Wednesday, 26 October 2005
Order of Business.
The Order of Business is No. 1, statements on Reach Out — The National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005-14, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business until 1.30 p.m. — spokespersons have 15 minutes each, other Senators have ten minutes and Members may share time, with the Minister to be called on to reply no later than five minutes before the conclusion of the statements; No. 2, statements on the Lisbon national reform programme, to be taken at 2.30 p.m. until 5 p.m. — spokespersons have 15 minutes each, other Senators have ten minutes and Members may share their time, with the Minister to be called on to reply no later than five minutes before the conclusion of the statements; and No. 19, motion No. 25, to be taken from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. There will be a sos from 1.30 p.m. until 2.30 p.m.
I am sure all Members will join me in congratulating Mr. Justice Murphy and his team on the publication yesterday of the report arising from the inquiry into clerical abuse in the Ferns area, which they have worked on over the past two years. I raised the matter in the House last week with the Deputy Leader and I ask the Leader when we will have a full debate on this issue. While this is a shocking report, we must respond cooly. We must set out an agenda of work to implement vital legislation required to protect children and find out if the Government's promised inquiry into clerical sex abuse in the Dublin area will be extended nationwide.
This House must congratulate and support the One in Four organisation, particularly Mr. Colm O'Gorman——
——who had the courage, against a background of the appalling abuse he and others suffered, to stand up some years ago for innocent young people who had been betrayed in this manner. That exemplary action should be supported through swift legislative responses. There are issues for the Catholic Church, but the most vital issue is that Canon Law cannot supersede the law of the Oireachtas, that there is no position of privilege for any group of church men or women over citizens of this country and that those in positions of trust must show, through that trust, the extent to which their organisations can change.
A protocol to deal with this issue does not exist in every diocese of this country. That is a matter of immediate concern to the Catholic Church. I know Bishop Eamonn Walsh. He is a person of considerable integrity. He has two great skills that the Catholic Church has lacked in recent years — genuine humility and judgment coupled with a razor sharp intellect. I congratulate him on his work over the past two years dealing with this appalling issue in the Ferns diocese.
Together we can move forward, if legislation is forthcoming and if there is a response from all the agencies, to deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner.
I know a priest who was editor of a clerical magazine and who was sacked by the hierarchy because, in 1989, he wanted the magazine to introduce a debate on clerical child abuse. For his sins he was cast to the furthest part of west Mayo where he is still a curate. I recall being in the office of the then Minister for Education and the current Leader of the House, Senator O'Rourke, and battling against the pervasive influence of the Knights of St. Columbanus in attempting to secure the introduction of the Stay Safe programme in Irish primary schools. To give credit to the Leader, without her support at that time as Minister, the Stay Safe programme, which gives children the words and encouragement to talk about what happens to them, would not have been introduced.
Following each of the horrible cases in Kilkenny and Mayo, I and my Independent colleagues proposed motions in the House urging the House and the Government to support the concept of mandatory reporting. Our proposals were refused and such reporting has not been introduced. In the 1960s and 1970s the current Pope, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued an edict of omerta to the Catholic Church authorities in every diocese in Europe advising them how to deal with cases of clerical abuse. They were bound to silence. Such matters would be dealt with through Canon Law. If they broke the silence on the information they received, and it was not received in the confessional, they would be automatically excommunicated. Even victims who broke that silence were threatened with excommunication. What influence or impact did that have in every diocese in this country? This must be examined. It is outrageous that it must be done.
I am grateful Senator Brian Hayes considered this report in detail. I could not do it. I found it nauseating and sickening. I could not cope with one story, in particular. A young child, in the course of preparing for confirmation, was abused by a priest in the confession box. She told her parents and her parents acted immediately by going to the gardaí and the bishop. The matter was investigated. The parents pleaded with the bishop not to allow that priest anywhere near the confirmation ceremony but on the day, the priest swaggered into the church with the bishop by his side. That was appalling.
Two years later that child unfortunately died suddenly. The parents made one request, that the child abuser not officiate at the funeral ceremony. However, he insisted on doing it. Those parents, believing in their faith, had to sit in their church and watch the man who abused their child say prayers over her body before she was consigned to the grave. If it had been my child, I believe I would now be serving time.
