Thursday, 23 June 2016
Order of Business
I am sure we all congratulate the Irish team on its performance last night. We all know the famous quote that sport builds character, but what is more true is that sport does not build character as much as it reveals it. What we saw last night was true grit from the Irish team to get a result. The President of Ireland has extended congratulations not only to the management and players but also to the fans who have been true ambassadors for the country. He has also extended congratulations to the other Irish team that has performed so heroically during the tournament and, equally, its fans are ambassadors for the island. On behalf of the House, will the Leader contact both managements and teams to congratulate them on reaching the last 16 in the tournament?
I raise the issue of insurance pricing, the gouging by insurance companies, the profiteering we have seen recently and the absolutely obscene demands being made. Let us take these as the facts. Since the beginning of the year there has been a 20% increase in insurance premiums. In the past 12 months they have increased by 34% and since January 2014 by 60%. If people ring an insurance company today to renew their insurance policy, they will face, at an absolute minimum, a 20% increase. That is with a full no claims bonus and a clean record. There are 2.1 million vehicles on the roads in Ireland and their owners are all required by law, as they should be, to have insurance. However, the price gouging and profiteering we have seen by insurance companies mean that we will all pay more, not only for insurance but also for the services provided by those required to have vehicles on the road to provide services for us. We do not have the 2015 figures, but we know that in 2014 the actual payouts by insurance companies compared to 2011 showed a decrease of 36%. However, we have seen insurance premiums increase by 60%. We have called for the establishment of a task force. I am sure all Senators agree that the Government needs to take action and regulate. The task force needs to examine why we have seen such price increases and what can be done about it. Is it due to the legal profession which is blamed by the insurance companies? Is it due to payments made by the Injuries Board? Is it due to overregulation? Is it due to fraud? What is the issue? There is no one answer, but one thing the House and the Government can do is to regulate the insurance industry because at this stage it is profiteering and making obscene demands which will cost us all. The House must take a leading role in challenging the industry on what is doing.
The result has given the entire nation a lift and I gather the President, His Excellency Michael D. Higgins, was bouncing up and down with joy. It is great to see the Head of State enjoying himself and expressing the delight of the people.
My principal reason for contributing is to propose an amendment to the Order of Business, that we take No. 6, Immigration (Reform) (Regularisation of Residency Status) Bill 2016, before No. 1.
I also congratulate the Irish team. It just goes to show that the underdog sometimes wins. We all look forward to what will happen in the next few weeks.
I refer to the vote today in Britain and part of the Thirty-two Counties. I make a final appeal to all those with a vote to vote in Ireland's interests and in favour of the United Kingdom remaining in the European Unin. Partition is a barrier to economic growth and social inclusion in Ireland. As a brexit would compound this, it is important that this message be conveyed in a positive way. Sinn Féin is focused on finding all-Ireland solutions to most of our urgent problems. A Brexit would go against this and certainly not benefit those who most need an all-island approach to health, enterprise and other issues.
I refer to the rural development programme and the Leader programme, particularly the programme for County Mayo which will come onstream in the coming weeks. I am mindful that the budget has been cut by millions of euro. In County Mayo alone €9 million has been cut from it. This is crucial for communities in rural Ireland. While the Government is happy to post updates on issues such as broadband and the spring economic statement, communities are suffering cuts to the multi-annual funding to which I have referred. I call on the Minister of State with responsibility for the roll-out of the Leader programme - we are not yet clear on who it is; perhaps it is the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring - to come before the House to enable us to discuss it in a way that would be of most benefit to the communities we serve. I have expressed many reservations about the political influence that will be exerted on the Leader and rural development programmes. No such influence was exerted when the programmes were managed by local development companies. Given the new format of having the programmes come under county councils, we all have a responsibility to ensure they serve the interests of people on the ground and are not used as a political slush fund. Every project, whether in the community or the enterprise sector, must be treated on its merits and implemented for the economic and social development of communities. I would appreciate if the Leader would request, as a matter of urgency, that the Minister come to the House to discuss the issue.
I join other Senators in congratulating the Irish football team on a wonderful and deserved win against Italy last night. It was a superb match and the team played great. Like many others, I and my small daughters who play soccer were glued to the television. We all wish the team the best of luck on Sunday when we play France. I agree with Senator Norris that the sight of the President celebrating at the match was wonderful. It was also a good day for Galway United since our Head of State is also its number one fan and has a long track record of interest in and enthusiasm for football.
On a more serious note, on the day that Britain votes on the referendum on membership of the European Union, I speak again in support of the "Remain" side. As with other university Senators, I have a large number of constituents who have a vote in the referendum and I have been doing all I can to urge them to vote "Remain". I know the Irish community in the United Kingdom is generally in favour of Britain remaining in the EU. It is in Ireland's interests, including our economic interests, and the interests of the social Europe we all wish to see progressed that Britain votes to remain in the EU.
