Seanad debates

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

2:30 pm

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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The Order of Business is No. 1, statements on sport, to be taken at the conclusion of the Order of Business with the contributions of spokespersons not to exceed ten minutes to be followed by questions from the floor.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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We have been repeatedly told in the past 48 hours that no decision has been taken on the proposed closure of Cavan, Mullingar and Clonmel Army barracks and the possibility of the closure of Kilkenny and Castlebar as well. The Army community has been informed in particular that Cavan, Mullingar and Clonmel will be closed. This will affect 550 soldiers plus their families. I need not tell Members the effect this will have on these communities socially and economically. Will the Leader give clarity on this situation? Has the Government decided to close these barracks? What is the situation? We all agree that this is not something with which our soldiers and their families should have to live. If the Government is going to do something and close these barracks, it should, at the least, tell people and not allow the matter to be drip-fed through the media.

On 15 September, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, established a pyrite committee of affected bodies and experts. Is the Government aware that the committee has not met yet? When is it due to meet and report? I spent most of yesterday morning in houses in my constituency which have been affected by pyrite and which are being remediated. At the moment there are only 700 houses in the country that are being remediated and in which the pyrite problem is being fixed. Figures I have show that up to 72,500 private dwellings are affected by this issue as well as many schools HSE centres, the M3 motorway and other infrastructural projects. I bring this to the attention of the Leader because the Minister has stated that the State will have no liability in this matter, but I disagree with him completely. Under the building control and enforcement laws our local authorities will end up with this issue if it is not dealt with speedily.

Most important, the Statute of Limitations for home owners is six years. Many of the people affected by this bought their houses in 2005, 2006 and 2007. There is an urgent need for the Government to deal with this issue especially in light of the fact that HomeBond has decided not to honour its commitments in this matter. Home owners will have no recourse to their insurers once the Statute of Limitations expires, that is to say, after six years. The majority of this housebuilding took place in the affected areas of Dublin, Meath, Kildare and the surrounding areas. People bought these houses in 2006 so next year the Statute of Limitations runs out for them. When will the committee meet? Has the Minister set a timeline for the committee to report? This side of the House is preparing a Bill to deal with this specific issue and we will bring it to the House. I saw the level of work required to be done to bring houses back up to standard. It is a distressing situation for thousands of home owners but we have only scratched the surface. Some 700 houses are being redone at the moment but the numbers affected could be 72,500.

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Independent)
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I am sure all Members will share with me in expressing condolences to the family of the little five year old girl who lost her life so tragically in the house fire in Boyle, County Roscommon. It is an appalling tragedy. I know all Members will want to share in sending condolences to her family.

I renew the calls made for a debate on domestic violence. Calls for such a debate were made to me last week and I said, as Deputy Leader, I would do my best to ensure we would have such a debate at some point this term. I make this request in light of SAFE Ireland's briefing on this issue, the figures for which were published last week, which many colleagues raised on the floor of the House on the Order of Business on subsequent days. At tomorrow's meeting of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, a further briefing on domestic violence will be made by a number of groups, including Women's Aid and AkiDwA. I would very much like to be able to tell those groups that we will have a debate on this issue in the Seanad at some point in the course of this term. Therefore, I renew the call for such a debate.

I was at the launch earlier day, as were other colleagues, of the Marriage Equality report Missing Pieces in which the organisation campaigning for civil marriage for gay and lesbian people drew a comprehensive and impressive comparison between the rights and responsibilities of civil partnership compared to those relating to civil marriage and drew the conclusion that the civil partnership regime falls short in 169 respects compared to that of marriage. It is a very useful report. I should declare an interest in that I am acting in a case, along with another colleague, in which the issue of same sex marriage is before the Supreme Court. It would useful for us to debate the need to give greater recognition to the legal status of same sex couples in Ireland.

Photo of Katherine ZapponeKatherine Zappone (Independent)
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I acknowledge the learned and timely contributions made by my colleagues in their response to Dr. Maurice Manning's address on human rights and Seanad reform in the House last week. I enjoyed everyone's comments, those whose views I would share and those whose views I would not share, and learned very much from that occasion. The quality of the debate and the questions raised bodes well for our increased efforts to ensure the relevance and rightness of what we are doing in Seanad.

Senators:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Katherine ZapponeKatherine Zappone (Independent)
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I am deeply concerned about one aspect as I prepare to head off to Geneva to observe the UN's review of Ireland's human rights record. In terms of the Government's response to this peer review, it has not yet identified a list of voluntary commitments to improve the protection and promotion of human rights in Ireland. It is a core part of the UN process. Generally, countries involved in a review of their record outline voluntarily what they will do either before its representatives go to the hearing or on the day of the hearing. The Irish Human Rights Commission and many of the civil society organisations, whose representatives were here last week, have asked the Government to put forward its list but still we have no word of it. I am also mindful of recent comments made by the Tánaiste, Deputy Eamon Gilmore, in his address to the UN General Assembly. He said:

Ireland is deeply committed to the United Nations. We look to it to uphold and defend the universal values of peace, security, human rights and development which are set out in the UN Charter.

He also said: "A deep attachment to these values ... and ... core human rights principles underpins our candidature for election to the Human Rights Council ... to be held in 2012." If we hold this deep commitment to the UN and are seeking to be elected the UN's Human Rights Council, surely we should be keen to outline our voluntary commitments ahead of time, or, at the very least, on the day of the hearing. Furthermore, these commitments and pledges to be effective ought to be specific and time-bound. For example, today the Immigrant Council of Ireland released a report on racism in Ireland and most of those interviewed were migrants, many of whom are naturalised citizens. Denise Charleton, the ICI's chief executive, said that what was striking about the report is that the people interviewed believe racism is more prevalent in Ireland than in many other countries in which they have lived. Therefore, do we have a voluntary commitment from our Government regarding racism? All we have in the Government's report so far is that it is "firmly committed to eliminating all forms of racial discrimination" and it notes an action plan that was completed in 2008 and blandly report that the strategies will continue to be implemented.

