Thursday, 15 February 2007
Order of Business
The Order of Business is No. 1, Communications Regulation (Amendment) Bill 2007 — Order for Second Stage and Second Stage, to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business until 1.30 p.m. with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed 15 minutes and those of other Senators not to exceed ten minutes, and the Minister to be called upon to reply not later than ten minutes before the conclusion of Second Stage; and No. 2, Statute Law Revision Bill 2007 — Committee Stage (resumed), to be taken at 2 p.m. and to conclude not later than 4 p.m., and with Report and Final Stages to be taken on the conclusion of Committee Stage if Committee Stage concludes before 4 p.m. There will be a sos from 1.30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
In the past 24 hours it appears the Government is at sixes and sevens on the future of the Mahon tribunal. When is the House likely to have a debate on the Moriarty tribunal? When the other House debated the matter yesterday, the Tánaiste, who once campaigned with the slogan "One-Party Government? No thanks", refused to use his speaking slot. The tribunals were established by the Oireachtas, which means they do not belong to the Government or even to one wing of the Government. As they are accountable to the Oireachtas, they report to it. When will the Government make its position known and end the schism within the coalition parties about the future of the tribunal?
Most Members of the Oireachtas feel that two issues need to be resolved at this stage. I refer firstly to the spiralling costs of the tribunals, particularly the colossal and unjustified fees which are being obtained by certain people on foot of their performances at the tribunals. The former Minister, Mr. Charlie McCreevy, promised more than three years ago that he would rein in those fees, but that has not happened. I refer secondly to the decision to appoint two additional judges to the Mahon tribunal, the intention of which, as I understood it, was to facilitate the undertaking of three simultaneous investigations at any given time. I was under the impression that the three judges would not preside over a single module of the investigation. Will the Government make a definitive statement on this issue? I would like to hear the Leader's views on whether the Government has an agreed position.
I would like to mention the wise words we heard yesterday from a former Senator and Supreme Court judge, Mrs. Catherine McGuinness. She advised the Government and all politicians not to rush the children's rights referendum because the various issues need to be carefully thought out. Given that the Government will not be able to introduce the legislation to facilitate the referendum before Easter, would it not be wise for all the political leaders not only to agree a wording for the referendum, but also to agree to set a date for the referendum in the autumn? It would be useful to reach agreement to have the referendum well after the general election, regardless of who is in government at that time, in order that the issue of children's rights does not become politicised during the shenanigans which will inevitably take place between now and May or June.
When the progress of the tribunals was discussed previously in the House, everyone who spoke agreed the tribunals should continue to do their work. We agreed that perhaps the terms of reference might be changed slightly and narrowed to give a more focused approach. There can be no case for closing down the tribunals. Those of us who are Independent Members would not be as sophisticated in our view of politics as our colleagues who are party members——
——because we thought this was just politicking with two parties in Government trying to establish their different identities going into a general election. We thought this was just an attempt to win back headlines in a week when things were going in the wrong direction. The Leader may explain this to the House in her reply.
It has come to my attention recently that the names of primary and post-primary school websites have been taken over by people in other countries and are being used as a conduit into pornographic websites. The only way to stop this is to protect the names of the schools. The name of every town in Ireland is protected on the .ie domain. One cannot enter dingle.ie or even andaingean.ie and try to do something wrong with it as it will not be accepted. It is a protected name on the .ie domain but this is not the case on the .com domain and other domains.
It should be brought to the attention of the Department of Education and Science that a threat exists. The Department could register the name of every school in Ireland with a .ie domain and it is then protected, or else give the name of every school in Ireland — at no cost — to the people in charge of the .ie domain. The name of every school is then protected and cannot be used by anybody else for any other purpose.
This House has regularly debated the dangers of the Internet and the dangers of access. We can take simple steps and this is one of them which would be very useful. People like to look up the website of the local school or their own school and this would be a simple way of protecting them. I ask that the name of every school and educational institution in the country be registered to protect the names from being used by people who have devious reasons for doing so.