Many of us attended an event in Buswells Hotel yesterday organised by the One Foundation at which we met the foundation's youth ambassadors. It was an interesting event in terms of international development and solidarity issues. I commend the One Foundation and other non-governmental organisations such as Oxfam on organising an event at 4 p.m. yesterday on the Ha'penny Bridge which a number of us attended to remember Jo Cox and celebrate her legacy in a minute's silence.
I congratulate the Irish football team on last night's wonderful performance which brought back memories of 22 years ago when Ray Houghton scored. We have all lost friends and family members who were around at that time and we remembered them last night because it was a joyous and wonderful occasion.
Radio reports this morning suggest that Ryanair and Aer Lingus will charge €488 for a one-way ticket to Lyons, which means a round trip will cost almost €1,000. This will price the ordinary man out of attending the match on Saturday, which is a disgrace. I ask both companies to put on the green jersey, reduce their prices and allow everyone who wants to travel to Lyons to do so. I am sure the House will agree that we must not allow the ordinary man to be priced out of the market. I know Deputy Mick Wallace is in France having a wonderful time because I heard him speaking on radio this morning. I wonder why we are all here when we should be in France.
I, too, congratulate the Irish team.
Like previous speakers, I was taken aback by a report in this morning's edition of the Irish Examinerunder the headline "Harmful drinking is the 'norm' in this country and causes three deaths every day". The report notes that new data released by the Health Research Board shows that young drinkers aged from 18 to 24 years have the most harmful drinking habits in the country. It continues:
The quantity they drink and the pattern of their drinking is putting them at increased health risk at a young age, and later in life, according to the study.
The research found alcohol is responsible for up to three deaths every day and that 50% of Irish drinking can be described as binge-drinking...
Alcohol Action Ireland said the latest research shows that the nation’s attitude to alcohol is placing an unsustainable burden on the health service and taxpayer.
The reason I raise the issue is the statement by Alcohol Action Ireland that the "Public Health (Alcohol) Bill is the first legislation of its kind in Ireland, as it treats alcohol as the serious public health problem". We need more information on this legislation. In 2014, Irish drinkers consumed on average 11 litres of pure alcohol each, which is equal to 29 litres of vodka, 116 bottles of wine or 445 pints of beer. It is not only how much Irish people drink that causes harm but the way they drink. In 2013, the HRB alcohol diary survey showed that more than 50% of Irish drinkers consumed alcohol in a harmful manner, too much alcohol in one sitting and more than the recommended number of standard drinks in one week. We must find out more about the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill from the Minister because society must address these harms. An evidence based public health response is needed, of which the measures proposed in the Bill are an example. I ask the Leader to seek answers from the Minister on this issue and invite him to come to the House to address this serious problem. The drinking behaviour of young people aged from 18 to 24 years has serious consequences for their health and their families. For this reason, we must address the long-term implications of this behaviour.
I raise the important issue of rehabilitation services. This morning, I attended a launch of a campaign by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland under the title "We need our heads examined" - and we do. I joined my colleagues, Senator Maria Byrne and Deputy Maria Bailey, to support health care professionals, patients and families who are fighting for better quality rehabilitation services. Every year, 25,000 people need rehabilitation services for neurological conditions such as stroke, acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. There are major gaps in the service, which is underresourced and underfunded.
Three steps must be taken. First, proper inpatient rehabilitation facilities are required to allow patients to gain timely specialist access to rehabilitation. Second, better and properly resourced community rehabilitation teams are needed because the current teams are ad hocand fragmented. Third, long-term rehabilitation-specific services are required to help people who are coping with a long-term disability. I stand with the Neurological Alliance of Ireland in calling for better rehabilitation health services for everyone.
Action must be taken on foot of the neurorehabilitation strategy published in 2011. I ask that the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, address the House on this important issue. Significant improvements have been made in acute care services and further improvements are also needed in rehabilitation services.
With regard to services in the west, the rehabilitation unit planned for Roscommon hospital must progress as quickly as possible. I ask that a project team be appointed without delay to progress this plan and ensure the needs of those who require rehabilitation services, many of whom do not have a voice, are met.They are trying to cope with their illness or disability and we need to advocate on their behalf. I am doing so and will continue to do so until we see action.
I second the request made by my colleague, Senator David Norris, that No. 6, Immigration (Reform) (Regularisation of Residency Status) Bill 2016, be taken before No. 1.