I call on the Minister for justice to identify Ireland's voluntary commitments to increase human rights, if not before Thursday then during the hearing, and some Members may watch the live steam of these proceedings in Buswells. It is the least we can do if we wish to be voted on to the UN Human Rights Council next year. I also ask the Leader to invite the Minister for Justice and Equality to the Seanad to discuss the outcome of the deliberations in Geneva.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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Last week, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs delivered an address on the occasion of the publication of a report by Amnesty International on institutional abuse and she used the word "deference" to describe some of the causes of what went on in our institutions and why people and children, in particular, were not protected. She mentioned deference to the authorities running the institutions but it seems the problem of deference continues to this day in another context. It should not take a senior civil servant writing under a nom de plume to tell us that the culture of secrecy is still alive and well in Irish politics and administration but using the name, Slí Eile, we can thank him for reminding us of that fact. Slí Eile in an essay available through TASC entitled, "Changing the Political, Institutional and Legal Framework for a New Civic Republic", criticises the culture of secrecy and says public servants show excessive deference to the political establishment. This holds them back from providing more independent and provocative advice.

When we finger or target deference, it is more widespread than something that went on in the context of institutional abuse and it may be a continuing problem in our political set up. It is interesting that Slí Eile makes the point that Dáil Question Time "shows a marked reluctance to be completely open or to answer directly questions asked" and "Parliamentary questioning is often reduced to a political tennis game where frequently the main issues are avoided and politicians score points before the public and media gallery". That should give us food for thought about the way the Dáil and Seanad operate and, specifically, about the way Government interacts with the Oireachtas. We should debate this.

Perhaps this could be linked to a debate about our Constitution and the proposed constitutional convention. Slí Eile referred to "the Government approaching constitutional change by means of just taking low hanging fruit while shying away from a more fundamental review". I am confused as to whether the debate about the proposed abolition of the Seanad and whatever that morphs into such as reform of the House, will take place as part of the constitutional convention. That would have the effect of slowing down proposed reform. We should not wait for the Government to make announcements about the convention before having a debate about what our Constitution has done for our country and how we think the convention should work. Only yesterday, at the annual mass for the opening of the law year, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin underlined how the Constitution had served people well and said that it should not be presented as a fossilised child of its time. He said, "Within its limitations, Bunreacht na hÉireann has proven to be ably capable of guaranteeing rights and curbing power, including the power of the State". He is right in that. Will the Leader ensure that we do not show undue deference to Government and arrange a debate on our Constitution to include and how the Government interacts with the Oireachtas before announcements are made about the constitutional convention and how it will be established and operate?

Photo of Jim D'ArcyJim D'Arcy (Fine Gael)
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Will the Leader invite the Minister for Education and Skills to the House for a question and answer session on education? The education of our children is the most important issue facing us. Our universities are slipping in the world ranking not because their standards are falling but because they are not keeping pace. The religious institutions, for all their faults, led the process of educating our young people for years. We owe them a debt of gratitude but the State must now take over that function and give a direction to our education system.

One of our presidential candidates has stated that there were many west Brits in or around Dublin. I ask the Leader to find out if that includes Haggardstown-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Does the Senator have a question for the Leader? That is not relevant to the Order of Business.

Photo of Jim D'ArcyJim D'Arcy (Fine Gael)
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Yes. That is my question.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Jim D'ArcyJim D'Arcy (Fine Gael)
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Many people in Haggardstown want to know the answer to that question.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Senator will not get it on the Order of Business.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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I endorse the call of my colleague, Senator Darragh O'Brien, for a debate on the issue of barracks closures which goes beyond any issues of cost because the cost will increase when barracks begin closing down and staff are moved. The staff are the biggest cost and they are protected by the Croke Park agreement.

I raise again the issue of health. It is not being taken seriously by the Government, certainly not in this Seanad. I understand the Minister, Deputy Reilly, has decided that the Seanad is a suitable place for him to address elected Members. He will come before us to talk about issues even though Members on all sides are raising issues every day of the week. He came in here to discuss female genital mutilation, which is an important issue, but on the ordinary health issues that affect people's lives on a daily basis he has been unable to attend. That is distressing and shows a dismissive attitude to the public health services. I understand Fine Gael policy in particular is to go down the private route eventually.

Under the watch of the Minister, Deputy Reilly, and this is the reason we need a debate, he sacked the board of the Health Service Executive. He did that to get more control and to give himself the responsibility, which is a noble aim-----

Photo of Jim D'ArcyJim D'Arcy (Fine Gael)
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Yes. That is what he wants to do.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Byrne, without interruption.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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Yes, he wants to take that responsibility, which I admire but-----

Photo of Tom ShehanTom Shehan (Fine Gael)
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It is no longer Angola.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Byrne, without interruption please.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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It is actually worse because if we look at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, in September 2010 a total of 331 patients spent time on trolleys. I accept that is too many. In September 2011, under the Minister's new board in the HSE to which he appointed all his own civil servants from his Department, and therefore he is effectively the boss, 842 patients were on trolleys. We have not had a massive population increase in the past 12 months. Navan accident and emergency department is still open.

There have been huge difficulties in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. What is the Minister, Deputy Reilly, doing? When will he answer for it? The position has been described as being in meltdown by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. We need a debate urgently on this issue, not on 27 October or whenever the Minister deigns to appear before us. He should come into the House today where we can debate this issue.

I propose an amendment to the Order of Business that the Minister for Health come into the House today for a debate on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. We have three Senators from County Louth on the Government side and I have not heard one of them mention this issue. That is a disgrace because it is the most important issue affecting people on a daily basis. A number of elderly people have been on trolleys in the hospital for five days.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Will the Senator clarify his amendment?