Like Senator Brian Hayes I would be delighted to find out what the Government really thinks about tribunals. The Tánaiste was in one of his flights of fantasy recently when he was on his Ronseal flight. I am grateful to a letter writer to The Irish Times who points out that on the Ronseal tin there is a warning that it is toxic and that——
Yesterday the European Parliament accepted the report of its special committee on rendition. If our Government is capable of being embarrassed, it should be embarrassed because, as the Leader well knows, we spent a year or two trying to get the most rudimentary information out of the Department of Transport about aircraft landing in Shannon Airport. This is long before anybody had accepted that rendition existed. We simply wanted to know what the Department knew but it would not tell us. The Minister for Transport came to the House and he obfuscated. All sides of the House wrote and asked for information. The country now has the profound embarrassment of being labelled a collaborator in fundamental abuses of human rights.
I wish to move an amendment to the Order of Business that we at least have statements on that report this morning before taking the first item because this report is such an embarrassment to the country.
I have raised on many occasions the need for a debate on competitiveness. I know many fine economists who are sceptical about the concept of national competitiveness, but it is part of the stuff of debate in this country. Reports from the National Competitiveness Council have recommended a return of third level fees. It seems to me that a particular individual, as he migrates from the Department of Education and Science to the Higher Education Authority to the National Competitiveness Council, brings this particular bit of baggage with him and manages to insert it.
This House should reiterate that this country will not re-introduce third level fees and the subject should be moved off the agenda as it is a distraction. I ask for a debate on the report of the National Competitiveness Council because there are many aspects of it which need to be debated.
I ask for a debate on the UNICEF report which could be in conjunction with a measured debate on the proposed referendum. This report is a profound embarrassment to this country. Having read it yesterday in detail, the only reason we are not at the bottom is because, among other things, our families are very stable and we do not have large numbers of children living in single parent families. If one takes those issues which are entirely outside——
In terms of material deprivation we are so close to the bottom that we should be ashamed of ourselves, given the resources this country has. I ask for a debate on the report as it is a score card or a report card and it gives serious food for thought.
In the Senator's case, I imagine it would be several years. The other aspect of this matter is the degree to which newspaper reports now seem to be the currency of the Order of Business. Yesterday the House debated at length an incorrect newspaper report regarding the cervical cancer vaccine. When the vaccine becomes available, as it will in the next few months, it will be available to everybody regardless of whether they have a medical card or are with the VHI.
The same situation pertains this morning based on a newspaper report and the matter was dealt with in the morning's news bulletins. Like the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste has concerns about the costs of the tribunal and, as we all do, about the length of time the tribunal might go on. It was confirmed this morning that the figures being quoted were basically correct but what nobody has suggested is that the tribunal should end. The House could usefully debate this matter. As Senator Brian Hayes stated correctly, tribunals were established by the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is my understanding there can only be one chairman of a tribunal while he or she can have the assistance of others, but the chairman cannot be put aside.
I thank Senator O'Toole for his helpful comments with regard to the identities of the parties in Government——
It would be useful to debate the EU report on special rendition but I doubt if it can be done this morning. The opinion of one person is now regarded as being the authentic view of the European Parliament. I understand there are more than 200 amendments to that report. It is not nearly as clear cut as is being represented. The Minister would be quite capable of dealing effectively with this matter in this House and a debate would clear up much of the confusion about that matter.
On a point of clarification, the point made about Gardasil yesterday was that it was not available on the medical card scheme and neither was it available on the drug refund scheme. The point was made by all sides that in many cases people on medical cards would be forced to borrow money to proceed with the drug. That is the point that was being made. We all know it is available on the market——
I wish to clarify the point because the Senator seemed to misconstrue it. I agree it would be a good idea to have a discussion about the Moriarty tribunal. The report was released immediately after Christmas when both Houses were in recess and there was no opportunity for politicians to discuss the report. At the time of his statement on the matter, the Taoiseach indicated that everyone engaged in the practice of signing blank cheques during the period in question. I remind him that during the 1980s, which were not economically buoyant times, most people filled in cheque stubs and cashed cheques were returned to allow payees see how they had been processed. I am astonished that the Taoiseach, who was in Fianna Fáil Party headquarters at the time, did not know the destination of the cheques he signed.
The Minister for Health and Children, Deputy Harney, is having a full review carried out of the medical cards system. Fewer than 60,000 doctor-only medical cards have been issued despite provision being made for 200,000 of them. I encourage people to apply for the doctor-only medical card.
At present, 1.2 million people, including children, are covered for full medical care under the medical card scheme. I ask the Minister, as part of the ongoing review of the medical cards system, to consider giving free medical cards to all children aged under 10 years.
