Wednesday, 2 March 2005
Order of Business.
It has been brought to my attention that some Members are using mobile telephones while in the Chamber. I remind Members that the use of mobile telephones is not permitted in any circumstances in the Seanad Chamber and I ask Senators to adhere to that decision.
The Order of Business is No. 1, a motion regarding the extension of section 17A of the Diseases of Animals Act 1966 for a further 12 months which was referred to the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Food and which has completed its discussions — its provisions enhance the Minister's ability to deal with all disease situations and, in particular, to identify, investigate and prosecute factories, marts, dealers, farmers or others who engage in illegal activities — to be taken without debate; No. 2, statements on waste management, to be taken at the conclusion of the Order of Business and to conclude not later than 1 p.m. with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed 12 minutes, those of all other Senators not to exceed eight minutes, Members may share time and the Minister to be called on to reply not later than five minutes before the conclusion of the statements; No. 3, Social Welfare and Pensions Bill 2005 — Second Stage, to be taken at 2 p.m. and to conclude not later than 5 p.m., with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed 15 minutes, those of all other Senators not to exceed ten minutes and the Minister to be called on to reply not later than ten minutes before the conclusion of Second Stage; and No. 14, Totalisator (Amendment) Bill 2005 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken at 5 p.m. and to conclude not later than 7 p.m., with speaking times the same as for a normal Private Members' motion. There will be a sos from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Does the Leader agree that one of the greatest examples of courage we have seen recently is that shown against the face of intimidation by the McCartney family in Northern Ireland, particularly in Belfast, who have stood up to the paramilitaries in their demonstration last Sunday, in their public comments and the way in which they have handled the issues concerning the murder of their brother? They have shown tremendous courage to the people of this country and, particularly, to those in Northern Ireland who live in fear in terms of the hold paramilitaries have in those communities. I am aware the Lower House, both yesterday and today, is dealing with this matter by way of a cross-party substantive motion.
Does the Leader agree that what these brave women, the McCartney sisters, want to see is a court case where people come before the court, there is a prosecution and a defence and, ultimately, a result? That is in contradiction to the continuous abject injustice of the paramilitary organisations who believe they have a right to take people down alleyways and put bullets into their knees and bodies. It is important that a court case emerges and we should use this opportunity to encourage people to come forward with the evidence in that case to face down the appalling threat and intimidation of the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. It is worth stating that more Catholics were killed in Northern Ireland by the IRA than any other paramilitary group in the past 30 years, a fact which is sometimes forgotten.
On 19 May 2004, a substantive motion was tabled by our group, supported by the Labour Party and by Independent Senator Ross, I think, on the issue of the McCabe murder. At that time a Government amendment was moved by Senator Jim Walsh, arguing that the McCabe issue could only be dealt with in the context of a final settlement in Northern Ireland.
The Taoiseach has moved the bar; he has changed his position three times on this matter. Those of us on this side of the House listened to all kinds of allegations of moralising and the like from rather naive Senators who put that charge last year. Can the Leader now ensure that time is provided over the course of the next few weeks to allow the Fine Gael motion — which is now also the Government position as it has been changed three times in the past 18 months — to come back to the House to allow the record of the House to be corrected? On 19 May 2004, the Government voted down a motion which is now its own position. Time should be provided by the Government to correct that matter so that it is clear to all in the House.
I welcome Senator Cummins's Totalisator (Amendment) Bill 2005. I ask the Leader to accept this Bill tonight and allow it proceed to Committee Stage.
I ask the House to note and acknowledge the extraordinary, comprehensive and visionary description by Dr. Paisley of the situation in the North. The House should note he has ensured we all recognise that doors are not closed and that progress can be made. The discussion with the McCartney family over the past fortnight was a most hopeful, perhaps the most hopeful, optimistic and encouraging intervention in the Northern discussions. It is crucially important that this is recognised by the House.
In 1917 millions of people died from an influenza pandemic which had devastating effects on every continent. A similar situation and circumstances which led to that outbreak are coming into place at this time. There is a very strong likelihood, articulated by international medical experts, that there could be another flu pandemic looming on the horizon. The manner in which science and medicine have developed in the past 100 years means it is possible to have significant safeguards against such an outbreak and various countries are preparing for this scenario.