Part of me believes that the sooner we discuss this, the better but, on the other hand, perhaps we should wait a little because it is too raw at this stage. We need to know how we should proceed with issues such as Stay Safe programmes, mandatory reporting, the impact of the Catholic Church and the impact of groups such as the Knights of St. Columbanus. That group, apparently, had some impact on why the case I mentioned and eight similar ones that occurred on the altar of that church were not investigated. It is appalling.
In the late 1980s and a number of times since then, I quoted in this House what I heard a senior Garda officer in Cork say about child abuse. He said that the Garda Síochána knows that the vast majority of abuse is perpetrated by homosexuals. He was not speaking in a private capacity. He also said that "we had to be careful because a huge part of the campaign was being run by people who are setting out to undermine the sanctity of the family in Ireland". It is not my style to mention names in the House. On each occasion I assumed that somebody would ask me who the person was and that an investigation would take place. I was never asked who said it. We had a culture of silence.
A series of questions must be asked. Did a private institution attempt to subvert the law of the land by swearing its members to silence? If it did, it is a criminal offence, a breach of the rights of citizens and an interference with the sovereignty of the State. If people did this, they should be held to account. Is such an institution fit to be the manager of most of our schools? This is a valid question in light of its apparently unclear allegiance to the law of the land when the interests of the institution are apparently threatened. I ask these questions as a practising Catholic having to live battered and bruised with what was much worse than incompetence.
Are the current procedures for dealing with matters in schools acceptable? Why is it taking so long to initiate an inquiry in Dublin? Will the Church open its archives for the past 100 years so we can find out whether child abuse is something new or if it existed for 100 years but, because of the way the world was organised, was ignored? Like Senator O'Toole, I am not sure whether we should discuss this matter now or stay calm about it.
I wish to mention two other matters. When the priest Senator O'Toole mentioned was banished, I took up the issue in correspondence columns and received a metaphorical belt of the crozier from one of the two bishops named in the report. I was told that I was exaggerating and making things up and that I should stick to my lay activities and leave these matters to my betters. Second, there are dioceses in this country where the Stay Safe programme was not permitted. One of them is not far from where I live. Any bishop who bans the Stay Safe programme has a serious question to answer about his fitness to be in that position or to be in a position of leadership in society.
It is difficult to speak today about anything other than the Ferns report but there are people better able than I to speak on it. Last evening, the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Seán Power, spoke on behalf of the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children about the implementation of the regional health fora and plans to establish them.
Members will recall the debates in this House in 2004 on the legislation establishing the Health Service Executive. They will also recall the promises that there would be continued local involvement in the health service. We approved legislation that disbanded, at a sweep, all local accountability for the health services and Members on both sides of the House accepted the assurance that the health fora would be established. However, the Minister of State informed Senator Bannon on the Adjournment debate last night that there must be consultation with, among others, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and that he did not know when the fora would be established.
That is not good enough. I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on this issue. In Galway city on Monday night, people were arriving at the accident and emergency department every three and a half minutes. There were 20 people in the department overnight. We should not have to discuss this in the Seanad. It should be discussed locally but there is no forum in which to do so. We gave away that right. The Minister for Health and Children should come to the House and explain why she has not implemented what was promised in 2004 and why there is no local accountability in the regions for health services.
I support Senator Cox. The much vaunted Health Service Executive has caused great frustration among public representatives because it is very difficult to get information from within the system, which was previously possible with the health boards. I agree with the Senator's comments.
Previous speakers have spoken about a grave matter and I am reluctant to change the subject. However, I wish to raise the matter of turf-cutting because a crazy situation has arisen. Turf-cutting has been a traditional right of people in this country but the latest edict from the EU, that in future turf-cutters must apply for planning permission and the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government will require an environmental impact assessment from the turf-cutter is crazy. If such restrictions are imposed it will be another example of how this has become an over regulated country. Rather than ask that Minister to come into the House, would the Leader find out from him if this is true and if so, would she point it to him that it is a crazy scenario?
I, too, spent last night reading the Ferns report. I did not sleep and I think I will sleep less tonight. It reminds me of a task I had years ago, reading the evidence of the Kincora inquiry which contained similar matters. I thank God for people like Bishop Walsh, Mr. Colm O'Gorman and those who had the courage to come forward and deal with this. It would be worthwhile looking at the experience in the North because we have been through this mill with many cases. In particular, the police there have developed good techniques, with women police, for dealing with children who have been abused.
