Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Order of Business (Resumed)
I second Senator Fitzgerald's proposal as I share her concern about the manner in which the business of the Seanad is being ordered. We saw the Seanad at its best last week during the debate on the Local Government (Charges) Bill 2009 on which Senators, particularly on the Fine Gael side, raised relevant points and proposed amendments. We are today seeing the Seanad at its worst, with a whole range of business put before us at very short notice, all Stages of which are to be taken together. This undermines the argument we continually make about the relevance of the Seanad, that it is the Chamber wherein legislation is properly scrutinised and where questions that might not be asked in the other House are asked. The Seanad's ability to do its important work is limited when legislation is rushed through the House at the end of term in the manner proposed today.
This takes away the best argument for the relevance of the Seanad to our national life. I would have no difficulty in the Seanad meeting for a couple of extra weeks to allow us to consider properly legislation that is put before us, in particular legislation in respect of criminal justice which impacts on people's civil rights, while attempting to respond to the very justified concerns of citizens about violence, gun crime and so on in our society. We do no service to the people when, in response to the anxiety we all feel about gun crime, we introduce hardline legislation to give the illusion we are being tough on crime when what is proposed does not significantly address the problem, as is the case with some of the measures on handguns, and I will be tabling amendments to them. We must do better than that.
The Leader is a consummate diplomat. There are two definitions of the word "diplomat". The American version defines a diplomat as someone who says "nice doggy" until he can find a rock, and the other version defines a diplomat as someone who tells a person to go to Hell in such a way that he looks forward to the trip. I am always taken by the Leader's response when he is asked for a debate on a particular topic. He says he has no problem arranging it. Last week I asked for a debate on the need to insert a section on end-of-life care into the corporate service plan of the HSE. The Irish Hospice Foundation is doing great work around quality standards for hospice-friendly hospitals for end-of-life care, which has been developed with the support of the Health Information and Quality Authority. There is also a good national audit of end-of-life care in hospitals in the light of the hospice-friendly hospital standards. Unless we get a section on end-of-life care into the corporate service plan of the HSE, however, it will be impossible to realise the goals that are necessary if we are to have hospital care appropriate to those in end-of-life situations. We must hear from the Minister for Health and Children that she wants a section on end-of-life care in the corporate service plan of the HSE. I ask the Leader, who is a very accommodating gentleman, to give the House a commitment that we will hear from the Minister on this important subject and to give a date for such a debate in the House.
There was some confusion last month when Senators Bacik, O'Toole and I were talking about various surveys of the wishes of parents on the ownership and management of schools. We were quoting from different surveys but I assure the House that the latest survey published by Red C commissioned by the Iona Institute affirms yet again that three quarters of the public support the right of parents to send their children to a variety of publicly funded schools, including church-run schools, so there has been no change in public opinion on the matter.
I, too, will be opposing the Order of Business for the reasons outlined by Senator Fitzgerald. I made exactly the same points last week. Unfortunately on the basis of my experience, I do not believe the Leader has the slightest intention of responding in a positive manner to the points made by the Opposition on the ordering of business. He did not respond to my point last week, which has been repeated today, when I asked why the business in this House cannot be ordered in a manner throughout the year where legislation is paced to ensure important areas such as criminal law are debated publicly before being dealt with properly in both Houses. I do not understand why that cannot be done. Notwithstanding that I am one of those Members the Leader repeatedly refers to as relatively new, I cannot see why he does not address that important issue and give Members an explanation. Perhaps it is because there is no explanation other than that the Government, with the support of the Leader, has little or no respect for the role of this House on important legislation. That is the conclusion to which I have come.
My party leader made it clear today that there ought to be Government intervention in the electricians' dispute. When the parties get back around the table, as they undoubtedly will, and we hope it will be sooner rather than later, they will come to an agreement but people are entitled to expect that when an agreement is arrived at, it will be observed. That is the difficulty at the moment. There is a dispute because a tried and tested means of determining pay in the sector has been jettisoned by the employers. People went before the Labour Court and had the matter dealt with over a period of weeks but are now being told that the conclusion of those solemn negotiations is to be thrown out of the window. Why should people not be sceptical about negotiations and agreements when that happens?
