Thursday, 3 June 2010
Order of Business (Resumed)
Paul Bradford (Fine Gael)
I support Senator Mary White's request for a debate on alcohol use, its misuse and abuse. She is correct to point out that, as a nation, we are fixated to a dangerous degree with alcohol. A substantial debate on the subject is urgently required.
I note the preamble on the Order of Business to the debate on the Civil Partnership Bill and the level of discomfort caused by certain comments made by some of my colleagues. I am not so intellectually superior to state anybody's comments were misguided or erroneous and I am disappointed Members' views were described as such. I do not live on a plane of such moral or intellectual superiority that I would describe anybody's views as misguided. I hope we will have a tolerant debate when the Bill is before the House. It will be an interesting test of the House, our agenda and society. We claim to live in a liberal republic, but I have never encountered people as illiberal as those who refuse to accept other persons' points of view as being equally balanced and fair.
There was a presentation of views by Senators Walsh and Ó Murchú. Perhaps there were others but, unfortunately, I did not hear all the other Members' contributions. I was interested in the level of discomfort they appeared to cause on all sides of the House. The forthcoming debate on the Civil Partnership Bill must be fair and balanced. People not only have a conscience but a right to their conscience and we must try to ensure the debate is calm and fair. I look forward to presenting my views and some proposals as to how we can accommodate people's conscientious difficulties. I hope that when a Member stands to express a different point of view, it will not be in a land of mutter, tutter, Twitter and discomfort. Our so-called liberal republic should also be a tolerant republic in which people can express their views without being derided and accused of being misguided and erroneous.