Tuesday, 6 December 2011
Order of Business
The Order of Business is No. 1, motion regarding the appointment of a new Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission - referral to Joint Committee on Justice, Equality and Defence, without debate; No. 2, Local Government (Household Charge) Bill - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage to be taken on the conclusion of the Order of Business and to conclude not later than 3.40 p.m., with the contributions of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and all other Senators not to exceed five minutes, the Minister to be called on to reply to the debate, not later than 3.30 p.m. There will be a sos from 3.40 p.m. to 6 p.m. No. 3, statements on Budget 2012 to be taken at 6 p.m. and to conclude not later than 8 p.m. with the contribution of group spokespersons not to exceed eight minutes and all other Senators not to exceed five minutes and the Minister to be called on to reply not later than 7.50 p.m.
We will be opposing the Order of Business, in particular we will be opposing the motion on the appointment of a new Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission on the basis that it will not be debated in the Seanad and will go straight to the joint committee. When I saw the schedule last week I was uncertain about it. However, we will not agree to the motion being passed by the Seanad without debate on the basis that it was announced yesterday by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Shatter, not the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in his statement to the Dáil, that 31 urban and rural Garda stations will close across the country and another ten Garda stations will have restricted opening hours.
We have set aside two hours to discuss the Budget Statement 2012, so I will restrict myself this morning as we will have time this evening to comment on it. However, I ask the Leader and Deputy Leader to address the striking anomaly of the cuts to the disability allowance. The Government is proposing a decrease of €88 a week in the payments to a person aged between 18 year and 22, who lives at home; a decrease of more than €100 for a teenager aged between 16 and 18 years who lives at home, and a decrease of €44 for those aged between 22 and 24 years.
The social welfare Bill will not be introduced until next week. I am asking the Leader and the Deputy Leader, Senator Bacik, to talk to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Social Protection and to tell them they will not accept this cut. I understand that we are in a very difficult situation. My party understands that fully and realises that very difficult choices must be made in the budget. These young adults with disabilities face a hard life, and I ask that the Government does not proceed with this cut. I ask the Leader to give a commitment that both he and the Deputy Leader, Senator Bacik, will raise this specific matter. I know that everyone in this House is decent and I know that they cannot stand over this cut to young adults with disabilities.
I make these comments in light of the salary increase for a special adviser due to the direct intervention of the Taoiseach. That individual, Mr. Ciarán Conlon, was given a €700 per week increase against the advice of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan. In the interests of fairness, I ask the Leader to raise that matter.
- - - - - to give a commitment to talk to the Minister for Social Protection and the Taoiseach to ensure that the cut in the payment to young adults with disabilities does not happen.
There will be a new EU treaty early next year. Things are moving in Europe but we are not at the table. In my amendment to the Order of Business I propose that time be given after 8 p.m. for the Minister of State with responsibility for European affairs or a relevant Minister to come into the House and explain the reason the Government has put no proposal to the European Commission.
I am almost finished. My amendment to the Order of Business proposes that the Minister of State with responsibility for European affairs or another relevant Minister - perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy Fergus O'Dowd, who is still without portfolio - come to the House for a debate on the situation in Europe. I am calling for this debate to take place at 8 p.m. this evening. We are walking into this blindfolded and the Government has no proposals.
It is a matter of grave concern that ratings agencies are considering downgrading the credit ratings of almost all of the eurozone member states, including our own. It puts into perspective the very difficult decisions that had to be made in the budget.
In regard to Senator O'Brien's point on the disability allowance, that a budget which is brought forward in such a difficult economic climate does not include a reduction in either the basic rate of social welfare payment or of child benefit must be seen as a significant achievement.
-----in order to ensure that everybody has an entitlement to one weekly income support payment only. She is trying to align different social welfare payments. Her objective is to ensure that the rate of payment for claimants of disability allowance is aligned with the jobseeker's allowance in order to discourage people from entering training or employment at a very young age.
Reports today suggest that China is ready to do a deal on climate change. This constitutes a major development which feeds into what the EU has been demanding for some time. I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on this issue in the new year.