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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I propose that an amendment be made to the Order of Business providing that the Minister for Health come into the Seanad today to discuss the serious crisis affecting the accident and emergency department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Photo of Marie MoloneyMarie Moloney (Labour)
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I, too, want the Minister for Health to come into the House but for a different reason. I want to discuss the medical card central processing office. While I appreciate there will be teething problems in every office he opens this is nothing short of a disaster. If one wants to apply for a medical card it will take three weeks after application to even have that application registered. If the office writes to one a week or two later looking for more information and one sends that in, it will be another three weeks before it registers that information.

I am aware of a young girl in Killarney who has no income other than disability allowance. That girl's card expired in July. In fairness, the local office in Tralee processed the card and updated it to September 2012, sent it to the central processing office but as of this morning it is still not registered. She cannot walk into a chemist and get her medication. She was taken into hospital twice last week as an emergency. This girl is very ill. This morning a none too friendly officer in the Department told me to tell her to reapply for her medical card. This has been going on since July and it is an absolute disaster. Colleagues on all sides have been calling on the Minister for Health to come before the House, week after week, but we are still waiting. It is time the Minister stopped shying away from coming into this House and treated it and the Senators in it with the respect they deserve.

Senators:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Marie MoloneyMarie Moloney (Labour)
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I ask the Leader to ask the Minister to come into the Seanad to discuss issues of national importance.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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There is a vote on that after the Order of Business so we look forward to the Senator's support.

Photo of Mary Ann O'BrienMary Ann O'Brien (Independent)
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To continue Senator Moloney's theme, I wish to raise the medical card for children. This would not need to be raised if we lived in a moral and just society. Despite the prosperity we have enjoyed in this country, we have forgotten the most vulnerable. These words will hit many Senators hard but that is the reality of the situation, and it is time we stopped fooling ourselves and getting caught up in the spin from the HSE and the Government of the day.

I want to read an extract from the Official Report of Dáil Éireann, 27 September 2011, vol. 741, p. 411:

566. asked the Minister for Health if he will consider extending to the families of children with serious chronic illness the current provisions for medical card renewal by persons over 70 years which allow them to renew the card by signing an affidavit that their circumstances have not changed in the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26225/11]

Under the general medical card scheme, medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of general practitioners services. Eligibility for the medical card is based primarily on the means of the adult and his/her spouse or civil partner. Two years is now the average period nationally for which an individual or family holds a medical card before formal review under the general medical scheme (GMS). The review process is an important quality assurance aspect of the management of the GMS.

The medical card review process for the over 70s is based on separate legislation and the process has been simplified to facilitate older persons where there has been no change in their circumstances. Where changes in circumstances have occurred, the case is reviewed in the normal way. The HSE has no plans to change these arrangements.

Leaving the uncompassionate language aside in the answer, we should take a long, hard look at ourselves. This reply flies in the face of the last two reviews by the United Nations on the provision of child care in Ireland. Both UN reports recommend that any child with a certified illness or disability should be provided automatically with a medical card. In Ireland, however, his parents or guardians are means tested and if they fail the means test, they are left to cover medical bills. The Senator referred earlier to the case she knew in Killarney.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Does the Senator have a question for the Leader?

Photo of Mary Ann O'BrienMary Ann O'Brien (Independent)
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I want to have this issue discussed as a matter of urgency and I implore all Government Ministers, Deputies and Senators to look into their hearts before uttering the words, "this is not possible due to budget constraints". If we could secure this reform, it would create great goodwill at no extra cost to the Exchequer.

It is hard for us sitting here today to imagine what it is like to sit at home with a sick child, who is perhaps having an epileptic fit every hour while the parent is trying to tube feed him. The parent must fill out these wretched forms and be means tested. It is beyond the dignity of these people that they must keep reapplying for a medical card and maybe not even getting one. This is a no-brainer.

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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On a more positive note, I compliment RTE on producing a programme called "Secret Millionaire". It is not about people involved in the property market, but about a man from Galway who came to the inner city in Cork and looked at voluntary organisations.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Does the Senator have a question for the Leader? We are not discussing last night's television.

3:00 am

Photo of Colm BurkeColm Burke (Fine Gael)
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My question is about highlighting the role of voluntary organisations and the work they do. I was delighted to see one of the people I had given an award to when I was Lord Mayor of Cork, Bob Seward, was the recipient of €30,000 from the millionaire last night.

The programme showed how people can make a contribution. It also highlighted the importance of continuing to give such support and of being positive with regard to the voluntary organisations which are providing superb back-up services in the community. I ask the Leader to convey the following message to the Government and thereby to Departments and local authorities. When they are dealing with budgetary issues for 2012 they should not cut back on funding to voluntary organisations. We get extremely good value for money from these organisations and an extremely good service is provided by them. They should get every possible support at national and local authority level.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Sinn Fein)
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The Fine Gael spokesperson on Sinn Féin, Senator Jim D'Arcy, spoke earlier about Haggardstown.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator, I have already ruled that that matter is not relevant to the Order of Business. Have you a question for the Leader?

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Sinn Fein)
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This same Senator assured the House that Haggardstown is full of republicans. I am confident that Senator D'Arcy, as a republican, will vote for the presidential candidate who believes in the 32 counties of Ireland and not in the candidate who believes in the 22 counties, as his party's candidate does.

The Seanad has had a number of discussions on jobs in the last number of weeks. We had a very engaging discussion on innovation with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton. Last week, we debated a Private Members' Bill tabled by Labour Party Senators. Sinn Féin proposed an amendment to that Bill calling on the Government to make good a promise to legislate for collective bargaining and trade union recognition. The amendment was defeated. That promise was made during the course of the Lisbon treaty amendment campaign. When will it be made good?