There have been many calls on the trade unions to exercise restraint and there will be more before the hour is out. They should exercise restraint, but the employer bodies also need to exercise restraint, including in the language they use. It is simply not good enough for the head of the CIF to describe people who are exercising their rights as lunatics. He might consider for one moment, in view of the current economic circumstances, the contribution some of his own members have made to the catastrophe we now face. He might look a little closer to home to find the lunatics.
I agree with Senator Mullen on the subject of end-of-life care. People who have given a contribution to the country all their lives find there is no plan for them at this time. We must ask the Minister to come to the House to discuss the incorporation of such plans into the HSE service plan for those who are at the end of their lives.
Today we saw a discussion in The Irish Times about the imposition of a blanket ban on recruitment at third level institutions by the HEA, which is of concern. However, it would be worthwhile to have a discussion about how we will rationalise courses that may have to be dropped at third level. Perhaps before the academic year starts in the autumn we could have a discussion on the recruitment ban for part-time and contract staff as well as on funding. We may have to rationalise courses but we should discuss how this is to be done and whether it is possible, for example, to have fewer courses and perhaps modules incorporated into long-term courses.
With regard to the pharmacy Bill, I ask the Leader to reply to a specific question on the problem which has been brewing over the last number of weeks. Small pharmacists are not entitled to major discounts when they buy drugs from wholesalers. Larger chains get bigger discounts; in other words, when they buy one packet of the drugs they dispense they may get one or more packets free from the wholesaler. It has been a long-standing issue within the pharmaceutical trade that small shopkeepers cannot compete with large chains because they do not get the same discounts. In all the debate about the Minister, Deputy Harney, cutting wholesale margins to pharmacists, she has never once alluded to that practice. I ask the Leader to ask the Minister on my behalf to investigate whether the practice can be altered, made more public or made illegal so that all pharmacists can compete on an equal footing and we know exactly what the margins are within the trade. Otherwise a number of pharmacies will go broke regardless of whether the Minister continues her present course of action or changes it radically.
I add my support to the comments of other Members about the Order of Business. We are only paying lip-service to the deaths of innocent people when we treat important legislation on crime in such a dismissive way by rushing it through quickly. Fear, intimidation and violent crime is spreading across our country like a plague and we should try at least to give dignity to the victims of these crimes by having a decent debate in the House on this legislation and not dismissing it in such a cavalier fashion.
The House should be pleased the Israeli authorities have released Mairéad Maguire and Derek Graham, who will be flying back to Dublin this evening. They have been deported from Israel for carrying out humanitarian work in the Gaza Strip, which is unfair. I commend them and their colleagues on their efforts on behalf of the people of Palestine and hope they will continue their campaign to achieve justice in that region.
Will there be an opportunity during Friday's debate on the OECD and IMF reports to go through all the parties' manifestos for the last general election? I am particularly interested in examining the Labour Party document, but finding a copy of it is like trying to discover the third secret of Fatima.
Will the Leader indicate how much time will be allowed for us to go through the Labour Party manifesto, The Fair Society? It is a well produced and colourful document which makes the interesting observation that the broad macro-economic outlook for the Irish economy is positive. It also observes that the economy has "continued to perform well in recent years".
I join colleagues in calling for a debate on the impact on the economy of the disastrous strike by electricians. It seems there is an outbreak of catastrophic idiocy on both sides and a complete lack of understanding of the serious situation the nation faces. It is almost as if warfare broke out on the Titanic between the sailors and the orchestra over possession of the lifeboats while passengers were left to drown. It is time for the Government to intervene in this deplorable situation in whatever positive way it can.
I agree with Senator Fitzgerald and others who complained about the ordering of business in this House. We never seem to know on which days we will meet, for what hours and what we will discuss.
With the greatest respect to the Leader's diplomatic skills, on which Senator Mullen discoursed so liberally, this uncertainty leaves us somewhat bemused. The attitude towards the allocation of time for some of the extremely serious legislation which we will debate this week and next amounts to mere window dressing. As I said last week, the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 is probably unconstitutional and certainly infringes the human and civil rights of the general population. I applaud the Irish Council for Civil Liberties which has done us a great favour in the analysis it has provided, despite being the subject of general attack on the airwaves.