In recent days I have suffered from a condition of almost sudden deafness in one ear. The other one was never good. Yesterday afternoon I came into the House to participate in a debate on waste disposal and was appalled by what I saw. We had invited a Minister to come to address the issue of waste disposal and listen to our views and then proceeded to abuse and shout at him. It got to the stage where I could no longer tolerate the level of noise in the room and left. I was, therefore, denied an opportunity to speak about the issue yesterday. Incidentally, I would have supported Sinn Féin's position, but I was denied an opportunity to do so. That is something I did not experience in the previous Seanad and I did not experience it in my time chairing meetings at trade union level, both within the Teachers Union of Ireland and across the four teacher unions. We should never invite somebody to the House to shout at them. We give them all the stick they deserve on legislation. I see Senator Paudie Coffey looking at me. He took some stick in the previous Dáil-----
-----but we should do so in a respectful way. I ask the Leader to call the leaders of groups and the Whips together to discuss the issue of discipline and how we behave in the House. We are Members of the Upper House of the Oireachtas, Seanad Éireann. We are supposed to be grand old advisers to the young guns in the Lower House to calm their ire and slow them down a little, but last night we would have made a first year class of hooligans look respectable. We should all sit down and consider the way we do our business. I looked at the Leas-Chathaoirleach and the person who replaced him and felt sorry for them because it is extremely difficult to chair any meeting. Seeing a chairman struggling to get people to be quiet is simply not what the people expect of their parliamentarians. I ask that we all examine the way we do our business.
I join other Senators in congratulating the Republic of Ireland team. It was the bravery of Robbie Brady and the skill of Wes Hoolahan that resulted in the goal being scored. It was almost more significant than the goal scored by Ray Houghton because it was scored literally at the death. They were under the cosh, but the result was fantastic. This may be a question for the Clerk of the Seanad, but there are two soccer teams on the island, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, both of which have made it through to the last 16 in the tournament. They are supported by 6 million people and have gone through to the next round. Is the Seanad honouring this achievement allowed for under Standing Orders? Nothing brings people together more than sport. We could hold a form of civic reception for both teams-----
It is of such significance in terms of symbolism that we, as Members of the Seanad, should look to see if it is possible to bring the two teams to the Houses of Parliament for a form of civic reception to honour them. I am making that request.
Éirím le labhairt faoin bhua aréir. Tá sé ráite ag a lán daoine cheana féin. I wish to be associated with the remarks made in congratulating the Irish team on the win last night. Senator Kieran O'Donnell's proposal is interesting because it is important that we have an opportunity to honour and recognise the achievements of the two teams and, in turn, the supporters who have represented the country so well. Before I left it to join this august institution, we agreed at Belfast City Council to host the two teams at Belfast City Hall. We might, therefore, bring the Members of the Seanad to Belfast City Hall when Belfast City Council is doing the honour. I jest.
It is a good proposal and I support it.
Let me expand on the congratulations. Important points have been made about health issues and I suppose the darker side of the culture associated with sport. A discussion worth having is how we can utilise sport development - the Minister could be invited to the House for a debate on the issue - in health promotion because the two naturally complement each other. Someone who is good at sports and is training, whether for his or her local GAA club, boxing club or soccer club, is instilled very early in life with how to treat his or her body and community with respect. That is something on which the two Ministers on the island could work to promote. I believe there was an all-island men's health promotion last week. That is something at which we could look to initiate a specific discussion. The Ulster Council of the GAA previously conducted an overt health promotion campaign among GAA players entitled, Drink, Drugs & Sausage Rolls, to instill in young GAA athletes how to look after themselves and avoid some of the dangers posed.
I make the point which my leader made previously that this is the day of the referendum on Brexit. At the conclusion of business I will leave to go up the road to vote and I will vote in favour of the United Kingdom remaining in the European Union. It is a very considered position. As a society in the North-----
I am more in favour of a Brexit from Ireland, but we will have a discussion about that matter on another day. If Members or anyone watching these proceedings have or has friends or family in the North, I call on them to get on the telephone, go on Facebook or text them about voting.
The Leas-Chathaoirleach might be aware that a number of US Representatives and Senators have begun a sit-in at the US House of Representatives. They started yesterday and the aim of their effort is to force Congress to finally consider introducing stricter gun controls. I offer my support to them in making their request, remembering, in particular, those who died in Orlando and, closer to home, the violent death of the MP, Jo Cox. I ask the House to join me in supporting the action which is led by the US Representative from Georgia, Mr. John Lewis, who is no stranger to organising sit-ins.
Comhghairdeas leis an Aire nua. I wish to be associated with the comments made by my party's acting leader, Senator Mark Daly, on the great success of the two Irish teams in Euro 2016. Long may it continue.
I raise a matter of great concern to do with Mullingar Army barracks. I call on the Leader to ask the Government to immediately invest in Mullingar. As he will know, the barracks has been closed for a number of years and been used by different groups, but there are serious concerns about the condition of the barracks, which is grave. At a minimum, it is a health and safety concern.It is being used by several groups in the community, including Westmeath GAA. It would be an ideal location for a museum, which has been discussed many times.