All of the talk of Ireland having experienced four years of hardship conjures up a notion that, before that, we had a shared prosperity. That simply is not true. Long before the economic downturn and subsequent slide into full-blown recession, tens of thousands of people lived in hardship, in poverty or at risk of poverty, struggled to raise families and care for elderly and disabled relatives, and hundreds slept rough on our city streets. Whatever way one looks at the measures put forward yesterday by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Brendan Howlin, they will impact overwhelmingly and disproportionately on those who have always been vulnerable. Following the Minister's delivery of the proposals in the Dáil yesterday, we were obliged to seek information from different Departments. That is not reform. Reform would involve all of the relevant information being made available at once.
I join Senator O'Brien in condemning the proposed change to the disability allowance. It is the provision which stood out most for me from yesterday's announcement. What is the rationale behind this measure? We are talking about young people with profound and multiple disabilities. They are not going into training schemes or work placements. In regard to the lone parent allowance, I have gone through every line of every document that was provided yesterday, but I cannot find the figures to justify this decision. What arrangements will be put in place for the transitional phase in respect of those who are currently in receipt of the allowance? A huge number of concerned lone parents are wondering what will happen on 1 January. There are no figures in any document produced yesterday from any Department which provide the rationale for this decision. Surely any decision which has such a significant impact on such large numbers of people should at least be an informed decision.
I am equally concerned about what is happening at EU level in advance of Friday's summit. Serious decisions lie ahead of us, decisions which may ultimately make today's discussion irrelevant. We must have a debate on what is happening in Europe. We are part of the EU and we must inform that debate.
I support every word of what Senator O'Brien said in regard to the cuts to the disability allowance. We should ask ourselves why this type of thing happens. Every utterance, every move from the Government these days is crash tested through a process of leaks and soundings with a view to determining which elements of public opinion need to be placated and prioritised. It is at times like these that vulnerable constituencies lose out and that we have cuts to overseas development aid contributions, for example, and to provisions affecting young persons with disabilities. It is unacceptable for Government spokespersons to refer to how the budget has been shaped as a "significant achievement". The least they could do is to apologise and say this is the best they could do. The changes to the disability allowance must be revisited.
We have had frequent calls in this House for a debate on media standards, but that debate has not yet taken place. Will the Leader schedule it for early in the new year? In recent days it has emerged that an Irish woman nearly lost her life in England due to a botched abortion carried out by a practitioner associated with Marie Stopes. It was not this individual's first such botch-up. The woman almost died as a consequence of parts of the unborn child being left inside her body. If a woman in Ireland came close to losing her life because of mistakes made while in the care of the health service, The Irish Times would issue a supplement on the matter and there would be a documentary by "Prime Time Investigates". In this case, hoverer, only the Irish Independent has so far reported what happened.
Why the silence? Is this another example of a bias in our media whereby certain issues are deemed to be worthy of coverage but the near death of an Irish woman as a consequence of an abortion in England is covered by only one broadsheet newspaper? Has there ever been coverage of the fact that in 2008 alone, 66 unborn children survived being aborted in England and were delivered alive, only to be left to die? That is going on in our nearest neighbouring country. Anybody with the most rudimentary sense of what human rights should encompass must ask questions about this. However, the Irish media apparently do not agree. I do not know whether we are getting close to the time when there will be a Leveson-style inquiry in this country about issues of privacy and how it is respected by media, but I certainly hope we have a debate in this House very soon. Such a debate will afford us an opportunity to raise these important questions in terms of how people are being treated by the media but also how the public is being treated when there is only scanty and selective reference to certain issues by the dominant media.
When we consider that there are 70,000 additional pupils coming into the school system, this is an incredible achievement. I am delighted that the Minister is protecting the fabric of our society by safeguarding investment in young people from four years of age and upward.