This is a sorry tale of abuse going on over years and of failure of governance. While we should debate it, one of the elements I would council against is a knee-jerk reaction to rush into legislation. When there is an outrage of some kind there is a demand for emergency legislation. There is a reaction in one's imagination similar to that following the tragedy on 11 September 2001, but almost always one finds in retrospect that the subsequent legislation has been ill-conceived, cobbled together and has not met the need. We want to get this right.
Another aspect, if I could be forgiven for saying so, is that over the years there were decent journalists — and newspapers — who tried to get some of these bishops to face their responsibility and each time were told they had reached a new low.
It seems there is only one issue before the House today, the tragic impact of the Ferns report. I hope that the decent faithful, as they call them in Ireland, will be able to separate the issues of their own faith from the scandalous behaviour of some of the officers of their church. I also hope that the decent priests, of whom there are many, do not get caught in the backlash. The people who are responsible are the ones responsible but I would say, echoing what many of my colleagues have said, that this goes right to the top, and I am talking about Rome. I remember when Cardinal Groer was suspended for the myriad allegations that he molested seminarians, the late Pope John Paul II wrote him a letter of sympathy and never uttered a word of comfort to the victims. The present Pope has used the Vatican to secrete people who are under this kind of accusation in Mexico. With this, we must look at the very top. The aspect I find shocking is that so many senior responsible, mature people put the reputation of the church above the suffering of children. That is dreadful.
I am glad that many people have made it clear, which is not being made clear in some aspects of the church, that there is a very definite distinction between paedophilia and homosexuality. It is important that distinction is made, is sustained and is not blurred, particularly because of the witch-hunts that have been instituted in America and the language of hatred produced against gay people by the Vatican.
We now must look back at what we, as legislators, have done. I do not entirely agree with Senator Maurice Hayes because it seems to me that we must legislate. We are reproached by a situation in which health boards remained impotent and had to stand aside because they had no power to intervene. They could be made aware of a situation. We need not reflect for the next ten years or establish a commission to know that was wrong and must be addressed.
I, too, rise in support of other Senators who have called for a debate on the Ferns report on which I congratulate Mr. Justice Murphy. I seldom disagree with Senator O'Toole. While there is merit in delaying the debate, we also need to strike while the iron is hot. We did not need the Ferns report to tell us that there was child abuse going on but the severity and the type of material in it has stunned us all. We must move now while it is in the forefront of everybody's minds.
Sadly, the diocese of Ferns has been described as the worst diocese in the world. One need look only at the front page of the Irish Examiner this morning to know just how shocking a situation this is. I heard commentators on the radio this morning stating this could be the tip of the iceberg. There may be other dioceses like Ferns.
It is time for legislation. It was not yesterday, when the Ferns report was published, that we realised the position. A Chathaoirligh, it is important to say we need legislation to protect innocent children, not only against clerical abuse but against all abusers, all of whom are not members of the religious orders.
I compliment the work of Mr. Justice Murphy. I read some of the report and the contents are dreadful and shocking. It is important the Government implements the recommendations of this report without delay because, as we are all aware, it is a rough time for the victims.
On the issue raised by Senator Cox, I was disappointed with the response I received yesterday evening——
I would support a debate on the establishment of the local health forums.
We must soon debate balanced regional development. The gateway and hub towns were established but there has been no real effort to develop links between the towns. In the midlands, for instances, there are three large towns of city status — Mullingar, Athlone and Tullamore, but the link roads between them are in a dreadful state. Some of these are regional roads and it is important that we contact the National Roads Authority and the Minister for Transport to ensure that these roads are upgraded to national primary route standard.
Also, an airport is badly needed for the midlands. It is a facility for which I have been calling for a long number of years. It is a matter about which several people, including developers, have contacted me. One should be put in place within the next decade.
As a resident in the diocese of Ferns, while I would have been aware of some of what went on from local reports in the newspapers over the years, nonetheless the report made for very shocking reading. As others here stated, the courage of the victims, particularly those who came forward, deserves to be acknowledged.