The Government was embarrassed a few years ago by the lack of preparedness in the case of nuclear fallout and the distribution of iodine tablets. I do not wish the country to be caught out in the same way in the event of a flu pandemic. I presume this issue is under consideration by the Department of Health and Children. The House should be reassured that the country has sufficient stock of anti-viral medicines or whatever is required to deal with this situation. I ask that the Minister for Health and Children come to the House to reassure us.
On a housekeeping matter, the media had a good outing last week on the question of the expenses of Members of the Oireachtas. This will continue for as long as we play it in a very naive manner. The House should take a clear position on this matter. I refer to the Cathaoirleach's position. As Cathaoirleach of the House and as a member of the Council of State he is required to represent the country abroad on many occasions. It is disgraceful that in the case of Members of the House who travel abroad, the cost of their travel tickets, money which they neither see nor spend, is recorded as being part of their personal expenses. Any other moneys which are paid directly by invoice should not appear as expenses. Many Members of both Houses are of the opinion that one of the ways of dealing with this matter is to publish all expenses every month in Iris Oifigiúil or somewhere else. People can then go to the trouble of doing the addition. We need to be a little cleverer in our approach to this issue and should not leave ourselves open to having to defend what appears indefensible. We do not have a chance of overturning the prevailing view on the issue. Instead, a big media day out, a bad news day, will be created every year at our expense.
I agree that the extraordinary role of the sisters of Mr. Robert McCartney will reverberate through the peace process in future. I hope a rapid outcome will be reached which will keep them happy. What they have done has changed the perception of many. Their role has opened our eyes and changed the view of the world on what is really happening in the name of defending communities. This matter will never return to a box of silence.
Last week the Government announced it would refund a large sum of money to those who had been illegally charged for services in publicly funded old people's residential units. As a result, the Health Service Executive set up a helpline. Some HSE staff are paid salaries in excess of the Taoiseach's salary because they are allegedly super efficient. However, the HSE cannot run a telephone line. It had two opportunities to do so and failed on each occasion. Where is the efficiency in the Health Service Executive if it cannot operate a helpline which works? Even when it knew it had got it wrong and tried to fix the problem, it failed. This episode is a poor augury for the future of the health service.
I draw Senators' attention to a matter with which the Leader will be familiar. Following the Order of Business, I and other Members will attend a private meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs attended by the ambassador of the United States. It will be held in private at the ambassador's insistence. The reason I raise the matter in the House is that it will not be reported if I mention it elsewhere. I have met most of the ambassadors who have appeared before either the Committee on European Affairs or the Committee on Foreign Affairs. They have represented various regimes of varying colours of democracy but not one of them has ever insisted that the whole meeting be conducted in private. It is astonishing that the official representative in this State of a country which is launching a crusade to expand democracy and freedom around the world will only talk to Members of our Parliament in private.
I draw Senators' attention to the decision of the IFA to appoint a full-time lobbyist. Having served in the House for 20 years, I thought the organisation had many full-time lobbyists here. If I was a member of either of the two larger parties in the House, I would start to worry because it is clear they have badly let down the IFA when it decides to pay some of its hard earned cash to have Members lobbied instead.
I join previous speakers in raising the issue of the sisters of Mr. Robert McCartney, which I also raised a couple of weeks ago. The House should support the Mr. McCartney sisters in their efforts. An alarming word has crept into this debate. I noted the subtle introduction by Mr. Adams of the word "manslaughter". It has leaked into the media as if the groundwork is being laid for negotiations. The same approach, albeit less subtle, was used following the killing of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, when a murder charge was changed to a manslaughter charge as a result of intimidation of witnesses. A lesson should be learned from people power which we saw in Ukraine and during the fall of the Berlin Wall. In the aftermath of these events people believed for many years that they had been conned. I hope the result with regard to this issue will be the same.
Senator Brain Hayes commented on the Government's position on the McCabe issue. The House is well aware of my position in this regard. However, I remind Senator Brian Hayes that it was Sinn Féin that moved the bar after May 19, not the Taoiseach.