I second Senator Ryan's proposed change to the Order of Business. The House must have a discussion on rendition. It is time for honesty, which we have not had from the Government. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, has equivocated and refused to answer or evaded direct questions. Every time he has been asked about our complicity in rendition flights he has stated there is no proof prisoners were transported through Irish airports. No such allegation has been made in the House. What we said was precisely what the European Parliament has now found, namely, that Ireland is clearly implicated — directly, physically and practically — in what is described as the rendition circuit. We assisted and collaborated in refuelling the aeroplanes in question and knew what they were involved in. It has been known for a long time. The registration numbers of the aeroplanes were made known and in my correspondence with the Minister I sent him all the relevant details. I also made a complaint to the Garda Commissioner. The Government did not want to know what was taking place but it was aware of it.
I am shocked at Senator Dardis. The Senator can be sharp but he is usually honest. To describe the report passed overwhelmingly by the European Parliament as the view of one man is less than the truth. Let us not argue that this is a case of party political point-scoring. It is the people of Europe speaking about a shameful practice in which Ireland has been involved. It is about time the House did what the majority of Senators agreed, on my suggestion, to do, namely, establish a committee of inquiry into rendition flights. The resolution passed by the European Parliament asks us to do precisely this. We know the law has been broken so let us not have any equivocation. If we had established the inquiry when I proposed to do so, we would not be in the current mess, nor would we have been shamed before Europe.
I join my colleagues who seek a debate on the tribunals. While I am in favour of finding out the truth and believe the behaviour of some political figures in selling out has been shameless, €1 billion is a large sum of money. An audit of the costs of the tribunal should be carried out. It shocks me that the banks, which have been exposed over the years as being guilty of financial malpractice, have routinely charged more than €13,000 to carry out an inquiry into a notice for discovery. They slap in a bill for €13,000 and it is paid straight away. That is milking the system.
I ask for a debate on democracy in local government. I noted in a report in one of the newspapers yesterday that the management of Dublin City Council has signed a contract with a French advertising company to place large advertising hoardings all over the city. The city council will not receive money in return but will, instead, get a couple of bicycles and a free map. The proposal was not put to local representatives on the city council for discussion. What is happening to local democracy when the city authorities can sell off city spaces without recourse to the citizens of Dublin or their elected representatives?
On a separate but related issue, I do not know what is happening to the city of Dublin, particularly the area in which I live. It is about time someone shouted "stop" to prevent petrol stations being closed down willy-nilly and sold for apartment developments. Petrol stations on Clonskeagh Road, Taney Road, Breamor Road and Stillorgan Road have all closed and this morning I learned that the site of the Esso garage on the Sandford Road is for sale.
What is the position regarding legislation on the trafficking of women, an issue Senators have raised on a number of occasions? It is a disgrace that, as we approach the end of the Government's term in office, legislation has not been introduced to address this problem. I understand the Leader has drawn up a Bill on the issue.
I am concerned that it has not come before the House. Ireland does not have legislation in place to address the problem of large numbers of young women being trafficked into Ireland for the purpose of prostitution. It is unacceptable that women from eastern European countries are subject to a form of modern day slavery. Many of those lured here are not aware they are coming to Ireland or that they will work as prostitutes. Is it possible, even at this late stage, to introduce legislation to prevent many young women being abused in this manner? The House owes it to them to act.
I would welcome a debate on the report of the Moriarty tribunal on which I would have plenty to say. A good number of the blank cheques filled out in the period from 1982 to 1987 were made payable to me for my salary and allowances as head of research for Fianna Fáil. I often wish I had been sufficiently well-off to have left one uncashed and kept it as a souvenir of a cheque signed "Haughey, MacSharry and Ahern". It would be a great exhibit for the debate.
With regard to the so-called Ronseal factor, I am proud of Fianna Fáil's partnership with the Progressive Democrats over the past ten years and the successful government it has delivered. If things had gone otherwise, we could have been in Government with the Labour Party for ten years.
Ireland was rated quite highly overall with regard to the treatment of children. Child benefit has been increased fivefold in the past ten years from €30, where it was left by Proinsias De Rossa who had raised it somewhat, to about €150 today.
I am not disposed to accept as part of the European Parliament motion, Proinsias De Rossa's criticisms of Ireland on the subject of rendition. Mr. De Rossa had no problem with the human rights record of the communist bloc or North Korea.