In light of what we are dealing with, it is an incredible achievement and also the resource teachers and special needs assistants have been maintained. I take my hat off to him because I know the pressure was enormous. I could criticise a number of decisions and if I were to sound a word of caution it would be about the issue of guidance teachers coming within the allocation of numbers. I suggest this could be examined with a view to resolving it. Guidance has not been great in this country in the past but, all in all, this is a job well done by the Minister. It is a drive towards a fairer, more equitable society-----
-----to protect that critical relationship between child and teacher. We have to mind our business at home and that is what both the Labour Party and Fine Gael are trying to do in this budget. It is a very tough budget but, as other speakers have said and I looked for it last week, I think it is time we had a very serious debate on the euro.
I second Senator Darragh O'Brien's amendment to the Order of Business. What is particularly appalling about this budget is the targeting of specific sectors in society, for instance, the targeting of the young disabled, the targeting of the old, the sick and the handicapped who depend on the fuel allowance and the targeting of small schools for a cut in the pupil-teacher ratio, contrary to what Senator Healy Eames has said. Those schools were told they would receive an increase in their pupil-teacher ratio. They were also told by way of a press release to RTE last night, to consider their futures. All those students, teachers and parents involved would have been watching RTE last night when their school was told to consider its future. It is imperative to have a debate with the Minister, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, to discuss small rural schools. Fianna Fáil is proud to have invested heavily in these schools in many parts of the country and in particular in my own constituency. Many schools have 86 pupils or fewer and these schools have been told to consider their future. Senator Healy Eames is telling the people of Connemara and Galway - where I am sure there are many such schools - that the Minister had done a great job and that it is a job well done.
I refer Senator Healy Eames to the press release and the leaflet issued by the Minister, Deputy Ruairí Quinn, yesterday and distributed to all of us. I also refer to the RTE news bulletin which reported that a Department spokesman told those schools to consider their future and that they would be better able to do so with a higher pupil-teacher ratio. While Senator Healy Eames is congratulating the Minister, Deputy Quinn, I am asking for a debate-----
It is important to realise where we are coming from as regards this budget. We have ended up in a very difficult financial situation. Let us all be constructive about how we are going to manage this situation. The Government has presented its budget in the best way in order to ensure that we cater for those who are vulnerable. For instance, as regards the care of the elderly, an additional €55 million has been allocated to the fair deal scheme. I reiterate what other Senators have said about the need for a debate on European affairs and on Ireland's future in Europe and on the future of Europe. Particularly after next Friday it would be important to set time aside next week for a debate. This is not about Europe for the next 12 months but rather it is about Europe for the next five, ten, 15 and 20 years. The debate should consider how the issues directly affect Ireland and how we can play a constructive role in the future development.
For some 16 years, I have been seeking that we and Britain should join Central European Time as this would give us an extra hour all evening, every evening of the year. I am delighted to inform the House that the British and the British House of Commons have listened to me and at a meeting last week, the Irish Government said that if the British were moving in that direction, we would do the same. It would appear that the British have decided to take the next step in the process of joining Central European Time. The advantages are significant and I will not bore the House with those details but they have been articulated in many ways. One of the figures mentioned last week was the savings in energy consumption which an extra hour of daylight all year would provide. We would be on the same time as central Europe and the only country left outside would be Portugal.
Sometimes in this House we may get tired of not being listened to when we ask for something to be done. However, this is a good news story for all of us. I think we are being listened to and I think it is quite likely there will be a three-year test of this some time in a couple of years. If the British are going to move and we move - I agree it is wise for us to move only when the British move because otherwise there would be a different time zone between Dundalk and Newry and between Dublin and Belfast. I think the benefits are such that the British will move. The Bill will go through Parliament in the near future and in my view, this House should take credit for it.
I call on the Leader to bring the Minister for Health to the House as soon as it is practicable to discuss the structure that is the HSE. A number of years ago, we were sold what I believe was a pig in a poke when we were sold centres of excellence. I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Reilly, on his efforts to free up public beds being used by private health insurers, free of cost.
A young man in Kerry was involved in a serious car accident last Tuesday in which he broke his jaw, his cheekbone, his nose, his ankle and a bone in his back. He is still in Kerry General Hospital today because there is no bed in Cork University Hospital, one week later. This is not good enough and this is not what we signed up to when we signed up for a centre of excellence. I spoke to the consultant this morning and I asked why a hospital outside Cork could not be considered for this man. He has horrific injuries since last week and he has not been dealt with. This is not good enough.