The way in which this important legislation is being dealt with is entirely unacceptable. It will be guillotined in the Dáil, which means amendments will not be reached and Government amendments will automatically be passed. We are wasting our breath debating it in this House next week because the Dáil will have risen by that stage. There is absolutely no possibility of any amendments we may table being accepted. Therefore, there is no point in being here for that debate. As such, I suggest that Opposition Members absent themselves and let the Government get on with it, which may render the Bill unconstitutional. I hope these benches will be empty next week to highlight this scandal.
I condemn the strike by electricians, specifically the approach taken by the Technical, Engineering and Electrical Union, TEEU. This strike may potentially do more damage to the economy than that caused by the banking crisis. It will put thousands of people out of work in the construction business because no members of allied trades can enter major sites. If this matter is not resolved without delay, we will have a major problem on our hands within a week. I appeal to the Leader to request the Minister to make contact with both the TEEU and the Construction Industry Federation, CIF. I was appalled to hear Jack O'Connor state he would support an all out strike. That is an outrageous statement. What would damage the country more than an all out strike in which every company in the country is closed down? All businesses are tied to the electrical industry, which is extensive. This issue is so serious that it warrants immediate intervention to get both sides around a table and ensure the labour relations machinery is used to secure a sensible settlement.
I disagree with Senator Alex White's comments on the issue. Inability to pay forms part of the national wage agreement and the contractors have already stated they are unable to pay the increase. That is the reason the problem has arisen.
I join other Senators in expressing my delight that we can expect the return of Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairéad Maguire this evening. She is not the only winner of the Nobel Peace Prize to have been held in captivity. Aung San Suu Kyi entered her 5,000th day in captivity last Sunday. United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who will be in the House later, expressed his dissatisfaction about the case and called for Aung San Suu Kyi's release during a visit to Burma at the weekend. The Oireachtas must ensure the Minister for Foreign Affairs exerts pressure at the highest levels of the Burmese Government to release Aung San Suu Kyi as soon as possible.
I will speak about the electricians' strike, although I take a much different perspective from previous speakers. A report in the media has suggested the electricians were offered a deal on the basis of an immediate 10% cut in pay followed by the commencement of negotiations. If this report is true, it amounts to an ultimatum rather than negotiation. Given the responsible approach taken by the trade unions to date in this difficult crisis, it would surprise me if they were to change fundamentally their attitude, which includes calling for an all out strike. If the report is correct and an ultimatum was given, a fundamental trade union principle is at stake and the union in question will have been placed in an impossible position. In that case, I would understand the reason the trade unions feel as they do. The ultimatum must be withdrawn and simultaneously the electricians should return to work. We are in a crisis and everyone must put their shoulder to the wheel in these difficult times.
On the Shell to Sea campaign, I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on the necessity for the development of the Corrib gas field. A great deal of misinformation has been disseminated, including exaggerated claims by the Shell to Sea campaign that the gas field is worth in the order of €500 billion. Recently, 18% of the total shareholding in the Corrib gas field was sold for €100 million. That places a value on the field. Let us not have exaggerated claims or fear-mongering. While I did not concur with Senator Norris on this issue, his description last week of a machine appearing off the west coast was wonderful. The imagery he used made it seem as if Dr. Evil's machine in the James Bond movies was gobbling up the satellites.
I am saddened and disappointed because the Leader is capable of so much more and better. He is totally departing from the standard he set and upheld in a previous Seanad whereby, to my recollection, we never took all Stages of a Bill on one day.
Other speakers referred to the 25% cuts that have been arbitrarily imposed on small pharmacies. The Leader should ask the Minister for Health and Children to talk to the Irish Pharmaceutical Union. An independent body recommended that these matters should be dealt with on a phased basis. There was a recommendation that they should get away from branded medicines and deal with generic medicines. There is much that can be done. No one wants to see job losses resulting from the closure of small pharmacies. All this is needlessly under threat with many other things that are going wrong in the economy, which Senator Butler and others mentioned. I am sure the Leader will agree that the Minister for Health and Children must engage in talks and I ask him to have a serious word with her about this situation.