I agree with the previous speaker on Dr. Paisley' s recent interview. While the man is 80 years of age, he has mellowed a great deal. His comments create hope for the future in the North. Members should reflect on the situation with the peace process before Christmas. At that time a photograph was holding up the process. There was the famous meeting outside St. Luke's in Drumcondra when the Taoiseach said Sinn Féin would not accept the request for photographic evidence as it did not want to be humiliated. However, Dr. Paisley was adamant at the time. If we had proceeded then, the subsequent and amazing sequence of events would have had a serious impact on the process, with the Government ending up with egg on its face. It indirectly owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Paisley for sticking to his principles.
In December 2003, legislation was introduced giving the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland 5% of the television licence fee. It has now built up a pool of approximately €17 million, yet not one euro of this has been paid to any radio or television broadcasting station. What is happening to this pool of money and when will it be paid out? It is shocking that nothing has happened since the legislation was introduced in 2003.
Once again I stand in admiration of Senator O'Toole who takes on the thorny issue of Members' expenses. I speak from a qualified position on this matter as I came second in the expenses charts behind our esteemed Cathaoirleach. This was primarily due to my being a member of the Council of Europe for the past two years, involving much travel. As Senator O'Toole correctly identified, I saw little of that money. I will reluctantly have to step aside because I am no longer a member of the Council of Europe.
I agree with Senator Ryan's remarks on insisting the US ambassador meets the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs in private. A monumental decision was taken by the US Supreme Court in recent days. The US has now embraced democracy in its fullest sense by abolishing executions of people under 18 years. As a member of the Council of Europe, I had a small but modest part in highlighting the death penalty issue. Having visited America as a member of the Council of Europe's human rights committee, I welcome this decision. I hope it will lead to the full abolition of the death penalty in the US. This is a matter, from which American politicians tend to shy away, on which Senator Ryan and I could engage the US ambassador in private or public.
I wish to raise the issue, which the House has treated seriously in the past, of the use of Shannon Airport by a Gulfstream V jet and other Boeing planes. When I first raised this issue one year ago, I could hardly believe what I was saying could be true. I wondered if I was detached from reality. It seemed to me strange that the Government should be involved and implicated in the commission of very serious international war crimes. The evidence, however, is growing. I direct Members' attention to a long and detailed article in The New Yorker on 8 February 2005 and other articles in the last week's Newsweek and The Village. We now have clear evidence that Shannon Airport is involved. The logs clearly demonstrate that, on several occasions, Shannon Airport was used during an operation in which citizens were illegally snatched by American operatives and taken to third countries where they were sometimes tortured to death. This has been the subject of international protests from Sweden and Canada. Will the House fully debate this issue? I will table a motion. I do not think we can afford to be involved in this type of scandalous and disgraceful behaviour.
It is a matter I will certainly raise with the American ambassador when he visits us privately and secretly at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs. Perhaps one reason the Americans do not want it out in the open is that they do not want the world to know they are involved in torture. Much of this information is coming from the most unimpeachable source, the Central Intelligence Agency. The information being harvested from these unfortunate people under extreme pain is so unreliable those involved are wasting their time and do not know what to do with these people who survived torture. They cannot bring them to court. Are they expected to murder them? It is a very serious situation and this country is being involved in the commission of international crimes.
Will the Leader ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to come to the House to discuss the statutory instrument on solicitors' advertising, particularly given the refunds to residents of nursing homes since the 1970s? A pattern is now emerging which was demonstrated on Shannonside local radio on which a firm from Athlone advertised for business to place claims for residents of nursing homes since the 1970s. It invites people to come to the firm so it can place claims on their behalf — in other words, it is touting for business.
It is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive, mentioned earlier by Senator Ryan, to encourage people to make claims without recourse to legal representation. Some 8,000 people have been refunded €15.5 million already in respect of the €2,000 refund which was agreed. Will the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform review the statutory instrument on solicitors advertising for business, particularly in this instance as this legal firm advertised for business straight after the Health Service Executive called on people to apply themselves for the forms to seek the refund. People do not need legal representation. This type of touting for business is grossly unfair. It will increase the cost to the public.