I am always open to the Leas-Chathaoirleach's great advice. Such wisdom. However, I have serious concerns. Our area's Deputy, Robert Troy, has called a public meeting after being asked by various community groups to chair one. It will be held in the barracks tonight.
This is a live issue in Mullingar and must be addressed. We need a plan, albeit not the one in Kildare, which was to sell. The location of the barracks is ideal. Only a little land is attached to it. There must be some investment. We cannot just wring our hands and throw it to the wolves. Has the Leader ideas in this regard or is there a plan for the barracks?
I support my colleague, Senator Hopkins, in calling for the rehab money to be reallocated. Some €7.85 million was allocated a year ago and must be put into use immediately.
For anyone who is not familiar with what has happened at Roscommon hospital, some €20 million has been spent on it in the past five years, the endoscopy unit is open, there is an air ambulance, rehab services comprise a further project that is being planned and the Mayo Roscommon Hospice is building an eight-bed palliative care unit. One would not believe it, but the only problem at the hospital now is that there are not enough parking spaces for the increased capacity. If ever Senators are driving through Roscommon, I urge them to call in and see a most wonderful facility. After five years of negativity, the hospital is much safer. Speak with the consultants and managers. Sometimes, good news never gets out and we only hear the bad news. Do not ask me, ask the consultants and managers at the hospital.
Was last night not an amazing one? The President showed great enthusiasm and vigour. Seeing him there summed up everything. We are very proud of him. I was on a double-decker bus 28 years ago when the Republic of Ireland played England in Stuttgart. It brought great confidence to our country. I want the British to remain in Europe and I hope that they vote that way, but every morning that I wake up now, I think to myself that it has been 28 years since we beat England and it is a great day.
The French media commenting on Northern Ireland and Republic fans stated that, in terms of football, Ireland was unified. One person mentioned that watching the two sets of supporters was good for the soul. That is good news. Senator Ó Domhnaill will agree that this will translate into future marching seasons. We must build on it and not be afraid. The Seanad should shout this good news loudly because we have come a long way.
I join Senators in congratulating the Irish soccer team on a fabulous performance last night. It is fair to say that we on these islands are not blessed with the most gifted of footballers, but they are gifted with heart and determination. They showed that in abundance last night. In discussing bravery, we should also mention the team management of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane. They made brave decisions with their team selection. While they were heroes at full time, they were within five minutes of being pilloried by the media today. It was a thin line and they deserve compliments.
The real winners are the supporters. Pictures of their smiling faces beaming across our television screens last night were a joy to behold. The manner in which supporters from the Republic and the North have conducted themselves has been a credit to them. I listened to the French ambassador on a radio station this morning. He mentioned the headlines that the fans were making. He stated that, if there were a cup for the best supporters, it could be handed to the Irish people now. We can feel very proud of this. They are a credit to the nation. The mayors of Paris, Bordeaux and Lille have all discussed the way in which the Irish have conducted themselves. The supporters deserve credit. The joy and satisfaction that the team and supporters have given us have lifted the nation. This shows the power of sport, what it can do, how it can strengthen people and the joy that it can give. My son was lucky enough to be in the stadium last night. He told me that everywhere he looked, people were hugging and smiling at complete strangers. It was a super experience for those who were fortune enough to enjoy it.
For a small nation, we punch above our weight in sport. Every euro that the nation spends on sport is worth twice as much to us. This weekend, we will have the joy of watching Northern Ireland playing Wales on Saturday and the Republic playing France on Sunday. I hope that we will get joy after the Henri handball, which I am sure has been mentioned several times.
The under 20s rugby team will be in the World Cup final against England on Saturday. Combined with all of the GAA matches, sport is such a fantastic thing and we are fortunate.
On a more local level, Monaghan General Hospital closed more than a decade ago, causing stress and annoyance for the people of that county. At the time, the HSE announced that a new primary care centre would be built in Monaghan to address the issues that surrounded the hospital going off call. More than a decade later, we are still waiting for that facility. Not one block has been laid. People are concerned. Will the Leader ask the Minister for Health to address this much-needed facility?
I second what my colleague, Senator Craughwell, had to say. This is the Upper House of the State's Legislature. Some people may not view it as that, but I do. I respect it and am privileged and grateful to be here. I intend to use the House in a civil way. It is not a place for the shouting, catcalling and booing that we heard yesterday. It is a place of argument, discussion, debate, communication and, above all, listening. The behaviour in front of our gentleman Minister, Deputy Coveney, was outrageous. I did not enter the Chamber because I did not want to be seen silently looking on. Using our technology without discretion is an affront to human communication, as is sometimes the case when the Leader is answering questions while the people who asked them are texting on their telephones. The lack of acknowledgement of the Chair on the way in and out is appalling. If one was leaving a kitchen or one's sitting room when visitors or friends were present, one would say, "Excuse me", or give some indication of wanting to leave or enter in the middle of someone's conversation. The casual use of this Chamber as if it was some kind of inn, tavern, well, bus stop or snug at the back of a pub is appalling. Some Senators ask tortured and urgent questions as if their lives depended on them, but they do not even bother to wait for an answer from the Leader, who goes to a great deal of trouble to try to understand what they are saying and to accommodate what they want. That is outrageous.
