Friday, 19 February 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I lend my support to the Senators who spoke about the staff and customers of Ulster Bank. A worrying situation is developing in banking. Senator Dooley mentioned the post office network. Credit unions, which are in every urban and rural area of the country, have also provided a tremendous service. They are seeking greater involvement in the banking system but have been prevented from doing this mainly by the Central Bank. That should also be taken into account.
Before I speak about turf cutting, I fully endorse the environmental programme of the Government and the just transition fund. I acknowledge that we have a world crisis with regard to the environment. Ireland cannot be left behind and must move with the world. We must make many moves and changes to improve our environment to ensure our people have a good supply of healthy water and air. In that regard, I ask the Leader to request that the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Ryan, come to the Seanad in the coming weeks for a discussion on solid fuels and, in particular, turf cutting. I listened to the Minister yesterday morning on “Morning Ireland” and, in fairness to him, he said that those who cut turf for domestic use do not have anything to worry about. I fully endorse the actions of the Minister and Government on extending the ban on smoky coal. I also agree with the Minister that wet timber is not a good fuel to burn. Common sense would indicate it is a bad thing. Many older people rely on turf cutting. I hope the House will have a reasonable debate on this issue. The Minister stated this was a consultation. Consultation has been taking place on issues since year dot or since Jesus was a boy. Some people are saying the consultation is a big deal. I urge people who have an opinion on this to do as the Minister and Government have asked, namely, put their opinion to paper and send it in to the consultation process. I ask that the Minister come to the House, in his own time, and have a constructive debate about this whole matter.