We have solved that problem. I wish to say a word on the tribunals. I welcome what the Tánaiste said yesterday. If we are honest about it, it is a subject that is somewhat taboo in the Oireachtas and among politicians generally. All the tribunals are especially effective and laudable inquiries but they do have politicians in their sights. In discussing tribunals, we all tend to tread around them rather softly. The reality is that whereas their objective is something we share in that everyone wants to see the truth, they have lost their way. As Senator Norris and others have said, these tribunals are simply an industry at this stage. They are not inquiries. They manufacture substantial sums of money for people of very modest ability. I include in that some of those sitting there and some of the lawyers involved as well. It is in the interests of those involved in the tribunals to keep them going because they earn so much money. There is a danger that people involved in the tribunals, although not necessarily those presiding over them, are perpetuating them for the sake of earning that particularly easy money. Senator Norris quite rightly pointed that out.
I heard on "Today with Pat Kenny" and other shows that the banks are getting €13,000 for making an inquiry. If that is true, it is crazy. The banks reveal discovery of someone's account and send in a bill to the tribunal for €13,000 per inquiry. This is madness and a waste of the State's money. The Tánaiste has rightly and courageously raised an issue which should be discussed seriously in this House. It is not undermining the purpose, objective and final results of the inquiry to say "Stop". These tribunals have got out of hand and are a waste of money. They are making privileged people of modest ability very rich.
I seek a debate on the tribunals and have sought one before now. It is a scandal that these Houses have allowed matters to get to this stage, although the tribunals have undoubtedly done some good work. As a child growing up, I remember watching films about runaway trains. What we have is a runaway gravy train. It is time we called a halt to it. Unless we can get the new fees set by the Government implemented immediately, we should call a halt to the current tribunals. Outstanding issues should be referred to commissions of investigation where they will be dealt with much more expeditiously and at a much lower cost.
I have great sympathy for many people who have been brought before the tribunals, some of them for offences for which they have paid dearly financially and in other ways concerning their reputations. After nine or ten years, these issues are still being played out in the media because of the pedantic approach of many of the tribunals. The system needs to be changed and I hope this House will stand united in seeking an immediate change in that regard.
I support Senator White on the general issue she raised. The House should debate planning. I viewed with some concern not just——
I appreciate Senator White's ongoing efforts concerning ageism, including the paper she produced on that subject. She should also try to highlight an anomaly with respect to people with disabilities. When one reaches the age of 65, one is not entitled to a motorised transport car grant, which is discrimination against people in that age group.
I wish to refer to health carers working outside the mainstream health system. When a man is looking after his wife, both their pensions are taken into consideration and means tested, so he is not entitled to the carer's allowance. A second anomaly arises in the case of a woman who cares for her father and mother. Her father is confined to a wheelchair while her mother is bedridden following a stroke. We have a responsibility to such people who work around the clock, seven days a week. Caring is a stressful occupation so carers not only need remuneration for such work but also other support also.
The Leader has a wide knowledge of the education system and is also aware that diligent special educational needs assistants work hard throughout the secondary school sector. Some of them have been working for up to eight years but still have no entitlement to long-term contracts or permanence. We also have a responsibility to special educational needs assistants who work outside mainstream education. We should get them into the system because they provide an important primary function. Will the Leader raise that matter with the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Hanafin?
I support Senator Terry's comments on human trafficking, which she has raised regularly. In recent months, the UK government has shifted its emphasis to the victims of such trafficking. Heretofore — and this country is equally to blame in this regard — victims were deported while the perpetrators were allowed to get off scot free. That is what Senator Terry and others were referring to. I hope there will be an opportunity to have a longer debate on the matter in this House.
The word "taboo" was mentioned earlier but another taboo subject, immigration, does not seem to warrant widespread debate. I was prompted to raise this matter following newspaper reports on the forthcoming St. Patrick's Day parade, which is essentially an international showcase for Ireland and what the country represents. This year, the theme is multiculturalism, with 20 countries being represented. I praise those political leaders outside the House who have raised this issue in recent times. People are afraid that if they raise their heads over the parapet on immigration, they will be accused of being racist or of being exclusive rather than inclusive. I ask the Leader to consider having a debate on the issue before the Easter recess to allow an opportunity for all sides of the House to reflect on it.
We need to know the make-up of the immigrant community in our society. I come from one of the lesser-populated counties yet there are Kurdish refugees in Carrick-on-Shannon, as well as other nationalities. Our school children perhaps know more about the social mores and cultural values of other nations than we adults who are legislators.
