Friday, 17 December 2004
Order of Business.
Paul Bradford (Fine Gael)
I agree with Senator Lydon on the need for a debate on the broader telecommunications issue. One of the aspects I would like addressed is that of mobile telephone charges. By European or international standards the Irish consumer is paying a high premium rate for mobile telephone use and the matter needs investigation.
In a similar vein, I raised some weeks ago the issue of the subtitling of television programmes and asked the Leader to bring this to the attention of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. My point was that people who suffer hearing loss are able to enjoy television with the benefit of subtitling but, unfortunately, the quality of subtitling on news and current affairs programmes on our public service broadcaster, RTE, is inadequate. I appreciate that the service costs money but those who are hard of hearing should not be treated as second class citizens. The Leader should use her influence to push for increased funding to improve the level of subtitling.
I am glad to have the opportunity to raise an issue I have raised several times, that of the serious crisis involving great human suffering in Darfur, Sudan. It is an international crisis which is not getting the attention it deserves. The rate of killing and displacement of people and the misery in that country would make the situation in Iraq look like a picnic. However, because of the different politics involved, it is not getting the necessary attention in the Oireachtas or the broader political field. An international response is required. The efforts of the United Nations to date have been insufficient and the scale of suffering is deeply worrying and profound. It is important we would ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs to maintain pressure on this issue.