people brought before tribunals. I ask the Leader to examine the report and consider whether it might form the basis for a good debate. In the context of the report, a suggestion was made yesterday that one of the tribunals could last for another 20 years. Regardless of the importance of the tribunal's work, that would be an appalling imposition on taxpayers and the prospect should be examined carefully.

A number of Senators have called for the case that will be taken by Senator Higgins and Deputy Howlin to be funded. Co-operation with tribunals is an issue to which we must give serious consideration and, therefore, we should not call for financial support for this case without looking at it thoroughly. I was surprised by the line the Committee on Procedure and Privileges took on that matter. The principle involved is important, but the issue of Members of the Oireachtas co-operating with tribunals is an entirely different matter.


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