Senator Healy Eames described the first part of the budget yesterday as a job well done. I am sure there are many families who are struggling who would not regard the budget as a job well done. We should look at what is in the budget and -----
The disability allowance has been cut and in my view this is one of the cruellest cuts from any Government in a long number of years. To cut the allowance of young people who are disabled is an absolute disgrace. Child benefit has been cut and also rent supplement and the lone parent allowance. It is an untruth for anybody from the Government to say that social welfare rates have not been cut because a disability allowance is a social welfare rate. The disability allowance is a social welfare rate and the Government cut it. The Labour Party and Fine Gael cut it. This budget is a budget of broken promises because Labour, in particular, promised not to cut child benefit and it has. The Labour Party also promised not to increase student fees and it has. This is a budget of broken promises. The Government parties have not done what they said they would do in advance of the election which is, to protect the old, the weak, the vulnerable, students, young people. They have gone after people who cannot defend themselves such as people with disabilities. This is a very bad budget and there will be more today. There will be a 2% increase in VAT and a household charge of €100. When will this Government learn from the previous Government that austerity and cuts will simply not work?
There are families who do not have any more money to give. The well is dry yet the Labour Party and Fine Gael are again targeting the vulnerable.
-----to target wealth and high earners and address the myriad of tax breaks and tax shelters available to the wealthy. It could have achieved public expenditure savings without targeting the young, disabled people and older people by cutting their fuel allowance while driving up the cost of fuel. It targeted the same people the previous Government targeted. The Labour Party and Fine Gael have betrayed those who voted for them in the previous election.
In some senses I agree with Senator Cullinane's sentiments on cuts, which are terrible. The Government must make difficult decisions and does not take any pleasure in taking these measures. It is trying to implement a budget which will help the country get back on its feet. How many times does this have to be said? This time last year, people did not know whether we had a Government. At least now, the Government has taken charge and wants to make the country a better place as opposed to lining its pockets or anything of that sort.
I would like to speak without interruption if Senator O'Brien does not mind. While it is natural that I, as a Fine Gael Party member, would do so, I welcome the Taoiseach's decision to tell the nation how bad things are. If this course of action had been taken this time last year, people would have at least had some notion of how bad things were. Instead, we were all left in the dark. We have come a long way since then, although I am aware that is small consolation to families who must deal with difficult financial circumstances. The Government is trying its best to remedy a difficult situation. Other than the statements on the budget scheduled for this evening, I will not trouble the Leader by asking for further debate on the issue.
I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on the part of statement by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, that related to the Garda Síochána, specifically the closure of Garda stations. Only two stations in my county of Roscommon will be affected, namely, Cootehall Garda station in Boyle, which featured in the books of John McGahern, and Loughglynn Garda station in Castlerea. Strangely, major refurbishment works are under way at the station in Castlerea which is located in a rural area with a large hinterland. People in the area are deeply concerned about the proposed closures. In addition, Termonbarry Garda station will not be reopened as a single garda operation. Overall, the saving achieved through the closures is small. The Minister for Justice and Equality should review the decision in light of the repercussions of leaving the rural areas concerned without a Garda presence. The closures will give rise to more crime. Senator Sheahan noted the vital importance of having gardaí in rural areas at a time of increasing crime rates in the countryside. Last night, the president of the Garda Representative Association outlined on "The Frontline" programme the importance of the knowledge obtained by gardaí in rural areas. We should consider the effects the proposed closures will have on rural areas. I call for the Leader to arrange a specific debate on Garda resources in rural areas.
It is difficult to accept being shouted at by Sinn Féin Senators. When one examines its pre-budget submission, as we were invited to do, one finds that most of it is based on a newspaper report published four years ago, namely, The Sunday Times rich list, and informed by two reports compiled by the banking sector, an industry Sinn Féin has repeatedly accused of lying over the past three years.
We also see in its submission a Kevin Cardiff type double accounting calculation which leaves a €200 million hole in Sinn Féin's figures. We see the cutbacks it is implementing in the North on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, yet it berates us.