We have our own country and we welcome people to this country. However, I am becoming seriously concerned that we may ghettoise many of the nationalities coming here. I walk the streets and do not hear English being spoken because of the large cohorts of people from other nations.
I would like to think there would be a coherent approach to integrating all of these nationalities into our society, if they wish to stay here. I say this as a former emigrant who adapted to the cultural mores of the country in which I went to live. That is all I ask.
I support Senator Ryan's call for a debate on the competitiveness report, which I requested some weeks ago. I recently read a book by the husband of one Member, Senator White, and the father of another Member, Senator MacSharry, about the Celtic tiger and its success. It is almost essential reading because it tells what happened but also points to the dangers of what could go wrong. The competitiveness report reminds us of some of those dangers. One of the issues to emerge from the book is that one of the essential reasons the economy succeeded was the investment in education. Senator Ryan suggested we should debate whether third level education should be free or available only to those who have difficulty affording it, and whether we should invest in education in that way. It is a worthy debate and one that should take place.
Reference was made to civic pride. Since we introduced the smoking ban, there seems to be an untidy doorstep outside almost every workplace. We do not need a law in this regard but we must ask, particularly in this city, although I am sure it applies in other towns also, whether we can arrange a system whereby people would have a pride in their city, town and the footpaths outside their workplaces, and make sure they are kept clear of the huge number of cigarette butts that seem to litter everywhere in this city.
I support Senator McHugh with regard to the anomalies he raised, in particular those relating to people with disabilities and special needs. Yesterday, I asked whether we might have an overview on how this area is developing. There has been much legislation and administrative change and it is necessary to keep in touch with how these have affected people at local level.
I previously referred to the situation with regard to younger people who suffer the effect of strokes, given that there are not sufficient facilities for them. In my constituency, a small unit is attached to the geriatric hospital in Ennis, which caters for people over 65, but if a person is 64, he or she cannot get admission there. Such a person would be put on a waiting list for several months for the national rehabilitation unit in Dublin, which is over-burdened. There is a vacancy in the services which has not been filled nationally or locally.
This is a problem in many constituencies for younger people suffering the trauma and side effects of stroke, which are very debilitating, and it must be dealt with urgently. People have been waiting for months to get into the centre in Dún Laoghaire. There is an obligation on the Health Service Executive to put in place a facility for younger people who suffer in this regard. We might have some indication from the Minister for Health and Children, through the Leader, as to how it is proposed to deal with this matter.
We have the highest inflation in Europe and the worst value for money. Prices have risen 26% faster than in the rest of the euro area, inflation is close to 5%, there are approximately 50 stealth taxes and the price of electricity and gas has risen considerably and is probably still rising. IBEC has stated that the price of basic food products, such as bread, cereals and canned foods, will rise further in the coming weeks due to spiralling costs. In view of these and other serious factors, I strongly support Senator Ryan's call, supported by Senator Quinn, for an urgent debate on competitiveness.
Senator Brian Hayes referred to the tribunals and, in his own words, the colossal fees being charged. He asked, as he did yesterday, when we would have a debate on the Moriarty report. The House will deal with a considerable amount of new legislation next week and we will have the debate on the Moriarty report during the following week.
Senator Brian Hayes also referred to the former Senator and revered judicial officer, Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, who advised not to rush the children's referendum. Senator Hayes's view was that we should agree the wording and set a date for the autumn, regardless of the result of the vote in May. That sounds eminently sensible to me.
Senator O'Toole made the point that the tribunals are established by the Oireachtas and, therefore, it is up to us to debate them and put forward our views. The Senator also spoke interestingly about school websites, which, if they did not have a .ie domain, could perhaps be taken over by nefarious groups or persons who would use them for their own purposes. He suggested all schools should be given a .ie domain, thereby granting them a measure of safety. This could be done as each school puts itself on the web.
Senator Ryan noted that the European Parliament accepted the report on rendition. In that regard, he proposed a change to the Order of Business, which was seconded by Senator Norris and with which we will deal.
The Senator also called for a debate on competitiveness. I read the part of the report concerning third level fees. While I accept it is just one aspect of the report, it struck me that those who wrote the report on competitiveness can well afford to pay to have their children attend third level, which is why they want us to reconsider the fee issue. The Government has made it clear it is not in the marketplace with regard to reintroducing third level fees, and rightly so. Nonetheless, the Senator seeks a debate on the issue.