I do not want to be part of such a House, such a lack of civility, such a lack of standards, bad manners and such a lack of respect. Neither do I want to be part of that visualisation on national and international television. We are the Upper House of this Parliament and we need to show an example. Who will take us seriously if our manners and respect are so lacking? In my history of working in communications, the one thing that got different politics and ideas across was civility.I intend to make this speech every day next week until we understand some standard around here.
I join colleagues in congratulating the Irish team. As a keen sportsperson who has travelled worldwide to many matches, I support Senator Butler's motion that calls on Aer Lingus and Ryanair to reconsider their prices because they discourage people from travelling to matches. It is a disgrace that people are being asked to pay upwards of €1,000 to fly to France for just one day.
This morning, I attended a campaign launch organised by the Neurological Alliance of Ireland along with my colleague, Senator Hopkins. I support her call for the Minister for Health to come in here to address the issue. One thing I learned this morning at the event is that by European standards Ireland should have 270 inpatient beds. We have less than half that number in the whole country. Another stark fact that I learned is that there are no regional inpatient specialist rehabilitation centres in the entire country. In terms of community rehabilitation centres, there are only three teams in the entire country but European standards recommend a population of this size should have nine teams. We badly need these matters to be addressed.
I join will all colleagues in congratulating the two teams who have done us proud over the past few days. I am looking forward to the match on Sunday, in particular, and hopefully we will get a positive result. Regardless of the result we will support our team. It would be nice to get back at France for the infamous hand ball incident.
Yesterday, I met Mr. Kevin Donoghue who is president of the USI. We spoke about their key issues and core requests. We, in Sinn Féin, stand with them in support of their key demands. The USI has simply asked for affordable third level education. We do not have that in this country. Instead, we have hundreds of students dropping out of third level education because they cannot afford the registration fees. The USI has carried out a study on fees that shows almost nine out of ten students fear dropping out of college due to financial reasons. Students are missing lectures and working during exam seasons just to scramble enough money together to pay their fees. The stress that puts on students is pushing them to breaking point with three out of four students saying they have considered dropping out. The fear that these students live with is a direct result of regressive education cuts made by the last Government and, unfortunately, that appears to be continuing under the new Government. I ask the Leader to call the Minister for Education and Skills into this House for a debate on this important issue.
I, too, congratulate the Irish teams for their superb performances to date, in particular the Republic of Ireland's team and its management. I congratulate the fans because they are probably the best advertisement for tourism that this country could ever have. Their outstanding behaviour, generosity and sense of fun and craic have been acknowledged. They have shown that people can have a good time without causing problems for other people.
I echo what Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell has said with the following line. If one seeks to learn then one has got to listen. Yesterday, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government came in here to speak but he was continually interrupted. I fail to see how the Senator concerned could learn anything if he is not prepared to listen.
Today, I wish to raise the same issue as the acting leader on the far side, Senator Daly. I am being kind when I say that the insurers are behaving in a very peculiar fashion in terms of the premia that they are trying to extract from people. I know people who got quotes recently that are double what they are paying. Therefore, it would be appropriate for the Leader to invite the Committee of Public Accounts to invite the insurers to attend a meeting. I am fully aware of the fact that the committee cannot force the insurers to attend but their response to the invitation will speak volumes about their attitude to the public.
I wish to be associated with the remarks, made by the vast majority of Members, congratulating the Irish soccer teams. In particular, I congratulate the Republic of Ireland or FAI team and wish them well on Sunday. Last night's result was magnificent. The players showed real determination and heart. The management got their tactics right and deserve credit, as do the fans. I agree with all of the complimentary remarks made about the fans. I heard the interview given by the French ambassador this morning. He outlined that all of the French media paid high tributes to the Irish fans above all other fans. We should all recognise that the Irish fans are acting as ambassadors during the Euro 2016 games.
I wish to touch on another issue. Today, the Brexit vote will take place in the North and across the water. The result will have huge political and economical consequences for the Republic of Ireland and for the rest of the European Union. Unfortunately, other threats have emerged in the European Union. For example, there is a high dependence on the German economy and Nordic countries. Also, the less well-off countries such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy are in a state of negative equity with a negative balance sheet of almost €1.5 trillion. I call for a two-fold debate on the European project. We should have one debate on the euro and eurozone and another debate on the European Union.
The European Union is comprised of more than just eurozone countries. There are question marks about solidarity and the EU meeting the principles that led to its establishment back in the 1950s under the Treaty of Rome. We must question whether the EU currently meets its founding principles in terms of solidarity and humanitarian aid being provided to Syrian refugees and others.
