Thursday, 3 June 2010
Order of Business (Resumed)
John Paul Phelan (Fine Gael)
I echo Senator Ross's call for a debate on banking. Three appointments were made in Anglo Irish Bank. I will not rehash what Senator Ross said but I agree with the points he made. We should have a discussion on this matter. The bank is a public institution. If we cannot discuss these issues in this House there is no other venue in which to do so. We should also have a discussion on what has happened to EBS and the amount, almost €1 billion, the Government has invested in the society in the last ten days. There has been no discussion of that issue in the House since the announcement was made.
I agree with colleagues who expressed opinions on impending legislation and the right of Members to have a free vote on certain issues. While it might be necessary in our style of parliamentary democracy to have a strict whip system, I have long felt that on matters of conscience people should have more freedom to express their own opinions. I have a reservation about the Civil Partnership Bill, which can impose a criminal sanction on a registrar who does not perform his or her role. I agreed with the decriminalisation of homosexuality ten or 20 years ago. Criminalising registrars for non-performance of their function is not a correct step in any legislation. I often disagree with Senator Hanafin but I strongly agree with him on this matter. I know so many brothers and sisters in my area who live together and never married. I am sure you also know of such people, a Chathaoirligh. I do not object to granting rights to couples, whether of the same or the opposite sex. However, people who are living together in a loving but non-sexual relationship, perhaps brothers or sisters, should not be discriminated against.