Seanad debates

Friday, 17 December 2004

11:00 am

Photo of Mary O'RourkeMary O'Rourke (Fianna Fail)

It is hard to mix good wishes with business but I thank all Members for their kind words. Senator Brian Hayes, Leader of the Opposition, raised an issue which was worth airing, and I am sure the Senator will do as he says. Senator Coghlan called for a debate on the IDA, particularly industrial blackspots.

Senators Norris, Dardis, McDowell and others raised the matter of the Colombia three, on which Members have different points of view. The severity of the sentence was a great surprise, as was the dichotomy between what happened and what is now happening. Senator Ó Murchú spoke on the legal fiasco which is the outcome of the case. The three men are Irish citizens and everybody wishes to see proper justice done. What we do not want is the taking up of the case in a purely partisan manner by different political groupings, which is wrong. Such groups are seizing the opportunity to bend the facts to suit their own agendas, and Members have grave reservations about this.

Senator Glynn referred to a new saga of overcharging in regard to ATMs. IFSRA is charged with investigating such matters and I will bring it to its attention, although I am sure it knows of the issue. Senator Browne expressed his good wishes. Senator Lydon called for a debate on the telecommunications issue. Senator Bradford raised the matters of mobile telephone charges and the subtitling of television programmes. We have already put something in train on that matter but I do not know what will be the outcome. Senator Bradford also raised the question of what is happening in Darfur, Sudan. He is very involved in dealing with such issues as a member of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Senator Maurice Hayes referred to the Colombia Three, while Senator Minihan sought a debate on the Irish language in the New Year. Senator Jim Walsh referred to toll roads. Senator Bohan raised this matter previously in the House and other Members took it up subsequently. I have received a plethora of e-mails about it. The M50 is a road of misery. Nobody would mind the charges if they could just pay the money and continue driving but the delays are unacceptable. The road was described vividly in an e-mail I received this morning as a road of misery. People depend on the M50 to get to work, yet they are delayed morning and evening by queues at toll booths. Back in 1987, a very bad arrangement was made at the beginning. There was no money around for anything at that time but the M50 is now a cash cow which shows no sign of drying up. It is time the Government took up this matter.

While I did not hear Joe Duffy's "Liveline" radio programme yesterday, another issue was raised on the show which was cut off with great alacrity. I will not go into that because it was most inappropriate. There was also an interview with the granddaughter of Thomas MacDonagh who discussed how we should finally remember the founding fathers and their contribution to the State. It would be an interesting idea to have such a debate in the House if we could manage it. I will inquire as to how best such a debate could be arranged.

When I thanked everyone earlier, I omitted Mr. Jimmy Walsh who is ever present. Mr. Walsh is very industrious in reporting Seanad debates. I also wish to thank RTE for broadcasting "Oireachtas Report."


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