Seanad debates

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

1:00 pm

Photo of Donie CassidyDonie Cassidy (Fianna Fail)

Senators Twomey, O'Toole, Hannigan, Boyle, Buttimer, O'Malley, Norris, Coghlan, Harris, Mooney, Leyden, O'Reilly, Bacik, Bradford, Mullen, Phelan and McCarthy all made excellent suggestions as regards the forthcoming debate on the need for a series of four budgets. The Minister will be in the Seanad tomorrow for an all-day debate on all of these matters. All of the excellent suggestions and proposals made can be brought to the attention of the Minister tomorrow and the debate will be open-ended. The party leaders met today and as long as Senators are offering to speak, we will want to hear everyone's viewpoint. The debate will start after the Order of Business tomorrow morning. Some excellent proposals have been made today and I will pass all of these on to the Minister. Tomorrow, colleagues can put their views again, particularly Senator O'Toole on how to get finances flowing again and the significant funds available in savings. Senators O'Malley and Regan expressed views on the EU budget and the proposed increases. Senator Regan pointed out that the Council of Ministers has not yet decided on this. I have no difficulty in having a debate on this.

Senator Twomey called for an urgent debate on the issue of junior doctors. I will endeavour to arrange for the Minister to come to the House to respond on this issue. Also, Senator Dearey called for debate on the issue of non-consultant doctors at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. I will arrange for that debate also if at all possible.

Senators Hannigan, Bacik and Coghlan raised the issue of the lack of legislation to be dealt with in the House. A huge amount of legislation is being taken in this session, but unfortunately, because of the demands on the time of the Office of the Attorney General, due to the various difficulties being experienced by the country, there is an unprecedented lack of legislation for this House. If anyone looks back over the logs of the sittings of the Seanad over the past ten years, they will understand this is an unprecedented time. I thank colleagues and party leaders for their understanding in this regard. I assure the House I am doing everything I can to get legislation to the floor of the House as soon as possible.

Senator O'Malley called for a debate on human trafficking, particularly with regard to sham marriages. I have already given a commitment on this and have no difficulty with a debate taking place. She also called for the Minister for Transport to come to the House and for us to take another look at metro north. She told us of our experience of the terrific public bus service in Istanbul. I saw it first hand this year and agree it is an excellent service. I will pass her strong views on to the Minister.

Senators Norris and Buttimer asked me to explain a comment I made in one of the national papers with regard to a comment I made at the close of the Order of Business last Thursday on which I was asked to expand. I assure the House it was never my intention to do anything other than to highlight the difficulty being experienced by everyone. I apologise to Members, to the people of Ireland and everyone concerned for any offence caused by anything I said. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. What I was saying was that Senators have all played a part and that we had taken the levy and wage reductions and would, in the national interest, continue to play our part. That was the intent of my reply. I know that people are hurt, but that was never my intention. Anyone who knows me and my background, knows I am not someone who was reared with a silver spoon. I know exactly what it is like and how difficult it is to know where meals will come from in two or three days time. I apologise again. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I am personally hurt also, apart from the hurt anyone else may have experienced. We all learn from time to time. It was never my intention to cause hurt. I hope this clarifies everything for everyone.

Senators Dearey and Ó Brolcháin welcomed the great results of Irish exporters for the quarter. I join them in that. As Senator Dearey said, becoming and remaining competitive is the way forward. We congratulate everyone in the private sector involved, the Government and Departments that are making this happen. I agree broadband is playing a major part in helping us become more efficient, get better value for money and reduce the cost of communications on our wage bill.

Senators Ó Brolcháin and Norris called for a debate on the arts. I support that call and will arrange for that debate. Senator Quinn asked about the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Bill 2010. I will find out the position on that for the Senator. He also mentioned the significant tourism potential and value to be obtained from the visits of the tall ships. We are all aware of that value as a result of the visits of the tall ships to Dublin and Waterford.

The compromise reached by Derry and Londonderry is a shining example in terms of how we can bring together everything on all parts of the island of Ireland. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Quinn in this regard.

Senators Cummins and Bacik have been for some time requesting a debate on prisons. I am pleased to inform the House that this debate will take place next week.


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