In normal circumstances, as a life-long trade unionist, I would vigorously defend the trade union movement and support its right to strike. In the case of the current electricians' strike, I accept they have the right to do that, but there is no other way of describing the present strike except as economic lunacy because the number of people who are being directly affected by this will run into thousands. Many of them will have no connection whatever with the electricians' union. These people will be put on protective notice, jobs will be in danger and business will be lost. In addition, there is a possibility that we will have an all-out strike. It seems as if the reality of the economic crisis has still not hit home in this case. I am not taking the blame off employers. If there is a possibility of arriving at some solution by bringing both sides together, so be it, but that is not the issue. It is that a group again resorted to strike thus endangering the economic advancements which were being made to try to correct the present crisis. Describing this in some kind of a softly, softly way only prolongs the absence of the full knowledge of where we are at the moment. I see that the media are responding along the lines I am stating. I do not believe there will be any public sympathy for what is happening at the moment. I support the idea of mediation in this case, but the trade union movement was wrong to strike and endanger so many jobs at this time.
May I ask the Leader about the Order of Business? I am shocked that he proposes to have all Stages of the two Bills to be taken today. The one I am dealing with is the Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Bill. What are the standards in this House? We have supported the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in much of the legislation he is putting through the Houses, but we have sought adequate time to scrutinise it, make suggestions and table constructive amendments. The Minister and the Leader are treating this House with disdain and contempt. The Leader has defended the function and role of the Seanad, but he is now making the best case for abolishing the House. If we cannot fulfil our role of scrutinising legislation, we should not be here. I support the leader of my group in opposing the Order of Business. I ask the Leader to reflect on this and to reconsider hearing all Stages of what is a very important Bill, as it can lead to the imprisonment of people for non-payment of debt.
There have been calls for the Government to intervene in the electricians' strike. I think this is between the employers and the employees or between the employers' organisations and the unions. It is for them to sort this out and not for the Government to intervene. In my experience, where the Government has intervened in industrial relations, it has been at a price to the taxpayer, the public finances or the competitiveness of the economy. The employers and unions should sort this out and the normal industrial relations machinery of the State should come into play. The Government should stay away from this.
I spent the day in Dingle yesterday, and I ask the Leader for a debate on the fishing industry. There is too much regulation at national and EU level of inshore and deep sea fishing boats. The latest regulation is to put more safety equipment on board the boats, but the cost of this is prohibitive and so the fishermen will be put out of business. We will have the safest fishermen in the world as they will all be onshore because they will not be able afford to implement the regulations we have devised. EU regulations on Cromane mussels and fish processing make such work uneconomical.
Will the Leader ask the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Gormley, when he will bring the Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2009 to the House? I refer particularly to the provision whereby a person suffering from economic hardship who cannot get a loan or a mortgage can apply to the council for an extension to their planning permission without having to go through the entire planning process again.
Finally, to my Labour Party colleagues yonder, I had the great honour of sharing-----
In the context of Senator Hanafin's call for a serious debate on savings and cuts, I had the honour of sharing the platform with the Labour spokesperson for finance, and I asked her to name one cut to the crowd of 200 people at the Trim Swift Festival. The only cut she would suggest was to close the Seanad.
There are three barbers on Grafton Street with signs advertising free haircuts today. I am not sure whether anyone will avail of it but it reminds me of the value they place on their jobs. I told the story a couple of weeks ago about a young women in Limerick who told an employer she would happily work for nothing if only she could get a job. A couple of months later, he was able to say that she was so valuable to her that he could give her a job. I mention this because it with sorrow that I see what is happening with the current strike. There must be no understanding of the damage that is going to be done to the country. Foreign direct investment is a very competitive marketplace, and we have competitors in that area. When a company is planning to invest in Ireland and they are torn between locating here and somewhere else, the people in that other place will tell the company that they would be mad to go to Ireland given the way we are behaving during the current crisis which is closing the operation of so many businesses. I urge those who have created this strike to get back to work and open negotiations once they are back. It is not possible to think otherwise. We should be ashamed of ourselves and we should be deeply in sorrow at the action that has been taken.
I support the sentiments expressed by the last speaker about the strike action being taken by electrical contractors. While there is a time and place for everything, the action is sending out the wrong signal at this challenging time. My understanding is that the public is totally opposed to the strike. People are surprised electricians have chosen to take this action. The unions need to show leadership and courage at a time when their mettle is being tested. This is an acid test for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in particular. It needs to ensure that action taken is appropriate. We all know what is necessary. It has been made clear by a number of Senators on both sides of the House. If the union does not recognise what is required in this case, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions should direct it in a way that helps to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.