During the course of the Lisbon treaty amendment campaign a number of political parties cynically used the issue of jobs to play on people's fears. Their mantra was that a vote for the Lisbon Treaty would create jobs. We now have the spectacle of senior Government Ministers using the presidential election campaign to create fear about jobs and citing a particular candidate, Martin McGuinness. They claim that a vote for Martin McGuinness would be a threat to foreign direct investment, when the same candidate has been to the forefront in lobbying for job creation and has been in more boardrooms than those same Ministers who talk about him.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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And banks.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Sinn Fein)
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He has been in more boardrooms, in the United States and elsewhere, than any of those Ministers.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator, have you a question for the Leader?

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Sinn Fein)
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It is high time the Government parties stopped creating fear about jobs and cynically using the fact that so many people are out of work. They should be delivering on the promises they made during the general election campaign to create jobs. They should deliver for those people who were left behind by the previous Government and are now being left behind by the present Government.

Photo of Jimmy HarteJimmy Harte (Labour)
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Senator Tom Byrne has left the Chamber. I am delighted he raised the issue of the closure of Army barracks. Could he explain why the previous Government closed the barracks in Donegal?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Harte, you should not refer to Senators who have left the House.

Photo of Jimmy HarteJimmy Harte (Labour)
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Could the Government spokesperson tell us why-----

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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I raised the issue of the closure of barracks. What commitments did Fine Gael give during the general election campaign about Army barracks?

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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We are not discussing political campaigns. Senator Harte, do you have a question for the Leader.

Photo of Jimmy HarteJimmy Harte (Labour)
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I ask the leader of Fianna Fáil in the Seanad-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Order of Business allows questions to the Leader of the House.

Photo of Jimmy HarteJimmy Harte (Labour)
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My question relates to the funding of ferries, particularly the Lough Foyle ferry, which ceased operating last weekend.

Photo of Brian Ó DomhnaillBrian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail)
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And Tory Island.

Photo of Jimmy HarteJimmy Harte (Labour)
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Indeed, but I am talking about a ferry that has ceased operating. I ask that the Minister address the House regarding future funding for this ferry. Since 2002, Donegal County Council and Limavady Borough Council have provided funding for this much needed ferry, which is a vital link and tourist attraction for thousands of passengers every summer. Councillor Martin Farren has raised this issue with the North West Region Cross Border Group. There is agreement among all councils that the funding must come from central government because local authorities no longer have the type of funding, in the region of €100,000, that is required. Some 12 full-time and six part-time jobs have been lost because of this lack of funding. The ferry has been used by many tourists on the tourist trail from Antrim to Senator Ó Domhnaill's county of Donegal and provided a vital link across the north of the country, which is how it was marketed. The ferry service ceased operating last Sunday at 7.30 a.m.

I ask that the Leader invite the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to the House to give us his views on this matter and also to provide a commitment to the provision of funding during the next three years. Next year and the following year, Derry will be the city of culture. Also, the Clipper Challenge, an around the world boat race, will arrive in Greencastle in 2012. The wrong message, namely, that tourism in Inishowen will be compromised owing to a lack of funding, is going out. The Minister must address this issue. All councillors in Donegal, including those from Limavady and Derry county councils are supportive of this ferry service but there is no funding for it. I ask that the Minister, Deputy Varadkar, explain the situation to the people of Inishowen.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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I second Senator Byrne's amendment to the Order of Business.

I ask that the Leader arrange for the Minister for Defence to come into this House tomorrow afternoon to discuss the rumours circulating in regard to the closure of a number of barracks throughout the Twenty-six Counties, including in Clonmel, Mullingar and Cavan town. I attended a public meeting last night at which more than 500 people were present. Among those 500 people were the wives and families of the 120 personnel based in Dun Uí Neill barracks, Cavan town, the families of the 120 reserve members of the Defence Forces based at Dun Uí Neill barracks, public representatives, members of the community in Cavan town and of the local chamber of commerce.

The meeting was addressed by my colleague, Deputy Brendan Smith, Deputy Joe O'Reilly, Deputy Heather Humphreys, representatives of the Sinn Féin and Labour parties and a number of Independent councillors. All of those who spoke at the meeting expressed grave concern at the rumoured closure of Dun Uí Neill, which is the most modern army barracks not alone in Ireland but in Europe. Personnel from what was the oldest army barracks in Europe moved in 1990 to this purpose built and designed barracks, the only barracks purpose built and designed by the Irish State. It is the most economical barracks-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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The Senator can make all of these points during the debate.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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Thank you.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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It is only a rumour.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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It is the most economical barracks in the State, costing a little more than €200,000 to run. To close it would be ludicrous and would endanger the security of our State, leaving the area from the barracks in Lifford to Dundalk vacant, with no Army personnel to secure our State. I demand that the Leader facilitate the Minister for Defence coming to this House tomorrow afternoon to explain his proposals on the future of our Army and its accommodation.

Photo of Catherine NooneCatherine Noone (Fine Gael)
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I, too, would welcome the attendance of the Minister for Health in this House and have stated so on a few occasions. I believe the problem is one of communication. I have no doubt that the Minister for Health is doing a good job but he needs to communicate that to us. The Minister took on a basket case in terms of the Health Service Executive. I have previously used the expression "basket case" in respect of the HSE and I mean it. The HSE is useless and has done nothing for us. The Minister for Health needs to communicate to us what he is doing so we can understand what is happening in the health system. Will the Leader invite him to the House for a debate on the direction he is taking with the health services?

I was alarmed this morning by media reports on racism in Ireland. I would not normally raise this matter but statistics published this morning highlighted a large number of non-Irish people in this country live in daily fear of receiving racial insults. We should be ashamed of ourselves. I join with colleagues on the other side in calling for the Minister for Justice and Equality to attend the House to debate this issue. Perhaps one of the new formats for debate in the House could be used for it.