I suggest we hold a two-fold debate. There is an economic argument and a humanitarian-solidarity side. It may not be possible to have the debate before the recess. I ask the Leader to arrange for it to take place as quickly as possible because the economic stability of the EU will be a major issue over the next six to 12 months.
I, too, congratulate both Irish teams. It is a great achievement for the Irish soccer team to reach the final 16 of Euro 2016. I say "Well done" to everyone concerned, the management, players and their back-up support.
I wish to refer to an important Supreme Court decision that was issued in the past few days as it concerns checks and balances. I advise everyone to read the decision. I refer to a case where the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, SI No. 551 of 2011, was declared unconstitutional by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court overturned that decision in the past few days and set out clear guidelines on secondary legislation. It advised that there must be checks and balances. It means that when we delegate powers we must ensure there are clear boundaries and when we are dealing with legislation. I will refer to the decision because it is relevant to all of us. From now on, when dealing with legislation, we must not delegate too much of the powers and retain our role in providing legislative oversight. Were the Oireachtas required to legislate for every aspect of a particular statutory scheme it would quickly become mired in detail and in the task of precisely predicting future developments, as opposed to legislating for existing trends which may change as to detail. Instead of continual re-legislating, primary legislation can set boundaries as to what can be provided for in subsidiary legislation.This allows subsidiary legislation to be flexible and address future developments provided those developments are keen to the mischief outlawed in the parent Act. In this way no derogation from the constitutional imperative to exercise the democratic function is involved. Basically, it suggests we can delegate, but it is important that we retain our right to ensure the matter is kept under the control of the Oireachtas.
The judgment is important in that it sets clear boundaries for what we can delegate and how we control the derogation. This highlights the importance of our role and the role of Dáil Éireann. Certainly, the Supreme Court has outlined the powers we can delegate to Ministers to ensure that statutory instruments do not go beyond the powers that we delegate to them.
I wish to be associated with all the words of congratulation to both Irish teams. It is a great day to be Irish. I was proud to see them qualify and go forward to the last 16 of the European Championship finals. It is was marvellous day and was uplifting for our country.
I concur with Senator Butler with regard to what we are seeing with the airlines and what I would call exploitation of our fans. These are ordinary people who have saved up, who wish to support our national teams and be associated with their successes on and off the field. There is exploitation and I call on the Leader to ask the airlines to be fair. All anyone is asking is for them to be fair and allow these people to attend to support their national team.
I wish to take the opportunity to mention another great national sporting event from last weekend, one I was closely associated with. The national Féile na nGael championships took place in Waterford and Tipperary last weekend. Hundreds of young teams played hurling, camogie and handball in Tipperary and Waterford. Teams from throughout the island, north, south, east and west, came together to build new friendships. While competing on the field of play, they created friendships for the rest of their lives. Thousands of youngsters congregated in counties Tipperary and Waterford for what was truly a remarkable national event.
I wish to put on the public record my appreciation to the GAA and all the volunteers, coaches, parents and mentors who gave freely of their time to organise such events. This aspect often goes unnoticed and I wish to put on record in the Parliament what the event does for our young people. It is a great national event. The same goes for rugby, soccer and many minority sports as well. People have spoken this morning of the ability of sport to build bridges. Through sport our youngsters learn to build new relationships, networks and teams throughout their adult lives and it stands to them forevermore.
I call on the Leader to organise a debate on funding for third level colleges, universities and institutes of technology. Funding is essential if we are to equip our graduates to the best level possible to compete globally and internationally. They must have access to the best equipment, research facilities, laboratories and engineering equipment. I have heard concerns expressed from representatives of industry. Unfortunately, in recent years because of cutbacks, facilities and equipment have been affected. I call on the Leader to invite the Minister for Education and Skills to the House to debate this critical issue. If we are to have the best graduates coming from this country, then our colleges need to be properly equipped and I am calling for a debate on the matter.
I have timed it well. I see that you have taken up the cudgels on my behalf with regard to the seagulls, a Leas-Chathaoirligh. I am glad the matter is in safe hands. Will the Leader arrange for the relevant Minister to come before the House to discuss energy security? I am asking the question in particular in the context of the threat to our gas supply from the ever-perilous situation in eastern Europe. For example, our supply from the Ukraine is anything but assured. As the Leas-Chathaoirleach is aware, a sizeable delegation was in the House yesterday from Kerry to discuss a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary. The project has been on the books for some time and I referred to it several times during the last term.
It has never been more advantageous and timely for this project to be coming on stream again with support from one of the major global providers. Sometimes gas from the interior of landlocked countries, for example, African states and Asian states, cannot be piped. However, the gas can be liquefied and then transported in bulk in huge liners and brought up the Shannon Estuary, where it is degasified in a process that will of itself create energy. This will assure us of long-term energy security.
