Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Order of Business
Senators Brennan and Paul Coghlan raised the issue of gateway funding for towns and cities. This was raised by a number of Senators during yesterday's Order of Business, when they welcomed the allocations. I certainly welcome the €4 million allocation to my own city of Waterford from the fund.
Senator van Turnhout mentioned the Drinkaware campaign and the drinks industry. She welcomed the decision made by the Minister of Education and Skills to refuse access to schools for Drinkaware. The Senator pointed out that there is no room for the drinks industry in schools and when it comes to road safety.
Senator Mooney mentioned the narrowing of the tax base. Of course we look at what the European institutions advise in terms of narrowing the tax base. It is the Government's policy to create more and better jobs and to get more people at work. The more people we have at work, the more money we have for the services that the Senator talked about and for all our public services. The recovery is fragile; there is no question about it, as the Senator said. We need stability to make progress on work and the tax base, rather than instability and chaos, which is what we would have if some parties were in power. I note what he has said about the tax base.
Senator Hayden referred to accommodation for homeless people and outlined many relevant facts. She commended the Dublin Region Homeless Executive on its excellent work in this area.
Senator Walsh, who is not here at present, called for a new Government. That is a decision for the people to make and will happen fairly soon. I remind him that his party is still a party of high tax and high spending. The people will decide whether to return this Government to power or bring in a new one, as he suggests.
Senator Moran mentioned the report on special needs assistants. We look forward to reading the report and its recommendations. I do not know whether it will be possible to have a debate on the issue before the end of term, but I recommend that everyone read the report when it is published. Senator Mullins called for a debate on the Action Plan for Jobs and welcomed the new funding of €150 million for research and development.
There have been requests for a number of debates to be held in the House. We will have a full schedule next week in terms of legislation, so it will be difficult to slot in statements on various issues. I will do my best to see how we can facilitate that.
Senator Quinn mentioned the possibility of having a fixed date for Easter. It is an issue that I have read about and it was raised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is right that we should initiate discussions in Europe on that. I will bring the matter to the attention of the relevant Minister. The Senator also mentioned microbeads in soap and toothpaste, which have recently been banned in America, and particularly their effects on wildlife. He has raised the matter at an opportune time, because we will debate the Heritage Bill later today. The Senator will have an opportunity to mention the issue to the Minister during that debate.