A point made by Senator Maurice Hayes is important, that is, the inquiry acknowledges that there are now, because of the Kincora boys' home inquiry in Northern Ireland, units within the PSNI who deal effectively with such matters. Victims are slow to come forward in these situations and it is important that there be, within the apparatus of the State, facilities which will enable them to do that in order that this is never repeated. There are also recommendations on legislative changes which I hope will be fully implemented. A more reflective debate would take place if we allowed space to get over the emotional reaction engendered by the reading of the report.
It would be a pity if we took a broad brush approach to the issue. The majority of priests and religious within the diocese are of the utmost integrity. They give superb pastoral care to the community, particularly in times of great need. We should acknowledge that they also feel hurt and disillusioned as a result of what has gone on.
The sheer horror and injustice of the catalogue of events described in the Ferns report appalled everybody. I wish to single out two people in particular, Colm O'Gorman of the One in Four organisation and Bishop Eamonn Walsh, whom Mr. O'Gorman has justifiably praised for the painstaking work he has done in the diocese over the past two years. I support calls for a debate on this issue. I know the Leader will continue in the same spirit she has afforded in previous requests for debates on issues in this House. When will the report into the activities in the archdiocese of Dublin be issued? It is two years since the inquiry was announced and those years have been spent trying to establish the terms of reference. This is appalling. Victims are suffering. We have the Ferns report but there is still no movement in Dublin and that is worrying. I welcome calls for debate on the issue.
I wish to express my horror and revulsion at what is disclosed in this report. I have not had time to read it in full, but it makes horrendous reading. I agree with the comments of Senators Norris and Walsh about all the good priests, brothers and nuns who do a tremendous job. This is an opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff. The report brings into focus the vulnerability of children placed in the care of the people portrayed in the report. There can be no hiding place for them. They must be dealt with effectively in a manner that will demonstrate to all who might consider behaving that way that such conduct will not be tolerated.
We have a serious situation with regard to the shortage of general practitioners, as Senator Henry has said previously. There is a cap on the number of Irish doctors that can be admitted to training annually, approximately 300. Significant problems arise in the community care and general practice areas with regard to the availability of doctors. I ask for debate on this issue. I know a report is imminent. The sooner it is issued and adopted by Government, the better. A serious situation exists. Some patients cannot get onto a general practitioners' panel.
I support the comments of other Senators on the Ferns report. I got an opportunity last night to go through it briefly. Perhaps the subject is a bit raw to debate now. Many details of the report were heard in the rumour factories of the 1980s and 1990s and, therefore, some of the allegations as to what went on do not come as a surprise. It is important that we take Senator Maurice Hayes's advice and do not react with knee-jerk legislation. In future we must take a holistic approach towards all sectors working with young people, whether teachers, community or youth workers etc. We must introduce a proper vetting procedure across the board.
I will give one example of the confidence of the people in the clergy. The inquiries deal with a few rotten apples in the barrel of the priesthood. The people of Donegal have shown their utmost confidence in a priest, the man named as Donegal person of the year this year, Fr. Michael Sweeney. He was and is involved with young people at a sporting level. It is important we retain confidence in the clergy who voluntarily deal with young people through sport and community work. We must keep our eye on the ball in that regard. We must keep that balance when debating this issue.
Like everyone else, I was appalled by what I read in this report. I compliment those who wrote it and those with the courage to come forward with their complaints. One of the worst aspects of the report was that some complainants thought the abuse they suffered was part of church ritual. In one case, a child who was being prepared for first holy communion, a sacrament common to all the Christian churches, thought it was part of the sacrament.
We can do something immediately. I am delighted Senators O'Toole and Ryan complimented the Leader on her role in bringing forward the Stay Safe programme. I regularly ask the Department of Education and Science if that programme is implemented in all schools. The most recent reply indicated that it was implemented in between 70% and 80% of schools. Is the Leader in a position to ask the Department to order all schools to bring forward this programme?
The programme is for young children. I remember when we first tried to introduce the programme some people feared that children might report their fathers. If fathers were abusing their children, they should be reported. Will the Leader take some action on this immediately? I have no list of the schools where it is not implemented as it was not provided in the replies to my questions.