I am concerned that over 1,100 pharmacists have tendered their resignations to the HSE on foot of the dispute about proposed reductions in fees. Can the Leader clarify whether the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association's industry agreement with the Government continues to represent the foundation of this country's medication costs regime? Is a non-generic policy being pursued? Can the Leader tell us how much the high-tech scheme is costing? Can he indicate whether the Minister's door is open to the Irish Pharmacy Union if it wishes to make reasonable proposals for cost savings on the pharmacy issue in order to prevent disruption of dispensing?
I join colleagues in objecting in the strongest possible manner to the way business is being ordered in the House. It is totally unacceptable to propose to rush such important legislation today and throughout the week. Even though we have gone through weeks in this House without any legislation being brought before us, a raft of legislation is being introduced this week. It is no way to run the House. The Leader must take responsibility for the haphazard and sloppy ordering of the business of this House throughout this term in particular. I ask him to reconsider what he has proposed today. He might point out that this is the last or second last week on which this House will meet before the summer recess, but that is no excuse where legislation of this importance is concerned. Perhaps my appeal to the Leader to rethink his position in this regard will fall on deaf ears.
The electricians' dispute will be fixed. I hope that will happen sooner rather than later. I call on both sides to come together and use the machinery that is in place to solve this problem, which will have a devastating effect on the country if it is not solved quickly. If the Tánaiste needs to intervene to help both sides to come together, she should do so. This dispute needs to end now, rather than at a later stage.
The Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, has returned from Vietnam. Yesterday's Irish Independent reported that a bilateral agreement is not yet in place, as negotiations have stalled. I accept that the Minister of State is doing his best to make progress. Last week, before he went to Vietnam, I asked the Leader to invite him to come to this House to update Members on the matter. I invite all Senators to join me in asking the Leader to set aside 15 minutes to allow the Minister of State to update the House on the progress being made with the bilateral agreement. Hundreds of families are waiting. Last week, I spoke to people who told me they are working on Vietnam time as they wait to hear whether progress has been made with the agreement. On behalf of the families, I implore the Leader to allow the Minister of State, Deputy Barry Andrews, to update the House.
Perhaps the Leader could try to get him in for 15 minutes tomorrow morning after the Order of Business. I would certainly appreciate that, as would the families.
I want to comment on a report in The Irish Times today about 12 house repossessions in one day, the highest number to be dealt with by the High Court in a single sitting. It is a disaster if people begin to lose their homes. I and colleagues in this House have spoken about the need for the Minister for Finance to intervene with the banks to provide solutions and find new ways for people to hold on to their homes. If we do not address this phenomenon, we are looking down the barrel of a gun because a person's home is everything to him or her. Other countries are doing it, for example, the UK which has introduced mortgage support schemes. It is time we did this as well. We have given a great deal to the banks. Now let the Minister put the boot in and get the banks to work for the people who have been paying them.
I join others in criticising the management of the Order of Business this week and next week. It is not just that we are looking for more time to whinge about particular measures of criminal justice legislation. These are very important items of legislation for victims of crime, for those who may be charged with crimes and for all of us in society. When a previous Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, former Deputy Michael McDowell, was putting what became the Criminal Justice Act 2007 through the Oireachtas, a letter from the Irish Criminal Bar Association alerted him during the course of the debate to a fundamental flaw in the Bill, which was amended as a result.
It is very important for the sake of ensuring robust criminal justice legislation in particular that we are given adequate time to deal with the Bill. I ask the Leader to give the House some indication as to what time we have to debate this most important Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, which it seems may be before the Seanad at the beginning of next week. We have already had the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Bill rushed through. We shall have the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill tomorrow and that is not to speak of the other important Bills we have to deal with today, tomorrow and Thursday.
I join others in welcoming the return of Ms Mairéad Corrigan-Maguire and Mr. Derek Graham from Israel. This House needs to condemn wholeheartedly the action of Israel in kidnapping them, when all they were trying to do was to bring aid to the beleaguered people of Gaza, who have been suffering so badly since the Israeli bombardment and who still cannot rebuild their homes and lives because of the ongoing blockade. We need to ensure this issue remains under debate.
I am grateful to Senator Mullen for clarifying the matters he said Senator O'Toole and I had been confused about concerning family choice as regards children's education. I do not believe we were confused, but very clear about the figures as regards what families want for their children. What parents want is choice, which they are not getting at present, with more than 90% of schools at national level controlled by the Catholic Church. However, I am very envious of Senator Mullen's ability to produce a new survey for every particular mood or view he wishes to express. I wish I had that same capacity.