It is disappointing but I predicted I would be shouted at by Sinn Féin. I will not waste any more time of the House or invite any more abuse by the Sinn Féin side. I ask the Leader to arrange a debate on the budgetary process as a whole in the new year. The House needs ample time to discuss this issue.
The Leader played a significant and constructive role on the debates on the defamation legislation. He will recall that the Government at that stage promised to introduce a privacy Bill to balance out the Defamation Bill. I am glad to note the Privacy Bill 2006 is No. 12 on the Order Paper. In light of the previous debates in which both the Leader and I took part, will the Leader inform the House when the Bill will be moved? Having recently reread the legislation, it is in general well drafted and well considered. I would welcome its passing by this House and the other House. If it is helpful, I would be pleased to add my name to the legislation and, if the Government wishes, to move that we make time available next Tuesday to start the process.
I am all in favour of a free press and media that are capable of proper investigative journalism. On the subject of journalism, I am reliably informed by my distinguished academic colleague, Senator Barrett, that the ratings agencies are just another form of journalism. I wonder if we cannot do something about them as well, as I have been asking for the past three or four years. They are causing mayhem across international stock exchanges today by presuming, as a group of journalists - a form of low critic as far as I can see - to de-rate most of the European Union. I wonder if it is tolerable that a private institution of economic journalists should be permitted to do such damage without being held to account, particularly in light of the agencies' highly sinister history.
I look forward to a debate on registration fees for third level colleges, an issue raised by other Senators. We are all familiar with the famous photograph which will become infamous from here to eternity of the Minister and then Deputy Quinn signing a pledge not to raise fees. It was a little like the Treaty of Limerick in that not only was the ink not dry but before he picked up the pen he knew he could not stand by the pledge. The €250 increase in registration fees will not be allocated to the colleges as it is a tax that the Government will put in its back pocket and use for other purposes, including paying special advisers.
While previous speakers raised the issue of Europe, no one is talking about democracy. The issue has not been raised by our Government or any of the other European Union governments. The European population is being forced into a united states of Europe against its will, as was clear when the treaty of Nice was rejected in France, the Netherlands and Ireland and the treaty of Lisbon was rejected here. We are being placed in a position in which the Germans and powers-that-be in Brussels will essentially run the Department of Foreign Affairs. It is ironic that if I was to tell people in County Kerry and throughout the country on this, the anniversary of the signing of the treaty of 1921, that the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Westminster will have oversight of the Irish budget from here to eternity-----
My colleagues have misinterpreted what I said. As we know, the EU-IMF bailout is a temporary measure. Other countries that have gone into such a programme, including the United Kingdom, have come out of it. The Government does not seem to have a counter-proposal to what will be proposed next Friday.
Yes. I am asking the Leader to organise a debate on the lack of a reference to democracy during the debate on the euro. Democracy should be central. Europe is always telling us about the importance of decision-making. Decisions are now being made by bureaucrats. This week marks the 90th anniversary of a treaty that was agreed without consultation with the people. It led to dire consequences.
Every young person is advised to go to school, go to college, get a job and raise a family. What happens when it is not feasible for one to go to school or college because neither one nor one's family can afford it? What happens when there are no jobs for one or one's friends? What happens when one is forced to emigrate? What happens when one cannot to afford to survive because one's income is being hacked away every year?
For many young people, this budget will offer a choice between hardship in education, hardship at home and an uncertain future. It offers them the prospect of dole or emigration. Other Senators have referred to the cuts in the payment made to people with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 24. Similarly, the jobseeker's allowance paid to people under the age of 25 was reduced in a previous budget. Last week, I asked the Leader to facilitate a debate on youth unemployment. I would like to go a bit further today by asking the Leader to provide for consultation with groups advocating on behalf of young people, just as he did with groups advocating on behalf of older people. If we bring youth organisations to the House for a discussion, we can open a dialogue on how Ireland treats young people, especially people under the age of 25 who are being butchered and targeted by cuts. I ask the Leader to facilitate such a debate in the upcoming period, if possible.