In the coming weeks we will have debate throughout the country on the new qualifying conditions for industrial grants. I understand the country will be divided in half for this. It appears that counties Carlow and Kilkenny will lose out on these grants because they will be grouped with the richer part of the country — counties Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare — to bring that group's population to half the population of the country. We will lose out even though we deserve the enhanced grants. We may end up getting just 20% of a grant or no grant at all. It is urgent the House debates this issue and that the relevant Minister comes here to debate the selection criteria for the different counties that will be given the necessary zoning to get enhanced grants for industrial activity.
I agree with Senator Cox on the issue of local health forums. I am aware Senator Leyden wrote to Fine Gael councillors recently telling them these would be set up soon, but this appears not to be the case. We also need to invite the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform to the House to ask where the local police force has gone. It is vital that both local health forums and local police boards are set up without further delay.
We were all horrified by what we read in the Ferns report. We need legislation in this area, but we must be very careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction. For many years I have employed people to look after children in what we call "play houses". Before employing these people we contact the Garda to check the applicants are acceptable for such positions. I have now learned that if allegations had been made about somebody, but he or she had not been found guilty in court, the Garda could not report allegations had been made about that individual. I understand why that is so. However, I read in today's newspaper that the proposed legislation refers to somebody who is deemed to be a serious risk. There is a strong constitutional right for somebody who has never been found guilty not to be reported as somebody who could be deemed to be a serious risk. We must be very careful with regard to the required legislation. We do not want to pass legislation that does not protect children, but we must ensure the legislation is constitutional.
Senator Cox outlined the lack of consultation regarding Health Service Executive areas. People now receive enhanced nursing home subventions. The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children should come to the House to explain a recent piece of correspondence I received which stated that from 20 November 2005, new eligible applicants will receive nursing home subventions but will not receive enhanced subventions. These people will be put on a waiting list pending the relaxation of budgetary restraints. This is a mean and sickening policy which is a further attack on elderly people in this country.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children should come to the House and tell us whether budgetary constraints will lead to these elderly people being put out on the streets for the winter. It is an outrageous attack on the elderly people of this country.
I thank the House for the very reasoned and calm responses to and submissions on the Ferns inquiry report. It was essentially a mini debate and we have often treated serious matters in this fashion. Senator Brian Hayes rightly praised Mr. Justice Murphy. I read the entire report last night and, like Senator Brian Hayes, I was unable to sleep much afterwards. I wanted to read very line of the report, which is simply horrific.
Senator Brian Hayes stated that we should respond coolly and set out legislation. He also asked when the announcement regarding the commencement of the investigation into clerical child abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin would be made. I will contact the offices of the Taoiseach and the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Brian Lenihan, about proposed legislation and the investigation today and I hope to be able to report back to Senators by tomorrow morning.
Senator Brian Hayes also asked that we congratulate Colm O'Gorman, a call with which I fully agree. Mr. O'Gorman was a calm and brave voice against a sea of people who did not wish to hear him. I also agree with Senator Brian Hayes's comment that Canon Law cannot take precedence over civil law. Refusing to bless the remarriages of divorced Catholics and refusing to allow them inside the portals of a Catholic church are two of the most cruel acts of the Catholic Church. Divorce is the law of the land. I know of a couple who lobbied hard for a church blessing in several parishes in Dublin but were refused by three parishes. These are people who go to church each Sunday. It is a terrible thing to do to anyone and represents the precedence of Canon Law over civil law because the church is refusing to recognise that divorce is legal, passed by a referendum with the legislation passed by both Houses of Oireachtas. It is disgraceful for the church to stand in the way of love by refusing to give church blessings in these circumstances.
Senator Brian Hayes spoke of Bishop Eamonn Walsh's genuine humility and strong intellect, qualities which are difficult to find in one individual but which Bishop Walsh has in abundance. His clarity of thought and intellect and, above all, his total humility shine forth when he speaks.
Senator O'Toole spoke about a priest, whose identity is known to me, who was transferred in the classic fashion to Mayo because of a magazine article of his that hurt the church. Senator O'Toole also spoke about the Stay Safe programme. I vividly recall a visit by a delegation from the INTO led by the Senator to the Department of Education in 1989 that concerned this programme, about which he informed me. Both Senator O'Toole and I remember the great hostility within the Department towards the implementation of the programme. The head psychologist and assistant secretary in charge of primary education argued strongly against its implementation, which they said was unnecessary. I was immediately attracted to the programme because it was easily understood by young people and used simple language while laid out in a proper academic fashion. The INTO put a considerable amount of time into it.