I want to raise the issue of the tragic, untimely death of Mr. Wayne Doherty, the 32 year old father of two who lost his life so tragically and whose dying words while he was lying on the street were, "Tell Karen and the children I love them".
This is a tragedy for that family and community and as my colleague, Senator Fitzgerald, said, there have been 16 deaths such as this in recent times. We cannot lose sight of the fact that families are losing their loved ones. This gentleman was in the wrong place at the wrong time, somewhat like Mr. Shane Geoghegan, and the crime bosses are getting away with it. While I support the Government in this legislation to wipe out these crime bosses, the Seanad must be relevant and allowed to debate this very important legislation.
I ask the Leader to ensure that our amendments are debated, because we want to discuss this and put these thugs behind bars. The Seanad should have a say in this. It has become clear, however, that we are to debate this next week when we will be talking to ourselves, as there will be nobody here to hear what we have to say. This will mean our amendments will fall on deaf ears.
I know the Leader is sincere in everything he does and I ask him please to consider this.
Will the Leader take cognisance of what has been said here today? We have important legislation. There have been 16 deaths from gangland crime in this country this year. We should not rush this legislation, which is important for the victims and for those who will be put behind bars. We have an obligation as citizens and parliamentarians to go through legislation line by line. Senator Fitzgerald is right. A theme of incompetence runs through Fianna Fáil. Where are the Greens today? They have abandoned Fianna Fáil and left it alone.
The IMF report highlights the incompetence of the Taoiseach and his Minister for Finance. The Green Party is not happy with the programme for Government. When will we have a debate on the programme for Government? Are the Greens, like the summer wasps and flies, hanging on for dear life, gasping for air on the paper of Government when they are been killed off by the people and Fianna Fáil in Government? Fianna Fáil has strangled them. Where are they? They are not here. The Leader has an obligation-----
Senators Fitzgerald, Mullen, Alex White, Twomey, Norris, Butler, Hanafin, Coghlan, Ó Murchú, Regan, Callely, Cummins, Healy-Eames, Bacik, McFadden and Buttimer all expressed their views, and some misunderstood that this House does not guillotine legislation. This House never rushes through a Bill. As much time as is possible and required is made available-----
Second Stage of the Enforcement of Court Orders (Amendment) Bill 2009 shall be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business, to conclude at 5.45 p.m., if not previously concluded. Spokespersons may speak for 12 minutes, all other Senators for seven minutes and Senators may share time by agreement of the House. Committee and Remaining Stages shall be taken on the conclusion of Second Stage. That is as clear as can be.
On a point of order, we intend tabling Committee Stage and Report Stage amendments to the Bill. If we have amendments on Report Stage, will the Bills Office have those amendments printed in time for us to deal with them? That is a point of order-----
Colleagues have expressed views on the TEEU strike. I agree with the call for everyone to get around the negotiating table. Our country is in a serious dilemma. The challenges facing the world economy and challenges facing the country need everyone's full support. I know a number of TEEU members who are hard-working decent people. They have a genuine grievance as Senator Hanafin has said. The state of the economy has completely changed in the past two years. It has transformed. Not in one's wildest dreams could we have imagined the challenges as Senator Quinn outlined to the House and the horror stories we are all hearing. All colleagues have come across people who have no chance of having work to do in two weeks, let alone two months. With all of those matters to be considered, I call on everyone to get around the negotiating table in the national interest and see what can be done because agreement must be negotiated regardless of what happens.
Regarding the tragedy of the horrific murder of Wayne Doherty, I join colleagues in sending the sympathy of this House to his widow, Karen, and all their family. It is shocking and horrible. As I have often said the fear needs to be put back into the law. It does not matter if it is 5 a.m. that we take legislation in the House dealing with the portfolio of justice; we certainly intend to stay in this House. Holidays do not come into it, which is why the House will sit for two days next week. If we want to sit the following week we will do so-----
Senator Fitzgerald asked me to pass on her urgent concerns regarding respite care in Cherry Orchard Hospital. I will certainly pass on her views to the Minister. We will take the Health Insurance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill in the House today. Senators Mullen and Ormonde spoke about end of life care and in particular the good work the hospice movement does. It was suggested that end of life care should be included in the HSE's corporate plan. I fully support the sentiments expressed by the Senators. They may wish to bring it to the attention of the Minister, who will be in the House later this afternoon.
