Thursday, 16 April 2015
Order of Business
I ask the Leader for a debate on Seanad reform in light of the publication of the report on Seanad reform in recent days. I know other colleagues looked for that debate yesterday and I am hopeful we could have it soon given that this report is the culmination of a very extensive consultation process. Many of us, including the Labour group of Senators, made submissions to the Seanad reform group chaired by Maurice Manning. I hope we can have a debate on the content of that report and its recommendations.
I also ask for a debate on cyberbullying and cybercrime. I commend Senator Higgins on producing the harmful and malicious electronic communications Bill which is aimed at tackling cyberbullying, an issue of great concern to people across the floor of this House. In recent years, we have seen some very disturbing reports of the trauma caused to young people in particular by cyberbullying and the use of social media to bully and, in effect, abuse people. Senator Higgins has taken an important first step in the debate. I know she will be publishing the Bill in the coming days and both Senator Whelan and I, as communications and justice spokespersons, respectively, along with our Labour colleagues are very happy to support her in this initiative. I hope we will have a debate in this House in very short course on this issue. I am conscious that the Law Reform Commission is also doing a great deal of work on cybercrime more generally, so quite a lot of work has been done on cybercrime generally and cyberbullying in particular and how best to tackle it. Certainly, this Bill is a very important development and I commend Senator Higgins on it.
I also ask the Leader for a debate on education and school admissions policy in light of the publication of the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill over the break. Again, this Bill is the culmination of a great deal of consultation. The Minister for Education and Skills has already said she will consult further before she decides on the issue of set-aside places that schools may keep where they are oversubscribed and run a waiting list. A number of issues are still to be resolved and we might have a debate in this House before the Bill formally comes to us to debate some of those more detailed issues around school admissions policy.