Mandatory reporting was never introduced because the clergy in every diocese were bound to secrecy. I imagine every diocese will have to set up investigations into its clergy and how it manages its business. I hope this report brings about considerable change. I respect that, as most people here have said, there are very good priests, brothers and nuns — we all know such people. The episode mentioned by Senator O'Toole concerning a priest who insisted on officiating at both the confirmation and funeral of a child he was alleged to have abused was unbelievable.
Senator Ryan quoted from a conversation some years ago with a senior Garda officer and spoke about the possible existence of a cautionary culture of silence in the Catholic Church, which involved swearing members to silence. Thankfully, parents have taken a much greater role on boards of management of schools. Senator Ryan asked about the reason for the delay in initiating an inquiry in the Archdiocese of Dublin.
A considerable number of schools in Cork would not implement the Stay Safe programme. I remember receiving filthy letters, the majority of which were from Cork, which accused me of harming children by introducing the programme. A group from Cork parked its bus outside my house one Saturday and told all the visitors to my clinic that I was harming Irish children.
They were certainly from Cork. Senator Cox voiced her concerns about health fora for local interests and representatives. We will ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children about them but I must read the speech given last night by the Minister for State at the Department of Health and Children, Deputy Seán Power. Senator Finucane called for local accountability regarding the health fora and also mentioned Turbary rights. It is crazy that people must obtain planning permission and an environmental impact assessment to cut turf. This country is over-regulated.
Like many others, Senator Maurice Hayes read the Ferns report in its entirety and asked us to examine the situation in the North. Some female members of the PSNI developed good protocols for dealing with abuse victims, which would be very useful to look at. In response to comments made by Senator Norris, Senator Maurice Hayes did not argue that there should be no legislation; he merely argued against knee-jerk legislation.
Senator Norris is correct in stating that there are decent people in the Catholic Church, among whom most of us would count ourselves. He stated that many senior figures put the church before children's suffering and mentioned the fact the churches are exempt from equality legislation. Senator Feeney thanked Mr. Justice Murphy, a sentiment with which I agree. His report is very clear and makes for easy, if horrid, reading. Reports are often turgid but it is possible to follow this report consequentially.
Senator Bannon called for a debate on the establishment of local health fora and the establishment of an airport in Longford.
Senator Jim Walsh, who is a parishioner in the diocese of Ferns, praised the courage of the victims and called for an examination of how the PSNI deals with cases of alleged child abuse. It might be not be wise to have a debate now when everyone is so emotional. Cooler heads might lead to a cooler debate. Senator McCarthy spoke of his horror and indignation, praised Colm O'Gorman and Bishop Eamonn Walsh and asked when an investigation into the Archdiocese of Dublin would begin.
Senator Glynn spoke of his horror and revulsion at the findings of the Ferns report and mentioned that there are good priests, nuns and brothers but that there must be no hiding place for those who abuse children. He also spoke about the shortage of general practitioners. I understand that the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Hanafin, brought plans to the Cabinet to increase the intake of students in schools of medicine in the next academic and that the Cabinet has agreed to them.
Senator McHugh also mentioned the Ferns report and praised the Donegal man of the year, Fr. Sweeney. Senator Henry spoke about the abusers. I was terribly struck by the section of the report that stated that young girls thought what was happening to them was part of the preparations for their first holy communion. That shows how innocent their minds were. I will make inquiries to the Department of Education and Science today to ascertain the number of schools offering the Stay Safe programme.
Senator Browne called for a debate on the division of the country for the purposes of industrial grants. He also spoke about local health forums.
Senator Quinn spoke about people in charge of children. He has knowledge of this area from his experience of providing "play houses" in some of his stores. He spoke about the need to be careful and to check with the Garda Síochána.
Senator Feighan asked me to invite the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children to come to the House to debate nursing home subventions and the budgetary considerations in that regard. I assure the Senator that nobody will be put out on the street from a nursing home in the depths of winter.