I agree with Senator O'Toole on the need for the Minister for Health and Children to come to the House to explain her plans, if any, to address the potential dangers of a flu pandemic which occurs every few decades. As far as I know, our plan dates back to 2002 and has not been updated. Today in Luxembourg, 22 countries will meet to discuss this important topic. England already has 14.6 million doses of an anti-viral drug and has plans in place to close schools and cancel public events. It is important we are prepared. Given the Government fiasco with the iodine tablets a few years ago, the public will not have much confidence. It is important that we allay its fears and are prepared.
Will the Leader invite the Minister for Transport to the House to debate the recent trend of people moving from buses to Luas? That was certainly not the intention. Unfortunately, the number of car users remains steady or may have increased. We need a debate on transport. Luas was intended to divert people from car usage.
A great deal has been said in this House about the draft guidelines for one-off rural housing. I ask the Leader to invite the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to introduce regulations for one-off rural housing. Many development plans have been adopted throughout the country. It was expected that the Minister would introduce guidelines for those producing such plans. Many plans will have to be amended when the forthcoming regulations are finalised. I would like people who have a connection to a certain area, such as returning emigrants and people who have been living in rented accommodation in the area for five years, to be taken into consideration. It is time to ask the Minister to come to this House.
I would like to raise a matter that was discussed some weeks ago by my colleague, Senator Terry. I ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to come to the House to debate the issue of domestic violence. The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform has launched a publicity campaign, End the Silence, in recent weeks. It would be appropriate for the Minister to come to the House to discuss all aspects of the issue as soon as possible.
I would also like to ask the Leader to arrange for the Minister for Transport, Deputy Cullen, to come to the House, if he can avoid the traffic jams, to discuss recent allocations by the National Roads Authority for the development of roads over the coming year. Perhaps the Minister would also like to discuss the fiasco he stirred up yesterday when he spent an hour and a half on the N3 to try to gain some publicity for Fianna Fáil's by-election campaigns. I would like the Minister to explain how the situation has been allowed to deteriorate to the current position, given that his party and the Progressive Democrats have been in Government for seven years.
When I raised the issue of fireworks on a number of occasions in recent times, I was supported by Senator Kett and others. An important presentation on the matter was made to the Joint Committee on Justice, Equality, Defence and Women's Rights yesterday. It is clear from the presentation and the debate that ensued that there is a legislative divide in terms of enabling legislation and regulation. When the report that was presented to the joint committee has been read by the Members of the House, it would be advantageous to invite the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to come here for a debate.
The incidence of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, has increased to the extent that screening is warranted. The implications of diabetes for middle-aged people——
Many people do not even know they are suffering from diabetes.
I commend Senator O'Toole on his comments about expenses this morning. Some sections of the media would swear on a prayer book that Members of the Oireachtas were being given money unjustly.
The decision of the High Court yesterday to award €370,000 to a victim of abuse has serious consequences for the Residential Institutions Redress Board, which has dealt with the cases of 2,500 victims. The Minister for Education and Science should indicate in this House the steps she will take to help those who have lost out.
That the redress board did not consider the loss of earnings on the part of the many victims who have already received awards was a shortcoming on its part. Given that the Committee of Public Accounts will publish a report on this matter tomorrow, there is an urgent need for an opportune debate about the plight of the many victims of abuse who are continuing to suffer under the aegis of the redress board. It is important, in the interests of justice, that this matter be addressed as a matter of urgency.
I, too, support the McCartney sisters and congratulate them on their courage and articulacy. Their views and Dr. Paisley's very helpful intervention have a theme in common. They are all looking for the rule of law to be applied. Could we have a debate on policing in the North five years after the Patten report? Policing is the key to the whole process. I wonder what is left for Sinn Féin to continue demonising the police.
I support the request for the Minister for Health and Children to tell us, without alarming the public, what is being done to prepare for a pandemic. Certain precautions need to be taken against eventualities. One should consider what is happening at present in Northern Ireland. Anti-viral drugs are being stockpiled to provide for one quarter of the population. I hope a similar measure might be implemented here.
A recent survey has shown that the health service and health facilities have deteriorated greatly over the past four months under the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children. This has been pointed out by hospital managers and others involved in the health service. Will the Leader invite the Minister to the House to explain what purpose she is serving by running around the country pretending to open facilities and hospital wards given that they are padlocked when she leaves them because of a shortage of finance?