Will the Leader ask the Minister to come before the House? In fact, two Ministers are involved but I reckon the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Naughten, would be the most appropriate at the moment. He could outline his views on the matter. In the previous Government, the former Minister, Pat Rabbitte, was close to doing something on this but it did not quite materialise. I hope the Leader can facilitate that request.
I will begin by joining the 14 Senators who raised the issue of the European football finals. I join them in congratulating our team on its performance last night. A nation held its long breath for the last five minutes plus injury time. It was a great result and I wish to congratulate Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane as well as Michael O'Neill and his team and their success.
It is important that we celebrate the victory sensibly and that we pay tribute to the team for the manner of their display last night. Many had given them no chance and, if I am to be honest, I was one of those. However, by their character and skill they ensured a great result. We talk about Stuttgart in 1988 or the Giants Stadium in New York in 1994 but in this case Wes Hoolahan will be remembered forever because of last night.
The issue raised by Senators Butler, Coffey and Reilly relating to the cost of flights is disappointing. It is unacceptable that airlines should be gazumping or engaging in price gouging to make profits at the cost of fans. Our fans have been renowned throughout Europe this week and last week for their sense of fair play, fun, revelry and decency. It is a pity that the airlines are engaging in this type of activity to maximise profits. It is exploitation at its worst. I call on Aer Lingus and Michael O'Leary of Ryanair - a good contributor to Irish sport in his own right - to recognise the importance of this match next Sunday. I will write to them as Leader of the Seanad. I hope the House will be united in calling on Ryanair and Aer Lingus not to exploit fans or engage in gazumping but to encourage them by laying on extra flights and encouraging fans to travel. This will help to create a carnival next weekend and we can overturn the hand ball of Henry some years ago.
It is an important issue but it is not simply about the airlines this week. It could be about the cost of hotel rooms for concerts next week. We have to be real. I appeal to Ryanair and Aer Lingus to work with our fans, the Football Association of Ireland and the Irish Football Association to encourage our fans to travel. It is important that they do that.
Senators Daly and Reilly raised the issue of car insurance costs. I very much agree with them that the costs have spiralled upwards. As I have stated in the House already this week, this is the reason the Minister for Finance has asked officials in his Department to put together a review of policy involving the Department of Finance, the Central Bank, other Departments and agencies and the insurance industry to examine the factors that are contributing to the exorbitant costs of motor insurance increases and come back with a review. Out of that review the group could then produce a set of recommendations to yield an improvement in the functioning and regulation of the insurance sector. The Senators are right. It is important that the matter is examined and that we come back with a comprehensive review which gives benefit to the motorist and the person who needs car insurance. Senator Daly is correct in that we require car insurance. Again, we should work with people to ensure they are insured appropriately and properly and that we do not see an increase in people driving without insurance.
Senator Conway-Walsh raised the issue of the Leader programme in her remarks. This week, the Minister announced funding for the Leader 2020 rural development programme.A total of €250 million will be available for investment in rural enterprises and communities. The funding will be provided based on a strategic approach and on priorities agreed at local level. I have spoken to the Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Heather Humphreys, and to the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring, about this and can assure Senator Conway-Walsh that the latter in particular will not be found wanting when it comes to Mayo. As it stands, 80 strategies have already been finalised, with more to come. This is an opportunity to invest in rural Ireland to attract enterprise and to promote job creation, local tourism and community development. I will ask the Minister or Minister of State to come to the House so that we can discuss the opportunities that the programme will present.
A number of Senators raised the issue of Brexit. It is very important, even at this, the 11th hour, that we appeal to people in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom to vote to remain in the EU. Economically, it is very important to us as a country, as it is to the EU. Whatever our concerns about the EU the old Irish saying, Ní neart go cur le chéile, applies today. It is important that we stand together. The European Union is better with the United Kingdom inside rather than outside. The UK is our most important trading partner and it is important to us that it stays in. Again, I appeal to Members who have not already done so to engage with their friends and relatives across the UK and ask them to vote to stay.
I am very happy to accept Senator Norris's amendment to the Order of Business. Senators Craughwell, O'Donnell and Reilly raised the matter of decorum in the Chamber. It is important that, as Members of the Upper House, we would debate issues with decorum and good manners. As someone who is known to have engaged in raucous behaviour in the House in a previous life, on mature reflection -----
While this may sound like the poacher turned gamekeeper, it is important that we debate and engage properly. The Senators are right that we must conduct our business in a dignified manner and one that befits Members of the Houses of the Oireachtas. I watched some of the debate in the Chamber yesterday and was disappointed by it. The Minister, to be fair, came in here to listen and engage and for us ---
Well, pots and kettles applies to the Labour Party members too. It was their Minister who signed the statutory instrument but we will not go back over that now. I will raise this with the Whips at our next meeting and ask them to ensure that we conduct our business in a manner that befits the House of which we are Members. I thank Senators for raising that issue.