I agree with Senator Mary Ann O'Brien that Ireland needs to be a more caring society. A parent having to fill out so many forms to get a medical card for an epileptic child when they are so exhausted from providing care in the first place is wrong. Our society needs to come up to the mark. Will the appropriate Minister attend the House for a debate on this matter?

Photo of Ned O'SullivanNed O'Sullivan (Fianna Fail)
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I compliment the two Government Senators who have joined with the Opposition in expressing concern over the Minister for Health's tardiness in attending the House. I see the Leader is cogitating deeply on this matter. When the ranks of Tuscany start to cheer, it is time we should listen. Will the Leader ask the Minister to attend the House earlier than the proposed attendance of 27 October because no knows who will be chiming out on tomorrow's Order of Business?

I support the calls of Deputy Darragh O'Brien and other Members on this side of the House for a debate on the threatened closures of various Army barracks. Last week, I raised this matter on the Order of Business, which was pooh-poohed by Government Members. Then it concerned one barracks but now it seems closure will affect three – Mullingar, Clonmel and Cavan. While this may be a rumour, that is how everything starts.

Army families in Clonmel, Mullingar and Cavan are concerned, with many of their children having already started school and college for the year, that they will be uprooted to the Curragh or Cathal Brugha barracks in Dublin. The Government must put people's minds at ease on this matter well before the Budget Statement.

An army is like fire insurance. One takes it for granted but when the house goes on fire one discovers some adverse clause in the fine print. Similarly, we do not want to discover some problem with our Army's infrastructure when it is too late. We are a small and proud nation. Our Defence Forces have served us well, both at home and abroad, since the foundation of the State. They, along with the Garda, had to put up with much abuse from other self-styled armies which, thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, have now ceased to be, we hope. Our Army personnel, both officers and NCOs, need better treatment than this uncertainty over the future of various barracks. Will the Leader seek clarification on the future of the various barracks in question?

Photo of Tom ShehanTom Shehan (Fine Gael)
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As it stands, all Garda squad cars must be decommissioned once they reach 300,000 km, or approximately 185,000 miles, irrespective of their condition due to a clause inserted by the insurer. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to seek squad car insurance elsewhere? I drive a car with more than 300,000 km on it but I do not intend getting rid of it for a while as it has its NCT and is perfectly safe and roadworthy. Due to this decommissioning clause and the fact the Garda Commissioner does not have the funding to replace them, many areas will soon be left without a squad car. Will the Minister look elsewhere for insurance or have the clause amended so that a squad car with a certificate of roadworthiness is allowed to carry out its duties?

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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An tseachtain seo caite, ghlaoigh mé ar an Aire, an Teachta Hogan, teacht anseo chun scéal a thabhairt dúinn maidir le Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta. Thuig muid ó ráiteas a rinne an Seanadóir Ó Maoláin an lá sin go raibh dea-scéal ar an mbealach. Ba mhaith liom a fhógairt nár tháinig aon dea-scéal go fóill. Ba bhreá linn dea-scéal a fháil, más féidir, ar son muintir Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta. An féidir leis an Aire míniú don Teach cén fáth an bhfuil an 130 post seo fós idir dhá cheann na meá? Cén fáth nár chuaigh éinne ón gcomhlacht, ón Roinn nó ó Pobal i dteagmháil leis na hoibrithe ionas go bhféadfaidís mortgage protection plans agus iasachtaí, srl., a tharraingt anuas agus go bhféadfaidís leanacht ar aghaidh lena saol?

I call on the Leader to ask the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, to make a statement in the House about Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta. When I asked for it last week, Minister Mullen told me indirectly that there might be good news on the way, but there has been none.

Photo of Pat O'NeillPat O'Neill (Fine Gael)
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Is he a Minister?

Photo of Trevor Ó ClochartaighTrevor Ó Clochartaigh (Sinn Fein)
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I gave him a promotion. Were he a Minister, we might have had a bit of news. The Senator told us that there was a dea-scéal on the way, but the workers in question have still not got it four weeks into this situation. I ask for news as soon as possible.

We are sitting here reasonably comfortably while a 65 year old pensioner, Ms Teresa Treacy, languishes in Mountjoy Prison. I see Members asking themselves what she did wrong. Did she bring down our financial system? No, she tried to protect her land and trees by stopping the ESB riding roughshod over her and her rights as a citizen. Like last week, I call on the Minister for Justice and Equality to explain to the House what type of justice exists in a country where a 65 year old woman who tries to stand up for her rights is imprisoned while none of those who brought us to financial ruin have been brought before the courts.

On a related note, when will the Government put in place the legislation to ratify the Aarhus Convention, which might have protected her rights? Ironically, today's protests occurred outside Anglo Irish Bank's old building. It is the ESB's new headquarters. This year, the ESB is sponsoring the national week for older people. What an irony. It is about time that the Minister attended the House to explain what is occurring.

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
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Will the Leader arrange for the Minister for Finance to attend the House so that we might discuss with him the taxation system as it applies to charities? The charity sector employs more than 100,000 people and contributes hundreds of millions of euro to the Exchequer. Charities play an important role in providing funding for people who look after the aged, the sick, people with disabilities, etc. Although the public continues to give generously, many charities are struggling to keep pace with the increased demand for their services. The umbrella body for charities is anxious that the taxation system be simplified and made equitable. PAYE workers and the self-employed are treated differently. The latter can claim tax relief on donations. Treating all taxpayers equally wound reduce administration and ensure more money for the charities' coffers. Charities believe that a 41% tax relief on donations must be maintained to ensure that they can continue to benefit.

A threshold of €250 per year must be reached before one can qualify for tax relief on charitable donations. In the current economic climate, this threshold should be reduced to €100. People continue to contribute, but they have cut back on the amount. Another anomaly that I would like to-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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These are points that can be made in the debate.

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
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There is VAT on giving. Charities pay VAT on the money they invest in their activities. The House might not realise it, but the Society of St. Vincent de Paul made irrecoverable VAT payments of €4 million last year. It is a significant amount.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Is the Senator asking for a debate?