I call for a debate on the practice of telemarketing, particularly in the telecommunications sector. A practice is emerging around the country such that some of the new entrants to the sector are calling consumers at night and in the evening requesting them to change from their incumbent provider, Eircom, to a new service. They are transferring consumers to their services without any written agreement or contract. This presents a particular difficulty for older people, who, in order to get some of the sales people off the telephone, accept whatever offer is being presented to them. Without their signing a contract or receiving any written notification, these older people find themselves receiving bills from the new company.
This is a considerable problem throughout the country. I have had numerous representations on it in recent weeks. In particular, certain free services associated with one's previous provider are not being transferred such that old age pensioners who used to receive bills for €2 or €3 are now receiving bills for €70 and €80. This could be addressed through legislation. Nobody should end up being changed from one service provider to another without first signing a contract and going through the normal procedures we associate with this process.
The Leader will recall that I asked her some time ago about the second annual report of the Inspector of Prisons. There is something of an old story in this regard in one of this morning's newspapers, in light of which certain questions need to be asked. Is the report the second annual report? How long has it been with the Department? Why is it being published now? Has it been published in full? Given that the report only covers one aspect of the issue, from what are we being shielded? I would like to hear the Leader reply to these questions.
Like other Senators, I salute the courage of the McCartney sisters. Historically, civic courage has been one of the greatest motors of human progress. Nonetheless, one has to note that despite the fact that some of the right noises are being made, nothing has actually happened so far in response to the sisters' demands.
I never believed I would see the day on which Dr. Paisley would be joking on an RTE broadcast about ecumenical breakfasts with the Taoiseach. His statement was particularly important, especially in light of some commentaries outside these Houses to the effect that the peace process is dead as a dodo and that we should simply stop talking to certain people. Dr. Paisley made it very clear that his party would be prepared to enter Government with Sinn Féin in the right democratic circumstances. That statement is important not just for now but also for the future.
Senator Brian Hayes, the Leader of the Opposition, raised the matter of the McCartney women folk. They will visit the Houses of the Oireachtas next Tuesday, International Women's Day. We can meet them first downstairs and afterwards. Senator Hayes mentioned how admirably they have presented themselves and encouraged people to come forward. He is quite correct in that. It is interesting how quickly these women have caught the public imagination, perhaps because they are not afraid to speak out, and have admitted clearly that they were Sinn Féin voters. This, and their love for their brother, makes their case very powerful.
The Senator also raised the matter of the vote here on 19 May 2004 on the Fine Gael motion regarding the murder of Detective Garda McCabe and seeks Government time for that motion to be debated again. I do not know the logistics of such a request, or how one goes about doing that but I will look into it. He also welcomed the Bill Senator Cummins is putting forward.
Senator O'Toole welcomed Dr. Paisley's statement. Like Senator Mansergh, I never thought I would see the day when in this House we would welcome a statement from Dr. Paisley. It is a measure of our growth in the peace process. He was remarkably generous, and it was a very timely statement in which he said he was willing to go into government in the correct democratic environment. That needed to be said.
I have been conscious throughout the rightful debates about awful events, and the calls for people to be brought to account, that central to our thoughts must be the larger picture namely, that we would all live at peace on this island. It is difficult to manage all those matters.
Senator O'Toole mentioned the flu pandemic of 1917 and sought reassurance of our readiness should there be a recurrence, which we hope will not happen. I heard the Senator on radio last week explain in sterling tones that the information distributed about our expenses did not refer just to travel expenses, which is fair enough but also the telephone expenses we receive twice a year. This was not explained. I do not fault the media for this. It is the fault of the way the information was presented.
I assume the request was for the total expenses allowance for each Senator. This covers office expenses apart from telephone expenses. Some Senators pay part-time staff and various expenses are never explained. Then in one's local shop people remark that we earn a great deal and wonder how we could travel so many miles, although we have travelled them.