A current RTE series that deals with the drugs trade is a realistic re-enactment of what is happening on the ground in the capital. It depicts a criminal underworld which is absolutely ruthless, powerful and brutal. It results in the ruination of thousands of young lives and the commission of murders with impunity. The criminal underworld in rural and provincial Ireland is equally brutal, arrogant and ruthless. It is destroying thousands of young lives. Murders are regularly committed by gangs in rural Ireland. The proposal to close Garda stations is contrary to common sense. It will not guarantee the safety of people in rural Ireland. It will not protect young people against drug pushers. It sends the wrong message to criminal gangs that are operating as we speak. In the long run, it will not achieve any savings.
The fallout from these crimes will eventually have to be dealt with by the taxpayer. I am keenly aware of the difficult task faced by the current Government and by any Government that tries to frame a budget at a time of crisis. I say to the Government genuinely, as I did when the Army barracks were being closed, that we have never needed a heightened security profile in every corner of Ireland more than we need it now. Above all else, we must give priority to people's lives. We must protect young people from being destroyed. I appeal to the Government to revisit the proposal to close 34 Garda stations. It is wrong. It is wrong. It is wrong.
I would point out to Senator Daly that it ill-behoves him to be talking to me about democracy. I can tell you, with respect and affection, that I will not listen to it. Our democratic structures were levelled in 2008 when your leader was in a room signing our lives away.
I would also like to point out to Senator Reilly that she should temper her language. When she is talking about young people in primary, secondary or third level education, she should not use words like "targeted" and "butchered".
I would like the Leader to congratulate Dublin City Council on the decision it made last night. I particularly congratulate the residents of Clontarf on their success in preserving the amenities there. It is important to emphasise that politics does work from time to time. All three local Deputies, who represent different parties, supported the skilled campaign that was organised by the local residents. We had proposed to the Leader that the flood plain area north of the Bull Island causeway could be used to protect that amenity. The new terms of reference should involve looking at ways of developing water-based sports, for example, in that amenity. I would like the Leader to thank those involved and to express the support of the House for talking as part of the political process. I hope we have many more initiatives of this kind. That is why we admire the body politic so much.
I assure Senator Darragh O'Brien that we will have a debate on the budget later today. A number of Senators spoke about various aspects of the budget. The difficult decisions that are being taken are needed to get Ireland working again. The Government's four-year strategy to fix the economy will create jobs and get people back to work. The Government was elected to fix the problems the country inherited from years of mismanagement.
There is a saving of €500,000 on special advisers in the Taoiseach's Department. These are the real facts and these are real savings.
Senator Bacik addressed the social welfare Bill. We will have a debate when the Bill comes before the House.
A number of speakers asked for a debate on European affairs and we will try to arrange one. I reiterate, however, the House has a programme of legislation arranged from now until December 16. I do not know whether I will have time to allow statements. I will try my best, especially in regard to the situation in Europe because what will happen this weekend is so important for this country.
Senator Bacik also raised the issue of climate change talks. I am sure the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Hogan, will be willing and welcome to come to the House to discuss the matter during the new year.
Senator van Turnhout spoke about the painful process of adjustment. It is a painful process and the Senator will have an opportunity to make her remarks when the House hears the Budget Statement today.
Senators Mullen and Norris spoke of a debate on media standards and the privacy Bill. I will inquire as to when that Bill will be taken. This will not happen before Christmas but I am sure it will happen in the new year. I shall return to the Senators on that.
Senators Healy Eames and Byrne and others spoke about education and schools. As Senator Healy Eames stated, the protection of the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level and in disadvantaged secondary schools has been maintained as per the commitment given. There is no reduction in the numbers of special needs assistants and resource teachers working in the education system which must be welcomed, especially in view of what many people stated in this regard in recent months.
The roll out of high-speed broadband for all second level schools in the coming three years will also be welcome by all Members of this House. A further 300 assistant principal posts will be provided at second level. Many good things have arisen as a result.
Senator Quinn mentioned Central European Time which the United Kingdom appears to be about to adopt as, obviously, will this country. Members in this House listen to the Senator and I am glad the Governments of both jurisdictions are also listening to him.