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
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Will the Leader organise a debate? Another issue is that of illegal-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Mullins can make all of these points during the debate, if the Leader facilitates his request.

Photo of Michael MullinsMichael Mullins (Fine Gael)
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-----organisations and the regulation of charities. We need this discussion. I am most anxious that the tax system be geared so that charities can maximise their take in these very difficult times.

Photo of Brian Ó DomhnaillBrian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail)
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I support Senator Ó Clochartaigh on the farcical situation regarding Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta, which continues to emerge with no finality being brought to bear on the matter. As Senator Ó Clochartaigh mentioned, people working for the organisation have not been issued with P45s or given a direction on whether they will obtain employment in a new organisation. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government should come to the House at the earliest available opportunity to discuss the ongoing situation at Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta and to give us an update on what the Government is doing to rectify and resolve the matter.

I support my colleagues who this week again have called for the Minister for Health to come to the House. Two Senators on the Government side appeared to support the call for the Minister to come to the House and I ask them to have the courage of their convictions and vote with the motion. It appears the only way we will get the Minister for Health into the House this week or next week will be if Senators support an amendment to the Order of Business of this nature.

A situation is emerging in the Department of Health which may be a minor-----

Photo of Marie MoloneyMarie Moloney (Labour)
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We would support the motion but we cannot-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Ó Domhnaill without interruption.

Photo of Marie MoloneyMarie Moloney (Labour)
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Be realistic; the Minister cannot come to the House at the drop of a hat. We do want him to come in but not today.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Moloney has made her contribution on the Order of Business. Does Senator Ó Domhnaill have a question for the Leader?

Photo of Brian Ó DomhnaillBrian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail)
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I do. I support the call for the Minister for Health to come to the House. Last year, he undertook the Dublin marathon with myself and others and I have not seen him since. He may have got lost on the course-----

Photo of Pat O'NeillPat O'Neill (Fine Gael)
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Did it take him that long to recover?

Photo of Brian Ó DomhnaillBrian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail)
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-----but I appeal to the Leader if he is on mile 19 or 20 to go out and collect him and bring him to the House so we can discuss with him the real issues of the day.

A major issue facing disabled people who have been in receipt of motorised transport grants for the past ten, 12 or 15 years from the Department of Health as the applications they are making this year are being refused. Over the weekend I dealt with three such applications. Obviously, the Minister will state no cutbacks to resources are being made, but the criteria have been tightened. The Minister must address the House to explain why people who are eligible are being refused.

It is five weeks since the new school term commenced. However, 40,000 families throughout the country are waiting for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance to be paid. These families have not even had their applications processed, never mind paid out. They had to buy footwear and clothing-----

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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A question for the Leader.

Photo of Brian Ó DomhnaillBrian Ó Domhnaill (Fianna Fail)
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It would be very appropriate to see the Minister for Social Protection come to the House to explain why resources are not being made available to process and pay out these applications. Families are struggling to keep their children in school. It is an absolutely farcical situation.

Photo of Martin ConwayMartin Conway (Fine Gael)
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I welcome the fact that the Minister for Health will come to the House on 27 October, long overdue as the visit may be. I am very concerned that the nurses and midwives at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick have found it necessary to go out on strike because of what one of them described to me as the war zone conditions in which they work. It is not appropriate or acceptable, and I call on the Leader to have a word with the Minister for Health to see whether he can personally intervene in the situation and resolve the serious difficulties faced by the nurses.

I look forward to the debate on health and I ask the Leader to make the following points to the Minister prior to the debate. We spend €14 billion a year on health and for this figure we should have a world-class health service. Unfortunately, it is not fit for purpose. The reconfiguration taking place throughout the country, particularly in the mid-west region, is not working and has been a fiasco. Co-location has also been a fiasco. The policy direction of the Health Service Executive is not appropriate. I look forward to a new, clear and well-thought out realistic approach to health services.

The HSE stands for the Health Service Executive but more realistically, many people would consider it to stand for "horrific scary and expensive". These are more appropriate. I call on the Minister when he attends the House to present us with his four-year plan, to tell us what he will do to ensure that people's loved ones are not on trolleys, to ensure that the €14 billion of taxpayers' money being spent on health is spent properly, effectively and prudently and that the end-user is the person who benefits most. We often hear the saying, "Money follows the patient"; the money should follow the patient but it is not happening in this country. It needs to happen and it needs to happen urgently.

Photo of Labhrás Ó MurchúLabhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail)
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In many ways, as a small country, we have a lot to be proud of. We have made very great strides since the foundation of the State. We are regarded as a model for other emerging legislatures. Very often, where there are inadequacies, it comes down to lack of common sense and compassion. I have in mind the legal system which is still archaic in many ways. This House would be serving a particularly useful purpose to have a debate on this matter. I was taken aback recently when I saw a case of an unemployed carpenter who broke into the local church at night in order to avoid the rigours of winter. He slept in the loft and also took some money from the poor box, a sum which I understand was something in excess of €1,000. He ended up serving six months in prison. I ask each person here to dwell on that case for a moment because there is something radically wrong with a system where this can happen. I will not make comparisons with more serious cases where there was no penalty of prison involved.

I also cite the case of an elderly woman, Teresa Tracy, who is currently languishing in prison. She loves her land and we all know what love of land means in this country. We can understand the emotion and the sentiment involved in this case. Considering all the progress we have made and all the eminence which we have at our disposal, surely it must have been possible through dialogue and diplomacy, to have avoided a situation like this. These are only two examples and I could give several other examples.

I hope in the future here in the Seanad that when cases such as this come to our attention, we will raise them and discuss them with the appropriate Minister. I am not talking about the sentencing nor about the courts; my point is about the actual administration of the law itself. It is a question of how we can avoid situations like this.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Has the Senator a question for the Leader?