There is an obscure code printed beside each payment which nobody understands. It must be explained. That is up to us. Perhaps the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, which is responsible for financial matters, would suggest to the person in the one-stop-shop who dispenses this information that the payments be correctly itemised as travelling, telephone and office expenses. Then everybody will know where the money is spent. It is quite extraordinary that this is not done. I looked at the code because those responsible show us what is being sent out but one would need to be very well versed in operations here to decipher it. The media reports what it receives. It is for us to ensure that the information dispensed is self-explanatory. Senator O'Toole did well to go on air and clearly explain the payments.
Senator Ryan spoke of the extraordinary role of the McCartney sisters. He also asked that the Health and Safety Authority run a help line. I agree with him that six people is very few to answer thousands of queries. On the first day they are bound to be under pressure but I think they have addressed that problem. The Senator says not but I thought there had been a change.
I do not agree with the idea of a private meeting with the US ambassador and I will not attend it.
I will not go. It is extraordinary that he should demand we all meet in private to talk to him. I cannot understand it. What does he think will happen? Reference was made to full-time lobbyists but we were asked not to refer to it.
Senator Minihan expressed support for the McCartney sisters. He said that we should be wary of the use of the word "manslaughter" instead of "murder".
Senator Finucane welcomed Dr. Paisley's statement. He said that if we had gone ahead at the time — Dr. Paisley stopped because of the photograph — we would have ended up with egg on our faces. However, many of the political parties, including that of the said doctor, would have had egg on their faces. One wonders what is happening to the 5% of television licence money which was to go to outside broadcasters. We could ask the relevant Minister, Deputy Noel Dempsey, about that matter.
Senator Mooney referred to the media and his own position. He said he will get less next year. I hope the format will be changed. The Senator is no longer going to Europe because he is not a woman.
There is one. Senator Mooney also referred to the murders and other related matters in the North.
Senator Norris referred to the use of Shannon Airport and the article in The Village. I understand the US embassy has denied the allegations. Whether one takes cognisance of the article is another matter, including the fact that the CIA is involved in international crime.
Senator Leyden referred to solicitors who advertise for business. I am aware of the company to which the Senator referred. It came second highest with regard to the divvy out of money for the hearings. It is particularly noxious that it is moving in on older people.
I said on a recent occasion that I regretted having to say such things about the legal profession in the presence of the Senator. I am not saying she is moving in on anyone. Perhaps she is moving in on the voters.
Senator Browne asked if we will be ready for the flu epidemic. He referred to transport and the Luas. People are leaving their cars——
Senator Brennan said that the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government should bring forward the regulation on one-off housing. Many people wish to avail of the scheme but there must be clear-cut regulations.
Senator John Phelan said that the Minister for Transport should come to the House to debate road allocations.
Senator Glynn referred to fireworks. We will have enough fireworks in the by-elections. The Senator has referred to the matter on several occasions. He also referred to the diabetes issue.
Senator Ulick Burke referred to the award of €370,000 to a victim of abuse, bearing in mind the potential loss of earnings of a number of victims. I do not know if the issue can be revisited. Clearly it is a benchmark award.
Senator Maurice Hayes asked for a debate on the Patten report and policing in Northern Ireland. I will make inquiries with the Department of Foreign Affairs on the matter. He also referred to the flu epidemic. I think we will all get the flu from being out these nights. You are beyond that, a Chathaoirligh, in terms of your office.
We know that, but his position does not allow him to be out there. I understand his heart may be there, but he cannot be there.
Senator Bannon spoke about a survey. I do not know where the survey came from — it must be one he did himself.
I did not read the survey on the Health Service Executive.
Senator Dooley called for a debate on the practice of telemarketing. The solution must be reached by directive or legislation. Calls are made and people fall for them, thinking they are missing out on something. The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Deputy Noel Dempsey, has responsibility for this issue. I will ask his office if they plan to attend to it.
Senator Coghlan wished to know if there was an explanation for the delay in publishing the Inspector of Prisons' second annual report.
Senator Mansergh praised the courage of the McCartney sisters. He also noted, and I concur, how it was unbelievable to hear Dr. Paisley joking in his recent RTE interview and how his statements are important in the current debate. I find voters' sophistication to be amazing. Even in a hurried moment at a door they say, regarding the North, that although an awful thing has happened, peace is also needed and we should keep the bigger picture in mind.