Senator Ryan also called for a debate on the UNICEF report. I downloaded the report yesterday and went through it, and I went through it again last night. There is no doubt we rate very highly on many aspects, including with regard to health and safety, education, and how children feel about one another and their place in society. Instead of concentrating on areas where we do not rate highly — I accept measures must be considered — we should recognise we are above the halfway level. It is wrong to put forward the negative view.
I took part in a debate on radio yesterday in which everybody but myself was on the negative side. I asked whether the other participants had read the report but they had not done so. It is all very well to talk about a report but people should read it.
I did not mean the Senator because he said he read it and I am sure he did so. It is startling how well we measured with regard to some aspects of life. I was particularly pleased that children felt happy within themselves and with their peers. I thought that would make for a well-adjusted person later in adult life. In any case, we will have a debate on the issue but not yet. At the risk of repeating myself, we must clear the legislation.
Senator Dardis referred to newspaper reports and stated that nobody suggested the ending of any of the tribunals. He also agreed a debate on rendition would be useful.
I made inquiries yesterday about the availability of the vaccine against cervical cancer and it will be available to all women, regardless of income.
Senator Finucane asked for debate on the Moriarty tribunal. Senator Leyden suggested the current review of the medical card system should bring forward the granting of free medical cards for children under ten years of age.
Senator Norris seconds the motion put forward by Senator Ryan. He said all the details were provided to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the committee of inquiry. He is amazed there has been no audit of costs of the Mahon tribunal.
Senator White raised the issue of the selling off of petrol stations. They are privately owned and as private property is guaranteed under our Constitution, anybody who wants to sell his or her petrol station can do so.
I am coming to that. If I want to sell my house, I can do so. It is my business. The same is true with regard to a petrol station. It is the owner's business to sell. We will come to the planning issue later as it was raised by somebody else. It is a separate matter. I hope we do not end up in a State where it is forbidden to sell private property.
Senator White will not be deprived of petrol. Senator Terry spoke about the trafficking of women. The Tánaiste gave a commitment that legislation in that area would be introduced this term. I will contact him on the matter and perhaps he will use my Private Members' Bill as the vehicle to deal with the issue. I do not know whether he will, but we will see where we get. I agree that trafficking of women for prostitution is a form of modern day slavery. Women come here thinking they are coming to the promised land, but they find something different.
Senator Mansergh also raised the issue of the Moriarty report. What a useful nugget of information he provided in the detail of cheques he received. Of course the Senator needed to cash the cheques to raise his children and keep his wife. It would have been useful to have kept them. I am glad the Senator got them. The Senator also spoke about the EU rendition report.
Senator Ross welcomed what the Tánaiste said about tribunals and agreed they must stop. Senator Jim Walsh thinks the approach is too pedantic and wants a debate on the issue of tribunals as he feels they are on a runaway gravy train. He also wants a debate on planning, which is a separate matter. That debate would be welcome.
Senator McHugh praised Senator White for her ongoing efforts on ageism. He is concerned about people with disabilities because he says when they come to the age of 65, they do not get VAT deductions. Is that right?
It is worth raising that point. The matter concerned a lady caring for two parents. The Senator also raised the issue of SNAs which is ready to explode. When a primary school employs an SNA, this is for a particular child who goes through the system. The same is the case at second level. The system is in place eight years now but SNAs do not have long-term contracts. SNAs are tied to the child in need and if the student leaves school and there is not another child in need of care, the SNA has no job. This is the difficulty with regard to giving shape or structure to salaries and appointment grades for SNAs.
Senator Mooney asked for debate on the trafficking of women. He said St. Patrick's Day celebrations this year would have a multicultural theme. He wants a debate on immigration.
Senator Quinn spoke about the book about the Celtic tiger written by Pádraic White and Ray McSharry and suggested it should be mandatory reading. He also sought a debate on competitiveness. He raised the matter of litter as a result of smoking outside premises and suggested people should clean up outside the front of their houses and premises. I remember when I attended primary school people, mostly women, were out with their scuab sweeping. People working in office complexes should take the same pride in their surroundings and keep themtidy.
Senator Daly raised a matter he mentioned yesterday and sought a review of disability legislation. He mentioned that many younger people are getting strokes and asked where they can go for rehabilitation because the waiting list for rehabilitation in Dún Laoghaire is huge. Senator Coghlan spoke about high prices and stealth taxes and seeks a debate on competitiveness.