Senator Ormonde called for a debate on the imposition of a blanket ban on recruitment at third level institutions by the HEA. I will certainly pass her views on to the Minister for Education and Science. We will of course allow this debate to take place as early as possible. With so much legislation to be processed, naturally it must take precedence.
Senators Twomey, Coghlan and Daly called on the Minister for Health and Children to become involved in the pharmacy issue, given the dilemma in which small pharmacists find themselves with 1,100 having tendered their resignations to the HSE. Senator Twomey referred to the discounts available to the multiples but not available to small family pharmacists. This is a serious crisis and a serious challenge to the service that is available and has been given for generations by small family pharmacists on a seven-days-a-week basis. I fully support the Senator's sentiments and I intend that we would discuss the matter with the Minister present before the recess and get an update.
Senator Leyden called on me to announce to the House the speaking time for Friday's debate to allow all manifestos to be discussed. Today, his manifesto on the agenda was the Labour Party manifesto. Last week it was the Fine Gael one and I have no doubt he will move along the line of parties in the House. Today the leaders of the groups agreed to have 15 minutes for spokespersons and ten minutes for other Senators. I will extend it if colleagues feel it is not enough. I want to allow all Senators to be able to make their contribution on the IMF and OECD reports in the all-day debate on Friday.
I join Senators Leyden, Norris and other colleagues in welcoming Mairéad Maguire and Derek Graham back from Gaza and congratulate them on the great work they did there.
Senator Hanafin called for a debate on the Shell to Sea campaign. He outlined to the House the €100 million paid for an 18% shareholding, indicating what a wonderful gas find there has been off the County Mayo coast. I have no difficulty in having a debate on the matter after the recess.
Senator Daly called for a debate on the challenges and difficulties of the fishing industry, as have Senators O'Donovan and McCarthy on many occasions.
Senator Daly asked when the planning and development Bill will be before the Houses. It is a Seanad Bill that will be initiated in this House. I understand that hopefully it will be before this House in October.
Senator Quinn pointed out the serious challenge facing all those in employment and all those who have just lost their jobs. I agree with the sentiments he expressed. All the matters he mentioned can be discussed in the House this Friday.
Senator Healy Eames called for an update on the position following the visit to Vietnam of the Minister of State, Deputy Andrews. Some 350 families are depending on a successful outcome to the negotiations, which the Minister of State is endeavouring to achieve. I am sure all Members read yesterday's newspaper article on this matter. I will obtain the up to date position on this matter and will do my utmost to arrange for the Minister of State to come to the House to update us on it before the recess if possible. I will try to get an up to date response on the matter for Senators and advise them of it on tomorrow's Order of Business.
Senator Buttimer raised the matter of the all-day debate on the IMF report on Friday. During that debate the banks, mortgage support, everything related to daily challenges faced by small and medium sized industries and the challenges faced by home owners in trying to meet their mortgage repayments can be discussed. Friday is an important day on which we can make our position on the IMF and OECD reports known in the House.
The Dail Divided:
For the motion: 26 (Dan Boyle, Martin Brady, Larry Butler, Peter Callanan, Ivor Callely, John Carty, Donie Cassidy, Maria Corrigan, Mark Daly, John Ellis, Geraldine Feeney, Camillus Glynn, John Gerard Hanafin, Cecilia Keaveney, Terry Leyden, Francis O'Brien, Denis O'Donovan, Fiona O'Malley, Ned O'Sullivan, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Ann Ormonde, Kieran Phelan, Jim Walsh, Mary White, Diarmuid Wilson)
Against the motion: 24 (Ivana Bacik, Paddy Burke, Jerry Buttimer, Ciarán Cannon, Paudie Coffey, Paul Coghlan, Maurice Cummins, Paschal Donohoe, Frances Fitzgerald, Dominic Hannigan, Fidelma Healy Eames, Michael McCarthy, Nicky McFadden, Rónán Mullen, David Norris, Joe O'Reilly, John Paul Phelan, Phil Prendergast, Feargal Quinn, Eugene Regan, Shane Ross, Brendan Ryan, Liam Twomey, Alex White)
Tellers: Tá, Senators Camillus Glynn and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Maurice Cummins and Eugene Regan.
Question declared carried.