Senator Sheahan spoke of the structure of the HSE and details concerning a gentleman. Perhaps the Senator might raise that as a motion for the Adjournment debate which the Minister for Health should attend. As outlined by the Senator, it is a very serious situation.
We will not rehearse the debate on the budget as Senator Cullinane requested but will debate the issues this evening.
Senator Noone spoke about making decisions to get the country working again. Most of the points raised today relate to budgetary concerns. Senators Leyden and Ó Murchú mentioned budget allocations within the justice sector and there is no doubt these are very challenging. However, the Minister has plans to ensure that the most critical areas within the justice sector are protected. The recommendations for the closure of the Garda stations in question came from the Garda Commissioner via superintendents throughout the country.
Senator Gilroy asked for a debate on the budgetary process in the new year which we can arrange.
Senator Daly is not in the Chamber. Senator Reilly asked for a debate on youth unemployment which is a matter we can consider for the next session of the Seanad Public Consultation Committee. I have received requests from the Ombudsman for Children that children would be discussed at this committee, too. We may be able to include youth issues there but that will be a decision for the committee.
Senator O'Donnell made some salient points on democracy. We are glad the issue of flood defences in Clontarf, as mentioned by Senator Barrett, has been solved, temporarily, anyway.
I regret I had to rule out of order a matter raised by Senator Noone which I had stated to be in order, as the Minister has no responsibility in that matter. There will be only two Adjournment motions, therefore, those of Senators Ó Clochartaigh and Conway.
Senator O'Brien moved an amendment to the Order of Business: "That a debate take place at 8 p.m. on the financial situation in Europe." Is the amendment being pressed?
The Seanad Divided:
For the motion: 20 (Sean Barrett, Thomas Byrne, David Cullinane, Mark Daly, Terry Leyden, Fiach MacConghail, Rónán Mullen, David Norris, Darragh O'Brien, Ned O'Sullivan, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Averil Power, Feargal Quinn, Kathryn Reilly, Jillian van Turnhout, Jim Walsh, Mary White, Katherine Zappone)
Against the motion: 26 (Ivana Bacik, Terry Brennan, Colm Burke, Deirdre Clune, Paul Coghlan, Michael Comiskey, Maurice Cummins, Jim D'Arcy, John Gilroy, Jimmy Harte, Fidelma Healy Eames, James Heffernan, Imelda Henry, Lorraine Higgins, Caít Keane, John Kelly, Denis Landy, Maire Maloney, Mary Moran, Michael Mullins, Catherine Noone, Marie Louise O'Donnell, Susan O'Keeffe, Pat O'Neill, Tom Shehan, John Whelan)
Tellers: Tá, Senators Terry Leyden and Ned O'Sullivan; Níl, Senators Paul Coghlan and Susan O'Keeffe.
Amendment declared lost.
The Seanad Divided:
For the motion: 32 (Ivana Bacik, Sean Barrett, Terry Brennan, Colm Burke, Deirdre Clune, Paul Coghlan, Michael Comiskey, Maurice Cummins, Jim D'Arcy, John Gilroy, Jimmy Harte, Fidelma Healy Eames, James Heffernan, Imelda Henry, Lorraine Higgins, Caít Keane, John Kelly, Denis Landy, Fiach MacConghail, Maire Maloney, Mary Moran, Rónán Mullen, Michael Mullins, Catherine Noone, David Norris, Marie Louise O'Donnell, Susan O'Keeffe, Pat O'Neill, Feargal Quinn, Tom Shehan, Jillian van Turnhout, John Whelan)
Against the motion: 14 (Thomas Byrne, David Cullinane, Mark Daly, Terry Leyden, Darragh O'Brien, Ned O'Sullivan, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, Brian Ó Domhnaill, Labhrás Ó Murchú, Averil Power, Kathryn Reilly, Jim Walsh, Mary White, Katherine Zappone)
Tellers: Tá, Senators Paul Coghlan and Susan O'Keeffe; Níl, Senators Terry Leyden and Ned O'Sullivan.
Question declared carried.