Photo of Labhrás Ó MurchúLabhrás Ó Murchú (Fianna Fail)
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Certainly. One could never convince the family of the man to whom I referred or the community from whence he came, that this is correct and nor will one convince the farming community to which that elderly lady belongs, that it is right that she is languishing in prison. The Seanad can serve a very useful purpose in a debate with the Minister, to ensure such cases do not arise again.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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Undoubtedly there is much grandstanding and ballyhoo here today, particularly with regard to the Minister for Health. Every Minister is busy. Senator Wilson and other colleagues opposite will explain that the previous Government side had the same difficulty in getting Ministers to come to the House. No Government of any persuasion can bring in Ministers at the drop of a hat. We must be realistic and acknowledge that Ministers have busy schedules.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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I know him because he is a constituency colleague.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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The man to whom the Senator refers has an easy manner, he is highly approachable. I do not doubt the Senator has very important and urgent matters to put to him. The Leader of the House has already informed the House that the Minister will be here in a few weeks' time but in the meantime, the Senator can call to his office, if the matter is that urgent, or he can drop him an internal note or have one of his Dáil colleagues table a parliamentary question. There are many means open to Members. I am fed up with the grandstanding and the ballyhoo from colleagues.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Has Senator Coghlan a question for the Leader?

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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The Senator should not just address his comments to this side of the House. He should address them to his colleagues and ask them the questions.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Coghlan, without interruption.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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I am addressing them to all and sundry.

Photo of Ned O'SullivanNed O'Sullivan (Fianna Fail)
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Senator Moloney is the only one doing clinics in Killarney.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Has the Senator a question for the Leader.

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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I am sure the Leader will respond and reassure the Senator.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Has the Senator a question for the Leader?

Photo of Paul CoghlanPaul Coghlan (Fine Gael)
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I have. I ask the Leader to reassure the House again. I am sure he will do that. He has done his damnedest. All I ask colleagues to do is to be reasonable.

Photo of John KellyJohn Kelly (Labour)
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I do not want to appear heartless by bringing up this issue, but begging in this country must be tackled. Begging is mainly city based here and is not seen to the same extent in country areas. The UK has legislation in place to deal with this issue, on the basis of three strikes and then one is out, but we have not legislated for it. Every night on the streets of Dublin city I am approached by two, three, four or more people. One night last week I was approached by 11 people begging for money. On another occasion when I was out in Dublin, I noticed a group of American tourists being approached by a beggarman with a black eye. In my view, this sent out a bad signal to tourists visiting this country because such approaches are not typical of the friendliness Irish people show to tourists.

Many articles have been written in the UK about begging and one recent article indicated that professionals such as teachers and others are out at night begging and earning up to €200. Whether it is professional begging or it is begging to feed a habit, we need to legislate for it. I did some research on begging in the US and noticed one fellow with a sign saying his wife had been kidnapped and he was 99 cent short of the ransom. What is happening is unbelievable. It may be comical on occasions, but it is big business. Begging sends out a bad signal. There is financial help available for people in need. As I pass along D'Olier Street every morning on my way to work, I see the same people I saw begging the night before outside the social welfare offices waiting for money from the community welfare officer. I call on the Leader to ask the Minister for Justice to introduce legislation on the basis of "three strikes and you are out". If it happens that people are found begging on three occasions, this should have a direct impact on their social welfare payment and money should be docked from them.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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Senator O'Brien raised the issue of the proposed closure of army barracks. I understand the previous Government signed up to cuts of approximately €350 million from the Department of Defence in the bailout deal and these cuts must go ahead.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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The Government says that all the time. These are its decisions.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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Obviously, cuts must take place, but I am not aware what barracks will close or where those cuts will be made. However, I am sure that the Minister will provide clarity on the matter in due course. I understand the Minister will represent the country at the UN in Geneva this week, but I will certainly ask him to come in and discuss the matter in the near future. I am aware it is a very distressing situation for families in the areas mentioned and I agree the sooner we have clarity, the better. Senators Wilson and O'Sullivan also raised the issue of army barracks on which we will seek clarity.

Senator O'Brien also raised the question of the report on pyrite. I will inquire from the Minister, Deputy Hogan, as to when the report will be complete and what action will be taken on the matter. Senator Bacik sought a debate on the issue of domestic violence. We will arrange for an early debate on that.

Senator Zappone referred to the UN Human Rights Commission. She is travelling to Geneva on a very important related matter and she questioned why the Government has not published voluntary commitments. I will raise that with the Minister for Justice and Equality and I will try to get clarity on that point for the Senator. Having a debate on the outcome of deliberations in Geneva would be worthwhile when the Minister returns and when everyone has had the opportunity to consider the deliberations.

Senator Mullen raised the matter of an anonymous columnist, purporting to be a senior civil servant.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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That is not how I put it.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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I do not think the Order of Business should be used to give mileage to anonymous columnists, whoever they may be. I cannot comment on that.

Photo of Rónán MullenRónán Mullen (Independent)
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I will try to find out who he is and I will name him in the Seanad.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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A call for a debate on the Constitution can be raised and we can arrange that.

Senator D'Arcy asked for the Minister for Education and Skills to attend the Chamber. The Minister will be dealing with legislation in this Chamber in the next week or two. He will also be here on 8 November for a series of questions and answers on education. I do not have an answer to the question regarding Haggardstown that Senator D'Arcy raised.

Last week I told both acting leaders of the Opposition, Senator Ó Domhnaill and Senator MacSharry, that the Minister for Health will attend the Chamber on 27 October. The Minister has given that assurance and I am sure we will have a number of questions available for him. It would be appreciated if Senators provide the questions to my office in advance so that they can get a proper answer. I ask that these questions be given in advance so that people are not complaining about not getting a comprehensive answer to them.