The issue of mobile devices in the Chamber is a matter for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges. Sometimes when I am on my iPad in the Chamber, I am just looking for the note for the person who is speaking. I do not mean to be rude. I think Senator Craughwell thought I was not listening to him but I was listening. That is the main reason for using my iPad but I apologise if it appears rude.
Senator Ruane raised the issue of the Bill to be discussed this afternoon and I look forward to the debate on same. Senator Bacik made reference to the One Foundation event. It was a good event and I am sorry I missed it. That foundation is doing great work. Senator Murnane O'Connor raised the issue of alcohol. She is right that it is a very harmful drug of choice for many of us but the issue is being addressed by the Government. The sale of alcohol Bill has been restored to the Order Paper. While it will not be taken before the summer recess, it is in train. If the Senator would like any information on it, the health committee of which I was a member in the last Dáil carried out very good pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. I would be happy to speak to the Senator about that and to provide her with further information. It is a very important issue that we must keep talking about in order to raise awareness, as well as dealing with it through legislation.
Senators Hopkins and Byrne raised the issue of rehabilitation services and I am happy to invite the Minister for Health to the House to discuss this issue. A strategy has been developed but there are questions around its implementation. We must follow up on that. Senators Hopkins and Feighan also referred to the situation at Roscommon hospital and while that could be raised as a Commencement matter, I am happy to ask the Minister for Health to come to the House to discuss it.
Senator Ó Donnghaile raised the issue of sport, North-South relations and co-operation, which is very important. It is imperative that we use Healthy Ireland, the framework created by the former Minister for Health, former Deputy, now Senator Reilly, and the special action group created under that framework, to work on a joint implementation strategy. Senator Kieran O'Donnell made an important point about the lack of a State awards system to honour our sporting heroes, North and South. I hope that the Committee on Procedure and Privileges will consider that matter and break new ground. Why can we not be bold and ambitious and do it? It is an important issue and the Senator made a very fine point.
Senator Grace O'Sullivan raised the important issue of gun control, which thankfully does not apply to us here. As we speak, Members of the United States Congress are engaged in a sit-in, led by Congressman John Lewis, a renowned parliamentarian and activist whom I had the privilege of meeting a number of years ago. We spoke about the issue of gun control in this House in the wake of events in Orlando and I hope it forms part of the bilateral discussions between the Government and Vice President Joe Biden.
Senator Davitt raised the issue of Mullingar Army barracks for which a strategy was put in place. That strategy is currently being reviewed and the Taoiseach has been in contact with Senator McFadden on the matter. I agree with Senator Davitt that the barracks should either be used or sold. The Army barracks in Ballincollig in Cork was sold and as a result, the town has grown exponentially and is now one of the jewels in the crown of Cork County Council. Perhaps that model could be considered for Mullingar.
Senator Gallagher spoke about primary care in County Monaghan. I am happy to raise that matter with the Minister for Health and invite him to the House to discuss it. I would encourage the Senator to submit it as a Commencement matter. Primary care is the way forward. While I hate to single anyone out, when Senator Reilly was Minister for Health he was a pioneer on primary care but was often criticised. We now have over 90 primary care centres but if there are deficits, they must be addressed.
Senators Gavan and Coffey raised the issue of third level education. The Minister for Education and Skills will come before the House before the summer recess to discuss education. In the context of that discussion, it is important that we improve access to education and fund third level education adequately. The Senators referred to the current USI president, Kevin Donoghue, whose term of office ends soon. I wish to pay tribute to him because he has been a very impressive president of USI. He has been impartial in his dealings with all of us and has been very fair and assertive in representing students. I commend him for that and wish him well.
Senator Ó Domhnaill raised the very important topic of the euro and the eurozone and suggested that post-Brexit, it would be opportune to have a debate on the EU. I hope that the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Dara Murphy, will be able to come to the House to engage in such a debate. I will put that matter on the agenda.
Senator Colm Burke raised the issue of a recent Supreme Court ruling concerning checks and balances. That is a matter that I will take up with the Committee on Procedure and Privileges because it is important. Senator Coffey made reference to Féile na nGael, which took place last weekend. It is a tremendous competition. Those of us involved in the GAA understand and recognise the importance of Féile na nGael. I commend all of those involved, including the host clubs and their families, the clubs themselves for preparing their young players and Cumann Lúthchleas Gael, through its uachtarán Aogán Ó Fearghail, for the work it has done in promoting our games among the under-14s.
Senator Ned O'Sullivan raised the issue of energy security and I agree that we should have a debate on that important matter. Any such debate should include a discussion on the Whitegate refinery and future plans for that facility.