Thursday, 14 March 2019
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I join Senators on both sides of the House in calling on the Leader not to pursue holding all Stages of the Sea-Fisheries (Amendment) Bill 2017 today. I again call on him not to use this House for the optics of getting the legislation through in a rushed manner. As colleagues pointed out, it is nearly two years since the Bill was last before the Seanad. That is not the fault of anyone on this side of the House or of most Senators on the Leader's side of the House. The Minister and the Government chose to sit on their hands and not reflect on the many amendments tabled to the Bill. I ask the Minister to take Committee Stage today. I apologise; I meant to refer to the Leader. I was a little premature. We will not have to call him "Minister" for another 12 months or so. I ask him to take Committee Stage of the Bill today. As Senators Ardagh and Mac Lochlainn pointed out, those on this side of the House will reluctantly agree to take that Stage of the Bill. The Minister rushing to the telephone yesterday evening to consult the various organisations does not constitute a meaningful engagement. Meaningful engagement involves sitting down around a table with the various concerned bodies to discuss those concerns. If the Minister does so and there is a satisfactory outcome to that engagement, we will agree to take Report and Final Stages in the week that the Seanad returns after the break.However, we will only do so if it is meaningful consultation.
When the joint committee system was introduced in the Oireachtas, fisheries was not to be included until the Cathaoirleach insisted it was included with the committee on agriculture. I commend him on the work he has done through the years for fisheries and fishermen. I also commend my colleague in the Lower House, Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher, who has continually raised this issue but got blank replies from various Ministers.
I agree with my colleagues on Bloody Sunday. Fourteen people were murdered in 1972 and now a soldier has been charged with the unlawful killing of only two of those people. I agree with Senator Conway-Walsh that the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade should come to the House but only if he is available. This is too important an issue to have anyone other than the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade or the Taoiseach deal with it in this House. Assuming they are not in the country, on the first week we come back, I want at least the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade to discuss this issue. I would also like some questions addressed by British forces. The soldier in question was carrying out orders. Who gave the order? Why are they not before the courts?