Senator Moloney can raise the matter of the centralisation of medical card processing. Any delays that cause hardship to vulnerable people must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Senator Mary Ann O'Brien's point on medical cards for children with disabilities will have to be addressed. I will raise it with the Minister beforehand but it can also be raised at the debate organised for 27 October.

Senator Colm Burke raised the matter of voluntary organisations, which are playing an important role in communities throughout the country. Regarding his call for no cutbacks for voluntary organisations, all Ministers have been charged with making severe cuts in all Departments. No commitments can be given on cutbacks in any particular areas.

Photo of Darragh O'BrienDarragh O'Brien (Fianna Fail)
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The Government did give a commitment on social welfare.

Photo of Maurice CumminsMaurice Cummins (Fine Gael)
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Regarding Senator Cullinane's point, I have no wish to comment in this House on the presidential election. We can comment after the election.

Senator Hart raised the ongoing problem of the Inishowen ferry, the closure and the lack of funding from the local authority, which has little funds. We can raise the matter with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. Senator Tom Sheahan raised the matter of Garda cars being decommissioned after 300,000 km, believing it to be an insurance problem. We will inquire of the Minister for Justice and Equality whether this matter can be addressed and revert to the Senator.

Senators Ó Clochartaigh and Ó Domhnaill raised the question of MFG. Senator Ó Clochartaigh did raise this matter with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Bruton, when he was here a couple of weeks ago and I thought the Minister had addressed the question, but the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government will be here dealing with legislation next week and perhaps he will have an answer for the Senators at that point.

Senator Ó Murchú, like Senator Ó Clochartaigh, raised the issue of a pensioner who is in prison. I understand the ESB and EirGrid made proposals yesterday which I hope will solve the problem. I agree that dialogue should be the first option in disputes such as this. Senator Mullins mentioned the issue of charitable donations. The Minister for Finance will be here on Thursday and I am sure the Senator will have an opportunity to raise the questions he mentioned on the Order of Business today. Senator Conway spoke about the problems at Mid-Western Regional Hospital, the issue of hospital reconfiguration and the failed policy of co-location. This is a matter that can be raised with the Minister when he is in the House. There was also a question about social welfare from one Senator. The Minister for Social Protection will be here by the end of October to address these matters. Senator Kelly mentioned proposed legislation on begging. I will certainly inquire of the Department whether any legislation is proposed in that area.

I do not propose to accept the amendment to the Order of Business. As I have outlined, the Minister will be here on 27 October to address Members' queries.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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Too late.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Byrne has moved an amendment to the Order of Business: "That a debate with the Minister for Health on the escalating problems for patients in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, be taken today." Is the amendment being pressed?

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)
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Yes.

Amendment put:

The Seanad Divided:

For the motion: 17 (Sean Barrett, Thomas Byrne, John Crown, David Cullinane, Mark Daly, Paschal Mooney, Rónán Mullen, Darragh O'Brien, Denis O'Donovan, Ned O'Sullivan, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Averil Power, Jim Walsh, Mary White, Diarmuid Wilson)

Against the motion: 30 (Ivana Bacik, Terry Brennan, Colm Burke, Eamonn Coghlan, Paul Coghlan, Michael Comiskey, Martin Conway, Maurice Cummins, Jim D'Arcy, Michael D'Arcy, John Gilroy, Jimmy Harte, Aideen Hayden, James Heffernan, Imelda Henry, Lorraine Higgins, Caít Keane, John Kelly, Denis Landy, Fiach MacConghail, Maire Maloney, Mary Moran, Tony Mulcahy, Michael Mullins, Catherine Noone, Pat O'Neill, Tom Shehan, Jillian van Turnhout, John Whelan, Katherine Zappone)

Tellers: Tá, Senators Ned O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Ivana Bacik and Paul Coghlan.

Amendment declared lost.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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It is apparent that some Senators on the opposite side may have voted incorrectly in so far as they were anxious to have the Minister attend the House but obviously they-----

A Senator:

The Senator cannot be serious.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Order, please.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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Senator Wilson, to continue on a point of order.

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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To avoid any confusion, to put the record straight-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Diarmuid WilsonDiarmuid Wilson (Fianna Fail)
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-----and to afford those Members, if they made a mistake, an opportunity to correct their vote, I propose a manual vote.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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A manual vote has been called.

Photo of Pat O'NeillPat O'Neill (Fine Gael)
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I object to this.

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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It is not in order for the Senator to object as a manual vote has been called.

Photo of Pat O'NeillPat O'Neill (Fine Gael)
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This is a waste of Members' time. It shows the petty politics of Fianna Fáil.

(Interruptions).

4:00 am

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Cathaoirleach of Seanad; Fine Gael)
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This will be a manual vote in accordance with Standing Order 62(3).

Amendment put:

The Seanad Divided:

For the motion: 17 (Sean Barrett, Thomas Byrne, John Crown, David Cullinane, Mark Daly, Paschal Mooney, Rónán Mullen, Darragh O'Brien, Denis O'Donovan, Ned O'Sullivan, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Averil Power, Jim Walsh, Mary White, Diarmuid Wilson)

Against the motion: 30 (Ivana Bacik, Terry Brennan, Colm Burke, Eamonn Coghlan, Paul Coghlan, Michael Comiskey, Martin Conway, Maurice Cummins, Jim D'Arcy, Michael D'Arcy, John Gilroy, Jimmy Harte, Aideen Hayden, James Heffernan, Imelda Henry, Lorraine Higgins, Caít Keane, John Kelly, Denis Landy, Fiach MacConghail, Maire Maloney, Mary Moran, Tony Mulcahy, Michael Mullins, Catherine Noone, Pat O'Neill, Tom Shehan, Jillian van Turnhout, John Whelan, Katherine Zappone)

Tellers: Tá, Senators Ned O'Sullivan and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Ivana Bacik and Paul Coghlan.

Amendment declared lost.

Order of Business agreed to.